It is common knowledge that most nations that are doing well economically are not single resource and oil-producing economies. Rather, they are mostly non-oil sector producers who manipulate their budgets to the advantage of the sectors. It is interesting to note also that even those with oil-based resources like Nigeria have successfully utilised earnings and windfalls from these sources to broaden the base of the sector itself by expanding into gas exploration and other petrochemical and develop other viable/sustainable areas to effect diversification of their economies.
I would like to re-assert that Nigeria is potentially and undoubtedly a very rich country and we really have no business with poverty. Nigeria is endowed with vast human and material resources. But in spite of all its resources, the Nigerian economy remains one of the most striking examples of a mono-product economy in the world, depending on oil as its major source of foreign exchange earnings.
In the past, agriculture formed the backbone of the Nigerian economy. Apart from providing employment opportunities for the people, it was the major source of income and foreign exchange before the discovery of crude oil. But today, the agricultural products for which Nigeria was once noted have disappeared from the list of our foreign exchange earnings while the solid minerals sector remains largely untapped or fall victim to illegal mining.
It was while we were swimming (with back-float style) in an extremely hard time that a class of people came together, selling the mantra of change to those of us who were tired of the Peoples’ Democratic Party’s (PDP) misrule and we unwittingly embraced it as a newly affianced wife. The All Progressives’ Congress (APC) promised us change—saying that the soon coming arrowhead was the messiah we were all waiting for.
There were evidences of gross electoral misdeeds and malpractices including over-voting, vote-buying, ghost voting and gross shirking of responsibilities by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) officials in order to give an undue advantage to the government in power. During the period of Olusegun Obasanjo, there was a lot of political malpractices and anomaly which include rigging of election, removal of incumbent governor by one-thirds majority of House instead of two-thirds majority according to the constitution, those who fell in that victims were former Oyo State governor, Rasheed Ladoja and Ekiti State governor, Ayodele Fayos. There were a lot of political killings which involved Bola Ige, Alfred Ruwani and many others. We must resolve all these murders if we desire the needed national rebirth.
There are certain things that are not acceptable in a democracy or democratic setting, and I must tell you, our constitution is basically faulty. How do you have a president who controls the whole military of the country, including revenue generation? It is an anomaly to be frank. Under the presidential system of government even in America that we practice their system of government, there are checks and balances in effect. The House of Representatives controls revenue. Therefore appropriate checks and balances are built into the system. Here in Nigeria, the power at the centre is enormous.
The future of Nigeria is certainly neither in the hands of the PDP nor APC. As the 2019 general election approaches, we owe it to ourselves to put the right people in and make sure that they are held accountable.
Ademola Orunbon writes from Epe, Lagos