Promises,promises (Akpan54’s comment on article in the Economist)

Anyone who expects any fundamental change in the way Nigeria is ruled clearly has no understanding of who these rulers are, and why (or how) they got into positions of power.

Mr Johnathan, for example, is a direct beneficiary and product of the very system he claims to want to reform. How very likely is that? At any rate, how can he (or anyone else, for that matter) conceivably effect any such change without first creating the necessary state institutions and infrastructure without which no policy can possibly be translated into results? (When I say “institutions,” I mean something in place of the utterly rotten, irredeemably corrupt and sclerotic bureaucratic machine that we call the civil service. I also mean the judiciary, the police, and all those other bodies that currently constitute an impediment to any kind of progress. And by “infrastructure,” I mean roads, communications, electricity, water, healthcare, emergency services, etc., not space programmes and airports with no apparent commercial purpose.)

And how can these reforms ever take place when the sole function of every Nigerian regime since independence has been the unrestrained allocation of oil resources amongst friends and political allies within the ruling elite – a cancerous, self-reinforcing and deeply-entrenched culture that clearly cannot possibly lend itself to any meaningful reform?

If a supposedly oil-rich “nation” cannot provide its longsuffering people with electricity or pipe-borne water half-a-century since independence, something is terribly wrong with it – and no number of meetings in cattle ranches or in caves can possibly change that. For, the problem, in sum, is Mr Johnathan himself (and his chums in the ruling party) – and before him, Yar’adua, Obasanjo, and all of those we all like to lionize as the “fathers” of our independence struggle. But if we as Nigerians really wish to bring about the kind of change we always claim we want to see, we need to find a way, very urgently, of ensuring that the very worst amongst us don’t keep finding themselves in positions of power.

8 thoughts on “Promises,promises (Akpan54’s comment on article in the Economist)

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