Nigeria is experiencing its own version of protests similar to that of Hong Kong, except that it does not have any money to inject as stimulus.
The latest protests were triggered by anger over the alleged violent killings and extortion by the controversial anti-robbery unit of the police, known as SARS or FSARS.
SYMPTOMS AND CONSEQUENCES OF BAD GOVERNANCE IN NIGERIA
The consequences of unaccountable governance in Nigeria have been severe. As documented by Human Rights Watch (HRW), human rights abuses remain pervasive in Nigeria (HRW, 2002; 2003; 2006). Injustices have become the permanent feature of the Nigeria’s political system. Aristotle said that “no government can stand which is not founded upon justice” (Politics VII, 14: Ogundiya 207 4). That would seem to imply that justice is the surest foundation on which to build a good and successful government (Etuk, 2003). Another evidence and consequence of failure of governance in Nigeria is political and bureaucratic corruption. Corruption is an aspect of poor governance and is defined as the abuse of public office for private gain. In Nigeria, corruption has assumed eccentric and ludicrous proportions; what Gunnar Myrdal calls “folklore of corruption” (Amuwo, 2005). To date, a total of about $380 billion have been reported stolen by former military and political leaders. This amount is equivalent to all the western aid given to Africa in almost four decades and also equivalent to 300 years of British aid for the continent. It is also said to be six times the American help given to post-war Europe under the Marshall plan (Blair, 2005). Between 1970 and 2000, the number of Nigerians subsisting on less than one dollar a day grew from 36% to more than 70%, that is, from 19 million to a staggering 90 million people (Watts, 2007). Nigeria is a nation where corruption thrives. From 1999 to date, Nigeria consistently ranked as one of the most corrupt countries in the world (Transparency International, www.transparency.org). Corruption is rampant at all levels of government, crippling basic health and education services and other social infrastructures. Good governance is an illusion in a state where corruption is endemic and persistent. When corruption is prevalent as witnessed in the last decade, instructions of governance are abused by illicit and selfserving behaviours of political leaders. The consequence – poverty – is unavoidable. Poverty has been and is still a major problem in Nigeria. The statistics is staggering despite the political clamour against poverty. Nigeria harbours one of the largest numbers of the poor in Africa. There is gross inability of most Nigerians to achieve a certain minimal standard of living. Statistics have indicated that 70.8% of Nigerians live below the povertyline of $1 a day and up to 92.4% live below $2 a day at year 2003 (The United Nations International Children’s Fund, 2003; World Bank, 2006). This is compounded by acute youth unemployment. Various estimates put unemployment rate in the country at between 20 and 50% (Asemota, 2005). Among graduates of tertiary institution, unemployment rate is put at between 50 and 75%. This has resulted to general insecurity and high crime rate in the Nigerian society. All state youth empowerment programmes and other employment generating policies of successive administrations like Operation Feed the Nation (OFN), Green Revolution (GR), Directorate of Food, Roads and Rural Infrastructure (DFRRI), The Peoples Bank, Better Life for Rural Women (BLP), Family Support Programme (FSP), Peoples Bank and other poverty reduction programmes from 1999 to date have failed to achieve their founder’s vision because of gross mismanagement and rampant corruption. Other symptoms and 208 Afri. J. Pol. Sci. Int. Relat. consequences of bad governance are:, 3tiers of government working in silos, with no correlation, nepotic appointment, bad leadership, no consequence for corrupt leaders incessant religious crisis, persistent ethnic and sectional conflicts, separatist movements and gross social, economic and political instabilities and deepened legitimacy crisis.
OVERVIEW OF END SARS
For years, young Nigerians, mostly via social media, have called for the unit to be disbanded and rogue elements in the force brought to justice. Despite repeated promises by the government, they have failed to heed to their demands, triggering a new wave of protests that has now spread across the country.
From demanding an end to SARS, prosecution of rogue police officers, and reforms; Protesters are more emboldened, threatening to continue if all their demands are not met. The government is scrambling to contain a situation that is escalating and could dangerously metamorphose into violent clashes with authorities, leading to loss of lives and destruction of properties.
There is also fear that this week’s protest could be sustained for more days, if not weeks. You only need to look at the economy of the Nigerian Youth to understand why this is such a critical moment.
According to data from the National Bureau of Statistics, Youth unemployment is at an all-time high of 34.9%, making up 64.3% of total unemployed Nigerians. University students have also been at home for months, due to the 7 months ASUU strike.
Their parents are also facing tougher economic conditions with inflation rate galloping past 13%, after multiple devaluations and the removal of fuel subsidy. It was just a matter of time for them to find a rallying point to vent their frustration.
There is still a window for the government to de–escalate tensions, and it is not just by accepting the terms of protesters on paper and making bogus pronouncements. Nigerian youths want concrete actions and it starts by making immediate changes in the leadership of the Police – the rogue unit in particular. Officers suspected of murdering innocent Nigerians need to be made to face justice.
The government also needs to urgently resolve its dispute with the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU) on the Integrated Payroll and Personnel Information System (IPPIS). Students and young Nigerians also need to be offered grants and palliatives to help them cushion the effects of an economic crunch that is in no way their making.
Proceeds from the Nigerian Youth Investment Funds should be disbursed immediately to those who have applied. The government also needs to introduce student loan schemes for millions of Nigerian youths, who can’t afford to pay for quality university education.
The National Assembly also needs to introduce laws that protect young Nigerians from police brutality, status profiling and wrongful arrest. Investments in mega tech hubs across the country, establishment of recreation zones in major cities must be carried out by State Governments, to keep them engaged in activities that can better their lives.
No investor, local or foreign will put money in any country where its youths are in a long-drawn protest with the government. As the economic cost of the protests for the last few days continues to mount, the negative effects could be more dire than a deeper recession.
#ENDSARS does not just represent a protest against rogue Police officers; it is a symptom of the poor state of the economy, which for YEARSs has only gotten worse.
Fortunately, the agitation can still be managed but time is running out.
For further clarification please contact
Kenny Odugbemi- 08032002585,@ j_odugbemi, Kennyodugbemi28@gmail.com
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