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Friday, December 8, 2017

Attitudinal dynamics of Nigeria’s underdevelopment

…also published in Daily Trust

A deeper look into Nigeria’s socio-economic underdevelopment doesn’t only show the obvious leadership failure behind it, but it also reveals the underlying anti-development public attitude that, if left unaddressed, will certainly continue to undermine and frustrate the already ridiculously poor leadership commitment over the decades to providing befitting standard of living for Nigerians.

Though, Nigerians rightly lament over their persistent underdevelopment, albeit without proportionate commitment to addressing its real causes, they hardly admit the existence of this attitude among them even though it’s actually particularly responsible for the persistence of their underdevelopment. This is apparently because the attitude is largely associated with some misconception of some cultural values and/or religious concepts.

Addressing the embarrassing phenomenon of the Out-of-School children in Nigeria as a case study, for instance, which is obviously one of the worst manifestations and causes of underdevelopment, would always reveal this anti-development public attitude especially in northern Nigeria where the largest population of the Out-of-School children in the world live.

It’s a pity that, even though the Almajirci tradition has been completely bastardized and indeed rendered counterproductive, which has, in turn, rendered the wandering Almajirai destitute and Out-of-School children, yet the tacit public endorsement of the phenomenon and the underlying public reluctance to tackle it continue to frustrate the already inadequate measures taken by successive federal governments and successive state and local governments in the region to end it. In an article titled “Hypocrisy over Almajirci” published in this paper on Friday, March 31, 2017, I addressed this attitude as well as the underlying socio-cultural factors behind the obvious lack of political will to end this phenomenon in northern Nigeria. 

Now, obviously another embarrassing manifestation of Nigeria’s underdevelopment is the virtual absence of public hygiene maintenance culture in the society, which has effectively reduced even the few originally organized communities, e.g. the so-called GRAs, into glorified slums. For instance, while, on the one hand, Nigerians rightly lament government’s failure to provide and maintain hygienic living environments in most parts of Nigeria, one the other hand, the rampant practice of haphazard waste disposal, which has created waste dumping sites (bola) dotted across almost all Nigerian communities practically sparing no empty or unutilized space including community wastewater drains (kwata) into which people recklessly dump their waste as well, makes it impossible to provide ideal living environment befitting human life in most parts of the country.

Besides, the proliferation of stagnant ponds of filth (kududdufi) into which many households in the area discharge their wastewater and even human waste, have turned many Nigerian communities into breeding grounds for all of kinds of easily preventable but deadly diseases e.g. hepatitis, malaria etc. Yet, almost all shayitsirebalangu and other petty food vendors run their business joints close to a bola, kwata or kududdufi.  

Obviously, though government can’t be absolutely absolved from responsibility for the persistence of this situation, it’s unfair to single it out for criticism over the absence of public hygiene maintenance culture in the society.

Now, amid many other manifestations of similar attitude suggesting the general tendency among Nigerians to remain perpetually underdeveloped, notwithstanding the extent of the responsibility of leadership failure in this regard, the way development-related issues are discussed among the intelligentsia and other segments of the elite in the society equally shows Nigerians’ lack of real commitment to pursuing befitting and sustainable socio-economic and political development. Ethno-religious, political and other prejudices often characterize such discussions and turn them into empty arguments. This trend is increasingly growing among Nigerian analysts and public commentators who hardly stick to objective yardsticks in assessing public office holders. Besides, many of them waste their intellect and time writing on trivialities or engaging in empty arguments over personalities at the expense of issues. Consequently, Nigerians consciously or unconsciously behave like fans of the members of the political elite who, in turn, behave like arrogant and inconsiderate celebrities who have taken their respective fans for granted.  

Needless to say, this anti-development public attitude induces frustration as much as bad leadership in the country does.  After all, no matter how good and progressive a government is, it necessarily needs an equally progressive public attitude for it to be able to provide befitting and sustainable development. Therefore, until Nigerians behave like stakeholders in nation-building project who judge their leaders strictly on the basis of their performance and hold them to account, I am afraid, Nigeria’s underdevelopment will persist perpetually.

