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THE CRITICAL PROBLEM AN AVERAGE NIGERIANS HAS BEEN EXPERIENCING SINCE 1960
For the fact that we have being labeled as the Giant of Africa, the general feeling in Nigeria, and the world, is that Africa’s most populous nation could do much better, given her natural resources and potential.
In the years after her independence, Nigeria was regarded as a land flowing with milk and honey but nowadays Nigerians search for greener pastures abroad. The situation has degenerated and gotten so worse that some Nigerians wish the colonial masters would come back to rule the nation.
Since Nigeria gained freedom from Britain, the country has been grappling with several problems without finding a lasting solution to it. Some of them are:
Corruption is a huge problem Nigeria has been fighting with since independence. It started with government officials and has gradually eaten deep into every other area of the economy. It’s very rare to see a government official who isn’t corrupt nowadays.
Currently, Nigeria ranks very high in the league of corrupt nations, and as stated by ex British Prime Minister David Cameron, Nigeria is a “fantastically corrupt” country with corrupt leaders. This problem has been there since independence and has gotten worse.
President Muhammadu Buhari has put up a fight against the monster but only time will tell if the war will be won. Plus he probably has just four years to achieve this.
Retribution of Leaders:-
Power tends to corrupt and absolute power corrupts absolutely. Once in power, Nigerian leaders at the federal, state and local government levels feel invincible and disregard the rule of law, whenever they can. Leaders bend rules to their wishes and damn the consequences. The judiciary arm of the government has been toothless and only clamp down on the average citizens while top government officials who break the law are left to wander free.
Nigeria is an amalgam of over 300 ethnic tribes. For some reasons, these tribes haven’t found a way to co-exist peacefully, despite having decades of experience. Most people firstly pledge allegiance to their tribe before admitting they’re Nigerians. As a result, square pegs have gone into round holes and needless squabbles have degenerated into full-blown war between communities. Tribalism reigns in Nigeria and it plays a great part in the country’s current quagmire.
Things have gotten worse for the Nigerian masses over the decades. The country’s economy has been deteriorating over the years with the hope that things will get better getting fainter. The country’s infrastructure which should stimulate economic growth is in shambles and little is done to reverse the case.
One of Nigeria’s biggest problems is its lack of good leadership. Nigeria has barely managed to rule itself efficiently or achieve political stability since it gained independence 56 years ago. The Nigerian civil service has depreciated over the years and is now riddled with corruption and ineptitude. Due to tribalism and other ills, appointments into offices are based on nepotism instead of pragmatism. As a result, unqualified candidates are put in important positions and the result is what we have today.
Over Dependence on oil
This problem started in the 70’s when oil was discovered in the Niger Delta. Nigeria depends solely on oil as its source of revenue, abandoned agriculture and refused to seek other means of making money. Coupled with corruption and a non-saving culture, the country’s economy went into recession following the drop in the price of crude oil.
THIS IS THE BASIC FACTS AND HISTORY: INTO CORRUPTION AMONG THE POLITICAL
LEADERSHIP CLASS IN NIGERIA
At this point, a few of the many cases of corruption in Nigeria perpetrated by the top echelon of
the political leadership class will be the focus of discussion. As mentioned earlier, corruption by the
political leadership class can be traced back to the colonial era. The culture of corruption had become
entrenched in the Nigerian polity since the creation of modern public service administration in the
country. In 1956, the Foster-Sutton Tribunal of Inquiry investigated the Premier of the defunct Eastern
Region, Dr. Nnamdi Azikiwe, for his involvement in the affairs of the defunct African Continental Bank
(ACB). The code of conduct for government officials stipulates that a government officer shall
relinquish his holdings in private business when he assumes public office. The Foster-Sutton Tribunal
discovered that Azikiwe did not severe his connections to the bank when he became a Premier. The
Tribunal reported that Azikiwe continued to use his influence to promote the interests of the bank
(Report of the Foster-Sutton Tribunal of Inquiry, 1956: 42; Sklar, 2004: 185).
Moreover, Azikiwe, his family, and the Zik Group of Companies were the principal shareholders of the African Continental
Bank. As indicated in the report of the tribunal of inquiry, the bank loaned over £163,000 to the Zik
Group of Companies at a lower interest rate and over an extended period, which meant that the Zik
Group did not have to repay the loans until 1971. Consequently, the African Continental Bank became a
distressed bank. In 1952, the Registrar of Banks refused to grant a license of operation to the bank.
Attempts to find partners for the bank in Britain failed because of its level of insolvency.
