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Constitutional conundrum and challenge of leadership in Nigeria

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[FILES] Lawan. Photo/facebook/NgrSenate/


At an incredible cost, the National Assembly is again holding “public hearing” for a further amendment of the 1999 Constitution of Nigeria. A scratch of the detail of Nigeria’s trauma since 2015 is necessary. The country has long wobbled on the precipice of failure. A few weeks ago, the Council on Foreign Relations (CFR) and the Harvard Kennedy School in the United States said in a report that Nigeria as a nation is at the point of no return, having showed all the signs of a failed nation. Upon giving examples of other failed states in the world, the Report added: Each lacks security, is unsafe, has weak rules of law, is corrupt, limits political participation and voice, discriminates within its borders against various classes and kinds of citizens and provides educational and medical services sparingly. Most of all, failed states are violent. All failed states harbor some form of violent internal strife, such as civil war or insurgency. Nigeria now confronts six or more internal insurrections and the inability of the Nigerian state to provide peace and stability to its people has tipped a hitherto very weak state into failure.

The experience of Nigerians since 2015 has been piercing. Before then, Nigeria was the third fastest growing economy in the world next to China and India with a growth rate of close to seven per cent. The economy contracted immediately after the swearing in of President Buhari who took more than six months to constitute his cabinet. Growth rate slumped to less than two per cent. There have been two economic recessions since then. The dollar value of the naira dipped as inflation and cost of living went to the blues. Inability of Government to arrest the decline has led to loss of confidence in the government, which has been overpowered by an unprecedented security challenges that made insurgency, kidnapping, bloodletting and sophisticated criminal activities daily characteristics of terribly beleaguered nation.

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The retrogression could not be halted in 2019. In fact, the economy slid into its second recession in 2020. This 2021, Nigeria is ranked the third-worst governed nation in new global good governance index. The index uses 34 indicators, which are organized into seven pillars: leadership and foresight; robust laws and policies; strong institutions; financial stewardship; attractive marketplace; global influence and reputation; and helping people rise. Mali, which is undergoing some political cataclysm and turmoil, is currently ranked as being better governed than Nigeria. Mauritius, at number 38 on the log, is Africa’s best performer. The report noted that countries that have done well under this pillar are all market economies with sound property rights and stable business regulations. It added that the ability to effectively tackle corruption is the indicator with the strongest correlation with overall good government rankings. The Good Governance Index said the ranking comes amid the COVID-19 pandemic, which has revealed strengths and weaknesses in institutions, laws, and leadership, adding that governance is the deciding factor in whether countries succeed or not. All these are not direct constitutional issues.

It is disturbing to note that Nigeria is the third most terrorized country in the world, next to Afghanistan and Iraq. Federal Government actions presently are centered on cows. Cows are more secure in Nigeria than Nigerians and cow “care givers” are armed to the teeth to the knowledge of Government authorities. Meanwhile, apostles of cow liberty have not been able to show Nigerians the value cows add to the economy as per how much tax is generated from cow business in Nigeria, employment opportunities they provide, export platforms enhanced by cow rearing and its overall contribution to Nigeria’s GDP. Security challenges have gotten to the highest level in Nigeria with bloodletting becoming normal. Insurgency, kidnapping and sophisticated criminal activities are daily features of terribly beleaguered citizenry. In the past few months, about 2000 Christian lives have been lost in various theatres of “war” in the country. Between December 2020 and March 2021, gangs of bandits seeking lucrative ransom kidnapped a total of 769 students from their boarding schools and other educational facilities across northern Nigeria in at least five separate incidents. Leaders take sides with cows than with Nigerians. All these are not direct constitutional issues.

Nigeria’s public debt stock has reached $84billion with debt service costs gulping about 80 percent of entire government’s revenue. Nigeria’s external debt increased by 117.4 per cent from $12.6 billion in 2015 to $27.4 billion by the end of 2019. Further, between March and June 2020, a total of $10.26 billion new debt was approved by the National Assembly. Other approvals for more loans were also given this 2021. These have ominous economic implications particularly with intangible evidence of what these funds are being invested in. With low productivity of the Nigerian workforce, the Federal Government has no repayment plan will not be very hurtful to the unborn. The burden is already very heavy. The just published 2021 budget implementation report states that the Federal Government spent a total of N1.8 trillion on debt servicing in the first five months of the year, representing about 98 per cent of the total revenue generated in the same period. All these are not direct constitutional issues.

