At 54: Nigeria Remains A Failed State
(State Of The Nation, Onitsha Nigeria, 1st October 2014)-The leadership of International Society for Civil Liberties & the Rule of Law wishes to observe that the Federation of Nigeria has remained a failed State 54 years after her independence from clutches of colonialism that commenced in 1861 with the infamous signing of the treaty of cession between then Oba Desomu of Lagos and the representatives of the then British Crown. Coincidentally, year 2014 also marks one hundred years or centenary anniversary of the British formal colonial incursion into Nigeria with the amalgamation of the country in 1914.
Standards to measure failed States have been commonly localized and internationalized. Part of such common index is located in the United Nations' concept of security called Human Security. The human security concept was an effort to expand or broaden the world view of security, which was traditionally and hitherto seen as “State affair”. In 1994, the United Nations Development Program (UNDP) issued a report called “Concept of Human Security”. The Report says “the concept of security has for too long been interpreted narrowly: as security of territory from external aggression, or as protection of national interests in foreign policy or as a global security from the threat of a nuclear holocaust. It has been related more to nation-state than people. Forgotten were the legitimate concerns of ordinary people. For many of them, security symbolized protection from the threat of disease, hunger, unemployment, crime, social conflict, political
repression, and environmental hazards”.
The popular report also named seven essentials of Human Security as “food security, economic security, health security, personal security, community security, environmental security and political security”. The Republic of South Africa, as a result, through its Department of Defense upgraded and expanded its notion of security in 1996. It says “Security is an all-encompassing condition in which individual citizens live in freedom, peace, and safety; to participate fully in the process of governance; enjoy the protection of fundamental rights; have access to resources and the basic necessities of life; and inhabit an environment which is not detrimental to their health and well-being”. Unfortunately and sadly too, the Federation of Nigeria has remained acutely static and crippled 54 years after her glorious independence. Using the above Seven Essentials of Human Security, as our standard of measurement, it is our observation that Nigeria has
failed woefully in all of them.
In Environmental Security, Nigeria is a failed State. Since the infamous and criminal dumping of 4,000 tons of toxic wastes in 1988, which raised the country's environmental awareness, mountainous threats to the country's environmental security have dangerously remained unabated. Experts report that desert encroachment, for instance, has resulted to 0.6% kilometers yearly owing to publicly unchecked human activities including deforestation and overpopulation. In other words, desertification has continuously claimed 0.6% kilometers of former fertile and animal species-friendly lands annually in the “frontline States” of Sokoto, Borno, Bauchi, Kano, Katsina, Kebbi, Zamfara, Jigawa, Yobe and Gombe. Experts say the encroachment has affected between 50% and 75% landmass of the affected States, which also account for 38% of Nigeria's total landmass. The encroachment carries with it health challenges and acute diseases such as heat-stroke,
cerebral-spinal meningitis, severe acute respiratory syndrome and avian flu. It has also caused destruction and death of farmlands, crops and livestock.
In the Eastern part of the country, unchecked deforestation and acute absence of public reforestation policy has washed off soil nutrients, solidity and gums. This has led to incessant soil erosions and flooding and extinction of terrestrial wild life. In the West including Edo and Delta States, over logging without effective regeneration has made the inhabitants and wild lives in the area endangered species. Agricultural production in the area is also acutely threatened. At the State and national levels, Nigeria's environment is steadily endangered. There are general problems of deforestation, overpopulation, desertification, urbanization and pollution. The country's atmospheric environment is filled with greenhouse gases especially carbon dioxide and carbon monoxide. Over 60 million homes and industries in Nigeria still operate fuel and gas-powered generating sets owing to electric power epilepsy.
The various levels of government in Nigeria have continued to promote and tolerate over motorization, in place of effective and efficient public transport system and policy. On average, each economically stable family has at least five cars. In Anambra State, for instance, the menace of motorization was compounded by the immediate past government with the introduction of over 2000 various brands of new vehicles shared among government appointees, civil servants, traditional rulers and community leaders, women's groups, security agencies, broadcasting agencies, professional bodies and civil society groups.
