Nigeria; Maladministration and Corruption remain major encumbrances to socio-economic and political development.
Compatriots, it’s another anniversary of the passage of Dr. Bekololari Ransome Kuti who passed to commune with the ancestors on Februray 10, 2006. As customary with us in the Centre for Anti-Corruption and Open Leadership, CACOL, (formerly Coalition Against Corrupt Leaders) and the Beko Rights Klub, BRK in our commitment to the struggles that Beko stood and fought for, is commemorating the historical passage and historical essence of the indefatigable fighter for democracy and social emancipation.
Dr. Bekololari Ransome Kuti, the quintessential revolutionary, dogged fighter and crusader for democracy, social justice and human rights passed on 11 years ago after living and leading a life of commitment to the struggle for the prevalence of a socio-economic and political order that will ensure an egalitarian and harmonious societal co-existence.
His voyage on such terrains witnessed confrontations with both military and civilian regimes that deployed all means possible to make the lives of the poor working and toiling people miserable. Beko, working with other compatriots contributed monumentally to the ousting of the military from government; the struggle against civilian dictatorship, the resistance against IMF/World Bank imposed policies such as the Structural Adjustment Programme (SAP), deregulation and corruption. As a matter of fact it was during the heat of the battle against deregulation that the renowned Medical Doctor passed on barely 4 months after the activist community incurred a similar colossal loss in the passage of Comrade Chima Ubani.
STATE OF THE NATION
Prior to now and till now, no government since 1999 has attempted to implement or even bothered about what Chapter 2 of Nigerian Constitution says, the ground norm upon which government is instituted. This is why there is no social protection for the extremely poor.
Indexes of government performance in most sectors continue to fall rapidly from the ‘low’ to ‘extremely low’ as the years go by irrespective of the regimes that have superintended over since the inception of civilian rule.
The recent report released by the United Nations paints a scary present and future for Nigeria, the reports is so damning that any responsible government will think and act to avoid the tragedy being foretold. According to the report, the country’s economy, the development and social indices in the country were below acceptable standards.
The report read, “Nigeria is the most populous nation in Africa and the seventh most populous in the world. Her population will be approximately 200 million by 2019 and over 400 million by 2050, becoming one of the top five populous countries in the world. Nigeria is one of the poorest and most unequal countries in the world, with over 80 million or 64 per cent of her population living below poverty line.”
The poor performance at the level of governance and the continued perpetration of corruption in the system by public and elected officials in spite of the celebrated anti-corruption drive constitute the major banes to the socio-economic and political development of the country and people.
Added to this, is the government’s neo-liberal fixations as the only way of addressing the economic issues of the country. It’s no gainsaying that any economic direction that will not alleviate the sufferings of the vast majority of the people will be tantamount to elevating their pains and worsening their situation of existence. It is inconvertible that neo-liberal policies put profits over the people in terms of interests and including when lives are at serious risks of being wasted because of the social conditions of living. For neo-liberalism; it always profits first and the policies have always impoverished people wherever they imposed!
The present APC led Federal government is not a radical departure from hitherto existing governments that favoured only the elite and the extremely wealthy ruling class. The government has hiked the prices of petroleum products in face of global fall in Crude oil prices; increased tariffs for electricity, imposed N50 tax on Bank transactions from 1000 naira and above, introduced tolls on our roads. Yet the government has refused to fund education adequately; shunned Health and infrastructural development, failed to guarantee security of lives and property.
Yes, there is the dire need for Nigerians collectively to understand the background to the present so-called recession and the attendant sacrifices required of Nigeria and Nigerians to wade through the storm, but the excuses of the government belie its so-called change agenda.
The poor majority continue to bear the brunt of government’s failure, and this in spite of their hitherto existing excruciating conditions of living. It is the poor majority that is being forced to sacrifice and to self-deny at these trying times even though the political class and public officials rollick in stupendous affluence and has not and apparently does not want to sacrifice anything in the bid to rebuild our country, Nigeria.