According to a colonial government official, “Were a UK minister to be involved in a series of
transactions the result of which public funds were used to support an otherwise shaky institution in
which he was directly interested, he would be forced to leave public life” (Okonkwo, 2007). The
question now is why did the colonial government not prosecute Azikiwe for his failure to observe the
code of conduct for government officers? A colonial correspondence revealed that the colonial
government supported the NCNC because it was seen as the only party organized on a platform of
national unity. Without Azikiwe, the NCNC would collapse. The national interest of the country
demanded that Azikiwe continue as the leader of the party (Okonkwo, 2007; Sklar, 2004: 186).
Again, in 1962, Chief Obafemi Awolowo, the first Premier of the Western Region, was also
investigated and found guilty of corruption by the Coker Commission of Inquiry. In 1954, the Western
Region Marketing Board could boast of £6.2 million. However, by May 1962, the corporation had to
exist on overdrafts amounting to over £2.5 million. A loan of £6.7 million was made to the Western
Region government-owned National Investment and Properties Co., Ltd. for building projects out of
which only £500,000 was repaid. The Western Region Finance Corporation and the Western Nigeria
Development Corporation also received loans of millions of pounds. None of these loans were ever
repaid. The Coker Commission of Inquiry found Chief Awolowo culpable for the ills of the Western
Region Marketing Board, due to his failure to adhere to the standards of conduct, which were required
of persons holding public office (Coker Commission, 1962; Magid, 1976: 73).
It is common knowledge that the Shagari Administration that governed Nigeria between 1979
and 1983 had many of its state governors sentenced to ridiculous jail terms of a minimum of 100 years
and a maximum period of 340 years by the Buhari/Idiagbon military regime that seized power from it.
However, the Buhari/Idiagbon regime was short-lived because it was replaced by the General Ibrahim
Babangida military regime after a palace coup on August 27, 1985. The corrupt nature and financial
recklessness of the Babangida regime was detailed in the Okigbo Panel Report of 1994.
The 1994 Okigbo Panel Report on the Reorganisation and Reform of the Central Bank of Nigeria
indicted former Military President, General Ibrahim Badamosi Babangida, former Head of State, late
General Sani Abacha, and former Governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria, the late Alhaji Abdulkadir
Ahmed, for mismanaging about $12.4 billion oil windfall between 1988 and 1994. A summary of the
panel’s report submitted to the Federal Government revealed that General Ibrahim Babangida’s regime
conspired with top officials of the Central Bank of Nigeria to squander the entire fortune on
unproductive or dubious projects (Okigbo Panel Report, 1994). Even after Babangida had stepped down
from power in August 1993, the pillaging of the country’s coffer by his successors through operations of
secret accounts and other means continued.
As indicated in the Okigbo Report, in 1988, General Babangida authorised the dedication of
crude oil of 65,000 barrels per day (bpd) for the finance of special priority projects including Ajaokuta
Iron & Steel, Itakpe Iron Mining, and Shiroro Hydro-electric projects. The account was also to be used
for external debt buy-back and the build-up of reserves. The quantity was subsequently increased to
105,000 barrels per day and in early 1994, to 150,000 barrels per day. In addition, a Stabilisation
Account to receive the windfall of oil proceeds of the Gulf War and a Special Account for Mining
Rights and Signature Bonus were opened. Altogether, $12.4 billion was received into these accounts
from 1988 to June 1994, all of which were frittered away dubiously leaving only a balance of $206
million as of 30th June 1994 (Executive Summary of Okigbo Panel Report, 1994, item 0.38).
The Okigbo Panel’s appraisal of the operations of these accounts indicated that the use of the
Dedication Account was stretched far beyond its original scope just as the utilisation of the Stabilisation
Account completely undermined its fiscal objectives. It was further observed that the list of projects to
be serviced from the Dedication and other Special Accounts did indeed contain some projects of
importance to the rest of the economy, although there were many large projects of doubtful viability and
many more of clearly misplaced priority. Better described, the Dedication and Special Accounts became
a parallel budget for the Presidency. Decisions regarding what expenditure items to finance out of these
dedicated accounts were the exclusive preserve of the President, depending on the pressures brought to
bear on him by the sponsors of the items. Below is a list of some of the expenditure made from the
Items ($ millions)
Documentary Film on Nigeria 2.92
Purchase or TV/Video for the Presidency 18.30
Ceremonial Uniform for the Army 3.85
Staff Welfare at Dodan Barracks/Aso Rock 23.98
Travels of the First Lady abroad 0.99
President s Travels abroad 8.95
Medical (Clinic at Aso Rock) 27.25
Gifts: Liberia 1.00
Gifts: Ghana 0.50
Nigerian Embassy: London 18.12
Nigerian Embassy: Riyadh 14.99
Nigerian Embassy: Teheran 2.76
Nigerian Embassy: Niamey 3.80
Nigerian Embassy: Pakistan 3.80
Nigerian Embassy: Israel 13.07
TV Equipment for ABU 17.90
Ministry of Defence 323.35
Defence Attaches 25.49
Source: Okigbo Panel Report, 1994: item 7.148