Nigeria: How Many More Years Do We Need?

0
431

Due to the nature of my job as a consultant, I have had the opportunity to move around many parts of the country and anywhere I find myself, I have always engaged people of different ideological, cultural, educational, religion background, etc in political discussions whenever the opportunity presents itself.

I am presently in the South Eastern part of the country and the people around here seem to have different opinions as to political happenings in the country partly because ‘our’ man is in charge and he must be given the opportunity to spend his complete two terms of 4 years each. They opined that the country was spoilt by the military and President Goodluck Ebele Jonathan (GEJ) is not a magician who can fix the problems within 3 years of his administration.  It is this opinion that made me ask the question I posted above that how many more years do we really need. I don’t really have any personal problem whatsoever with President Jonathan (I have given up on my expectations of him) but his political party, the PDP have been in power since 1999 and it seems the 14 years spent so far is not enough for them to fix the country.

I have decided to take a critical look at some sectors in the economy that make a country exist as a nation and analyse what the ruling Peoples’ Democratic Party (PDP) government have spent since 1999 on each of the sector and determine how they have fared. The sectors I intend to discuss are education, health, power supply and transport/road.

EDUCATION

Just like what obtains in other sectors of the economy in our country, that Nigeria’s education sector has continued to suffer from unending scourge of severe corruption and incompetence over the years is not a difficult thing to notice; funds meant for educational projects are been mismanaged with reckless abandon, corrupt politicians are elected on university boards who politicize the system, learning environment remains unconducive, academics struggle to get their entitlements among other pressing issues confronting Nigeria’s educational sector even in our fourteenth year of democratic rule.

In every human society in the world over, education is concomitant to growth and research is highly rated as the bedrock of progress; for quick, effective and sustainable growth, thorough investment in education is inevitable. Mammoth investment in education by founding fathers of this nation such as the great Obafemi Awolowo gave sound education to many of the leaders, business tycoons and investors we can call ours-the vision of the founding fathers was to liberate the people from poverty using the strongest weapon which is education, but unfortunately, the federal government led by the People’s Democratic Party has turned this dream into a nightmare with severe corruption which has thoroughly weakened the educational sector and its goals which would have been highly instrumental and even necessary to improve the production capacity of Nigeria and reduce poverty.

Since the dawn of democratic rule in 1999, preceded by many years of military rule, trillions of naira had been invested into the education system by the federal government yet regression is the result that follows. Assessing recent records, during a press conference in 2012, while discussing Nigerian government’s response to national request for reform in the education sector, Minister of Education then, Professor Ruqayyatu Rufai made known that “the government in 2012 awarded a significant N900 billion for tertiary institutions and N24 billion for special intervention projects to twelve tertiary institutions.”  Of course, it’s so ridiculous that such an amount was awarded to tertiary institutions in 2012 yet no noticeable change, at least one.

In the bid to remain strengthened in mismanagement of public funds at the expense of the masses, Nigerian institutions which have critical roles to play in renewing and re-engineering the nation have suffered huge setback- students and academic staff welfarism is far below standard. This is however, disgraceful and shameful that the federal government has extended its hand of mismanagement and incompetence to education sector, a move that could condemn the future of this nation. There is a pressing need for us to rise against this rapidly falling standard to save Nigeria’s future. The federal government and its education ministry have to be renewed to champion a positive and sustainable vision to transform this nation, our education sector is too fragile to be committed into the hands of looters, unqualified and corrupt persons; thorough restructuring of our priorities as a nation must be considered, progressive rethink of public education also even as we battle to revive the education sector from the hands of this failing administration.

HEALTH SECTOR

A key element of public policy is the promotion of good health in order to attain broad based economic growth. Base on this paradigm, many countries devote huge budgetary allocation to health, but in most developing countries especially, this huge health expenditure failed to translate into better health status. Provision of health is seen as a key element of a policy to promote broad-based economic growth. The burden of diseases such as HIV/AIDS is known to slow the economic growth of developing countries. Therefore, every country devote huge public fund to health care provision believing this would improve the health of the citizenry so that they can contribute meaningfully to economic growth and development. While increase in budgetary allocation to social services is highly desirable in a developing country like Nigeria, this by itself ,is not sufficient to guarantee enhancement in service delivery. Bad budget management has been identified as one of the main reasons for ineffective public spending in many developing countries (World Bank, 1998). In Nigeria, for example, despite the huge government expenditure on health provision, the health status of Nigerians is consistently ranked low. Nigeria ranked 74th out of 115 countries, based on the performance of some selected health indicators (World Bank, 1999). Nigerian overall health system performance was also ranked 187th among the 191 Member States by the World Health Organisation (WHO) in 2000 (National Health Policy, 2004). The Nigeria’s rate of infant mortality (91 per 1000 live births) is among the highest in the world. It therefore, becomes imperative to ask if governance has a positive impact on the effectiveness of health expenditure in Nigeria.

