Ezekiel Okpuzor, in this ..interview with the General Manager of MP Mandy Entertainment, John Oladimeji, examines the impediment of national growth in Nigeria and the best measures for redemption
How would you describe the situation in Nigeria presently?
Nigeria’s population is estimated at over 200 million, which means the country has skilled and unskilled labour in abundance. The population also makes it a fertile ground for global trade. Nigeria is also rich in mineral resources. It is sub-Saharan Africa’s largest, and the world’s 13th largest, producer and exporter
These endowments should have made Nigeria one of the key destinations for global investment. And with its wealth in petroleum and natural resources as well as its vast agricultural potential, Nigeria should have by now become Africa’s undisputed economic giant.
However, 60 years after independence, Nigeria, like a vehicle struggling to climb a hilly road, has yet to achieve its potential. Its large population has thus become a source of weakness, not strength.
With mass unemployment and overstretching of inadequate and poorly maintained infrastructure, many Nigerians have had to seek their smaller nations such as Ghana, Rwanda, Ivory Coast, Qatar and the United Arab Emirates are beginning to catch up. At the same time big corporations from industrialised and wealthy countries in Europe and South Asia finds the Nigerian business climate inauspicious. That’s largely due to decaying infrastructure, corruption and insecurity. Big European corporations have over the years shut down or relocated their Nigerian manufacturing plants. They point to a lack of stable electricity supply and endemic corruption, both of which impede their smooth operations.
What do you know about good governance and how can it be achieved?
Therefore, rather than seek a definition of governance, we may do well to ask the question – What is governance for? In other words, what is the purpose of governance? Why do we practise governance, and what does it help us to achieve? Once we adopt this approach, it is reasonable for us to conclude that any governance that fulfils its purpose with sustainable success would qualify to be described as, and this immediately allows us to consider the possibility that Christianity – or, indeed, any other philosophy that extols noble values and high standards – can have a beneficial influence on the quality
of governance in which its adherents participate.
We must also acknowledge that governance to a responsibility, since it is designed to achieve important outcomes for everyone in the society. It should not only ensure welfare, peace and security; it should also enable citizen to be the best he can be through his productivity and adherence to the laws of the country.
What can be done by the Nigeria government to tackle this national brouhaha?
In a paper by the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), published in 1997, we are also offered the following as the characteristics of good governance – the factors that we should look for in order to be sure that good governance is actually happening.
An institutional set-up that ensures good governance usually has the following features:
Participation: All men and women should have a voice in decision-making, either directly or through legitimate intermediate institutions that represent their interests. Such broad participation is built on freedom of association and speech, as well as capacities to participate constructively.
Rule of Law: Legal frameworks should be fair and enforced impartially, particularly laws on human rights.
Transparency: Transparency is built on the free flow of information. Processes, institutions, and information are directly accessible to those concerned with them, and enough information is provided to understand and monitor them. Responsiveness: Institutions and processes try to serve all stakeholders.
Consensus Orientation: Good governance mediates differing interests to reach a broad consensus on what is in the best interests of the group and where possible, on policies and procedures.
Equity: All men and women have opportunities to improve or maintain their well-being.
Effectiveness and Efficiency: Processes and institutions produce results that make the best use of resources.
Accountability: Decision-makers in government and civil society organisations are accountable to the public, as well as to the institutional stakeholders. This accountability differs depending on the organization and whether the decision is internal or external to an organisation.
Strategic Vision: Leaders and the public have a broad and long-term perspective on good governance and human development, along with a sense of their rights and duties. There is also an understanding of the historical, cultural and social complexities in which that perspective is grounded.
The possibilities for good governance depend on institutional structures and the economic resources available for ensuring governance. In some cases centralised governance structures are inefficient. In other cases, decentralised structures turn out to be inadequate. In India decentralisation of power to village level has not improved the efficiency of rural development. Decentralisation of power, it is said, by facilitating the empowerment of people in local communities can contribute to more sustainable
development. On the other hand, in India, the delegation of power to the states in some cases has resulted in the destruction of the environment. Thus centralised and decentralised governance structures have both merits and demerits. Preservation of the environment which is essential for sustainable development cannot be achieved unless the pressure on forest and natural resources is reduced. This cannot happen in the absence of appropriate property rights of local communities and of rural women.
