Nigeria's Future Economy: Political Leadership and Corruption | Economic Depression

Nigeria's Future Economy: Political Leadership and Corruption | Economic Recession & Depression - E go beta, E go beta", WE CAN NO LONGER BEAR WITH THIS HYPOTHETICAL STATEMENT AGAIN IN NIGERIA, we want it to be better now!!!

It is no more a news that Nigeria is in a very unfriendly condition due to a number of reasons and it has been so since a very long year ago, the citizens in Nigeria have been shouting here and there that when will Nigeria become better and developed and the answer coming from our leaders so far has been a hypothetical and conjectural statement of "E go beta E go beta" and do bear with us.

The focus of this write up is to reveal the causative agent's' as the case may be, and also explain the inception of the problem and finally where the solution lies instead of the "E go beta E go beta" phenomenon.

The major problems and challenges affecting Nigeria as a country such as public looting, mismanagement of public offices and funds and to crown it all corruption are traceable to the 1960 Independence era till date, As the British colonial masters handed over power and made us rule ourselves without any intervention from them, the problem started, however I am not in any way supporting the colonial masters, for they exploited us instead of exploring our resources as promised.

Nevertheless, I cannot agree less with the fact that the British colonial masters are far better than our so called despotic and oppressive leaders, our leaders both past and present except few of them caused Nigeria to be in this absurd and unbearable condition. Even the so called Colonial Masters treated us fairly than our own indigenous leaders, In the colonial period, a number of privileges were enjoyed by the citizens of Nigeria among which are, free western education though it came with the imposition of Christianity on the general public who are willing to be educated, economic stability, security of lives and properties and lot more.

In 1963, Nigeria practised the Republican system of government and it was under the leadership of Sir Abubakar Tafawa Balewa( the first prime minister) and Dr Nnamdi Azikwe (the president), this event marked the widespread of corrupt practices, where government officials looted public funds with impunity. Federal Representatives and Ministers  flaunted their  wealth  with reckless abandon. In fact, it appeared that there  were  no  men of good character  in the  political leadership of  the  First Republic.  Politically, the  thinking  of  the First Republic  Nigerian leadership class  was based on politics for  material  gain, making money  and living well.

The  situation described  above, among  other  factors,  provided the pretext  for  a  group  of young middle-rank  army  officers  to sack  the  Nigerian  First Republic  politicians from power  through a  coup d’├ętat on 15th  January  1966  on the ground of  corruption.  The editorial of the  Daily Times Newspaper  of January  16, 1966 argued  thus: With the transfer of  authority  of the  Federal Government to the Armed  Forces, we reached  a  turning  point in our  national life. The  old order  has  changed,  yielding  place to  a  new  one...  For  a long time, instead of settling  down to minister to people’s needs, the politicians were  busy performing  series of seven day  wonders  as if the act of government was some  circus show... still we  groped along  as  citizens  watched politicians scorn the base by which they did ascend... (Daily Times, 1966).

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The  coup was  a  direct response  to the  corruption of the  First Republic; and  the  popular support the military  received  for  the  coup showed that Nigerians were  long  expecting such a  wind of change  to  bail them  out  from the  claws  of  the  politicians of  that  era. Interestingly, despite  the killings of  some major First Republic  politicians, there  were widespread jubilations in the country. The  General Aguiyi Thomas Ironsi military government  that replaced the sacked civilian regime instituted a  series of commissions of inquiry  to investigate the  activities  of  some government parastatals and  to probe  the widespread  corruption that characterised the  public service  sector of  the  deposed regime.

The  report on  the  parastatals, especially  the  Nigeria Railway  Corporation,  Nigeria  Ports Authority, and the defunct  Electricity  Corporation  of Nigeria and  Nigeria  Airways, revealed  that a number  of ministers formed companies and used  their influence  to secure contracts.  Moreover, they were  found  guilty  of  misappropriation  of funds  as well  as disregarding  laid down procedures  in the award of contracts by  parastatals under their Ministries  (Okonkwo, 2007).

The zeal to punish the wrong doers of  the  First Republic  died with the Gowon coup of  July 1966, which  ousted the  Ironsi  government because  the  politicians in detention were freed. This development had serious implications for  the polity as the new set of rulers  embarked on  white elephant  projects, which served  as a  means of  looting  public funds. The  ensuing development clearly  showed that the military  rulers were  not better  nor different from the ousted civilians leaders.

