There is a propaganda making the rounds that there is no need to demand for a better Nigeria. Rather it says we should be talking about “manufacturing” better Nigerians.
We must reject this Propaganda.
Let’s get politicians who have imposed themselves as our rulers and masters, to face the truth about themselves. Their lawlessness is due to a Feudal System that has kept the country in constant tension by creating a small group that functions as a “favoured predatory elite” in every administration since 1999. They have succeeded in bringing our local governments, (LGAs), states and our nation, to their knees.
But that is not all.
In the process of killing our LGAs and states by making them totally dependent on allocation of revenue from Abuja and different rents collected by official touts, this predatory elite group has robbed every Nigerian citizen enormously.
It’s worse than armed robbery.
Available data in the public domain as analyzed by GRAIN Consulting shows that the difference in exchange rate of the Naira to the US dollar between President Obasanjo’s administration (1999-2007) and President Jonathan (2010-2015) is a huge robbery of average Nigerians by the Feudal System that wins governments at LGA, State and Federal levels.
Whereas the Obasanjo exchange rate of Naira to $, gave average Nigerians on N20000 per month income $5.5 worth of purchasing power daily, under President Jonathan it crashed to about N200 to $1. It meant the purchasing power of the average citizen fell to a $3.33 per day existence.
There was a clear robbery of at least $2 per day inflicted on each income earning average citizen by our governments between 1999 and 2015.
But since President Buhari’s administration (2015-2023), the robbery has escalated. Even worse, the quality of life of any average citizen earning income in Nigeria has been brought devastatingly low.
For those who earn N20,000 per month, their purchasing power by July 2022, after 22 years, is about $1 per day. See the “dividend of democracy?” Yet our favoured political elite and their cronies continue as a predatory group who are able to spend thousands of dollars on themselves and their families each day.
The small group of political elite in the ruling parties at state and federal levels is made up of politicians who hold political power and their inner caucus who work with them to mismanage public wealth or, simply to loot as best they can.
They monopolize all resources at the LG, state and federal levels largely for their fancy projects, their personal comfort and anything of interest to them.
Such people in the lucky elite group, suddenly become “the State” and completely place themselves above the law. They do not allow for inclusiveness.
No! They go all out to maximize their control. This is what has led to worsening mass poverty in Nigeria since 1999. Such lawlessness by the political elite has made Nigerians become victims in our own country.
But every day the people are getting wiser and angry. That anger is what is creating the “Take Back Nigeria” Movement.
Let the few who see themselves as “Masters” beware.
The day of reckoning will soon be here.
It is not about 2023 election alone. It is about the oppressed people of Nigeria breaking free to confront those who have oppressed them and have turned their lives into a disaster by robbing us under our own eyes.
Nigerians at home and in Diaspora are slowly but surely getting to the point where we can take it no more. The drums for the “March of history” are getting louder to all who can hear.
No wonder this Propaganda is being given life.
It is historical as an attempt to deflate the “March of history” that is gradually building up in Nigeria. The people who hold power do not want the public to stand with the truth and make them (politicians and their cronies) to dismantle the Feudal System.
Let me show how this wicked propaganda works. It seeks to do two things to sustain the Feudal System that runs Nigeria and worsens the living condition and loss of dignity of our citizens daily.
First, the Propaganda wrongly blames the citizens for problems in the country. For instance, it blames Nigerians for being lawless.
Is it true? That may seem so but only on the surface. A country is run by institutions and systems that direct or influence citizen behaviour. Nowhere in West Africa from Gambia to Benin Republic have citizens of any country faced the destabilizing effect which the lack of governance of institutions and systems in Nigeria have caused.
This manifests in the exchange rate of the Naira and paralysis of establishments suffering from near zero-governance. This is what our governments have been inflicting on Nigerians.
Take a look at this exchange rate summary:
From 1999 the Naira exchange rate has suffered increasing loss of value. Law abiding citizens have watched how every new administration brought the value of the Naira down and by so doing, removed the purchasing power of the masses.
Under President Obasanjo (1999-2007) the exchange rate was about N120 to $1 (US dollar). That meant that an average citizen who earned N20,000 per month could put his/her consumption of goods and services at about $5.5 per day or $167 per month.
Under late President Yar’ Adua (2007-2010) the exchange rate became more unfavourable at about N150 to $1. That meant that the average citizen had the equivalent of only $133 to spend in a month or a little over $4 per day. Then by the end of President Jonathan’s tenure (2010-2015) it was about N200 to $1, meaning that the average citizen’s ability to buy goods and services was further reduced to $100 per month.
Meanwhile, as reports about probes of some government officials and the life style of public office holders suggest, they could spend hundreds of thousands of dollars on themselves at a go and as often as they want!
Under President Buhari , the Naira has become unbelievably prostrate in short milestones- by July 2015 it was about N360 to $1 ($56 per month or $1.8 per day for the average citizen of that income bracket ).
