2 February 2013

Nigeria: A Look At Nigeria's Comatose Economy


The last global corruption index (annually authored by Transparency International's team) ranked Nigeria among the most corrupt countries in the world. This is not the first time that Nigeria will be ranked at that level, as the previous rankings have shown. Corruption has become a kind of survival blood for Nigeria's strange economic and political systems without which government and business could not function effectively.

A minister and his directors in a typical Nigerian ministry expect you (the contractor) to disclose to them their share in a yet to be awarded contract before you get the approval. A businessman lowers the quality of work awarded to him in order to maximize profit. A middle level government employee or that of a business organisation expects you (a job seeker) to give him a large chunk of money (in hand) before giving you an appointment letter to work in his organisation; or some percentage of your salary in the event that you do not possess the money cash in hand.

A university lecturer awards marks to you when you bring gifts to him or connect him with important people in government or business. A journalist expects a brown envelop to write a favourable story on you or your organisation or cancel a yet to be published story on you that may be damaging. An employee of a local government refuses to go to office until at the end of the month when he is expecting his name to be included in that month salaries voucher. An average Nigerian religious leader surrenders his neutrality and fear of God in order to be at the service of the powerful in exchange for a share of their ill gotten wealth. A typical Nigerian voter expects some token amount before he queues in the sun to cast his vote for you.

In one of the most exposing report about the Nigerian oil industry released by Nuhu Ribadu-led committee on the Nigerian oil industry, the country is said to have lost trillions of Naira to thievery by government officials in conjunction with local and international collaborators. But the very government that set up the committee jettisoned it when it found out that the findings of the report is too much for its liking because it touches many people connected to power in the country.

Since the return to democracy in 1999, the Nigerian power sector has consumed trillions of Naira without any visible improvement in electricity supply. The power sector, perhaps second only to the oil sector, is one of the biggest corruption corridors in the country where corruption has become the order of the day. Nigerian newspaper editions of the last few weeks were filled with stories on the plan by the Ministry of Agriculture to distribute mobile phone worth N60 billion to rural farmers. What a waste of money and opportunity to steal public funds by those in power at the ministry!

A ministry that cannot provide the Nigerian farmer with enough fertilizer and other farm inputs is talking of giving out mobile phone to farmers, what a lost of priorities! According to most estimates, Nigerian farmers contribute more than 40% to the country's gross domestic products; but all these notwithstanding; the sector is the most neglected in the country.

On the state of infrastructure, the story is the same despite our claim to being the second biggest economy in Africa. Our roads kill thousands annually because of lack of maintenance of existing ones and construction of new ones. Though, the present regime is claiming to have rejuvenated the railway system, the journey from Lagos to Kano is as slow as a donkey's walk. The very distance that you cover in two to three hours on a Chinese train, takes more than twenty four hours to accomplish on our rejuvenated trains.

There is no sign of such utilities as pipe born water, electric supply and good communication systems in most Nigerian villages, therefore, leaving the rural dwellers with no other option than to migrate to urban centres. Today, cities such Lagos, Kano, Kaduna, Ibadan, and Enugu are suffering from needless congestion and overcrowding. An average rural dweller in a Nigerian village, whether it is located in Bayelsa in the Niger Delta, or Katsina in the North, earns less than a $1 dollar in a day; the equivalent of about N157 in Nigerian currency.

Like all other segments of the Nigerian system, the judiciary has been compromised due to the greed of the judges, and the Nigerian mentality of 'get rich quick'. Your chance of getting a fair hearing in our courts does not depend on how guilt-free you are, but how loaded with cash and connected with those in corridors of power. In such a scenario it will be difficult to convince an average foreign investor to invest his hard earned capital in our comatose economy, without some sort of guarantee either from the government, big private organisations or external body; in some cases it takes guarantee from all the three to secure investment.

Abdullahi Daurawa wrote in from Farm Centre, Kano

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