With less than two months to go, Nigerians are still pondering which presidential candidate to vote for in the general election of 2019. It will be definitely fun to watch the winner of the election. In the build up of 2015 presidential election, many Nigerians were meant to believe that corruption increased by unimaginable proportions, leading to hardship, hunger, frustration and withdrawal. In fact, one of the strong points the opposition had against the government of Goodluck Jonathan was his seeming inability to curb insurgency. Criticisms were rife. The government was given many ill-labelling that actually smacked of giving a dog a bad name in order to hang it. The common unfortunate label was ‘clueless.’
Three years after Jonathan, insurgency and daily killing of innocent people seem to have increased throughout Nigeria. Today, some Nigerians are not current in what happens in other parts of the country and the rest of the world due to lack of or inadequate supply of electricity to power their televisions and other modern media devices to access news and current affairs and importantly, information disseminated in the social media.
The power of television is not really in persuading viewers to take one side of an issue or another but is used for decision making; deciding what issues would be given attention and those to be ignored.
Newspapers are the major source of information for the vast majority of Nigerians. Over two-thirds of Nigerians report that they receive all or most of their news from the newspaper. Prior to the invention of television, Newspapers had always reported news, politics, business, entertainment and sports just as they do today. Additionally, the masses of Nigeria always read the news sections of their daily paper and topical issues in the editorial columns.
In Nigeria, the importance of television in transmitting information is a relatively new occurrence. As a result, households with television were reported at 40 percent in 2010, according to the World Bank development indicator. At the end of 2017, 22 percent of Nigerians had television in their homes, thus, showing a decrease in the number of households with television. In most developed countries, television is really the first form of mass communication that reaches nearly everyone such as youths and children.
More importantly, television presents to adults, youths and children visual images rather than printed words. It is quite unlike Nigeria where Newspapers are major source of information due to lack of adequate supply of electricity.
Electricity plays an important part in our everyday lives, at home, school, business or job and our daily activities rely heavily on the use of electricity. It is used at homes and businesses to run electronic components and appliances such as lighting, television, fan, refrigerator laptop, radio, air conditioner, microwave oven and others. In industry, electricity is used to operate huge machines that make foods, cups, clothes, paper, toiletries and many other things. According to World Bank, 90 million Nigerians have no access to electricity. Truth is, Nigeria is blessed with large oil, gas, hydro and solar resources with the potential to generate 12,522 megawatts(MW) of electricity power from existing plants but most days is only able to generate between 4,000- 5,000 megawatts which is grossly insufficient. In short, our leaders are cruel and inhuman because they know that without electricity, Nigeria can never develop and the masses would continue to be separated from the rest of the world.
Since the beginning of this government, many Nigerians are confused at the appropriateness of the anti-corruption war, believing that corruption has increased by unbelievable proportions, leading to hardship, hunger, frustration and withdrawal, practically losing faith in the administration. It is true that the maintenance of law and order is a prime function of the government and is essential to development. The sole aim of government is to provide its people happiness, stability and security. In addition, government is about increasing human and material resources for economic growth and to improve political development and provide support for cultural expression.
Perhaps not to be left out are those policies and programs designed to deal more directly with the people such as access to reasonable prices of food supplies, clean water, affordable healthcare, education, housing, electricity, road, infrastructure, and allowances for the unemployed, the aged, the disable, the blind and the deaf. Again, at no time in the history of Nigeria have the prices of staple foods gone up by 400 percent. For example, in May of 2015, the price for a bag of 50Kg rice was between #6,000 and #7,500. Now the same brands sell at between #18,500 and #20,000 for each. At no time in Nigeria has the price of petrol gone up by nearly 700 percent. At no time in Nigeria has the price of electricity from national grid and the resultant blackouts quadrupled. At no time in Nigeria has Naira been so weakened without any conscious effort by the Central Bank to rectify the currency.
The government seems to have over blown its anti-corruption war and people are beginning to see it as a way to persuade or influence people rather than arresting those that have emptied the nation’s treasury. Furthermore, the President continues to arrest members of other political parties and some organized groups that are opposed primarily ideologically to the government while much more are stolen under his watch. In addition, regardless of one’s ideology, ethnicity, language or background, now is the time for those in positions of leadership in Nigeria to speak out concerning a broken political system. This administration has widespread examples of corruption, ineptitude, ineffectiveness, cluelessness, unproductivity and a disorganized and unschooled group of people flaunting as leaders.
As politicians and leaders of this great nation, we must encourage each other to voice our concerns whenever Nigeria is going in the wrong direction. Perhaps, Nigerians need to understand the importance of upholding the constitution of Nigeria. Moreover, a constitution is a plan for running the government. For example, the freedom of speech, press and politics are some of those rights. It guarantees the voting rights of men and women and also protects citizens’ rights in every aspect.
All things considered, l think it’s the wrong time for us to start blaming or criticizing the former Presidents Olusegun Obasanjo and Goodluck Jonathan. Noteworthy here is that Atiku Abubakar was the vice-president of Nigeria under president Olusegun Obasanjo while Peter Obi a former Governor of Anambra State, representing the People’s Democratic Party and the All Progressives Grand Alliance (which shares ideological principles and cooperation with the PDP) respectively. On this basis, one may conclude that Nigerian economy grew rapidly and achieved higher on many other macroeconomic metrics when the president of Nigeria was of PDP than now it is of the APC. For instance, the previous administrations tried reducing poverty by creating jobs monthly, but instead, the present government refuses to create jobs for our teeming youths across the country. Nigerians are yet to see any substantial foreign investment attracted by this administration for the interest of our citizens. Nonetheless, our government is doing all it can to prevent creating jobs in Nigeria. The corporate tax rate of 30 percent for business is too high. Proponents of tax reform argue that lower tax rates will boost business profits, therefore, creating more jobs for our teeming youths and citizens.
Consequently, the youths should understand that it is time for a clarion call for what kind of economic policies are in place for creating jobs for them. This is no time to point fingers at one another to rationalise considering a President and members of his party who refused to listen to the masses of Nigeria. With less than two months to go, the politicians will always make you believe that you have freedom of choice while you don’t. The APC government are owners.
Prof. Nwokeji writes from the US