Of the four Presidents who have led Nigeria since it returned to democracy in 1999, Buhari holds the worst record in terms of economic growth. Olusegun Obasanjo’s regime from 1999 to 2007 had an average growth rate of 6.9 per cent. His immediate successor Umaru Musa Yar’ Adua did even better in his two years with an average growth rate of 7.6 per cent while Goodluck Jonathan delivered 5 per cent growth rate in his six-year term as President that ended in 2015. Nigeria’s GDP per capita declined by 0.02 per cent, 4.16 per cent and 1.78 per cent in 2015, 2016 and 2017 respectively. In 2018, 2019 and 2020, it declined by 0.68 per cent, 0.38 per cent and 4.57 per cent. Six years of contracting per capita has wrecked grievous pain on businesses and households. About 272 firms were forced out of business in 2016 alone, and 50 of them were manufacturing companies. All these are not direct constitutional issues.

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Even though the 1999 Constitution of Nigeria is a concoction and far from being a perfect one, a candid analysis of the foregoing points would lead to an inescapable conclusion that the most vicious challenge plaguing Nigeria is LEADERSHIP DEFICIT and it worsened under the Buhari dispensation. The 1999 Constitution, which is now twenty-one years old, requires a fundamental tinkering, no doubt, it is not responsible for the woes and disaster brought upon Nigeria by the incompetence, ineptitude, insensitivity, high-handedness and nepotism of Mohammad Buhari. He lacks the leadership acumen by which previous leaders managed to effectively conceal the deficiencies in the constitution. To blame the 1999 Constitution for all the agony and misfortune that President Buhari brought upon Nigerians is most improper.

President Buhari must be congratulated because he has set a new Guinness World Record: He became the first elected president of a country to become resident of another nation while still in power when he spent months in London on medical vacation. According to the US job report from the United States Department of Labour, the US economy added 1,074,000 under President Trump while according to the Nigerian Bureau of Statistics, the Nigerian economy lost 4.58 million jobs in President Buhari’s first year! At no point in its 60-year history has Nigeria’s economy expanded slower than its population for a longer period than between 2015 and 2020. Data from the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS) shows a 1.9-per cent contraction in 2020. While none of the three previous Presidents had nothing less five percent growth rate, Buhari achieved 0.28 percent. Nigeria’s woes under Buhari are not constitutional issues. He is simply a harbinger of disaster and appears to be in a mission to liquidate Nigeria.

It is important to note that one of the most outstanding superpowers in the world today and one of the five permanent members of the Security Council of the United Nations, Great Britain, which has attained dignified economic and political heights of greatness and colonized fifty-four countries of the world has no written constitution up to now. The population of Great Britain by 2011 estimate is 60.8million. Apart from the World Wars, which that country fought gallantly and won, they have not experienced the nature of political upheavals Nigeria has faced or is presently confronted with. Two other countries that go by unwritten constitutions are New Zealand and Israel. These three countries have not suffered suffocating development impediments because there are no codified documents they can call their constitutions. They are amongst the most prosperous countries of the world, fairly peaceful and politically stable. They are not cursed with looters who parade as leaders and tribesman who borrow the garments of national patriots neither has any straggler polluted the streams of their governance to unleash backwardness, penury, insecurity and bloodletting as reward to their ignorant voters.

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China, with the world’s largest population of 1.4 billion, is a Marxist–Leninist one-party Socialist Republic. Her Constitution is the fifth and current constitution of the Republic of China, ratified on December 25, 1946, and adopted on December 25, 1947. The Additional Articles of the Constitution of the Republic of China are the revisions and constitutional amendments to the original Constitution to meet the requisites of the nation and the political status of Taiwan. The Additional Articles are usually attached after the original Constitution as a separate document. It also has its own preamble and article ordering different from the original Constitution. The Additional Articles are the fundamental law of the present government of the Republic of China on Taiwan since 1991, last amended in 2005. Between 1947 and April 30, 1991 there were only temporary provisions against Communist rebellion.

