Monday, April 6, 2009

G20 Summit and President Yar'Adua

Last Thursday, President Yar’Adua was quoted in the media saying “I must say that today is a sad day for me. And I think it should be for all Nigerians. When 20 leaders of the leading countries in the world are meeting and Nigeria is not there. This is something we need to reflect upon. We have the population, we have the potentials, we have the ability and the capacity and we have the will. What do we lack? Is it the will?"

The G20 is a group of ‘important’ industrialized and developing economies. Together, member countries represent around 90 per cent of global gross national product, 80 per cent of world trade (including EU intra-trade) as well as two-thirds of the world's population. I will stress the word ‘important’ in this context because there are many other nations that can be considered industrialized but are not members of the G20. And Malaysia is a typical example.

Going back to President Yar’Adua’s comments, I think the influence of Nigeria as a nation in the global community is often exaggerated. Nigerian leaders can sometimes be described to be suffering from illusion in this context. With the current state of the economy and meagre infrastructure, it is preposterous for anyone to think we should be in the G20 - albeit our population and vast natural resources.

Yes, we have a population of 140 million. Yes, the G20 makes up two-thirds of world’s population. But the question is, of what importance is a country of 150 million, but with 50% unemployment? In fact we don’t even have accurate data on the number of unemployed in the country. Our leaders can only quote figures from UN, World Bank, IMF etc.

Do we have the potentials? Yes we do. We’ve always had the potentials since the word ‘go’ but have failed to deliver. We have failed to deliver in all aspects of our economy and society. As they say, Nigeria is the only place where nothing works! For how long would we continue to live on potentials?

On the BBC programme Hardtalk, Ex- President Obasanjo was asked ‘why more than 70% live in abject poverty, despite been a rich nation with abundant resources?’ The former President was quick to say Nigeria is only ‘potentially rich’ but not ‘rich’. He went on to say, “considering its population it has made the best use of its opportunities”. So in summary, President Obasanjo admitted that the nation’s population has been its Achilles heel, when compared to other oil-rich nations such as Saudi Arabia, Kuwait etc. For me this is an admission from a former President that Nigeria is ‘failed state’. When countries like India and China are taking advantage of their human capacity to position themselves in the current global economy, we are still in the wilderness waiting for the Moses that will take us into the promise land.

How can we describe a nation producing over 2.5 million barrels of oil per day but can only generate 600MW? How can we describe a nation of rent-collectors, that is 95% dependent on proceeds from oil sales? How can describe a nation of 150 million without a mass public transport system? How can you describe a nation with four refineries but imports 85% of its petroleum products? How can we describe a nation where the educational institutions are closed for almost six months in year due to strike actions? How can you describe a nation, where politicians and civil servants loot the treasury with impunity? How can you describe a nation where the President does not have any faith in its health system, and has to travel overseas for medical check-up? How can you describe a nation where 70% have no access to pipe-borne water?

It is only in Nigeria that people have three generators in one house. It is only in Nigeria that you can loot the treasury and obtain court injunction to stop been probed. It is only in Nigeria where one individual dictates the retail price of diesel. It is only Nigeria where an Attorney-General can write a letter of support for corrupt politician in the name of ‘rule of law’. It is only in Nigeria, that you can award $8.5bn rail modernisation project without regard for ‘competitive tendering’. It is only in Nigeria that it takes 2 years to seek redress at the courts following a fraudulent electoral process. It is only in Nigeria that thieves and rogues are given national honours.

I’m sure the G20 is not interested in failed economies or failed governments. The nation has been experiencing continuous infrastructure decay post-independence. We are still living on infrastructure built by our former colonial masters. I sometimes wonder, what our nation would have been if we didn’t have colonial rule.

The curriculum of our educational system is archaic and at odds with modern trends. University and secondary school libraries are full of outdated books, most of which have passed their ‘sell by’ date. None of the nation’s universities is ranked among top 1000 in the world. We have failed to develop our human capacity in any shape or form. The vision of our leaders is bereft of any rational thinking and defies all logic.

Perhaps, if the G20 was about the 20 most corrupt or rogue nations, probably Nigeria would have been the host and voted as the life President.

I want to hope that the Nigeria’s exclusion from the G20 will sound as a warning signal to President Yar’Adua. He needs to start acting decisively on key challenges facing the nation. The public mood is not very encouraging. It is almost two and half years since his assumption of office. Nigerians are sick and tired of all the rhetoric about seven-point agenda, rule of law etc. The nation needs an ‘action leader’ and not a ‘servant-leader’.


Anonymous said...

Nigeria is not yet ready for G20. The leaders are Mirrors. The head of state and his goverment reflect the collective consciousness, be it military regime, democracies, or anarchies. If a government is unstable or corrupt, or if a tyrann comes to power, it is because the collective consciousness is at that level. If the results of a government are limited, its is because the consciousness of the nation is limited. A government can never be better than its people. Nowadays, the focus is on the fruits, while it should be on the root. We need to breed doctors, lawyers, businessman, scientists, teachers, public speakers,congressmen. And, we must find a way to instill these alternatives into the minds of our youth. Even though it may take a little longer and they may have to study a little bit harder, the results will be long term success.

Anonymous said...

It will take a little push at all of our abilities,attitudes, and patriotism to move us forward and not just that of the president alone, the strike action is being perpetuated for greed by the asuu, who do not really care of the students or the future failure if education is paused in a nation and also from the government who cannot handle the politics of the education system, If I can ask people to question themselves, what have you done for Nigeria since you've grown, did you stop dumping waste on the street that causes erosion into buildings, more and more to ask, but get it, prof Wole Soyinka has said it, his generation is wasted, wasted but they still rule us, it is let for us to learn from their mistakes, stand for whom we truly are, beleive it, IT SHALL BE WELL, only if we accept ourselves, stop playing hate, help the dying around you, after all said and done, home is home.
It took the world to build the new Germany but it took German nationalistic citizens to develope it, it took the U.S. over 100 years of democracy to have the best economy but it also took its Nationalistic citizens to build on it, the English, the government opressed chinese, the japanese,,,their citizens stands for their land no matter what, I urge my generation, lets stand for whom we are, stop hatred and identity denial, no matter what Nigeria is home,though I live abroad but my soul is home, africans are whom we truly are.

Seyi said...

@Dudu...well said.
Thanks or stopping by.