Addressing a nation's socio-economic problems is a Herculean task that requires an in-depth examination of the root causes of the malaise. There have been endless debates on how to tackle
One of the aims of any organization or nation is to produce good quality products and services and this is much more manifest and desirable in the present highly competitive global economy. Only organizations or nations whose products and services are of high quality could compete effectively and thrive. There are many forces facing the nation but part of the challenges facing the Nigerian economy poor governance and corruption that has prevented the present administration from tackling the infrastructural decay in the society and the resultant weak economy.
The Nigerian economy is facing myriad challenges, including poor governance. Research of causes of poor governance suggests ways to institute reforms.
In addition, the society lacks the leaders and a government that is ready, willing, and politically motivated to address the ills in the economy.
Nigerian leaders appear good at prescribing solutions to the nation's economic problems without providing the institutions to make the society work. They make high-sounding promises without fulfilling them; and more often than not their policies are hastily put together and poorly executed. These have affected the nation's economic performance. As Dike (July 22-28, 2006) has noted ÔÇśthe political landscape of
Growing evidence shows that the crises bedeviling the nation's political economy could partly be attributed to the authoritarian tendencies of the leaders. For instance, one of key problems facing the Nigerian economy today is that almost every facet of the economy it is being controlled by the President. Growing evidence shows that he is in control of the on-going privatization process and controls the petroleum industry (including pricing of its products). He controls the elections process and determines who should take part in the process and he determines who is corrupt or not. The President decides whether or to implement the national budget, and often spends public fund without seeking approval from the National Assembly. The system lacks checks and balances and the people lack the freedom to challenge the autocratic tendencies of the President.
lacks genuine democratic system in which the electorate would participate without coercion and hold the politicians accountable for their actions. And this affects the economy in many ways. As Sen (1999) notes "unfreedoms" leave the people with little choice to exercise "their reasoned agency." And "Freedoms are not only the primary ends of development, they are also among its primary means." Development "requires the removal of major sources of unfreedoms" (Ibid.). Fiscal indiscipline and lack of democratic governance are some of the causes of
Among the challenges facing the economy is that the system lacks genuine competition. A market-oriented economy is better suited for economic growth and development because genuine capitalistic economies are controlled by market forces and not by personal idiosyncrasies. The leaders of
Inconsistency and unsustainable policies and ÔÇśmacroeconomic imbalances' are part of the causes of the present ÔÇśhemorrhage' (Eichengreen, 2004) in the economy. Any keen watcher of the political activities in
Education is an important factor in economic growth and development. But the nation's educational system has been facing myriad challenges, which prevent the system from performing its basic objectives. They problems include inadequate funding and lack of planning and management, poor governance and infrastructure, lack of teaching materials and enough good quality of teachers at all levels, among others. All these have combined to hinder the production of high quality work force to propel the economy (UNESS for
As Lickona (October 1992) notes in Educating for Character "respect and responsibility are the two foundational moral values" that a society should teach its citizens. Others include honesty, fairness, tolerance, prudence, self-discipline, helpfulness, compassion, cooperation, courage (the virtues of Aristotle) among other democratic values. All these would enable the people to create a viable humane society and to act "respectfully and responsibly." Taking responsibility for the things we do wrong as well as the things we do right is important for national development.
Part of the challenges facing the polity is that many Nigerian politicians do not practice ethical politics and their actions therefore do not add any values to the system. And the high ranking politicians are the main culprits as they exploit their position for personal gain and the society suffers. Lack of "ethical politics and values" (Dike, January 15, 2007) and politics of hate and destruction are creating economic and political hiccups in the society. More often than not Nigerian politicians would kill their opponents to gain access to or retain political power. Many Nigerian politicians practice the Machiavellian political prescription (Prince) and for that political assassinations litter the landscape.
One cannot over emphasize the importance of teaching values (Raths, et. al, 1979) necessary for good citizenship and law-abiding society. Unstable political environment is scaring investors off the society. For instance, the un-ending political feud between the President and his Vice President is undermining governance and crippling the economy (Vanguard, October 15, 2006). Crude politics, corruption, selfishness and greed have not allowed the political leaders to fix the institutions that are the commanding heights of the economy. Because of ineffective and inefficient institutional factors the economic restructuring efforts have not achieving its purpose because "asset stripping rather than wealth creations" (Lewis, April 2004) has been the game as the powerful oligarchy and special interest who are buying the nation in the name of privatization.
The regulatory agencies in the society are not free from political interference to operate effectively. Without allowing them unfettered hands to regulate the economy and
Inadequate investment in physical capital, human capital and technological skills and knowledge hinders productivity and poverty has blossomed. Available economic indices show that about 70% of Nigerians live on less than one dollar per day (U.S. Department of State Reports on Human Rights Practice, 2005). The implication of this situation is that this many poor Nigerians will spend most their resources on feeding with little or nothing remaining to invest on the economy. Without boosting economic growth, and without empowering the people, the government's ill-planned and hastily implemented poverty alleviation programs may not reduce poverty in the society. For the nation to achieve sustainable economic growth and development the rural communities in which the majority of the people live must be developed.