The continual failure of the government to fulfill the very reason it was instituted for is directly responsible for where we find ourselves as a country and people. Governance in Nigeria continues to be applied in the reverse manner (misgovernance) which facilitates the sustaining of a profoundly corrupt status quo that continues to impoverish, oppress, exploit and dehumanize the vast majority of the people.
The present government at best can only be described as one that rules on false pretences given the inadvertent inability to approach the question of moving the country of doldrums in an organized and radical manner beyond ‘good’ intensions and cosmeticism.
While the regime can be applauded for its efforts in the anti-corruption drive which certainly have broken records when compared with past regimes in terms of momentum and will, it has failed woefully on several other planks, particularly, the economic plank of the polity. Even the battle against corruption is apparently being lost given the fight-back corruption is giving in face of a regime that engages in policy somersaults particularly on the economy which impact on all other spheres of our national life.
‘Popular’ as the regime may be, with its mantra of ‘change’; most of its applications in socio-economic and political direction have adamantly stuck to the core practices of past regimes which Nigerians wanted and still want to abandon.
Moving the country of the present situation requires the government to take bold steps that will embrace the provisioning for; social security for the extremely poor, a situation that will ensure equitable distribution of resources and avoiding the concentration of wealth in the hands of a privileged few. It take the provisioning for; affordable housing, education system that will leave no child out of school and a health care system that will be accessible to all with infrastructures that will facilitate the enabling environment for business and enterprise to flourish. The President while fighting corruption on the one hand should also work out means to fix the economic crisis on the other.
The Federal cabinet obviously needs to be reshuffled as majority of the Ministers have failed to deliver in terms of performance. With regard to Ministries, topping the list in terms of abysmal performance that requires radical change is the Ministry of Power, Works and Housing, all the actions and policies of the Ministry have compounded the sufferings of Nigerians in multi-folds; from lack of power supply to the illogical hike in electricity tariffs, from continually decaying infrastructure to death traps as roads with a Housing sector that is ‘non-existent’ or in absolute comatose. Babatunde Fashola, who superintends over the Ministry, keeps standing logic on its heads by asking the already impoverished Nigerians to bear the brunt of his failure by asking Nigerians to pay for darkness and for services not rendered even up to the effrontery of hiking the tariff of electricity against a background of a country in perpetual darkness.
Others ministers like Audu Ogeh of Agriculture Ministry; Kemi Adeosun of Finance, Solomon Dalung of Sports, Chris Ngige of Labour, Okechukwu Enelamah of Industry, Trade and Investment, Amina J. Mohammed of Environment, Rtd. Lt-Gen Abdulrahman Bello Dambazau of Interior, etc have adequately proven their lack of creatively and cluelessness making unfit to continue to occupy their offices and therefore should be shown the exit.
Corruption is a major deterrent to good governance anywhere and anytime. The President must take the fight against corruption to the doorsteps of every corrupt official including members of his party. The tenure has been resilient and dogged in the war against corruption; however corrupt people are still deeply embedded in the government including the Presidency itself. The Judiciary and the legislative arms are so soaked in corruption that the many judges cannot be banked upon to birth justice or legislators to rely on to enact laws that will positively impact on socio-economic and political relations.
Recovered loots and properties must be channeled back into the economy to help boost the economy and cushion the pains of recession. Transparency on recovered loots and how they utilized is not compromise-able. Sanctions and adequate punitive measures must also be applied against all convicted corruption criminals.
That we are in a situation of uncertainty, of fogginess; shattered hopes and penury where the sacredness of lives, property and security has become almost totally unimportant in government’s prioritizations is self-evident.
*Being the text of the memorial speech presented on behalf of Beko Rights Klub by Debo Adeniran on the occasion of the 11th year of passage of Bekololari Ransome-Kuti to the world beyond on the 10th of February, 2017.