General Yakubu Gowon  ruled the country  at a time  Nigeria  experienced  an unprecedented wealth from the  oil  boom  of the  1970s.  Apart from  the mismanagement of the  economy, the Gowon regime  was  enmeshed in  deep-seated corruption.  By  1974, reports of  unaccountable  wealth of Gowon’s military  governors and other public  office holders  had  become the  crux  of discussion in the  various Nigerian dailies.  Thus, in  July 1975,  the  Gowon  administration  was toppled by General Murtala Mohammed through  a coup d’├ętat.  The  coup of  1975, among  other things,  was an attempt  to end corruption  in the  public  service.  General  Murtala  Mohammed began by declaring  his assets and asking all  government officials to follow  suit.  He  instituted a  series of probes of past leaders. The Federal Assets Investigation Panel of 1975 found ten of  the  twelve state military  governors in the  Gowon  regime guilty  of corruption.  The  guilty  persons were  dismissed from the military  services  with ignominy. They were  also  forced to  give  up  ill-acquired properties considered to be  in  excess of  their  earnings  (M.  O. Maduagwu  quoted  in  Gboyega, 1996:3).

The  Second Republic, under President Shehu Shagari,  witnessed  a  resurgence  of corruption.  The Shagari  administration was marked by  spectacular  government corruption,  as the  President  did nothing to  stop the  looting  of public  funds by  elected officials.  Corruption among  the  political leaders  was amplified due  to greater  availability of  funds.  It was claimed that over $16  billion in oil revenues were lost  between 1979 and 1983 during  the  reign of President  Shehu  Shagari.  It became quite  common, for federal buildings  to  mysteriously  go  up in  flames,  most  especially just  before  the onset of ordered  audits of government accounts,  making  it  impossible to discover written evidence of  embezzlement and fraud (Dash, 1983).  True  to his nature,  President  Shehu Shagari was too  weak in  his administration of  the country.  A soft-spoken  and mild mannered gentleman Shagari was pathetic in  his inability  to  call  his ministers and political lieutnants to order or  stop  them  from  embezzling  state funds.   No politician symbolised  the graft and  avarice  under Shagari’s  government  more  than  his combative Transport Minister, Alhaji  Umaru Dikko, who was alleged to have  mismanaged about N4 billion of  public  fund meant for  the  importation of  rice.

However, on  31st  December  1983, General Muhammadu  Buhari led  a  popular  coup  that again rescued the  economy  from the  grip of  corrupt politicians of  the Second  Republic. The  1983 coup was carried out  with the  aim  of halting  corruption and  restoring discipline, integrity  and  dignity to public  life.  General  Buhari’s regime  promised to bring corrupt officials and their  agents to book.

Consequently,  state  governors  and commissioners  were arrested  and brought before tribunals of inquiry. The  new  Buhari regime,  which  scarcely  showed respect for  human rights in its bid to entrench discipline and sanity  in public  life,  was  toppled  by  the General  Ibrahim  Babangida  in a  bloodless  inhouse  coup  on  27th  August  1985.

The  next thirteen  years saw no serious attempt to stop corruption.  If anything,  corruption reached an alarming  rate and  became institutionalized during  Babangida’s regime. Leaders found  guilty  by  tribunals under  the  Murtala  Mohammed and Mohammadu Buhari  regimes found  their  way  back to  public  life  and recovered  their  seized properties.  According  to Maduagwu: Not only  did the  regime  encourage  corruption by pardoning corrupt officials convicted by  his  predecessors and returning  their seized properties, the regime officially sanctioned corruption in the country  and made  it  difficult to apply  the only  potent measures, long  prison terms and seizure  of ill-gotten wealth, for fighting  corruption in Nigeria in the future (Maduagwu quoted in Gboyega, 1996: 5).

In the  face  of intense  public  opposition to his rule,  General  Babangida  reluctantly handed the reins  of  government to a  non-elected military-civilian  Interim National Government  on 26th  August 1993 which was later  ousted from power by the military under the  leadership of  General Sani Abacha  on  17th November  1993. Abacha’s regime only  furthered the  deep-seated  corrupt  practices, which  already characterised public  life since  the inception of  the  Babangida  regime.  Under General Abacha,  corrupt practices became blatant  and systematic.

