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Democracy, federalism and leadership debate

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Sir: Nigeria today experiences crisis of leadership not because democratic government/federal system we practise are on their own bad systems or cannot provide the needed solution to the nation’s array of political and economic needs but because too many politicians and public officials have exercised power and responsibility not as a trust for public good but as an opportunity for private gain. Making the problem worse is their endless quest to get hold of more at all cost without consideration to the general well being of Nigerians.  

The average Nigerian is worse off now, economically and materially, than he/she was in 2015-or even 1999. We are presently living through the worst social and economic crisis since independence; poor leadership; poor strategy for development; lack of capable and effective state and bureaucracy; lack of focus on sectors that will improve the condition of living of citizens such as education, health, agriculture and the building of infrastructure.

In the past six years, Nigerian workforce has grown but the number of manufacturing jobs has actually declined as a result of the relocation of these industries to neighbouring African countries. A development occasioned by the inability of the Federal Government to guarantee security and electricity.

While millions of workers have given up hope of finding employment, unemployment going by the National Bureau Statistics (NBS), 2019, was at 23.1 per cent, with an under-employment rate of 16.6 per cent; and currently at about all-time high of 33.5 per cent. The issue, in my view, is the refusal of political office holders to be fair and honest in their dealings with Nigerians.

To give one example, in 2005, Chief Olusegun Obasanjo administration and 2010, under Dr. Goodluck Ebele Jonathan, Federal Government made two feeble attempts, coming up with the electric power sector reform, EPSR, ACT 2005 and the roadmap for power sector reform of 2010, which was targeted at sanitising the power sector, ensure efficient and adequate power supply to the country. The project ended in the frames – gulping reportedly $16 billion for NIPP without contributing the targeted megawatt to the nation’s power needs. 

The current administration is again in similar partnership with the German government and Siemens. And in my observation, the only change that has taken place since this new development is thoughtless increments of bills/tariffs paid by Nigerians. No nation can survive under this form of arrangement.

Correspondingly, security-wise, Nigeria is right now in its most fragile state since the end of the civil war. And by not taking steps to arrest the insecurity situation in the country, heeding the call to restructure the nation or implement the 2014 Confab report, the present government is doing this country more harm than good and quickening its disintegration. This should certainly raise a legitimate concern for all.

Jerome-Mario Utomi is the programme coordinator (Media and Policy), Social and Economic Justice Advocacy (SEJA), Lagos.

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