Nigeria is considered the giant of Africa with booming industries, rapid development, investors focus in Africa and largest number of people in the continent estimated at about 186 million according to the World bank and United States Census Bureau (2016).
One would see these developments and achievements as a successful story of the political settings in Nigeria; an assertion that will most certainly be tagged false by the citizens of Nigeria.
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In this article, we shall be expatiating on the problems of Nigeria Politics and its possible solutions from the least perceived problem to the most striking and persistent problem in her political settings. A brief understanding of the different words – Nigeria, Politics as well as a singular word “NigeriaPolitics” will be highlighted.
Read Also: 10 Roles of Youths in Nigerian Politics
The term Nigerian(Giant of Africa) refers to a citizenship-based civic nationality. Nigeria itself is derived from over 250 ethnic groups and languages.
Though there are multiple ethnic groups in Nigeria, economic factors result in significant mobility of Nigerians of multiple ethnic and religious backgrounds to reside in territories in Nigeria that are outside their ethnic or religious background, resulting in the intermixing of the various ethnic and religious groups, especially in Nigeria’s cities.
English language is the lingua franca of Nigerians. About 50 percent of Nigerians are Muslims and the other 50 percent are Christians. Nigeria boasts about 186 million citizens.
On Saturday, 1 October 1960, Nigeria gained independence from the United Kingdom, and an Executive Council, made up entirely of Nigerians, was led by a Prime Minister, Alhaji Sir Abubakar Tafawa Balewa.
Its first government was a coalition of conservative parties, and it came into power on the back of increasingly enthusiastic demands for political independence from colonial powers that swept across much of the African continent during the middle of the 20th Century.
The British recognised that the independence drive had started to gain traction after World War Two, and they steered the country then the Colony and Protectorate of Nigeria toward a self-governance model.
The conservative coalition government that came into power on 1 October comprised the Nigerian People’s Congress (NPC), the National Council of Nigeria and the Cameroons (NCNC), and the Action Group (AG) constituted the opposition.
The NPC was largely Hausa and Muslim, the NCNC mainly Igbo and Christian, and the AG mostly Yoruba and relatively liberal. The political divisions between the parties were obvious and acute. Today, these first set of parties have metamorphosised into the contemporary Nigerian Political parties.
Politics, as simple as it may sound refers to achieving and exercising positions of governance organized control over a human community, particularly a state – The political setting is responsible for driving the country forward or backwards.
Political posts are held by election – An election is usually a competition between different parties where citizens of a country vote for whom they consider to be the most suitable for a political post
A variety of methods are deployed in politics, which include promoting one’s own political views among people, negotiation with other political subjects, making laws , and exercising force , including warfare against adversaries.
Politics is exercised on a wide range of social levels, from clans and tribes of traditional societies, through modern local governments, companies and institutions up to sovereign states , to the international level.
The Nigerian Political Setting
The Nigerian political setting is operated under a federal system of government. The Federal Government of Nigeria is the federal government for the Federal Republic of Nigeria, it is composed of 36 states , who share sovereignty with the federal government and 1 federal territory administered solely by the federal government.
The federal government is composed of three distinct branches: legislative, executive , and judicial , whose powers are vested by the Constitution of Nigeria in the National Assembly, the President, and the federal courts, including the Supreme Court, respectively.
The president is the head of state , the head of government, and the head of a multi-party system . Nigerian politics takes place within a framework of a federal , presidential , representative democratic republic , in which executive power is exercised by the government.
Legislative power is held by the real government and the two chambers of the legislature: the House of Representatives and the Senate. Together, the two chambers make up the law-making body in Nigeria, called the National Assembly, which serves as a check on the executive arm of government.
The highest judiciary arm of government in Nigeria is the Supreme Court of Nigeria which was created after independence and also practices Baron de Montesquieu ‘s theory of the separation of powers based on the United States system and also practices checks and balances
It is no more news that the Nigerian political setting is influenced by drastic negative phenomenon’s that are retarding the growth of Nigeria as a whole.
From the least to the strongest, the following are the problems as well as likely solutions to the Nigerian political settings:
It’s no more news that Nigeria is among the most corrupt countries in the world. Our political setting alone boast 70% of our corrupt practices.
Government official siphon public funds to foreign accounts, private citizens help in the money laundering process and billion of billions of naira are kept somewhere in different names by different individuals trying to escape the eyes of The law from capturing their illicit practices.
Corruption is alive at the very foundation of many of Nigeria’s problems in totality. Corruption shiftshape into different settings and attacks all political institutions as well as economic sectors. The Government itself standing at the frontline of the Nigerian corruption.
Chapter II Section 15 subsection 5, Chapter II (15)(5), of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria states thus: The State shall abolish all corrupt practices and abuse of power.
