365 DAYS LATER: IS NIGERIA BETTER OR WORSE TODAY?
By Alex Osondu Atawa-Akpodiete
In my book THE SEVEN OPEN SECRETS OF SUCCESS (2009, CreateSpace), I quoted the famous expression that “an unexamined life is not worth living.” The quote has been attributed to various people especially Plato, but I lean towards giving credit to Socrates from his speeches during his trial. The essence of the wisdom quote is that wisdom dictates that you look at your life periodically to evaluate your successes and mistakes, as a means of changing for the better. It helps in planning because if you fail to plan, you plan to fail. Everyone should do this particular exercise, especially as we approach the last days of the year.
Besides examining your life personally, I believe you should examine your government periodically. The ubiquitous 100-days in office have become a mainstay of modern democratic evaluation of governance. However, 100 days is sometimes not sufficient to really look at the affairs of a country. I suggest using 365 days (a year) to properly examine the state of nation. I plead with Nigerians to please jettison party sentiments and objectively examine the state of the local, state and national government. Please do not be deceived. Essentially, 99% of those in government have been in the corridors of power in one way or the other since 1960 (our independence) and over 90% since return to democracy in 1999. Our President was in government as well as our Vice President. This article looks mostly at the nation as a whole.
I will suggest using the following yardstick to measure the state of Nigeria: Economy price of commodities, wages, inflation, Foreign Exchange, women and youth participation, Security, Fuel, Corruption.
I will address first the economy of the country and will require my readers to do some independent research. On the economy, I will suggest we look at price of commodities and salaries of workers. Are things generally more expensive today and how much goods can you buy for one thousand naira comparatively? Also, the wages of employees must be taken into consideration here. Are salaries paid as when due or delayed? Recently, some governors complained that they could no longer pay the minimum wage of eighteen thousand Naira, but did not offer to reduce the number of their aides or take a pay cut, including reduction of the nebulous “security votes.”
Recently, I attended a gender course. One of the things we discussed was that gender does not mean just female as is generally assumed, but rather both male and female. Nonetheless, will women feel that they are more a part of the government today than 365 days ago? This may take into account the number of female ministers, commissioners and governors. Thankfully, we may have the first female governor in Nigeria if the Court of Appeals upholds the Taraba Governorship tribunal verdict. How about our youths? It is quite interesting that most of the people in government today were in leadership positions while in their thirties and forties. However, the youths may have some questions about where they belong.
Concerning Security, we are all cognizant of the Boko haram Menace. Last year, the previous government goofed by boasting that it will crush Boko haram by April. Now the current government has issued a deadline to the military command to eliminate Boko haram by December. In the present world situation where terrorism is fluid, it remains to be seen whether the ultimatum is realistic. It is beyond cavil that one of the primary obligations of government is security of lives and properties of its citizens. Enshrined in Section 14 (2) (b) of the 1999 Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria is the declaration that “the security and welfare of the people shall be the primary purpose of government.” A failed state is one that has failed to provide security. Also, the BrngBackOurGirls campaign concerning the missing Chibok girls has interestingly been quiet for some time. Are we more secure today?
On corruption, we must look at the number of convictions for corruption, not just arrests or “invitations” to Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) office. How many defendants have been convicted or acquitted. Since, former President Olusegun Obasanjo was compelled by virtue of treaty obligations to form both the EFCC and Independent Corrupt Practices and other Related Offenses Commission (ICPC); there are usually high-profile arrests that are not commensurate with convictions.
I believe we should move on to the issue of fuel. Last year around this time, there may have been fuel queues. Are there fewer queues today and what is the price of Premium Motor Spirit (petrol) comparatively? We now know that fuel subsidy actually exists and were not fabricated. I am not in a position to state whether it is inflated or not, but clearly we were paying some form of subsidy last year and are still paying subsidies today.
I only ask for an objective comparison. If you believe the country is better today or worse, send SMS to +12407724113 or +2348138391661. Please no political party talk. Give your cogent reason. E–mail can be sent to firstname.lastname@example.org. You may also use twitter (@profatawa) or Facebook using harsh tag #profatawa. Responses will be published at a letter date. If you do not want your name used, please say so and I will instead use the last four digits of your phone number or a portion of your email address.
Bayelsa election and Kogi supplementary election are scheduled for December 5. Both elections are featuring old politicians who were previously in the same party. Hat we have are essentially old wine in new wineskins. Don’t be carried away. Change is constant, but can be deceptively used. Evaluate all candidates divorced from their political party. The results of this article will be posted after the elections.
It is worth thinking about!