In Nigeria corruption has been identified as one of the unresolved problems which has not only, remained a long-term major economic and political challenge but has also hobbled and skewed development critically. Corruption has stunted growth in all sectors of the country (Economic and Financial Crime Commission, 2005). According to the International Centre for Economic Growth, (1999), corruption ranges from petty corruption to political / bureaucratic corruption or Systemic corruption. Nwabuzor (2005) observed that the World Bank studies put the cost of corruption at over $1 trillion per year, accounting for up to 12% of the Gross Domestic Product of nations like Nigeria, Kenya and Venezuela. The Transparency International consistent ratings identified Nigeria as one the three most corrupt countries in the World (Nuhu Ribadu, 2003). It is opined that corruption has become so blatant and widespread in Nigeria such that it seems to have been legalized. Corruption has not only permeated the government and oil the fields, but the entire nation as well. Corruption and inefficiency are characteristic of service delivery in public places although private companies seem to perform more efficiently and less corruptly than public enterprises. To show the extent of corruption in Nige ria, Nigeria was labeled the most corrupt nation three times: 1996, 1997, and 2000: and placed in the bottom five four more times: fourth from the bottom in 1998 and second in 1999, 2001, 2002 and 2003.

Corruption in the health sector is so serious that every political office holder in Nigeria is flown abroad for common sicknesses that can be treated in Nigeria. A member of Rivers state of house of assembly was recently flown to a London hospital as a result of assault he suffered in the recent show of shame in the assembly. I wonder if his skull was damaged and this could not be fixed in Nigeria. I even read that some politicians using tax payers’ money went to visit (greet) him in London hospital!!! What a waste of our resources? PDP government keeps spending so much in the name of equipping our hospitals and government functionaries don’t use the hospitals because they are sub-standard.

POWER SECTOR

$10 Billion Spent on Power Generation between 1999 and 2007.

“The $10 billion invested in the (power) sector between 2000 and 2007 has not translated into power generation, transmission and distribution” according to Late President Yar’Adua in January 14, 2008 during a meeting with Mrs. Oby Ezekwesili, World Bank vice- president (African Region).” – Dele Sobowale, Vanguard.

The caption above was a discussion the late president Yar’Adua had with Mrs. Oby Ezekwesili in 2008 and this is 2013 and the power situation has not improved either.

It was 2008, after spending $10 billion that supposedly went through the “due process”, power generation is still a little less than 3000 MW in Nigeria, about the same level it was in 1999. I’m sure it is less than 3000 MW now.

It is puzzling that a nation that seems so reform-crazy, so eager to liberalize its economy, and whose worn and hoarse head of state have spent more time overseas, repeatedly giving sales pitch to foreign investors, has failed to implement any measurable reforms in the power sector. Yet, adequate and regular power supply is the number one prerequisite for industrial and economic growth; it is the catalyst that impacts both big and small businesses.

ROAD/TRANSPORTATION

‘Only 30% of our roads are in good condition after spending N1.414 trillion on roads from 1999-2012’ – Hon Aminu Tambuwal, Speaker, House Of Representatives.

In a rather shameful revelation, the House of Representatives Committee on Works has raised an alarm over the bad state of Nigerian roads, despite over N1.414 trillion appropriated by the National Assembly for the road sector from 1999-2012.

This was revealed at the opening session of House Committee on Works’ 4-day public hearing on the urgent need to address the near total collapse of federal roads across the country.

Also, the Speaker of the House, Hon Tambuwal, disclosed that Nigeria was losing N80 billion annually as a result of bad roads across the country. Honourable Tambuwal who was represented by the Minority Whip, Honourable Samson Osagie at the event said that statistics showed that Nigeria has the second highest road traffic accident fatalities among 193 countries in the world and called for holistic approach in addressing the road challenges.

In his address, the Chairman, House Committee on Works, Honourable Ogbuefi Ozomgbachi said, “the truth must be told, the condition of our roads is alarming and statistics attest to that. Between 1999 and 2012, the National Assembly had appropriated about N1.414 trillion for the road sector… And yet out of about 34,400km of Federal road network, only about 35 per cent is paved and substantial percentage of it in varying degree of distress and or pot-holes… In a country of about 160 million people with an approximate land area of 910,768 square kilometers in which over 90% of the passengers and freight ‘ movement are done by road due to almost non-functional water-ways and rail transportation, the situation assumes even a status of national emergency,” he said.

From the above analysis, it is obvious that in order to save ourselves from wasting many more years, we must all come together and effect a change in the polity for the sake of generations yet unborn.

Essentially, this is not about individuals, it is more about a national political structure and putting in place an effective working system. I think we need an alternative to 14 years of failure of the present ruling party. I don’t really care if IBB, Shina Rambo and Anenih are members of APC, what I know is that we need a change. The APC as it is represents the platform for political revolution and movement by the people.

If you have a willingness to do things right for 14 years and with all the resources and you fail, the best thing is to quit and let another try!

Leave a comment here. Send feedbacks & articles to editor@skytrendnews.com. Follow @SkytrendNews on twitter and be our fan on facebook.

All rights reserved. Contents published on this page are copyright materials of Skytrend News and may not be published, re-written or reproduced without prior written permission from Skytrend News.

 

]]>