The End and Beginning of Profligacy In Governance: Nigerian Politics

25 May 2011

By Bukhari Muhammed Bello Jega

It is a sign of relief to Nigerians as the curtain draws nearer, marking the end of yet another democratic experiment in Nigeria. Relief in the sense, that, Nigeria and Nigerians in the last four years have being struggling to stability the political and economic sectors of the country; due to various centrifugal forces that almost derailed the democratic process in the wrong direction. First, was the sudden disappearance of the late President Umaru Yar'dua. Secondly, was the inability of Nigerians to know the truth state of their President's health none the former president being able to communicate to his fellow countrymen and women on his true state of health. Thirdly was the inability of the then Vice President Goodluck Jonathan to act in an active capacity before the return of the ill president. These crises almost destabilized the mutual co-existence among the various ethnic and regions in the country; until nature decided to settle the crisis for the overall good of the country, when the former president gave up the ghost. Good in the sense, that, there were some political opportunists and evil forces that were profiting from the general confusion, which enable them to loot the treasury of the state dry since there was no man in charge.

The emergence of President Goodluck Jonathan was a relief to the country, but, also ignited another around of crisis, especially with the PDP zoning arrangement, which rotate power among the two region i.e North and South. The north was of the opinion that since the late President Yar'adua was flying the zoning ticket from the north, it will be morally right, for the newly emerged president to respect the zoning arrangement. The northern politicians were of the opinion that; the zoning arrangement is aimed at maintaining the peaceful co-existence of the country. But, the President and his political band of political opportunists felt otherwise. The zoning issues became the major political issues in Nigerian history since the June 12 crisis. The crises linger on until the PDP primary, where the northern consensus candidate Alh Atiku Abukar was defeated by the incumbent president. The north saw the defeat as bad omen for a region that was known to have control political power for decades. Also the conduct of the president's kinsmen and the southern politicians also ignite insecurity in the mind of the northern politicians and the people on what possible future for the region. This insecurity was carried over to the general elections, which the outcome did not go down as expected with the masses in the region, that resulted in the postmortem crisis and killing that unfortunately took place in the region in a retrospect.

As the president begins a new term in office, it is an opportunity for the man who rise to power was basically as his campaign organization coded it, as result of "Good luck" to be his man and navigate the ship of the state in the right direction. Most people often argued that, Goodluck had no opportunity to be his man throughout his short live as the president, due to the way he came in (although I wonder how someone with all executive powers will not be able to be his own man). But, if given the opportunity, during the 2011 elections, Nigerians will see the real Goodluck Jonathan. Now that, Nigerians has bought into this political shenanigan, it will be an opportunity for the president to provide the free air he promises Nigerians. But, fundamentally, the President must end profligacy in governance. Government and official profligacy has been the major obstacle to Nigerian development in the last 12 years of democratic experiment. A situation where government recurrent expenditures outweigh capital expenditures is simply on unacceptable style of governance for a country face with challenges of national development. The cost of running government in Nigeria is the highest in the world.

The last four years has witness the biggest profligacy in governance, where officials of government appropriate large allowances and larges to themselves while the people they promise to governed and uplift their living standard are living in abject poverty and confusion. From local government, to state and federal level governance, the rate of impunity and profligacy in governance is simply unacceptable. Going through the records books of what our elected and appointed elites earned only portend an irresponsible and unproductive ruling class, that really do not understand the flights of the people they promise to improve their living standard. For example, a senator is said to be paid around 250 million naira for practically doing nothing, while the workers that are contributing to national growth and development are still fighting with the government to implement a paltry N18, 000 minimum wages. To further complicate the growing impunity and profligacy in governance, our outgoing National Assembly members are perfecting plan to share over 3 billion naira as severance benefits, couple with the fact that, the House of Representative under the Leadership of Speaker Dimeji Bankole and his group of patriots had borrowed N10billion on behalf of the House of Reps to pay certain allowances. The same profligacy or more is going on in the Presidency and various states across the federation.

It is perplexing to observe in the last fifty years of Nigerian political history, we have never see the high rate of official profligacy as was showcase during the 2011 elections, where politicians are not only outweighing each others in electoral spending, but, the elections was adjudged as the most expensive elections in Africa, and in other developing countries that share the same characteristics with the Nigerian state. Ironically, as both the Federal and state government were spending billions of naira to win elections at all cost; the Nigerian state was submerged with the crisis of insecurity, infrastructures deficits, unemployment, poverty, hopelessness. Social confusion was not only steering Nigerians in their very eyes, but, also, the economic was in the downward thread without any government officials to the rescues. The period witness absence of governance.

It is unfortunate, our democracy has descended to it lowest ebb. Our so called democrats seem not to be motivated, by patriotism to provide the vision, passion and exemplary leadership that will answers to the challenges of national development. Profligacy in governance has replaced all the virtues of democracy, good governance and development. Instead of rule of law, accountability, transparency, exemplary leadership, and development of basic infrastructures that support lives; our democracy and democrats seem to be destroying the few social fabrics, institutions, and structures that were first bequeathed to us by colonial administration at independent and secondly by the military administrators. Sometime, I often ask myself, if truly our lives have improved from pre-1999 to date? Or we have ended up disgracing our self in the eyes of the world, as we continue to pretend of practicing democratic system? There is no doubt, our democrats have created more problems to us that solving and integrating the diverse ethnic and religious groups in the country. The interesting thing about the various religious and ethnic crisis in the country, is that, these crises are not fought, because, the two adherences of the great religion hated each other, thus their inability to co-exist with one another; No! But, fundamentally, the democrats instigated, these crises and conflicts to enable them continue with the rat race over profligacy in governance. In Nigeria today, power, and prestige is the ultimate trophy in governance. Therefore, whoever control political power control the direction, and dynamics of the people and the country. This made political contests a do or die affairs (apology to the despot Obasanjo).

Am writing with great pains because of what I saw as a legacy of profligacy in governance being entrenched in Nigerian political and economic system. As I settle to write this article in my hotel room from the beautiful city of Beijing, where I am attending an International Seminar organized by the Chinese Academy of Macroeconomic Research, National development and Reform Commission, one can only weep for Nigeria and Africa, because it seem the whole world is living us behind and our leaders are not even move by the geopolitical dynamics, the rat race for resources control, market and usage through a knowledge driven economy, which Nigeria and Africa have in abundant. The contemporary global reality is that, every nation is serious making adjustment and cutting wastage due to the growing uncertainty in the global economic realities and the danger that China and emerging economies are posing for the world economic arrangement. But, unfortunately, in Nigeria the party seems to have just begun. Glancing through the nation dailies the online versions, it was shocking coming in contact with a headline that, the Federal Government is planning of spending over 5 billion naira for the presidential inauguration. My immediate take, was that did the Nigerian leaders really understood the mess the country is into as result of various wastage and profligacy of government officials? Are they really listening to the warning of the Central Bank governor Sanusi Lamido Sanusi on the financial status of the country visa-vie the exchange rate, inflation and rate of poverty?

Unfortunately, after a critical thinking I came to the conclusion, after all, this is the end and beginning of profligacy in governance; nothing will change. The banquets will continue and the old wine has just acquired a new bottle and label to be save on the invited and uninvited guest, let the party continue. Pity my countrymen and women for the next four years. Please let tied of belt and endure the coming profligacy in governance. Am not a prophet of doom but this is the reality period.

Bukhari Muhammed Bello Jega

Wrote this piece from No 188, Chengshousi Avenue, Fengtai District,

Beijing, People's Republic of China.



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