Related to education is inadequate investment in technological development. In the midst of global electronic communications revolution in which electronic information flows across national boundaries no society would succeed in building a thriving political economy without being information technology conscious. Now, information technology almost determines the nature of every human activity; with it individuals and businesses now communicate much faster now more than ever. In spite of the presence of the GSM in the society
Alleviating the Challenges
Given the magnitude of challenges facing the economy it requires serious economic medicines to the spur the ailing Nigerian economy. As noted earlier Nigerian leaders are good at listing the challenges confronting the polity without providing the means to tackle the problems. As a result
Unbundling corruption in the society would not be possible without effective checks and balances to monitor people's activities and with stiffer penalties for corrupt practices such as longer and tougher jail terms without option of fines.
To stimulate the economy the society must fix the dilapidated social infrastructure (roads and bridges, water, etc) truly reform the power sector because these are crippling economic activities. Poor business environment negatively impacts business activities and productivity plummets. One could venture to say that
Effective reform and privatization of the power sector is critical in fixing the ailing Nigerian economy.The Guardian of November 5, 2006 noted that for the "reforms in the power sector to achieve its set objective a whopping $20 billion would have to be invested in the next 20 years." Because of inefficiency and corruption (the leaders have stolen billions of dollars of public money) government-run organizations swallow huge sum of public money without good economic return. It requires good management (and not money alone) to turn NEPA (now PHCN) and other public corporations into viable entities that would benefit the entire society.
Good schools are important part of the solution to
Ineffective social institutions are strangling the Nigerian economy (Dike, October-December, 2003; Sachs, June 2003;
The agricultural sector has been neglected leading to scarcity of food in the society.
should restructure her revenue collection system because it has very low capacity to collect taxes from her citizens. States cannot function if they are unable to collect taxes and account for them. However, as
Good Governance and Effective Institutions: Commentary
How could the leaders accomplish the fundamental changes in the society? The activities of the government and its interaction with Nigerians are among the myriad challenges facing the society today. The nation's economic managers have toyed with varied socio-economic policies to guide the economy. And the latest major policy is the National Economic Empowerment and Development Strategy (NEEDS) that appears to guide the nation's present economic reform agenda. However, the NEEDS strategy, which focuses mainly on creating wealth and employment, reducing poverty and values re-orientation (NEEDS Document, 2004), has not achieved the objectives because of poor governance, ineffective public institutions, decayed social infrastructures, and unfavorable political environment. However, are the nation's policies well-articulated? Real reform requires systematic policy initiatives (Rose-Ackerman (2004).
The scope of the challenges facing the economic enormous and because of that
Sustainable macroeconomic policies are important for any healthy economy. Governance challenge in
Does the nation have the tools and political will to deal with the corruption challenge?
As noted earlier, the price of crude oil is controlled by the forces in global politics. These monies have unfortunately gone down the sinkhole created by corruption. Despite the unending corruption scandals in the society the politicians are still preaching leadership accountability and transparency. Recently, the Pressrevealed how Andy Uba (former Chief Obasanjo's aide) used the presidential jet to haul about $170,000 in cash into the
It is unassailably true that
For the economy to grow the nation must invest in social institutions and build permanent institutional structures to tackle the nation's problems as they arise. The society should invest in agriculture, health care, good network of roads, and efficient and reliable transportation system, and tame financial instability.
In spite of her oil wealth
More important, to prevent further erosion of confidence in the democratization process the government should be transparent (transparency is negatively impacted by corruption and unnecessary politicization of issues). The legal system must be reformed to maintain or ensure the people's trust in its rulings. And
For Nigeria to build a strong foundation for true democracy and economic growth and development there is need for the society to promote ethical standards in politics, good social and moral values, accountability and transparency in governance. And for this to be possible the people should be politically educated and mature. This would enable the people to begin to question the sources of the wealth of the politicians' who become "very rich" immediately they step into political office. Many Nigerian politicians do not have ÔÇśClean Hands -they are corrupt! However, good governance reduces corruption, ceteris paribus!
According to Mahatma Gandhi "politics without ethical principles" is among the "social sins of humankind." It is not too late for the politicians (and the people) to modify their political behavior and learn to play ethical politics that add values to the system. If
References and Notes
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(March 27, 2007) "ASUU Continues Strike"
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Dike, Victor E. (January 15, 2007). "Need for ethical politics and values;" Daily Trust
Dike,Victor E. (Nov-2006).Democracy and Political Life in
Dike, Victor E. (October 21 & 23, 2006) "The State of
Dike, Victor E. (January 31, 2006). "Economic restructuring and power of productivity (Daily Champion, January 31, 2006)
Dike, Victor E. (July 22-28, 2006) "Unreasoned policies and
Dike, Victor E. (May 25, 2005). "Values Education and National Development;" Daily Trust
Dike, Victor E. (October ÔÇôDecember, 2003). "
Edison, Hali (June 2003). "Test the Links: How strong is the links between institutional quality and economic performance?" Finance and Development (F&D), Vol. 40, No.2
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(March 23, 2007). "
(March 25, 2007). See John Nwokocha "Taking cassava initiative to what level?"
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Victor E. Dike,
author of Democracy and Political Life in Nigeria (2nd edition),