Then the exchange rate went over N400 to $1 by July 2017 ($50 per month for average citizens or about $1.6 as daily income).
July 2020 found the exchange rate at over N500 to $1 ($40 per month or $1.3 daily income)
By July 2022, with the exchange rate at over N600 to $1, the average citizen on a N20,000 salary has been finally brought to $1 per day!
Again, what a dividend of democracy!
Pray, which country with serious and law abiding leaders allows its national currency to maintain a 22- year long downward slide in exchange rate?
Why have the federal and state governments not called an Emergency National Economic Summit to rescue the Naira? It is because the condition of the masses does not bother our political elite.
Now let’s talk about lawlessness. You will be surprised that Nigerians travel overseas and are among the most law-abiding citizens everywhere they go.
Why do they appear to be lawless in their own country? It is because our country has been rendered lawless by people who hold political power, especially since 1999. Under military rule, every officer appointed to a political position tried to lead by example. Otherwise, the military hierarchy was expected to punish him or her.
Not so with our civilian rulers since 1999. Our politics has been reduced to a jungle of lawlessness by the politicians themselves who, do not obey rules or try to keep to any known principle of decency.
Most of our political parties are lawless because each one is an “exclusive club” owned and controlled by those who fund it with stolen public wealth or those waiting to grab some.
The public are not regarded as co-owners of most parties in Nigeria, since 1999. We as the public, are not even treated as real members of any party in the strict sense of the word. Party members are not consulted or encouraged to participate in decisions about policies or programmes of any of the parties.
It is worse with our governments at the local, state and federal levels. They only inform us, not consult us, on how to spend public money or budget.
The governors and party executives have no rules, except survival of the fittest. It has made them turn every state into a jungle where only those who have political power can monopolize everything. So, law-abiding citizens can see with their eyes that those who have power are lawless.
The state does not protect law-abiding citizens. In order to survive, citizens are forced to resort to self-help.
Secondly, the Feudal System gives monopoly of all resources in a state or at the federal level to a few members of the political elite in each administration. It does so without regard to efficiency or improved productivity of the economy. Usually, less than 200 persons in each state under any regime since 1999, present themselves as the “chosen privileged elite”.
They can have access to N1m or more of government money anytime they want. This also eliminates the chances of most who believe in efficiency and good performance, as indices for progress.
Occasionally, a few are allowed to stand as a “token” for efficiency or productivity drive. The result is that by removing efficiency and incentives for a productive economy, the political elite create an unnecessary stampede for access to resources around themselves. This enables them demand “loyalty” from people who want to survive.
So, we are required to applaud them even when we know the political elite are wrong or hell bent on driving our state or federal government on a joy ride into a predictable deeper end of an evil forest.
They make us poorer through self-centred and greedy policies so that they can enrich themselves from our resources and turn round to keep us as their “Slaves”. The consequence for society is a “stampede- for- survival” mentality. We see this on our streets in every urban centre in Nigeria.
So, it is not Nigerians that are the problem. Rather it is the Feudal System which does not encourage efficiency or a productivity-based economy at LG, State or Federal level.
To return Nigerians to a new era of lawful behaviour, we must mobilize for collective action in small groups of professionals, business, gender, ethnic, and religious associations to take steps to dismantle the Feudal System by:
a) Launching a sustained demand for a programme initiated or endorsed by the public, to urgently rescue the Naira. Let’s demand that the federal government creates urgent incentives for states to identify and encourage entrepreneurs and businesses with projects that can improve local production for export from the 2022 budget year.
Federal government must also publicize measures to limit frivolous use of foreign exchange by governments on such things as importation of bullet-proof luxury cars and foreign made furniture. Steady and structured improvement in exchange rate of the naira is crucial to raise the confidence of Nigerians and stop the stampede for survival as well as the attendant lawlessness.
b) Insistence on efficiency and competitive productivity in the economy at LG, state and federal levels will stabilize the society and give people hope that tomorrow will be better.
We cannot fight for this as individuals. Let us join hands to scream and demonstrate to get it done.
c) We must rise to “Take Back Nigeria” by challenging the “Master and Slave” relationship structure imposed on our society since 1999.
Why is it that politicians and their cronies as ministers, commissioners, permanent secretaries, directors, etc. are largely suspected of huge stealing and yet get unmerited benefits as they leave office? But civil servants and pensioners are put on hold for years for the pittance that is their just entitlement.
Why should children of top politicians starting from the president and governors go to school overseas and their families enjoy heath care in foreign hospitals at our expense, yet average citizens who are owners of the public wealth can’t have competitive schools and medical services in 2022 in our country?
Why are citizens watching without reaction when at each election cycle, our governments spend more on elections than the entire investment in the five sectors of commercial agriculture, industry, education, transportation and health services? Let’s make Voters count, not only their votes. Let’s demand that structured consultation and participation to achieve citizens’ goals must be built into our decision-making process on budget matters.
Amaopusenibo Bobo Sofiri Brown, managing consultant/CEO, GRAIN Consulting.