Nigeria Can Learn from Eritrea, Nigerian News Paper Says
A week ago, Nigeria celebrated the 49th anniversary of her flag independence from British colonial rule. It was an occasion for sober reflections and critical assessments. It afforded us an opportunity to search our souls, and attempt to look at the journey so far covered. It was also a very auspicious time to ponder these questions: Where are we coming from? Where ate we now? Where are we heading to? Answering these questions will go a long way in resolving some critical issues surrounding our present circumstances and how we arrived at the present point.
Forty-nine years after independence, rising expectations among Nigerians have given way to dashed hopes and heightened discontent. The poverty rates are up, the streets are more insecure and ever more children are growing up in broken families. Our beloved country is headed in the wrong direction – fast. Nigeria is falling behind, it is losing its way and all we are getting from government is status quo paralysis, neglect and selfishness, not leadership and vision.
Government has been reeling out statistics to buttress the point that there is economic growth. But which growth is it that is not creating employment? In the last 10 years, four million youths have graduated from various institutions. But the private sector is comatose while the public sector is retrenching. Consequently, unemployment, particularly among important groups such as graduates, is acute, and real wages are stagnant. Many urban centres are on their way to being locations of endemic anarchy, violence and alienation. Everywhere, the gulf between the rich and the poor is increasing.
Crime cannot be controlled in the absence of employment, morally-oriented system of education or in a society ruled by swindlers and luxury-loving cliques. The other day at the airport, I was watching when a top government official came off the plane drunk. His aide told me that he had flu – green bottle flu would be more like it. Crime and corruption are primarily the products of unfair and unbalanced distribution of resources and of a calculated policy to deprive the poor. It is a pity that, in this regard and many more, the Yar’Adua regime will be remembered for bequeathing to us a legacy of inefficiency.
Again, if a Nigerian woman is expected to educate future generations and prepare them for their future life as good human beings, she must be given a basic training and a basic experience of what public life is and what public interest is all about. At present, the Ministry of Women Affairs is only operating an elitist code in which women have few rights and men few responsibilities. We know that many men have no power except the power to oppress women, which invariably deprive our nation the critical contributions of our women who constitute half of our population. This is very retrogressive in any society desirous of progress and development.
Similarly, there must be real reorientation of our values. As it is, it is dangerous to save anything, because everything must immediately be shared. Our social system works to level everybody down to the same standard, which works against ambition. In addition, there must be justice in society and we perhaps will, then, realize that the prostitute is driven into impiety by social deprivation; the thief by poverty; and the gambler by prolonged sense of helplessness.
If a society is not in reasonable health, democracy can be not only risky but disastrous. Because both a middle class and civil institutions are required for successful democracy. Nigeria, which inherited neither from the military regime, remains violent, unstable and miserably poor despite its great potentials. There is general anxiety that unless the middle classes are enlarged and institutions modernized, the wave of democratization will not be consolidated.
As it is, the soul of the nation is under siege. That is why even our football teams have stopped winning. There is extreme religious militancy among both Christian and Islamic adherents. As far as religions are concerned, progress will depend on the emergence of genuine religious scholars who interpret their religions in a realistic way taking into account contemporary social trends: good religious education with real spiritual content; depolarization of the religious sects; strong religious groups, the activities of which are peaceful, sensitive to the feelings of others and the heterogeneous nature of our society; and the replacement of luxury-loving, parasitic, corrupt and materialistic religious leaders with pious and genuinely spiritual ones in all groups.
Education is the key to the future. No one needs to belabour the point that the Nigerian educational system has almost completely collapsed. The public schools have decayed and the private, exorbitant ones teach our children how to memorize and not how to think or how to analyze. Again, instead of functional education that will make the products self-reliant, the system makes for young men and women who head straight into the saturated labour market. Consequently, you use your savings to educate your children, who end up in your home depending on you for survival because they are either unemployed or unemployable.As far as functional state is concerned, Eritrea is a very good example in sub-Saharan Africa. It boasts one of Africa’s best government health-care networks, an agricultural extension service, an education system and a well-documented record of safeguarding human rights. Its guerilla capital in the pre-state days of the 1980s featured a large underground hospital powered by wind and solar energy, providing its own aspirin and anti-malaria tablets, intravenous solution, and sanitary napkins for women. Eritreans, who are almost 50-50 Christian and Muslim population, transformed the ideals of self-help and group cohesiveness into a new kind of ideology. All these happened in sub-Saharan Africa, proving that nowhere is totally hopeless.
Neo-liberals continue to tell us that for us to move forward economically, government should hands off every thing for the private sector. The current global financial meltdown has conclusively proven this belief to be erroneous. With population growth, urbanization, soil deterioration, air pollution and the contamination and overuse of water all afflicting our country, what else but the state would hope to manage the delicate relationship between man and his environment?
With regard to foreign direct investment, it must be noted that favourable legal framework for foreign investments does not necessarily guarantee that foreign investments will come. There are other factors, not least the profit motive, which drive foreign investments. These include the degree of political stability, the place of the rule of law in the legal system, the availability of critical skills as well as clear evidence that local investors invest locally. Where most of the financial capital is invested or lodged outside, it will prove difficult to convince foreign investors, except perhaps in the extractive industries such as oil, that their investments are worth it.
Principles and values in politics should not be compromised but strategies and tactics must be flexible enough to make progress possible, under the difficult conditions we are in. If we must achieve our objectives as a nation, government decisions and actions ought to centre on policies that would build community, expand opportunity, demand responsibility and reward honesty and hard work. That is the path to true greatness. God save Nigeria.
Source: (LeadershipNigeria)http://www.capitaleritrea.com/insight/n ... aper-says/