Friday, November 17, 2017

Useless obsession with politics

..also published in Daily Trust

One thing I observe with different nationalities is that, the average people in underdeveloped countries are generally more interested in politics than their counterparts in developed and wealthy developing countries. This is perhaps understandable though, because while the obsession of the average people in developed and prosperous developing countries basically centers on affording the latest lifestyle trend with its associated flamboyance, their counterparts in underdeveloped countries still languish in absolutely avoidable deprivation of basic human needs, infrastructure and services necessarily needed for human survival today.

While the average person in many developed and rich developing countries thinks about where to spend his next summer holiday or what car brand he would buy when the latest brands hit the markets, his counterpart in an underdeveloped country is still worried about basic human needs, and indeed endures acute shortage of basic services e.g. electricity/potable water supply, education and healthcare services etc., which are also of extremely poor quality where they exist.

Friday, October 27, 2017

A president taken lightly

…also published in Daily Trust

The dramatically unfolding circumstances of the scandalous reinstatement of the former chairman of the Presidential Task Force on Pension Reforms Abdulrasheed Maina represent yet other instances of how some top government officials simply take President Muhammadu Buhari lightly, and, in fact, how they practically run a clandestine government within his government, capitalizing on his apparent reluctance to tackle the growing trend of systematic covert sabotage from within his administration.

This is notwithstanding his subsequent order for immediate reversion to the status quo in Maina’s case, which only came following the public outcry the reinstatement had triggered. Also, this is regardless of whether Maina is guilty or not. After all, apparently, he had some powerful accomplices who therefore want terminate the case by hook or by crook, get him quietly reinstated, or, in the event of failure to achieve these, simply ensure that he pays the whole price alone while they get away with it.

Friday, October 20, 2017

Between Buhari and governors

…also published in Daily Trust

Since the beginning of President Buhari administration, the underlying dynamics of power politics between the president on the one hand, and the state governors on the other have been quietly and steadily changing. Until recently, successive Nigerian presidents and state governors have maintained a mutually serving relationship that has kept their respective political interests quite interdependent.

Usually, for instance, a president serving his first term in office while looking forward to getting reelected to serve his second term in due course, state governors in a similar situation and with a similar ambition, and also outgoing governors serving their second terms and pursuing senatorial ambitions or simply looking forward to remaining politically relevant enough to secure ministerial or ambassadorial appointments, would always maintain such a mutually serving relationship,  of course at the expense of the people.

Friday, October 6, 2017

President’s tacit indictment of Ganduje and others

....also published in Daily Trust

The conspicuous absence of Kano state governor, Abdullahi Umar Ganduje and his Katsina state counterpart, Aminu Masari among the thirteen governors commended by President Muhammadu Buhari in his National Day address last week, for their contributions towards the steadily growing success of his administration’s economic diversification policy in agriculture, captured the interest of many observers. The thirteen state governors who earned the Presidential commendation were the governors of Kebbi, Lagos, Ebonyi, Jigawa, Ondo, Edo, Delta, Imo, Cross River, Benue, Ogun, Kaduna and Plateau States.

By implication, this commendation is also a tacit indictment of the other governors. Of course, as Bakano, I am particularly interested in the implications of Governor Ganduje’s absence in the list, being also governor of the ruling All Progressives Congress’s largest stronghold in the country. Governor Masari’s absence is also quite interesting, being governor of President Buhari’s home state i.e. Katsina, which is also arguably the second largest stronghold of the ruling APC.

Governor Abdullahi Umar Ganduje of Kano state

Now, unsurprisingly, no sooner had the President finished his address than some Ganduje’s critics began to ridicule him and rejoice for what they consider their vindication for insisting that he has failed to live up to expectations. His political opponents from Kwankwasiyya faction of the APC in particular gloated over what they regarded as President Buhari’s show of disappointment in him despite his purported loyalty to him (Buhari). Interestingly, since falling out with his former boss, Rabi’u Kwankwaso, Governor Ganduje has been increasingly portraying and promoting himself as a staunch Buhari loyalist in his apparent attempt to neutralize the looming threat that Kwankwasiyya followers and other disillusioned Kanawa pose against his re-election bid in 2019.