Nigeria Dialogue Group, (NDG), an interdisciplinary membership, leading National Think Tank, and Principal Research and Dialogue Group, concerned with Nationality problems and commitment to adopting diverse strategies for finding solutions to established problems in the society has described the recurring problems of under development ravaging the Country as self inflicted but surmountable.
The Group, in an Anniversary message shared with local and International media, lamented the stunted growth and development of the Nigerian nation and characterized this as being unworthy of a nation that had attained a 60 years of age. The Group is of the opinion that Nigeria does not have reason for celebrating as it is exhibiting a high prevalence of indicators of a failed state. Furthermore, the the Group reiterated its stand that since assumption of power in 2015, the present government had betrayed the high expectations of the people who voted as a response to its pledge to pursue and achieve a change of direction. Rather than live up to its promise of change, the group said, the government recycled the same people and ideas that had led to the dismal performance of the previous administration.
Owing to its dismal performance, President Buhari’s administration had proved skeptics and naysayers right, in that it had failed to provide productive and beneficial governance for the greatest numbers of the citizens, suffering high degree of poverty. .
The group further observed and strongly emphasized, “though it is an inescapable economic fact that the foreign income earning of Nigeria had depleted, from the Olusegun Obasanjo and Goodluck Jonathan eras, wherein oil was sold at an average of $100 per barrel”, the reality remains that there has been not much dividends to show for the incomes earned. A government that rolled into power on the promise of the mantra of “change” had managed to change in the negative direction in many respects. The betrayals of the yearnings of the populace has been and is being betrayed by the non-performance of the Buhari Administration.
The loud voices of the poor and downtrodden among the Nigerian populace appear not to matter, as their contributions are not sought nor valued in the process of making and implementing policies aimed at building the promised nation bound in freedom, peace and unity.
The group claimed that of a truth, within the past 60 years, Nigeria had achieved some visible positive developments, such as could be seen in super-opulent mansions in state capitals, the profusion of exotic cars on barely motorable roads, a plethora of airports, even if poorly maintained, and the building of some infrastructures such as rails, bridges, mobile telephone technology among others. But in spite of these, “majority of Nigerians are still languishing in poverty ” given the ever increasing costs of food stuffs, high costs of utilities and fuel, coupled with the high insecurity across the nation.
Corruption thrives, owing to several factors, such as nepotism, ethnicity, a lack of political and judicial will to hold the high and mighty accountable, Thus it seems that the law is for the poor and downtrodden. Those who are adequately connected and have access to political and financial power are often left of the hook. ”
The NDG attributes the bane of the country’s negligible social economic and political development has been the insincere practice of ‘true federalism’, which should be the framework for governance and leadership in a country as diverse and complex as Nigeria. The non adherence to the constitutional prescribed practice of federalism has revived and accentuated distrust of leadership , ethnic suspicions, nepotism and weak and febrile political will for implementation of various outcomes of past National political Conferences, which had sought to provide appropriate answers to resolve the Nigeria questions. The lack of understanding and practice of federalism could be attributed to the country’s unstructured evolution and dictatorial and undemocratic amalgamation of 1914. Thus it was, that at the inception of the arrangment, there was no consultation dialogue and agreement between the peoples of Nigeria. Rather, the colonial masters carried out its policy of amalgamation, and the practice of this obviated the autonomy and self governance of the regions, and the concentration of power and resources in the Federal Govenrment, to the detriment of the States and zones. This defeats the attempt of Nigeria to cast itself as a multi- ethnic country.
The absence of a honest and deep rooted analysis of the Nigerian situation and a decided lack of willingness to embrace meaningful change had led to a situation of ill considered and poorly implemented reforms that ended up exacerbating the problems rather than solving them. Examples of these are the introduction and adoption of the Structural Adjustment Programs (SAP) conditionalities, various currency devaluation exercises, and deregulation of the Oil and Energy sector. All of the above had been subjected to and derailed by Cash and Carry Politics, nepotism, statism and favoritism which have become the new normal in the national governance culture..
If real changes were to be achieved, the NDG requests the Nigerian leaders to resettle and restructure their governing ethos and working agenda as these willl enable the country achieve its full potential of a great nation. The sincere change of direction will help revisit and correct past errors and acrimonies must be revisited and corrected boldly
On the part of Nigerians, the NDG posits that:
● It’s now time and opportunity for the Peoples of Nigeria to have their voices heard and to demand commitment from the elected in power to give the citizens their deserved welfare.
Social activism must be renewed and strengthened in the fight for equitable, fair and just government, Its time to stop agonizing.
● Every legally permissible human actions should be taken to expose tyranny, bring perpetrators to justice. As those actions are being taken, the victims should be stengthened to believe in themselves to, , fight unemployment and acquire the right to an adequate standard of living.
● Against our ambivalence and apathy in the last sixty years, Nigerians should now examine the most pressing sustainable human development issues of the day—such as poverty and inequality and be conscious of their historical roles in reversing the negative trends associated with their prevalence to shape a future of peace, prosperity, and dignity for all.
On the part of government:
As Nigeria turns 60, the Nigeria Dialogue Group call on Nigerians and the Government to brace up and jointly promote inclusive government that will make the past efforts of our Forefathers not be in vain.
● Nigeria should beyond espousing mere beliefs in democracy, exhibit strong commitment for the values of justice by embarking on restructuring governance, using the models of the 1960s. This will ensue that we will be able to sustain a better and peaceful country that will ensure prosperity and sustainable development for its citizenry.
● Government must tackle in a most urgent manner the undisputable huge unemployment and economic disorder that has taken the country’s dollar exchange rate to about N400. Particularly, the hike in fuel price and the unacceptable hike in electricity tariff at this inappropriate time must be rescinded .
● The first step at renewing the image of the country should be through courageous and non- selective actions. Those who are behind the efforts to disrupt meaningful development should be exposed, and their personal interest s brought forth as the underlying factor for the endemic corruption, Those indicted should have their day in court.
● The enemies of Nigeria project renewal must be rightly put in context as we commemorate sixty years anniversary. Their contentious disposition to paint bad the good works being done. When Nigerians see those who have made them suffer being judicially prosecuted and sentenced heavily after they are found guilty, they will be happy.
Those who have offended Nigerians should not be allowed to escape reaping the ‘ whirlwind’