E O EkeThursday, October 11, 2012




e know the long term consequences of the type of policies the Jonathan administration is pursuing. It creates a divided country along ethnic and religious fault lines with a poor illiterate underclass that feels alienated from the society, and prepared to do anything to survive; and an obscenely rich, detached and depraved elites with unjustifiable sense of entitlement addicted to greed, corruption and impunity. Nigeria’s education policy since the time of Babangida has produced, brain drain, area boys, Bakassi boys, kidnapping gangs, and Boko Haram. The wild wind Nigeria is reaping today was sown by Buhari and Babangida in the 80s and all the leaders that came after them. They were the people who interrupted Nigeria's democratic evolution and set it back another two hundred years. The chicken has indeed, come home to roost in Nigeria. If the government does not quickly review its education policy to ensure that every child in Nigeria is guaranteed good education up to university level , should they wish to pursue that part, the future of Nigeria will be worse than today. Nigeria will end up like Somalia or Afghanistan because many of the present government policies, alienates the people and create fertile ground for the growth of fundamentalism and crime. Corruption invariably consumes the corrupt and the people who suffer the consequences. A man who drills a hole in a ship he is travelling on endangers his future also. A man who gives driving licence to a person who has not learnt to drive properly may one day find himself in a car driven by the dangerous driver. What goes around comes around.

There is no reason why Nigeria cannot afford universal education for all. The latest World Bank report states that Nigeria has lost over 400 billion dollars to corruption since independence. In other words that Nigerian leaders since independence have stolen 400 Billion dollars. In this wise, I suppose that if the looters and the many ex- generals return 50% of their loot, which is 200 billion dollars, it will fund free education and universal health care in Nigeria for the next 50 year, build many rail lines, power stations and dams. Nigeria must begin to hold to account all its ex-leaders and all others who have benefited from corruption in the country during the period in question. Nigeria has to ensure that those who benefited from this corruption account for their stupendous wealth and pay for their crime.

Look at the oil policy. It is ridden with need to serve selfish interests. It has not been framed to serve the best interest of the greatest number of Nigerians. Oil allocations are given to a few individual to make them very rich. A few others are paid subsides for importing refined petroleum products. There is nowhere else in the world where an oil producing nation pays a few people for importing refined products in the name of subsidies. Why have successive Nigerian governments failed to invest in oil refineries, if they have the interest of the country at heart? Why would a moral and patriotic government watch its refineries disintegrate and prefer to import finished products of what it produces it raw material instead of refining it at home? The simple answer is that it is the best way it can steal from the country. Nigerian leaders simply put their greed over and above Nigeria's national interest and still have the audacity to claim that they did any good for the country. They prefer to run the oil industry in a criminal manner that would enable them enrich themselves without accountability. If the government is indeed honest about subsides, what it would have done is fix the price of petroleum products and the profit margin of the retailers as is the case in developed countries. Then it will tax their profit and use the money it would have wasted in corrupt practice of subsidy payment to implement social programs that would make life bearable for the people; like funding free education and universal health care service to mention but two. This is the right way to run and develop a country. No Nigerian parent would complaint about the price of fuel if his children enjoy quality good education and accessible health care where money does not change hands at the point of need. Petroleum products offer the government effective way of generating revenues to fund social services.

Moreover, even with the claim by the government that price of refined petroleum products are subsidised in Nigeria, the price of fuel in Nigeria is still the highest amongst oil producing nations. A look at the price of oil in the ten oil producing countries will validate this assertion. In Iran the Price per litre of fuel is 21p (about 52 Naira). In Algeria the Price per litre is 17p( about 44 Naira). In Kuwait the Price per litre is 17p, the same as in Algeria. In Turkmenistan the Price per litre is 17p (44 Naira). In Libya Price per litre is 15p (39 Naira). In Bahrain Price per litre is 15p (39 Naira). In Qatar Price per litre is 12p (31 Naira). In Saudi Arabia Price per litre is 10p (26 Naira). In Egypt the Price per litre is 9p (23 Naira). In Venezuela the Price per litre is 8p (21 Naira). It is clear that Nigeria has the most expensive petrol in the world of all oil producing nations and this is simply unacceptable and unjustifiable. This is a betrayal of the people and a heartless exploitation of the people for the benefit of a few corrupt elite. The only reason why the cost of fuel is so high in Nigeria is the level of government corruption and cost of government, and both can be addressed immediately with the right leadership. The lies about oil subsidies should now come to an end. Nigerians need to benefit from being an oil producing nation. There is no reason whatsoever why things should be the way it is in Nigeria today except for the corruption of those in power.