The question is: is this State really adhering with the instruction given? The government personnel who are constituted to abolish corruption careless about what is expected of them.
Also, the non-governing citizens who are also expected to free from corruption are also found guilty. Abuse of power is observed in almost all the government arms of the federation.
The most likely solution to the corrupt practices in Nigeria is, more of Buhari led regime; This is not to say Buhari is perfect, but however, his administration is wiping out illegalities in the political settings and unfolding huge amount of fraudulent activities that have crippled Nigeria drastically.
2. Endless Kidnapping
Participating in any form of politics In Nigeria is dangerous. Politicians are seen as money mongers, people believe they have enough money to cater for the whole nation for years. If they are not kidnapped, their family members are kidnapped and then ransom is paid to free them.
This phenomenon also has its root in student politics in Nigeria where students are kidnapped a day to the election date and then released after the election by opposition parties that must’ve battered and beaten him/her to stupor.
Just like there are no answers to the threat posed by herdsmen to the nation’s security, law enforcement agencies have proved incapable of stopping the state of kidnapping across the country.
In 2017 policemen were kidnapped. In the new years, kidnapping will continue. Politicians will become prime targets for kidnappers because of the money they come across.
The most likely solution is reorientation; Our educational system has a role to play, Government too and the Media itself. If the kidnapping stoppage is left in the hand of the Government alone innocent lives will be lost while the government might tag those life’s as collateral damages.
3. Oil and Gas
At pressing time, there appears to be no end in sight to the problem of inadequate supply of fuel at filing stations despite the assurances by government officials. That is a sad indication of one of the challenges the country grapples with.
Like the power sector, the oil and gas sector always witness a topsy-turvy condition, helped mostly by low oil production levels.
The problem is not far fetched. The politics of oil can be likened to the politics of Nigeria.
There a political jagabans whose name are not heard on media but engulf profits tremendously from the oil and gas sector.
These set of individuals will frustrate government activities at a single drop in their profit. A case example is the Subsidy removal saga that led to a nationwide fuel scarcity which almost destroyed the activities of telecommunication companies that relied on diesel to run their equipments. The Oil jagabans have no emphathy for the larger good but enough for their larger pockets.
From time immemorial, these political oil jagabans influence everything oil which reflects on the decisions made by political heads in Nigeria.
The only drastic solution that seems feasible here is the already laid plans to construct refineries in Nigeria. This will not only save cost, but also steadily take the baton of oil and gas control from the Oil and gas political jagabanas.
4. Boko Haram
Wildly known as Boko Haram, this is an Islamic sect group tagged terrorist by acclamation. They claim to be following the teachings of the holy Quran but seem not to understand that their actions are brought to life by the political mismanagement and neglecting of Nigerian political leaders
In many of the studies carried out on the activities of Boko Haram in Nigeria, there is an implicit assumption that the rise of the group (like others before it) was as a result of state-neglect; a relative deprivation of a large percentage of the citizens by government.
Central to this argument is that increasing poverty in Nigeria is accentuated by increasing unemployment. The resultant cost is that it creates the necessary condition for radical Islam to thrive, the rising popularity of militant Islamist movements in Northern Nigeria can be attributed to a combination of factors including: increased inequality, injustices, poverty, failed social services as well as failed Structural Adjustment Programme.
Some people still see the group as a mere political instrument by some corrupted individuals – Boko Haram people claim they do not want Western education and thus, they were tagged illiterates. We can see now that they are not. It is an ideological war that they are fighting.
The fact that the targets of Boko Haram are Christians, Muslims and ordinary Nigeria citizens sees book haram as a mere poltical move – A perceived sector that seeks to change the power sttucture in Nigeria.
It is unarguable however that the evolution of Boko Haram is a response to the socio-economic flux borne out of a combination of decades-long mismanagement and pervasive corruption in Nigeria.
The possible solution here is government learning from the book haram mistake – No sector of the country should be overlooked, every sector should be properly inculcated in the allround developmental policies of the country at large.
5. God Fatherism
Without saying much, it has become a normal political move to seek out god fathers in the political setting that would act as a pioneer in pushing a candidate forward towards entering a political post.
Nigerian runs a democratic system of government in which the government in power should be the sole reflection of the Nigerian citizens alone through election.
However, this changes. Due to the overbearing influence of the political godfathers on political office seekers, the latter are robbed of their independence; thus they become mere surrogates and are conditioned in such a way that they become totally subservient to their godfathers instead of the Nigerian citizens.
We can attribute god ‘fatherism’ to a political slave trade or political sponsorship based on political manipulation with several evil agenda. The problem associated with the cancerous phenomenon is that the perpetrators are no less a people in the society.
