How Desperate politicians underdevelop Nigeria by Blessing Maduagwu
Development is measured by what we can build, not what we can destroy. This therefore draws my unalloyed attention to the post election violence that destroyed lives and properties in Northern Nigeria. Political development can only be achieved with political maturity which comes from a simple understanding that competitions for elective offices are necessary for democracy to flourish. Without the right political environment and adequate participation of the electorates, the glamour of democracy in Nigeria will fade away like an evanescent rainbow. It is this clamour for good governance and development that Nigerians embraced a democratic government in 1999. In fact, it was democracy that led Nigeria into the 21st Century and became a watershed in modern Nigerian politics. However, some desperate politicians have continued to advance divisive regional politics at the detriment of national unity and sustainable development.
History confirms that violent struggles for political leadership eventually led to wars among nations and hampered growth and development. In Nigeria, we have found reasons to always resort to violence without regards to human lives and properties. From Independence till date, we have been embroiled in political, religious and ethnic violence that have further deepened our division rather than unite us as people of one great nation. The Maitatsine, Kano, Kaduna, Kala Kato, Jos and the recent Post election violent bombing campaigns of Boko Haram remind everyone of the growing disunity between Nigerians of different ethnic and religious backgrounds. The reasons are purely because of blundering ineptitude of desperate politicians who focus more on personal gains, rather than the people they claim to represent.
These destructions of lives and properties are serious indications of cracks that have resulted in deep divisions between Nigerians of different nationalities. It's surprising that in the same country, we kill one another with utmost impunity because we see ourselves differently. There are widespread tensions among disparate nationalities that one begins to impugn the effort of our leaders to truly unite the country. This mutual distrust has pervaded our country, such that a little spark of anger and resentment easily lead to cataclysmic violence. This is a true test of Nigeria's future that should apparently be classified as a high National security issue. If the people of one country have not found unity after more than 51 years of independence, then our domestic politics and national security are in grave danger of development and survival.
Our divisive politics has created identities that often refer to us as Northerners and Southerners rather than Nigerians. In our work places, our differences play out as divisions and strike everyone with the apprehension that we are foreigners in our own country. Unfortunately, this division has taken international dimension to such an extent that when you tell a foreigner that you are a Nigerian, the first question is: Are you from the North or South? The impression that Southern Nigeria is utterly different from Northern Nigeria is indeed a failure of modern Nigerian Society. However, the major problem lies with those who maintain a situation of North-South dichotomy even when there is none. They sponsor political and religious violence and advance ethnic politics at the expense of National interest.
Let us begin now to embrace genuine foreign and domestic policies and stop the politics of different Nigeria for different people. The post election violence and the conflict with Boko Haram are clear confirmation of the true state of Nigeria we pretend not to live in. Development transcends provision of water, electricity and infrastructure. It involves our resolve to make good use of our conscience which can only be possible if we develop the right attitude to politics. We live in a society where political office holders are so rich and powerful with state taxes and federal allocations that they become insensitive to the plight of those who elected them. Most pathetic is that community projects like water boreholes and road reconstructions are often lethargically executed as mere gestures rather than official responsibilities. It is only in Nigeria that politicians are always richer than businessmen whilst in advanced democracies, the reverse is the case. We sincerely need to close the widening gap between the rich and poor or brace ourselves for a national anomie if we don't begin now to engage in a genuine national dialogue.
Lastly, Nations develop by building new technologies and not by constantly rebuilding destroyed properties. Violence neither grows our GDP nor creates jobs for many unemployed Nigerians. If one's true intention is to serve, then there is absolutely no need to kill one another. We must realize that violence is the political tool of desperate politicians and the more we fight and kill ourselves, the more they succeed with highly brainwashed followership. We live in a country where low income earners are owed salaries for months while others have died without receiving their pensions and gratuities. We are a country of high income inequality where the gap between the rich and poor has suddenly become a gulf. If government is sincere, there is the need to remember the poor because that's where majority of Nigerians belong. By continuing to loot national treasures and stash them in foreign banks, we create conditions that not only exacerbate our present state, but deny us equal opportunities for progress and prosperity. If we decide today to maintain our values and resist bad government with every conceivable condemnation, desperate politicians will have no job. A government without strategic programs that deal with poverty alleviation and chronic unemployment crisis in Nigeria is certainly not a People's government. It is the government of desperate politicians who constantly under-develop Nigeria.
Blessing Maduagwu holds degrees in History and International Relations from Hult International Business School London. (Formerly Huron University, USA in London). He writes from New York..