Many people in Nigeria believe that we are practicing democracy. It is just a hashtag, mimicry of the real democracy obtainable in other countries. In the real sense, what is in practice in Nigeria is kleptocracy. According to Wikipedia, Kleptocracy (from Greek κλέπτης kléptēs, “thief”, κλέπτω kléptō, “I steal”, and -κρατία -kratía from κράτοςkrátos, “power, rule”) is a government whose corrupt leaders (kleptocrats) use political power to appropriate the wealth of their nation, typically by embezzling or misappropriating government funds at the expense of the wider population. We need a new political system to change this terrible political equation.
What has been happening pushes people into poverty because of our economic contraption. Many countries like India and Indonesia came to learn something good we ignored here in Nigeria and became economically viable. Can you imagine India that was the poverty headquarters of the world can now raise a voice in the global world due to competence in Information Technology (IT). How can Nigeria develop a political system to make things work? Since after the selfless sacrifices of our founding fathers, collective political selfishness came on board and Nigeria lost its political bearing. Those who took over meandered to chase after money instead of building strong political structures that would lead Nigeria to a political height like other emerging countries that are creating a voice in the political world today. It is collective efforts and decisions that led them where they are.
Our nearest neighbor; Ghana has gone far and Nigeria is still staggering and crawling politically and living in a state of political limbo of uncertainty and unable to meet the rest of the world. Even though Nigeria is blessed by God with many mineral and human resources but she could not use those resources to build and better the lives of the citizens. Nigeria cannot respond to the yearning needs of the country but political monopoly and where you come from create problem of acceptability. Easy access to wealth has destroyed Nigeria’s aspiration to greatness but individual greatness is the order of the day. Money bags in politics have become synonymous with Nigerian political system. Politics in Nigeria has become a market place of shopping with Ghana-must-go bags while poverty is ravaging the citizens.
Looting the treasury has become a daily phenomenon in Nigeria. The so called democracy has become a worn out system and Kleptocracy has dominated the Nigerian political system. Nigeria is worse than Lebanon whom the whole world is gathering to bring back to political sanity and development of the people and not swimming in the pool of corruption and neglect of the people. In Nigeria corruption and incompetency have become the cynosure. Many things are clothed in secrecy among those in power and yet Nigeria expects something new in the life of the Nation. You can see mass killings and manhandling of the citizens especially when people protest against what is happening.
Nigeria has rubbished education. Those with tremendous education have been made to feel that education does not matter but what matters is physical cash. How you get it does not matter. There is lack of economic empowerments among the youth who are creative and colossal wealth of knowledge is unused. This can lead to quest for easy way of making money and also become veritable tool for politicians to use now in their “politricks”. Political polarization is another aspect of Nigerian polity which leads to poor development of the people. Appointments in Nigeria are wishy-washy and tilted only to a region thereby making decisions one-sided and lack oxygen. Merit is undermined by demographic consideration where the estimated population of one region influences benefits to be accorded to them.
Following this, census can be manipulated to accommodate this arrangement and other regions are consistently sidelined. Meritocracy is drowned by kleptocracy and can’t breathe in Nigerian politics. Political dominance and creation of family dynasty is the order of the day. Political leaders rotate in power till death. In some states the exiting governor carves out what the governor would be getting while out of office not counting the fabulous largesse he has piled up as a sitting governor. A typical Nigerian Governor, after completing two tenures of 8 years would still move ahead to the federal level to become a Senator and enjoy the largesse of both an ex-governor and a current Senator at the detriment of the poor masses. Many still serve as Ministers after several years of enjoying the Largesse as a Governor and Senator.
The myth that some are born to be rich while others poor is noticeable in Nigerian Politics. Democracy which ordinarily should give power and freedom to the people is relegated to the backgrounds while the corrupt leaders use this same freedom given by democracy to exploit and loot the treasury which is a clear case of kleptocracy! We can see what is happening in Lebanon. The revolt of both the majorities and minorities were triggered by the injustices meted on them by the corrupt politicians. The politicians buy justice at the expense of those who voted them into power.
What a wrong way to pay back! The dynasty God promised David in the Bible is not the same political dynasty our leaders are building in Nigeria today. The dynasty of David is from the justice of God while dynasties of Nigerian Politicians are created using people’s money and it is not morally apropos. Nigeria cannot sacrifice for democratic principles but created a political caveat which is kleptocracy that is in full swing. This new political construct is divisive and stagnate the nation’s development. Nigeria political system going by all the glaring evidence can be described as Klepto-Democracy which can be seen as government of the Rulers, by the rulers and for the rulers aimed at amassing wealth “democratically” for their families at the expense of the masses.
In this era of Klepto-Democracy in Nigeria, power rotates among the old leaders who were at one time or the other military heads of state, Ministers or Senators who leverage on the watered democracy to do whatever they like and go scot-free while the poor masses murmur and remain helpless. A country’s economic power is judged by the purchasing power of her currency. How is Nigeria’s Naira fairing with other currencies in Africa not to talk about the US Dollar, Pounds and Euro? What are the current exchange rates? It would interest you to know that most Nigerians that travelled out and still planning to travel out are doing so due to the disparity in exchange rates.
If our currency competes favorably with others in the global exchange markets, no Nigerian can be lured to travel and take up degrading jobs outside since they can earn the same equivalence while staying back in Nigeria. Remember the lost glory when some Nigerians used to go to London for shopping during Gowon’s regime due to strong exchange rate. Nowadays only the privileged few can do that or even afford goods with prices quoted in pounds! The reign of Kleptocracy and corruption kept our country in her current state with poor standard of living of the citizens without availability of basic amenities. Until full Democracy with its tenets is fully implemented with new visionary leaders, we shall continue singing the old songs of lamentation which no one will hear. Nigeria has really suffered and deserves better leadership and economy and needs a justice system that will allow people rise above poverty level to make our country a better place.
Very Rev. Msgr. Livinus Ukah is a Catholic Priest, Author of many books and a Social Justice and Peace Advocate