Up to 1978, China’s annual growth rate was a modest 2 percent and her leaders considered it imperative to reform the economy, not amending the Constitution, thus underlining the need for dynamic leadership. The reform centred on opening up the economy. The reforms were launched by reformists within the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) on December 18, 1978. The reforms went into stagnation after the military crackdown on 1989 Tiananmen Square protests, but were revived after Deng Xiaoping’s Southern Tour in 1992. In 2010, China overtook Japan as the world’s second-largest economy.

Before the reforms, the Chinese economy was dominated by state ownership and central planning. From 1950 to 1973, Chinese real GDP per capita grew at a rate of 2.9 per cent yearly on average, albeit with major fluctuations stemming from the Great Leap Forward and the Cultural Revolution. This placed it near the middle of the Asian nations during the same period, with neighboring capitalist countries such as Japan, South Korea and rival Chiang Kai-shek’s Republic of China outstripping the PRC’s rate of growth. Starting in 1970, the economy entered into a period of stagnation, and after the death of CCP Chairman Mao Zedong, the Communist Party leadership turned to market-oriented reforms to salvage the failing economy.

The Communist Party authorities executed two-stage market reforms. The first stage, in the late 1970s and early 1980s, involved the de-collectivization of agriculture, the opening up of the country to FOREIGN INVESTMENT, and permission for entrepreneurs to start businesses. However, a large percentage of industries remained state-owned. The second stage of reform, in the late 1980s and 1990s, involved the privatization and contracting out of much state-owned industry. The 1985 lifting of price controls was a major reform, and the lifting of protectionist policies and regulations soon followed, although state monopolies in sectors such as banking and petroleum remained. In 2001, China joined the World Trade Organization (WTO). The private sector grew remarkably, accounting for as much as 70 percent of China’s gross domestic product by 2005. From 1978 until 2013, unprecedented growth occurred, with the economy increasing by 9.5 per cent a year. These elements of growth are the outcomes of quality transformational leadership, not constitutional amendment.
Olehi is an Owerri based legal practitioner.

After economic reforms in 1978, and her entry into the World Trade Organization in 2001, China’s economy became the second-largest country by nominal GDP in 2010 and grew to the largest in the world by PPP in 2014. China is the world’s fastest-growing major economy, the second-wealthiest nation in the world, and the world’s largest manufacturer and exporter. The nation has the second-largest defense budget, and is a recognized nuclear-weapons state. China has been characterized as an emerging superpower due to its large economy. Foreign trade became a major new focus, leading to the creation of Special Economic Zones. Inefficient state-owned enterprises were restructured and unprofitable ones were closed outright. Modern-day China is mainly characterized as having a market economy based on private property ownership, and is one of the leading examples of state capitalism. That country’s astonishing economic growth and development with terrific global impact are outcomes of technology, innovation and entrepreneurship, not constitutional amendment.

President Buhari’s lack of capacity to manage of Nigeria’s diversity, his incompetence in handling the complexity of modern governance, his clumsiness in grappling with the sophisticated challenges of development and his feeble approach to complex dynamics of global politics plunged Nigeria to her current abyss and are, strictly speaking, not constitutional issues. His abysmal poor performance does not arise from defects in the 1999 Constitution, after all, former Presidents Obasanjo, Yar’Adua and Jonathan served under the same Constitution. The pains of Buhari’s sordid misgovernance is the root of agitations from various regions in Nigeria and the unnecessary protraction and indeed escalation of insecurity challenges in Nigeria. Three other presidents have been there and they did not bring so much calamity, backwardness and shame to Nigeria as the citizen’s face currently. Nigeria is certainly too big and complex for him to manage.

