Nigeria: The Hope, Aspirations and Expected “Change”

Nigeria is a federal republic in West Africa. It comprises of 36 states and a Federal Capital Territory. The Nigerian state originated from British colonial rule in 19th century. Nigeria became formally independent in 1960 and plunged into civil war in 1967, which ended in 1970.

After many trials, the country achieved a stable democracy in 1999, with the presidential elections of that year. Nigeria is often referred to as the Giants of Africa with population of approximately 180 million and over 500 ethnic groups of which the three largest are Hausa, Igbo and Yoruba. Nigeria can be divided into two halves: between Christians who live mostly in the southern part and Muslim in the Northern part.

According to Wikipedia in 2015, Nigeria is the world’s 20th largest economy, worth more than $500 billion and $1 trillion in terms of nominal GDP. Political corruption is a persistent phenomenon in Nigeria which makes President Muhammadu Buhari define corruption as the greatest form of human rights violation and many cases of misuse of funds and resources. The government has tried to contain corruption through the enactment of laws and the enforcement of integrity systems, but success has been slow in coming. Over $400 billion estimated to have been lost to corruption since independence.

Nigeria has one of the worlds highest economic growth rates, averaging 7.4% according to the Nigeria economic report released in July 2014 by the world Bank. Poverty still remains significant in Africa biggest economy. For a country with massive wealth and huge population to support commerce, a well-developed economy and plenty of natural resources, the level of poverty remains unacceptable. However, poverty may have been overestimated due to the lack of information on the extreme huge informal sector of the economy, lack of stringent regulatory and monitoring system has allowed for rampant corruption. This has hindered past poverty alleviation efforts to a large extent, since resources which could pay for public goods or directed towards investment and so create employment and other opportunities for citizens are being misappropriated.

Government programmes at poverty alleviation, like National Accelerated Food Production Programmes and the Nigerian Agricultural and Co-operative Bank, Feed the Nation, Green Revolution Programme, Directorate of Food, Roads and Rural Infrastructure, Family Support Programme and the Family Economic Advancement Programme, National Poverty Eradication Programme, Subsidy Reinvestment and Empowerment Programme, and the N-Power Programme are good development programmes in tackling the poverty even though Nigeria’s economy suffered its first annual contraction in 25 years as growth in Africa’s top oil producer shrank into a technical recession in the first half of the year as it finances were hit by low oil prices.

Business executives and analysts complain that the government reacted too slowly to the crises and has pursued policies that have deepened the turmoil. As government seeks solution to the twin problem of Boko Haram and militant activities that gave rise to kidnapping in the oil producing zones, agitation for secession by Southeast youths seem to have further intensify the call to restructure the federation with an ultimatum dealt by  youths of the North calling the bluff of the Southeast Biafra agitators to leave the north latest by October 1st 2017, which is the nations national independence anniversary.

President Muhammadu Buhari is out of the country on extended medical leave and his VP Yemi Osinbajo appears to be moving on quickly with economic reforms. Can there be hope for its citizens? The 2017 budget signed as the Appropriation Act for the year seem to hold the answers to this puzzle and expectations and millions of Nigerians and restive youths, many of whom have taken to all forms of criminality and or joining the drove of emigrants searching for greener pastures in Europe and America. As Nigerians watch with higher expectation of a better tomorrow, the masses are praying and hoping that the war on corruption will help to sanitize the nation’s Augean stable to achieve the expected change agenda of the government.

Written by: Olayinka Y. Shittu