The paradox here is that these godfathers do not share the core defining attributes of God. Political parties lack the capacity to act contrary to the wishes and aspirations of these godfathers because they look up to them to bankroll their campaigns and to use their influences to see their candidates through elections.
‘God-fatherism’ in the Nigerian political setting has been a reoccurring issue that cripples the Nigeria as a whole. It is a form of corruption in its own lane.
The proposed solution to this issue is emanation of political parties by individuals who are worthy of character and sincerity. This futuristic party will cut he rope of god fatherism and remain loyal to its citizens. Unlike the contemporary political parties whose loyalties still lay with their god fathers.
The issue of tribalism in Nigerian political setting cannot be over emphasized. Tribalism has led us to our current 4th republic as a result of the political tussle for powers, it has led to civil wars, deaths and election blindness – Citizens don’t vote based on capabilities but on tribalism.
Tribalism and sectionalism have been a menace to the flavor of issue-based politics in our country and have succeeded in enthroning the ideology of biased hype in search of political leaders.
We are no longer thinking of a persons ability or what the person can offer for the development of our dear country, but indulge in praise worship of mediocrity at the expense of meritocracy.
Tribalism is fast becoming a paradigm used to determine who is who and who gets what in all our national sectors, a mistake made by a tribesman becomes a norm but transmogrified into a heinous crime if committed by somebody from another tribe.
The proposed solution to this might seem hard but strongly recommended. Nigeria needs to see themselves as a whole tribe – This means the intense inculcation of the National identity into every bit of information that would make a lay man think rationally while casting his or her votes.
7. Nigerian Youths
In our ever dynamic society, the youths are driving and participating in everything except politics. They seem to perceive politics as already laid down framework of government that cannot be influenced.
The danger that may arise from the minds of the neglected youths is better imagined than experienced. Perhaps, that is what necessitated Obasanjo to raise the alarm that the country might be consumed by youth anger when they realize they’ve been assleep as a result of neglect.
At the moment, the rate of unemployed youths is still astronomically high and government’s lackadaisical attitude towards creating jobs shows that the trend may not abate in the near future.
Obviously, it seems that government at all levels lacks foresight of what the youths really need and how to harness their potential.
Yet, the youths are neglected and without jobs while the majority of the citizens are languishing in abject poverty. This is very sad for an oil-rich nation like Nigeria.
In the face of all these inadequacies, political elders and politicians continue to enjoy life, wealth, power and privileges. While the youths and the masses are ravaged by poverty. The question therefore is: when would the elders hear the clarion call and allow the youths to weather the storm and lead?
Nigeria youths need to wake up to their own needs. They need to start participating in every little aspect of politics, they need to make their voices heard else, they shall continue to be as the government in power doesn’t like opposition especially from the younger ones.
8. The Media
The media is the watchdog of every democratic society; They disseminate up to date and significant information concerning what is happening in the country and most especially what is happening in the political settings of the country.
However, would a dig bite the finger that fed him? The answer is definitely NO. This is the reoccurring issue of media organizations owned by government or private individuals who are very intimate with government officials. Instead of detailing the information as it is, they are recooked and disseminated not to suite the needs of the public but the needs of the political leaders.
The issue of brown envelope should also be noted, journalist are paid peanuts by way of brown envelope to write stories that praise political leaders.
The solution here is professionalism. The NUJ(Nigerian Union of Journalist) have a huge role to play in laying standards of who should own a media house and how information shold be propery disseminated to the general public as it is.
Nigeria is a multi religious state consisting of Islam, Christianity and African Traditional Religion. However, the most obvious one are Islam and Christianity.
The place of religion cannot be farfetched in electoral process, political parties and system of government. Religion is still a reoccurring problem just like tribalism in Nigeria.
Every religion want to have a higher take in the national cake and adherents of the religion will support participants based on religion and not based on individual capabilities to strategically take the country forward.
The most promising solution here is reorientation of the public; No politically elected leader can influence its religion on any aspect of the country- If this is at the mind of the publics, the most qualified candidate will be selected to take the country forward.
Read Also: 15 Causes of Conflicts in Nigeria
10. Nigerian Citizens
We are our own problem. A larger percent of Nigerians see no hope in the country so they don’t participate in the electoral process – Once election dates are fixed, they travel down to their home towns like its holiday and don’t take part in the electoral process.
Till today, there are still millions of Nigerians who are eligible to vote that don’t have permanent voters card. These behaviors retard the growth of Nigeria as your voices would not be heard in the political settings.
A likely solution to this phenomenon is nationwide public holiday awareness for “VOTING” – This will draw people’s awareness lot why they are voting even though they have not seen any changes in the past voting processes.
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