Indeed, President Buhari’s inglorious leadership has brought to the fore certain inadequacies in the 1999 Constitution. But what aggravates the pain Nigerians are going through under Buhari is the attitude of state governors. For instance, section 7 of the Constitution creates democratically elected local government councils and gives the State Governments the mandate to ensure their existence. But the local governments have become moribund and their headquarters overgrown with weeds even when each of the 774 local government councils receive monthly allocations from the Federal Government through their State Governors who cannot give account what the funds are being utilized for. Each local government council can generate enough income and employ not less than five hundred additional staff if the governors allow them to perform their functions in clearly spelt out in Schedule IV of the same Constitution. The 1999 Constitution expects that people will elect honest persons as governors who will not misappropriate local government funds. If we Nigerian elect thieves who will kill the councils so that their funds will be available for looting, it will be wrong to blame the said Constitution.

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With the nexus between sustainable economic development and the rule of law, each State Government is in a position to attract Foreign Direct Investment and industrialize his State if the funds meant for the Judiciary are not misappropriated by the Governors. Private sector can flourish in the States if there is an environment of Accountability, Transparency and Rule of Law because these attract the confidence of investors in the economy and open up same to the vibrancy of entrepreneurship, innovations and technology. Governors play to the gallery, as they do not bother about real sector economic growth. They are averse to the development axiom that that the key to stability is jobs, the key to jobs is investment and the key to investment is rule of law.

The Governors disregard the interconnectedness amongst humans in the global village and what the “villages” they govern can bring to the global “market square.” There are no significant constitutional impediments to transformational and sustainable economic development by State Governments. Their stand against democracy was strongly shooting when it took them more than two months to sign agreements with Judiciary Staff Union of Nigeria to apply provisions of the Constitution they swore to uphold in ensuring autonomy for the Judiciary during the just suspended industrial action. All these point to the assertion that Leadership MUST be addressed before restructuring which from all indications requires a fundamental constitutional amendment.

The question has come up severally whether it should be further amending the 1999 Constitution or getting a brand new Constitution. In responding to this, many have opined that the 1999 Constitution is the product of a military decree, not the “Peoples Constitution” and accordingly the ‘falsehood’ it declares in its preamble that ‘we the people of the Federal Republic Nigeria having firmly and solemnly resolved to lie in unity and harmony…’ justifies throwing it into the refuse bin. According to the proponents of that view, the people of Nigeria never met anywhere to make any resolution. It must be stressed that the validity or otherwise of the constitution of a nation raises a jurisprudential question and makes it imperative to re-examine the legality of coups which brought the military that eventually gave birth to the said 1999 Constitution.

Upon the success of a coup, its organizers metamorphose into the “Federal Military Government” which makes a decree suspending and or modifying the provisions of the Constitution that are inconsistent with the military political structure. The Federal Military Government performs both the legislative and executive powers of Government. Thus, “the Federal Military Government shall have power to make laws for the peace, order and good government of Nigeria or any part thereof with respect to any matter whatsoever.” The power of the Federal Military Government to promulgate decrees shall be exercised by means of decrees signed by the Head of the Federal Military Government. The Federal Government is legislatively omnipotent. It can promulgate with unexpected swiftness any decree at pleasure, amend, abrogate or replace current ones. Thus:
…its authority is supreme. Where a formal constitution is established, it is subject to the absolute and supreme power of the military government. The military government…is the source from which such constitution drives its authority and at whose sufferance it must therefore operate.

Having gotten to this stage, the constitutionality is no longer questionable. A coup d’etat is a forcible overthrow of a government duly established by a constitution. It is “a preternatural occurrence, a detestable socio-political aberration, a constitutional anathema. Its only claim to legitimacy lies in the bayonet and bullet. But ironically, it is termed a revolution if it succeeds. Achike also sees a revolution or a coup d’etat “as a violent or unlawful change of government. A coup is therefore the antithesis of a constitutional change of government.” However, violence or peacefulness of a take-over has no juristic significance just as whether the change was prompted by highly patriotic impulse or by most sordid of ends is legally irrelevant.

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In their crave for legitimacy, organizers of coups or revolutions overthrow the government and replace the supreme law of the land, that is the constitution which is the suprema lex with their decree to establish a new framework. It must be noted that coups or revolutions, not being consistent or authorized, secured or regulated by the constitution but conflicts with, say, section 1(2) of the 1979 Constitution (as amended) which provided that “the Federal Republic of Nigeria shall not be governed, nor shall any person or group of persons take control of the Government of Nigeria or any part thereof, except in accordance with the provisions of this Constitution.”

