If I had the telepathic wisdom of Michel De Nostradamus - the 16th century French psychic who ÔÇśsaw tomorrow'- I will look straight into the future of Global Politics. With such mystic power I will look into the possibility of a world war III, Global Geo-politics and the future prospects of China, India as well as African economies. I will use my mystical influence to examine the future of globalization and the continued rise of technology and how they will both shape our political and economic prospects in the next 50-100 years. If possible, I'd ask my crystal ball for a better alternative to capitalism where not only the strong would survive. I'd ask if we could swap democracy for a better option where the governed will not be at the mercy of their governors.
More importantly, I will inundate and bombard my mystical authority with issues on ÔÇśPolitique Nigeriane' and what the future will hold in 2030 for its 300 million strong population. On Nigeria, I would inquire from my crystal ball if poverty will ever be a thing of the past. What would be the future of corruption? Will Nigeria disintegrate? Is federalism for us - if Yes, why and if No - Why, how and what option can we best practice. With my Clairvoyant power, I will take a holistic glimpse into the future of politics and economy and how they will affect the future of Nigerians and that of my great grand descendants. Unluckily for me, I do not possess a speck of such telekinetic power to predict tomorrow how much more - the future. However, fortunately for me, without having the clairvoyant power of Nostradamus the future of our polity can be predicted. Today, it is very simple - we can tell the future using events of past and the present.
Theoretically, a number of known theories such as the endogenous growth theory, the theory of forecasting as well as scores of macroeconomic models can be used to predict what the future would hold. Apart from these abstract processes - anyone concerned about what the future holds can simply identify a number of indicators and set sensible parameters against which future outcomes will be measured.
For Nigeria ÔÇô knowing what will happen in 2011 and perhaps the next 10 years is one of the simplest things to do; we need no econometric models, no clairvoyant power and no seasoned wisdom. The possible outcomes of future events is indeed self evident from the current shape of things today. It is self evident from our daily political affairs, the current state of the economy and to use my much beloved French word; it is evident from the fa├žon de penser (i.e. the way of thinking) of those who governed us yesterday and today.
Today many of us Nigerians filled with optimism are expecting the best to happen in 2011 politically and economically ÔÇô many of us expect a very fair, credible and transparent election while some want a better president than we've ever had in the past. Infact, an overwhelming majority expect better lives and improved status. But can all these dreams become reality anytime soon in our own political diary? The answer is No.
A fair election for example cannot be achieved in 2011 given that we have the same system, process and people with the same mindset in place. We may talk about the replacement of Maurice IWU with a more credible administrator but the fact is - most of his (JEGA's) commissioners and subordinates are corrupt and will be used as mercenaries by corrupt politicians without him knowing what goes on under the carpet. In reality, most of the current INEC commissioners are more adept at manoeuvring, manipulating and engineering the system thus, without the knowledge of their new boss; they can achieve a lot without making fuss about it. Nigerian politics is their turf and they are the king makers not the electorates who think they are. Moreover, INEC seem insufficiently prepared with the short deadline with which it has to make things happen for the next election. In 2007, Maurice IWU who once chaired the election commission had enough time to organise the most credible election ever but instead, his was the most disastrous election in the history of Nigeria. From all indications, the election in 2011 will be far from credible given the shape of things. Hence, the sad events of 2007 where wrong candidates occupied offices through falsified results will possibly repeat it self.
In the geopolitical terrain ÔÇô the PDP will perhaps loose more states especially in the South West and in the South East given its growing unpopularity and disapproval. However on the overall scale, the party will remain the largest with the most number of candidates in offices given the almost inexistence of powerful opposition forces.
Politics aside ÔÇô the economy will likely see no better improvement in 2011 based on present events. The capital market will likely not grow impressively while the situation in the Niger-Delta will likely see no positive progress. Why would investors come to Nigeria when infact neighbouring countries are doing better and the whole of our economic environment is in terrible mess?
If anything would happen economically in 2011 it would be more chaos upon chaos since there is no platform for growth to prevail. Already, banks have begun to downsize and certainly 2011 will see more of such as more banks and other industries in their bid to achieve better growth and profitability will continue in such direction. Inflation wise, things may get worse in 2011 being an election year because there will be more supply of money which will probably chase little goods. A study conducted by the CBN (1995) indeed confirms that inflation increases when there is growth in money supply to the economy. Therefore, it is expected that the inflation rate in 2011 will increase by at least 1-2 % owing to the election and our usual money politics which will encourage the flow of docile money. Approximately, we should see an inflation rate of about 14% sometime in 2011.