Though, this policy and largesse was popularly hailed, but its effects on environmental tranquility and healthiness are very devastating. Cumulative negative effects of these bring huge harms to the country's environment including human, aquatic, terrestrial and wild lives. The country's agricultural produce is also in danger. The country's common greenhouse absorber (plant or green species) is steadily facing extinction. There are also high incidences of water pollution and poor management of human and industrial wastes. Flooding has become a recurring decimal both in the north, west and east.
In Economic Security, Nigeria is a failed State. Till date, the distribution and utilization of the country's common or public earnings are grossly uneven. Less than 1% of the population including the country's 17,500 top public office holders at the local, state and federal levels has continued to pocket over 70% of these earnings in the form of security votes, allowances, overheads and emoluments; while the remaining 174 million Nigerians live in abject penury. Most of the country's renewable and non-renewable natural resources have remained at the subsistent levels of development. Infrastructural development is at zero level and maintenance culture is totally absent. Nigeria has remained a huge importing country importing most of its human and industrial needs. Its balance of trade and balance of payment have remained acutely negative. Unemployment level has become a toxemia.
Nigeria is also a serial debt borrower both at the state and national levels. In 2006, for instance, the country's total domestic debts were at N1.8 trillion, but today, it has hit N10 trillion. In the same year, the country's total foreign debts were at $3.5 billion, but today, they have risen to over $9 billion. At the state level, Lagos State with a land mass of less than 4, 600 square kilometers remains the most indebted State in the country in terms of local and foreign debts with over $1billion and N160 billion respectively.
Most of these debts were borrowed under conditions making their servicing and repayments deeply difficult including high interest rates, hash penalties, crooked borrowing negotiations and consultancies; and utilization of such loans in non-productive sectors like defense and offsetting of overheads (government running costs) and allowances bills.
In Political Security, Nigeria is a failed State. The country has continued to tailor its governance towards politics of exclusion, domination, volence, segregation, primordialism and nonentity. Most of the country's 1,695 public elective offices have continued to be peopled by a class of people who are inherently anti masses. Public governance in Nigeria has become a private liability company. Promotion of clannish interests and ethno-religious political sentiments has risen to an apogee. There is a clear-cut regime crisis in Nigeria with the country's sovereignty under intense steady threat. The country's secularist politico-legal regime is steadily losing its grip owing to sustained threats by fundamentalist anarchist forces. Today, Nigeria is no longer competing for a space in the world's seminal club of socio-economic giants; rather, the country now competes with the likes of failed State of Somalia in the globalism of anarchist age.
In Health and Food Securities, Nigeria is a failed State. Despite having one of the world's naturally endowed agric friendly terrestrial, aquatic and atmospheric environments, the country has remained a major food importing country. Even palm oil naturally given to the country free of charge by nature; is now being imported from the southeast Asia. Nigeria is so blessed that it is naturally given three agric friendly locations of East/West for growing of yam, oil and cooking vegetable families; Middle-Belt for growing of both North and East/West environmentally friendly crops and North for livestock and beans family crops; yet the country's food production has remained acutely subsistent. Cases of food acidity are very alarming owing to absence or poor monitoring public regulations and agencies. In Southeast, croplands are facing extinction owing to threats from urbanization and flooding. The level of soil infertility in the zone is growing
Nigeria has large number of bodies of water, yet drinkable water has remained a scarce commodity owing to acute failure of the relevant government agencies including public water providing and regulatory bodies to ensure its cleanliness and safety for human consumption. In the southern part of the country including Southwest and Southeast, most of privately sunk boreholes are unsafe to drink. In urban areas like Lagos, Aba and Onitsha, most of privately sunk boreholes are located few yards close to soakway or latrine pits; yet the relevant public water authorities have turned blind eyes in that respect. Nylon packed and bottled water in the country is acidic and unhealthy for consumption owing to poor public monitoring and regulation.