But the point is, there no constitution to relate the legality of a successful coup or revolution to, “its own legality is judged not by reference to the annulled constitution but by reference to its own success.” According to Hans Kelson, this is because: If in this they are successful, if, that is the old government ceases and the new begins to be effective, in that the behavior of the men and women, for whom the order claims to be valid, conforms in the main, no longer to the old but the new order, then this latter is operated as a legal order, the acts which it performed are declared legal, the condition which it proscribes illegal.

Precisely, it is the success of the coup that establishes its legality and the test of its validity is its efficacy. The effect of such uncontemplated change is the birth of a new legal order predicated upon a fresh grundnorm or basic norm, which destroys the suprema lex and the validity of the pre-existing national legal order. The grundnorm in any legal system is “a grand, indispensable postulate – to which all the roads of the law lead, by however devious routes.” This fortifies the view that “in revolutionary situation, the law is not to be sought for in the books but in the events that surround us.” The constitution is the basic norm, not the grundnorm in Kelson’s view, which majority of the scholars agree with. The basic norm constitutes the unity in diversity of all norms, which make up the system, it is the fundamental condition of law making conferring validity on other inferior norms. Ipso facto, a grundnorm cannot be a visible or tangible object, like a constitution. Hans Kelson posits that the grundnorm is not created by a real act of will of a legal organ, but is presupposed in juristic thinking. It is meta-legal and has hypothetical character.

The validity of the grundnorm is presupposed because without this presupposition, no human act could be interpreted as legal, especially as norm creating act. Kelson admits, and we cannot hold a contrary opinion, that under a military dispensation, it is force, success and efficacy that are the conditio sine qua non for the validity of every norm and therefore constitute the grundnorm.32 Efficacy is the assent or support of the people, which is manifested by popular conformance to the new order. That is to say that it is the conformance of the people that lends efficacy to the organizers of the coup or revolution and this is the grundnorm that confers validity to the first legislative act of the organizers of the coup or revolution. The function of this grundnorm is to confer law creating power on the first act, that is Decree No 1 of 1984 for instance and any other law that it saves. Success of a coup or revolution and conformance to their orders constitute the grundnorm, which confers legitimacy to their legislative actions. Once their first legislative act, Decree 1 is unchallenged, every other decree that follows is valid and legitimate.

Indeed, the 1999 Constitution is a Schedule to Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria (Promulgation) Decree No 24 of 1999. Section 1 thereof provides:
(1) There shall be for Nigeria a Constitution, which shall be set out in the Schedule to this Decree.

(2) The Constitution set out in the Schedule to this Decree shall come into force on May 29, 1999.

(3) Whenever it may be hereafter be necessary for the Constitution to be printed it shall be lawful for the Federal Government Printer to omit all parts of this Decree apart from the Schedule and the Constitution so printed shall have the force of law notwithstanding the omission.

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Nigerians have since been conforming to all decrees from the Military since 1984 and that lent legitimacy to Military’s actions judging by the foregoing jurisprudential analysis. It is too late to contend otherwise. This could precipitate an unprecedented constitutional crisis if all activities of governance from 1999 till date are annulled because there was no ‘valid’ constitution. This grundnorm is always adapted to the prevailing state of affairs and only imparted validity and legitimacy to Decree No 1 and the unsuspended provisions of the 1979 Constitution and the validity and legitimacy flowed through to Decree No 24 of 1999 which is the current Constitution and all other norms derived from them, it does not dictate their content.

Section 14(2)(a) of the 1999 Constitution (as amended) provides that “sovereignty belongs to the people of Nigeria from whom government through this Constitution derives all its powers and authority.” The Constitution does not donate sovereignty to the people, rather, the people donate a part of their sovereign rights to the Government for their security and welfare. The Constitution cannot and does not prescribe how the rest of their sovereign power can be exercised. When the people exercise their sovereign rights negatively, and in being docile or conforming to an aberration, they bear the consequences. Civic tameness and passivity are other aspects of negative exercise of sovereign power.