In an economy such as Nigeria, one of the effects of increased inflation is that the prices of goods and services will immediately respond to increased money supply. As a result, the coming election will mean that things will get more and more expensive. More so, many citizens may have less purchasing power since the prices of goods will have possibly increased. That aside, there is no current evidence that there will be improvement in the supply of electricity for at least another 2 years from now.
In aggregate ÔÇô there is every possibility that the situation both economically and politically would remain stagnant if not regress in at least the first to third quarter of 2011. Therefore, much should not be expected in year 2011 irrespective of who becomes president except few positive developments and few possible deaths due to political uprisings which may ensue from growing political asymmetries.
In the past, many have argued that the major challenge of the country is corruption, but I dare put it straight that our major problem is not corruption. Indeed, our major problem is the lack of harmonized systems and processes in the right places to govern us as well a profound culture of waste. To say the fact, corruption is human and many of us will be corrupt when given the right occasion and opportunity. This is evident in the numerous cases of corruption in countries all over the world. The right thing to do is put systems in place which would ensure checks and balances. This would equally reduce corruption and ensure best practices. For example - why would a governor not siphon billions of dollars if he has the power to choose who wins or looses a contract? The right thing to do in a more sensible system would be to totally take the power to award contracts off the tables of governors and top administrators in governments. The right to award contracts may simply be in the hands of a well organised civil society group, independent of the government who are well trained and who work in conjunction with the government with the right checks and balances in place.
Never can we solve the problems of corruption if from the federal government down to the local tiers of government there are no systems in place as checks and balances, no due processes and no strict accountability requirement. For example, all local and state governments can be governed by a process whereby all monthly expenditures from one kobo to billions must be published publicly every month for discerning citizens to see and question.
A system can also be put in place whereby all contracts awarded will not be under the control or influence of government officials. The awarding of contracts and procurement of specific kinds may be the duties of impartial, transparent arbitrators formed from the civil society. These are just mere examples but the main point is that most of our efforts should rather be concentrated on implementing open and transparent systems whereby decisions are strictly guided and discharged under strict and transparent courses rather than spending billions on equipping the EFCC and the likes which in my view has been less effective as an instrument against corruption.
Furthermore, as a matter of fact - it seems if we are all serious about progress and the war against corruption, we ought to have a rethink about our federalist system of government because of its incredibly expensive costs and penchant for promoting inequality amongst citizens and across states. In Nigeria billions of naira is paid to law makers, councillors, ministers, advisers, local council chairmen, state governors and thousands of service men. In addition, salaries are paid to Oba's Emirs, Obi's and chiefs in all states of the federation when there are roads to be tarred, water to be provided, electricity to be generated and small projects to be completed.
Today, we have a bicameral legislative system that sucks and which serves no better purpose than compound our already complex and multifaceted problems. Having two legislative chambers grew out of the monarchy system in the UK and other European countries, where there was a need to represent both the aristocracy and the common man. But today ÔÇô are the senators and honourables representing the common man? The answer is NO. I propose a unicameral system of legislature because it would be less expensive and laws will be speedily passed, but if there is need to retain the bicameral system, it will be more worthy to make the profession of law making a part time vocation for either the lower chamber or the upper chamber or indeed both.
As an observer who gleans from all available evidence - one will not be at loss to assert that the possibility of a sustainable change that will affect everyone positively in Nigeria is minimal at least for the next coming decade. Such change is long in coming, except where the root causes of our problems are addressed. By my own reckoning, the failures of past leaders are not solely a result of their own crass ineptitude but indeed as a result of our shabby culture, structures and weak socio political systems.
To make Nigeria work for a better future, we don't have to expend all our strengths and resources on the known hydra head called corruption or vote the most intelligent amongst us as president. We don't even need any foreign intervention or an intelligence report about the future of Nigeria. All we need do to make it work is have a serious rethink about our structures, processes and systems. Suffice it to say that corruption is indeed the least of our problems if we have a culture and political system that works. The question is; where do we start and can we can we get our acts together? This is a multi million dollar question that will perhaps need the crystal ball of Nostradamus to answer.