“…..To revive the rail system in the country 2- To complete Lagos to Jebba rail project 3-To intervene and revitalize the moribund Nigeria Machine Tools and other infrastructure owned by the federal government. 4-Government has budgeted N50b for job development and infrastructure *To modernize the ports *To complete the second River Niger bridge before the expiration of the tenure *To make the Minister of Works to immediately start repairs of the road leading to Murtala Mohammed International Airport 5-To transform all major routes in Damaturu to federal roads *To assist in resuscitating all the collapsed industries in Kano state”…. “To address the issues of unemployment through diversification of the nation’s economy to that of sustainable agricultural development across the 36 states of federation 21-To reduce production cost by inviting manufacturers of high demand commodities in the country to set up production factories in the country 22-To get industries in Lagos up and running, also bring industries to the Niger Delta…” and many more.
Jonathan is responsible for not fulfilling his promises. Nigerians are equally responsible. The real power of a state does not rest with the government, but with the people. If you voted for a legislator for money, you are responsible. If you are a legislator and you paid for vote, you are responsible. If you are a member of the press and you fail to inform the people or campaign for a more free press, you are responsible. If you do not vote, you are responsible. If you are a member of the executive and you are not transparent, you are corrupt. If you are a law enforcement agent and you receive corrupt payments, you are responsible. If you vote for people with no checkable employment history or known business, you are responsible.
I believe that responsibility for failure should be borne at the top. Accordingly, a nation is ever built or rebuilt from the bottom and therefore change can only come from the bottom and not from the top. Jonathan’s perception of the problem at hand was illusive and I believe he ought to have known that to achieve those objectives would require first, creating conditions that would enable the implementation of those policies. This can only be done through creating avenues of informing and empowering the people. This is where Nigerian press have failed.
The fight against corruption can only be won by the people, with the press as champions of accountability and with tough legislations billed from the house. This therefore, de-emphasises the power of the executive. Jonathan I am sure is a good man with the right ambitions. But, if we are to confront the challenges ever faced by Nigeria, we must begin from our communities, and unify against our community challenges; then encourage others and other communities to do the same. In this way, we would have begun to build a nation of our ideals; with the power to make changes and influence government decisions. But we need leadership from the bottom, at community levels. Unfortunately, our intentions at community levels are usually distracted and undermined through selfish power struggles that care less about the greater good and more about self interest in the short term. This is the very culture that sustains the degree of corruption in our country today. I contend that many Nigerian leaders’ understanding of corruption problems is misconceived. They understand it as just a crime. But it is not just a crime, it is a culture. It is only if and when corruption is recognized as a culture can we approach the problem with any reasonable prospect of success. From criminological perspective, crimes sustained by culture including terrorism require a situational approach of inducing public condemnation and shame along side severe punishment to those that commit such deadly crimes. Any approach must be accompanied by political and economic intervention aimed at job creation, dignity of labour (better conditions of work) and reasonable living wage to all public workers. If Nigeria were to begin these processes today, it can take up to 10years to realise. As far as I can see, Nigeria has yet to begin.
I have read reports of Nigerian government paying millions of dollars to foreign security consultants who promise the country that they would deal with Boko Haram in 12 months. As far as I can see there is yet to be a strategy for dealing with terrorism and other organized crimes, like kidnapping in Nigeria. The fight against these crimes cannot be fought in isolation with corruption. Terrorism and kidnapping are dangerously entangled with corruption in the Nigerian security context. I can confidently predict that Nigeria’s sugar coated approach to terrorism in isolation with the underlying corruption, economic and political problems could finally bankrupt the nation within 10 years.
To deal with our security problems, Nigerian police and policing must be restructured and reorganized to meet the security challenges of this century. I know many reorganizations of the police force have taken place in recent times; but moves lack strategic thinking.
Without a doubt, Nigeria has been thrown off balance by the new wave of crime and terrorism. Plural policing and expansion of the Nigerian private security industry has never been more urgent. To this end, Nigeria must relax company formation rules and encourage entrepreneurship in order to stimulate the growth of more indigenous corporations able to compete nationally and internationally with foreign counterparts. In this way it is possible to develop the Nigerian private sector and decrease over-dependence on foreign contractors or consultants who may not commit to any long-term strategic security plan. This will then ensure the stability of a strategic security plan to deal with the security challenges faced by Nigeria and Nigerians and facilitate intelligence gathering through job creation for young people.
Terrorists are faceless. Regardless of what their motivations could be, it is important to deal with the obvious problem – terrorism by dealing with the injustices of our time – poverty. Participatory democracy that recognizes the role of a free media, engaged with the business of informing the people and holding the government to account on behalf of the citizens. Nigeria will then become a nation with intellectually stimulated citizens. In reality, this will result in opposition of or support for the government; and both are necessary.
At present Nigeria has no structure. In this century and age of globalization and free market economy, country with poor political, economic, social and security structure will benefit less from all that globalization have to offer. In this present world, it is easier for the most powerful nations to filter the ills that come with globalization or displace them to unprepared nations to deal with. The ill of this new way of life in this century is corruption and countries that have no mechanism for dealing with or managing the problem will die. So far, in my opinion, Pakistan and Nigeria are in the same league and these two nations top corruption league as well, in the world today.
The world is neither more secure nor less secure today compared to the past years. The end of world war II was followed by cold war. The UK, America, Russia and some other G-8 Nations faced a different threat during the cold war – the threat of subversion and overthrow of government by other enemy states and state sponsorship of terrorism. This threat changed following 9/11 attack and the world united against a common enemy, the non-state terrorists we know today. This is what they mean when they say that the US and the UK are saferand the world is safer today. As these nations have better resources and are better prepared, terrorism has been displaced to countries that are considered easier targets as the terrorists continue to redefine and modify their interpretation of who their enemies are. Their original enemies were the US and the West. Now their new enemies are anybody or anything associated with the America and the West (justified through wrongful interpretation of the takfir doctrine in the Sharia as Haram) as it became increasingly unlikely that they would successfully carryout another atrocity in American or UK soil.
The reason for this brief narrative is to educate Nigerians on the sort of enemy Nigeria as a nation is up against and that there exists no quick-fix. It is therefore in the interest of all Nigerians to help solve this problem through democratic involvement. Goodluck Jonathan is just one man. But as a leader, he is responsible for uniting us all against these problems and creating the conditions that encourage participatory democracy through transparency and governance.
Finally, it is important to clarify that the level of corruption as used in this article is beyond that of a student bribing a teacher or police collecting ‘egunje’ or public servants collecting private fees to do what they are already paid by the state for. The corruption at the back of my mind is at the high level and includes international payments from foreign private organizations to Nigerian public officials to facilitate transactions or negotiations and the power or influence of non-state actors on the government or government agencies for personal political, economic or social gain; minority of law enforcement agents helping criminals or terrorists for personal gains. Foreign governments employing private organizations to negotiate deals with the Nigerian government. This problem is bigger than one man; especially one that enjoys life and cares less about the future of the country. But whenever solved, Nigeria could be in a position to compete with any other world power, given our population, diversity, landmass and natural resources. And Nigerians will become what they are created to be – free and independent.
God Bless Nigeria.
Chike Onyeari writes from London.