A people can stand strongly against what they detest. The people cannot stand aloof and watch Nigeria decapitated, and expect an automatic reversal of the evil. A good example of the sovereign power of the people is the 1991 Soviet failed coup or revolution. The 1991 Soviet coup d’état was an attempt to take control of the country from Soviet President and General Secretary Mikhail Gorbachev. They were opposed by an effective campaign of civil resistance by the people. The coup collapsed in only two days and Mikhail Gorbachev returned to power.

Armour units of the Tamanskaya Division and the Kantemirovskaya tank division rolled into Moscow along with paratroops. But the citizens began to gather around the White House – Russia’s parliament building and to erect barricades around it. The defenders of the White House prepared themselves, most of them being unarmed against the military assault on the White House and its environs which, as planned would gather elite special force units, with the support of the paratroopers, Moscow OMON, other Internal Troops, three tank companies and a helicopter squadron. White House trolleybuses and street cleaning machines barricaded a tunnel against oncoming Taman Guards infantry fighting vehicles (IFVs). Only three of these gallant citizens were killed in the incident as the troops escaped. That was how the people used their sovereign power to stop the national embarrassment that the coup represented. This speaks volumes of the great lessons on ‘support and conformance’ of the people as the inevitable condition for the success of a coup or revolution demonstrated by their civil resistance. Civil disobedience achieves similar results.

The foregoing underlines the critical but unwritten and unprohibited sovereign power of the people by which they re-engineer the socio-economic and political wrongs that incompetence, ignorance and nepotism can inflict on a population. Buhari’s team spent four years of their tenure blaming PDP during which time economy plunged to abyss. Unwittingly, Nigerians are unwholesomely blaming the 1999 Constitution. Some have alleged that the said Constitution was written by one person and foisted on Nigerians by a military government. First, Hans Kelson, afore mentioned, is the principal author of the 1920 Austrian Constitution, which, to a very large degree is still valid till today. Hans Kelson had a Jewish ancestry and even after writing the said Constitution, he subsequently left Austria to acquire the citizenship of another country. These circumstances did not affect the validity of that Constitution. Austria today is one of the most industrialized countries of the world with a GDP per capita of $50,277. Secondly, from the jurisprudential analysis above, Nigerians cannot begin now to challenge the 1999 Constitution after wholehearted conformance to its provisions under the presidencies Obasanjo, Yar’Adua and Jonathan.

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The truth is that if the country is to remain an indivisible and indissoluble sovereign nation, a new Nigeria MUST emerge from the rubbles of the present to engender a nation that is, inter alia, productive, competitive and self dependent. Underlying any constitutional step in this regard is entrenching true federalism. Nigeria may not survive if this is not achieved NOW. President Buhari has always given low price of crude oil and the effect of COVID-19 as reasons for his abysmal performance as if every economy in the world infested with the pandemic crashed the way Nigeria system did. The Global Competiveness Index varies between 1 and 100, higher average score means higher degree of competitiveness. Nigeria, as usual, is at the rear. With the 2018 edition, the World Economic Forum introduced a new methodology, aiming to integrate the notion of the 4th Industrial Revolution into the definition of competitiveness. It emphasizes the role of human capital, innovation, resilience and agility, as not only drivers but also defining features of economic success in the 4th Industrial Revolution. The speed of current breakthroughs has no historical precedent. When compared with previous industrial revolutions, the Fourth is evolving at an exponential rather than linear pace. Moreover, it is disrupting almost every industry in every country. And the breadth and the depth of these changes herald the transformation of entire systems of production, management, and governance. Buhari has no idea of what to do in spite of the dormant National Digital Economy Policy and Strategy (2020-2030).

The emptiness and ineptitude of the Buhari administration is more baffling upon a comparative budget analysis of some countries. Usually, Nigeria has a smaller national budget than Algeria, Angola, Egypt, Libya, Morocco and South Africa. All these countries have fewer citizens, yet significantly spend more money on them. Nigeria’s 2019 budget amounted to $29 billion at the then exchange rate that hovered around $1 to N400 naira but South Africa with a population of almost four times smaller budgeted $130 billion for the same period. Egypt had a $90 billion budget with 100 million. Even countries like Pakistan, Bangladesh and Vietnam had larger budgets than Nigeria. Lagos, Nigeria’s richest city had a modest budget of N485 billion which was less than $2.4 billion to spend on 15 to 20 million residents. Johannesburg has double that budget for fewer than 5 million people. Buhari has no plan to generate the momentum that will drive Nigeria to this height.