General  Abacha  and his  family  alongside  his associates  looted Nigeria's coffers with reckless abandon. The  extent of  Abacha’s  venality  seemed  to have  surpassed that of other notorious African rulers,  such as Mobutu  Sese  Seko of  Zaire  (now  called the Democratic Republic  of Congo).  It  was estimated that the embezzlement of public  funds and corruption proceeds  of General Abacha  and his  family  amounted to USD  4 billion (International Centre  for Asset Recovery, 2009).

The  dictator, General  Sani  Abacha,  died  suddenly  from a heart attack  in June  1998. He was replaced  by  General Abdulsalami  Abubakar, who  subsequently  handed over the  reins of government  to  a democratically  elected  civilian government in May  1999 after having spent eleven months  in power.  The Abdulsalami Abubakar  government  showed dedicated commitment to  returning  the country  to democracy  but did not  do much to  fight corruption.

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It is instructive  to state  here  that the  Third Republic was sandwiched within the  thirteen years military  rule  of General  Babangida  and Sani Abacha  (1985  – 1998). During  this period, a number of  commissions of inquiry  were  instituted,  yet  no inquiry  and reports stopped  the high rate of corruption.   The  Fourth Republic  commenced with the  election of General  Olusegun  Obasanjo as the President of Nigeria  in 1999.  Indeed, the sixteen unbroken  years of  the military  era  from the fall  of  the Second Republic  in 1983 and the restoration of  democracy  in 1999 represents an era  in the  history  of the country  when corruption  was practically  institutionalized as the foundation  and essence  of  governance.

In fact the handing of power to the civilian government marked the beginning of public fund embezzlement, politicians and government officials saw the political institution as a business centre, they contest for political post in order to take their own part of the national cake and this led to a break down in the economy of Nigeria, and since then the economy of Nigeria has been imbalance and ready to fall, In essence, public looting is one of the fundamental factors that led us and will continue to lead us 'if not stopped' to the 'E go beta E go beta' phenomenon but frankly speaking if public fund looting is not stopped and eradicated to the bearest minimum 'E no fit beta oooo'.

Another major factor that is making livelihood in Nigeria challenging is the discovery of oil in oloibiri as at the year 1950, Oil was discovered in 1950 and first exported in 1956, Nigeria's economy was used to be dependent on agricultural produce and agriculture back in those days before the discovery of oil, but with the advent of oil, there was a shift in the economy of Nigeria from agriculture to petroleum exportation, and the consequential effect of this was that we were unable to produce more agricultural produce again and everyone rely largely on oil, and this made Nigeria weakened to the length that we virtually import all agricultural produces and we are not capable to grow a single crop in our own land that is arable.

The decline or fall in or of oil boom in Nigeria affected the country to the fact that it pushed it into economic recession that we are currently facing today, this is because money is not in circulation again and we don't have any agricultural mentality or orientation but to import the agricultural produce, however, money is not in circulation and the value of naira has depreciated emphatically, so the rate of agricultural produce we import will equally become low, but if it were to be that Nigeria is diversified economically we will have gone higher than this in term of economy, but we are not, I just pray that we come to our senses before the last drop of oil gets dried off.

As sociology and all other societal related field of study has been established to make life comfortable for people by providing solutions to the various societal problems, it is on this ground I will proffer just two solutions to the challenges facing Nigeria,

First, the penalty for corruption should be execution, if this is observed carefully I promise Nigeria will become better, every individual will think twice before acting or behaving in contrary to the established patterns of rules and regulations, China is a perfect example for this, It is one of the countries on top of the globe in terms of development, Back in those days, China was also facing economic hardship and they have tried all their possible means to fight this problem, after series of solutions proved to be futile the penalty of execution for corruption was used and practised, this made their government officials think twice before embezzling public fund, Nigeria should try as much as possible to enact this law into its constitution and make it effective to mitigate all challenging issues especially corruption.

Another solution is to make the economy diversified in all ramifications, the dependency should not be solely on oil, other natural resources like timber,cocoa,rubber and the host of others should also be considered, agriculture.... TO BE CONTINUED.

More to come on;

  • The Future: Nigeria, our Home
  • Politicians were busy performing series of seven day
  • 2 Political Leadership and Corruption in Nigeria Since 1960:
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