The evidence would further suggest that Nigeria has developed a depraved culture where morality operational in developed countries are subverted for the interest of those in power. Nothing seems to work the way it does in developed countries. Our democracy has an official criminal face which makes it subservient to the will of godfathers instead of the people. Its official currency is dishonesty and prejudice. Instead of elections we have selections. In place of accountability and transparency we have conspiracy of silence and opacity. We have substituted self-service for public service. The country is pursuing privatisation without first putting in place robust regulatory institutions that would protect the public from exploitation and ensure that the privatised companies operate according to the laws and not used to exploit the people. Our privatisation programme is simple an attempt to enable those who looted Nigeria to buy the country with the money they stole from her in the first place and this is immoral. The face of our democracy is blurred by corruption, ignorance, violence and greed. Our philosophy of liberty is wrong and rooted in ignorance. We are a country blinded by ethnicity and religion but immersed in corruption and prejudice. Our ethnic lenses obscures our objectivity and sense of justice as fairness. The country is in a state of struggle for power, not to lay the foundation for a good and civil society, but for the few to misappropriate what belongs to all. This is the real tragedy of our situation. It has very little to do with the facts that we are a multi-ethnic country. The criminals who are stealing the country dry come from all ethnic groups and would like the people to think that this is the case, so that they can mobilise them in the name of ethnic or religious sentiments to secure and preserve their undeserved advantage. However, when one of then dies, is celebrating birthday, acquires a chieftancy title or their children marry, you see them congregating irrespective of their ethnicity or religion.

The language of our politics is the language of dictatorship. Politicians talk of ‘mobilising’ the people instead of appealing to them. They say fighting election instead of contesting election. They tell the people ‘we want to establish a good government’ instead of appealing to them to vote a in a good government. They say, ‘we will do everything to win, instead of, we will do our best to convince you that our plan is better for the country. Candidates are still being eliminated by violence and the levels of aggression and violence are very high. These languages and practices betray the mind-set of the politicians with decadent values and suggest that Nigeria has no future, as long as her leaders think in this manner.

It is these anomalies in our polity that should attract our attention. Our monetary policies are geared to serve the interest of Shylock lenders. Our interest rate is too high and our economy lacks activities the enable us to attract and retain capital. We are operating a rogue economy where prices of things land have no bearing on their true economic values but on how much the corrupt politicians wants to pay for them. For instance, our aviation industry is dominated by foreigners who take money away from our country. If they are dominated by Nigerians, significant percentage of the income they generate would be retained in Nigeria to finance investments which would provide jobs. We face a bleak future unless we change. What the government needs to do is review its policies with the view to making them sensitive and relevant to our circumstance and the way we live our lives; and stop implementing IMF/world Bank policies that serves only the best interest of lenders. Now is the time to think beyond oil, and develop other sectors of the economy. The development of electric car has reached advanced stage. There are prototype cars that can do one hundred miles on battery at very high speed. We should be investing in education, science, technology and planting 1000 palm trees, 1000 cocoa trees, and reclaiming half a mile of desert by planting trees every day, to preserve our future. This simple action alone would be enough to provide decent jobs for all the area boys in Lagos, MASSOB members , Alamajiris and those from which Boko Haram recruits its suicide bombers.

I hope that our leaders will listen, hear, think and have a change of heart. A car that has a malfunctioning engine is useless even though everybody know it is car. Nigeria has become a huge joke and laughing stalk. It is leading the world in how not to run a country and this should give every Nigerian with the interest of the country at heart serious concerns. I am proud to be a Nigerian, but as the years go by, it is clear that my pride is a hollow one as there is very little in the country to be proud of. It is time to infuse substance into our forms and make things to be what they look like in Nigeria. We need to change our electoral laws so that honest and patriotic people can be attracted to politics. No nation can become great when candidates are expected to pay millions to party barons to secure their nomination for elective offices. Members of political parties must regain the right and power to elect candidate for elective officers and only then, will Nigeria begin its democratic evolution. I hope the change will start with those in power who are in the position to bring about the better Nigeria we all desire. Nigeria must replace those who caused the problems with those who can solve it. No people can solve a problem with the same mind-set that created them. A new generation of Nigerians who think differently is needed. I rest my case on Nigeria.

E O Eke is qualified in medicine. At various times he has been a General medical practitioner, Medical missionary, Medical Director and senior medical officer of health in Nigeria. He specializes in child, Adolescent and adult psychiatry and lives in England with his family. His interest is in health, religion philosophy and politics. He cares for body and mind.