Ghana was reputed to be the world’s fastest growing economy in 2018 with her real GDP growth at market prices at 8.3 per cent. Cote d’ Ivoire with 7.2 per cent and Senegal with 6.9 per cent are two other countries from West Africa in the first ten fastest growing economies in the world. Ghana’s economy represents a rising digital-based hybrid economy, driven by manufacturing and export of various digital tech goodies as well as assembly and export of ships and automobiles. Moreover, that country is also rich in industrial minerals and even exports massive quantity of hydrocarbons. The booming real estate sector there is another major factor behind Ghana’s high growth in the economic sector. Extreme leadership deficit and therefore appalling governance have consigned Nigeria to the waste bin of life as she lags behind in all development indices evidenced by her 2017 “accolade” as the world’s poverty capital. The country’s leaders are not bothered that they have dragged the nation to economic doom as tribal and religious considerations make them focus on “cow economy.” Nigerians are gasping for breath and time is running out as the leadership continually shows an embarrassing ineptitude and arrant insensitivity.

Economic prospects at the continental level, as have been predicted by international financial and development agencies, are expected to be high but Buhari does not care that Nigeria is nowhere to be found. As per the market reports, the continent is forecasted to witness a rise in GDP by 6 per cent+ annually between 2013 and 2023. The recent growth in the economic sphere of the continent can be credited to the increasing youth populace here as well as enhanced sales in services, commodity and manufacturing. Africa has six of the world’s ten fastest growing economies in 2018, according to the World Bank. Nigeria was not among them and she was simply dismissed as “still experiencing negative per capita income growth, weak investment, and a decline in productivity growth.” Many foreign companies operating in Nigeria either drastically reduced staff strength or relocated to attractive economies where those governments cared for their citizens. Buhari’s lame excuse of fluidity of oil prices and COVID-19 as the cause of the disaster he has brought to Nigeria cannot be acceptable in the light of the foregoing.

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In a 2005 study, the World Bank said the totality of the wealth of a nation has three key inputs; the nation’s produced wealth (e.g. infrastructure), natural wealth (e.g. oil and gas) and intangible wealth (e.g. human capital and quality of institutions). The Bank declared further that worldwide natural capital accounts for five per cent of total wealth, while produced capital and intangible capital account for 18 per cent and 77 per cent of total wealth respectively, making intangible capital, in fact, the true wealth component of “wealthy” nations. It discovered that the total economic value of natural assets was $44 trillion worldwide, or $7,000 per person on average, while “intangible” capital accounted for the greatest component of total wealth – worth a massive $540 trillion worldwide. It is worthy of note that the richest countries of the OECD are characterized by high intangible capital and low natural capital, while the poorest countries of sub-Sahara Africa are characterized by high natural capital and lower intangible capital. The study underlined human capital development, strong institutions and rule of law as the driving tools for optimizing access to intangible capital. These are the keys that triggered Switzerland, a landlocked country with no single natural resource, to the peak of global wealth. To Buhari, human capital is cow, and that is why he is working hard to make cows live in every home in the South of Nigeria. Therefore he has no plans for strong institutions and rule of law.

Buhari’s lame excuse of the fluidity of oil prices and COVID-19 as the cause of the disaster he has brought to Nigeria cannot be acceptable in the light of the foregoing. These are outcomes of good leadership and accountable governance. There are no constitutional impediments today in Nigeria why Nigeria cannot be set on the path to glory and the clamor for constitutional amendment all over Nigeria is simply giving Buhari and escape route. The numerous calls for self-determination in Nigeria are essentially reactions against Buhari’s grave abysmal failure. President Buhari, not the 1999 Constitution (as amended), has put Nigeria on a keg of gunpowder and the consequences are catastrophic.
Olehi is an Owerri based legal practitioner.

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