In Community and Personal Securities, Nigeria is a failed State. Since 1999, over 66, 000 innocent Nigerian citizens have been killed courtesy of State actors and non-State actors including ethno-religious group and individual butchers. While over 23, 000 Nigerians died in the hands of State actors like criminal personnel of the Nigeria Police Force through torture and other unlawful killings; over 17,000 were felled by various armed vigilantes that held sway in the Southeast between 1998 and 2002 and even till now.
Another 22, 000 citizens or more died in the hands of promoters and executors of ethno-religious violence between year 2000 and present. Out of this alarming death figure, Mr. President of Nigeria revealed this month at the United Nations that Boko Haram terror group alone accounted for over 13, 000 deaths since 2009. The remaining figures came from those butchered in various military invasions and mob violence associated with election and ethno-religious differences. The number of people killed in violent crimes including abductions, hostage taking, armed robbery, rape, bank robbery, domestic violence, land and property violence are in thousands. Nigerian space is also highly militarized and turned into a gun culture society. The rate of small arms availability in wrong hands in the country is very alarming. It is estimated by conflict and gun control experts that Nigeria may have between 5million and 7million small arms in circulation. Using the
country's estimated population of 174 million, it simply means that among every 25 Nigerians including day old children, there is one gun. In Nigeria, there are guns and their bearers everywhere, yet there is no security, but insecurity.
In Demographic Security, Nigeria is a failed State. Nigeria has continued to operate porosity of border policy, which allows huge influx of illegal migrants from Afro-Asiatic language family swelling the population that is already overpopulated. Fecundity rate is alarmingly high and uncontrolled leading to population explosion growing in geometric progression with attendant poor space, health, economic, technological, and cultural and food growths. The overpopulation menace in Nigeria is sustained by competition over ethnic population growth supremacy. Over one million Nigerians are internally displaced, out of which, 645,000 are produced by the ethno-religious insurgency in the northeast. Over 200,000 citizens have crossed borders and become refugees. There are also millions of children of the street and children in the street scattered in Nigeria's poor and slum regions including those in the north, Lagos, Warri, Benin, Aba, Onitsha, Ibadan and the
Niger Delta. Part of these street refugees is called alamajiris mostly found in the north.
In summary, Nigeria is a failed State by any standard of measurement. In 1896, a Swedish Scientist, named Swante Arrhennius predicted as follows: “Human activities would interfere with the way the sun interacts with the earth”. Sixty-four (64) years in the 1960s, the world woke up from their slumber and began to act to save humanity from its harmful activities to the environment. In 1972, the UN joined forces and in 1987, it launched “sustainable development strategy” leading to historic Earth Summit in Rio de Janeiro, in Brazil in 1992. In 1988, Nigeria was forced to join owing to dumping of 4,000 tons of toxic wastes in Koko Village of Lagos State by Italian bound environmental criminals.
Today, the country has relapsed and become one of the frontline enemies of its environment owing to shortsightedness, primordial, divisive and mercantilist and profligate governance styles that have endangered its environment and inhabitants. In the north, leading politicians in the area who constitute less than 5% of the population of the zone have continued to use Islam and illiteracy to impoverish and suppress over 95% of the remaining poor populations with a view to continue to corner their collective national cakes and political spaces. Class violence remains inevitable in the area. Once religious liberalism replaces existing religious fundamentalism, the north will explode into intra-ethnic violence of intractable proportion between the impoverished have-nots against the malvolent haves.
Generally, Nigeria is chronically sick in all fronts and its governing authorities are sitting in a keg of gunpowder unless things are turned around for better. It is understandable for a people to accept to live in poverty with dignity when it is clear to them that available common resources are very minute and unable to go round. But it is a different ball game when a people are forced to live in abject poverty in the midst of plenty. Nigerian leaders should watch their backs to avoid crashing and falling from corridors of power to refugee camps. This is our early warning message to Nigerian leaders and Nigeria at 54.
Uzochukwu Oguejiofor, Esq., Head, Campaign & Publicity Department