In West Bengal as well as in the central Himalayan region in India it has been found that the disappearance of community control and restrictions on the user rights of villagers reduced the incentive and ability of villagers to use forest sustainability. On the other hand, in Russia, pristine forests
are being degraded because of lack of resources of the weak central government. Good governance also depends on appropriate institutions. Corruption, bureaucratic inefficiency, inefficient and corrupt law enforcement agencies undermine the capacity of institutions to facilitate good governance for sustainable development. Corruption and rent seeking activities can grow even in an economy which has tried to apply outward oriented economic policies if an appropriate institutional environment does not exist. A state which assumes predatory or semi‐predatory status can systematically incapacitate all institutions for good governance and effective implementation of policies. Thus formulation of policies
cannot ensure effective implementation in the absence of good governance which in turn cannot be achieved in the absence of appropriate institutions. Hence, sustainable development requires good policies and effective provision of institutions conducive to good governance.
What are your views about the youth/politics in Nigeria?
Recent happenings have changed a lot of mindset some may have about Nigeria youth. And we need to be involved in politics. Youth political participation fosters a sense of citizenship and makes policy processes more transparent and accountable towards young people. At the same time, helps the youth build self-confidence, develop a sense of initiative and acquire and test skills that are relevant for the workplace, such as communication, negotiation or teamwork, in a practical environment.
While youths are being deployed as campaign agents for crowd mobilisation at rallies to chant political slogans and for successes at elections, at the end of the day they are relegated to the background. Even some positions they naturally deserve like the national youth leader, etc are assigned to people like who are above 45 years of age! That is far outside the scope of a youth.
After elections, the hopes and aspirations of the youths are usually ruined. All campaign and pre- election promises of vital appointments and jobs made by the so called elderly politicians, which mostly entice the youth to engage in sometimes untoward activities at campaign rallies remain largely unfulfilled after elections. It is noteworthy that on rare instances those promises are fulfilled. But since the youths have a future ahead of them, they have to strive to seize such opportunities so as to secure their future in public life. It will be wise to have youths in various advisory boards, commissions, ministries, etc. The youths political participation is affected by their political orientation Poverty is one of the factors affecting youth’s contribution to political development forum Lack of encouragement by the government affects the political participation of the youths.
Though some legal protections and advocacies have been attempted by Nigerian Youths, most of youth- related policies and programs are paper values. Hence, it is recommended that Nigeria as a country should create enabling and youth-friendly environments that pave the way for an effective and meaningful youth political participations. Likewise, facilitating youth inclusion in the national and local electoral and consultation processes is another means for upgrading the level of political participation of youth. Finally, if the Nation is not proactive towards their youth population, it may become a ticking political time bomb. Thus, young people should have a voice in their own future.
Your message to the Nigerian youth?
We can’t give up having a better country, we can’t keep waiting for a better future than now that we have the energy and strength.
In the new democracies of the world, the role of youth is of special importance, and in the world today there are more new than established democracies. Older generations of a society include leaders of the discredited undemocratic regime and many who supported, or at least tolerated it as likely to last their lifetime or because they saw no way of opposing it. By contrast, young politicians are freer of association with excesses of the past, and have often been prominent in demonstrations calling for an end to an undemocratic regime. The way in which a new democratic government develops is of special concern to young people, for it promises to rule their lives for forty years or more — whether it becomes a completely consolidated democracy or remains an imperfect, incomplete democracy. If a new democracy demonstrates continuing weaknesses, idealistic young people may become indifferent or cynical in reaction. Insofar as idealism declines, then this reduces popular pressure for better governance.
In your little way have you ever contributed to nation building?
Nation building is part of my passion for better Nigeria. Making sure we build ourselves.
I try taking youths out of the street, start planning for their lives and I see Entertainment and fashion as one of the major influences along with social media is that God is part of my business.
Nigeria youths just need support to go higher and achieve their dream.