The Many Problems of a failing Nation – Sancho Oprah

Despite getting majority of votes from the poor masses of Nigeria due to the hope and faith placed on this supposed messiah and savior of our great nation due to mistaken public opinion that “he is one of us” , forgetting that politicians are good at making unfulfilled promises.  President Jonathan after his “I have no shoes” campaign slogan and how this poor indigent otuoke boy trekked several miles just to get to school got the sympathy and votes of Nigerians during the 2011 elections to emerge president. Since then, it is becoming clearer to all by the day that he is running out of luck to steer this great nation from the abyss and pits of poverty, corruption, high rate of unemployment , health, education and infrastructural decay, power instability despite the billions of dollars pumped into this sector and other problems facing this nation.

The cluelessness and anti mass policies of this government in tackling some of the monsters/problems bedeviling the nation is a clear indication of its unpreparedness and inability to lead this nation to its promised land. I shall attempt to look at the afore-mentioned challenges one after the other to buttress my points in the failings of this current government.

Ø  Poverty

Despite the continual claim by the Minister for finance and the coordinating minister Ngozi Okonjo Iweala of high economic growth, with the economy growing at a GDP of 6.72% as at the second quarter of 2013 as published by Nigeria Economic Report (NER), yet about 112 million Nigerians live below poverty level of ($1) per day with Lagos state having the lowest at 22.9% poverty rate and Jigawa State having the highest at 77.5% as shown by the National Bureau for statistics (NBS).

With the facts so nakedly stated as in above, the masses and youth, statistics have shown are poor. Poverty can be seen to be a very big challenge in Nigeria because there can be no hiding the fact that a hungry man is an angry man. This has led to many Nigerians not attaching value and regards to life itself. Poverty is the cause of many of our problems and social vices such as prostitution, armed robbery etc. It even becomes more worrisome that with our vast natural and mineral resources we still have majority of our populace (69%) living in poverty.

Ø  Unemployment

The NBS puts rate of unemployment in Nigeria to be at 23.9% .This is quite alarming and if not attended to urgently may sky rocket before the end of this government in 2015.

It is worth reiterating that unemployment has soared to its highest under the present government with no clear cut solutions to address this rampaging monster menacing our youths as there have been more job losses than jobs created both at federal, state, local government and in the private sector. Many private businesses have closed shop due to high cost of running business emanating from high cost of power, deplorable state of roads and high lending rates of banks which is almost if not more than double the figure.

Some of the employment empowerment programs such as YOUWIN and SURE-P are either tied to political partisanship and end up seeing graduates from tertiary institution sweeping/cleaning street as they earn a paltry 10,000 (monthly pay) as these programs  are largely a result of an ad hoc reactionary circumstance rather than a deliberate painstaking national planning agenda. One begins to question the genuineness of the programs in its conception and coverage as the mandate, the poor publicity given to these schemes and mode of qualifying for them raises suspicion as to whether they are actually intended to alleviate the unemployment situation.

With the ever rising potentially dangerous unemployment trend there is urgent need for a practical and result oriented approach to address this monster to avert any disastrous consequence this is already causing. What is needed is the establishment of massive employment-creating programs all over the nation.

A few good steps already taken in agriculture, such schemes should be intensified to encourage greater investment in large scale farm projects and other areas of mass employment potential.

Ø  Corruption

It is no longer news that corruption is endemic in Nigeria that it has eaten so deep into every facet of government system such that corrupt officials/politicians seem to be rewarded rather than punished.

Currently Nigeria is rated the 8th most corrupt nation in the world by Transparency International (TI) with corruption increasing in the last two years. The present day government seems not to be prepared to fight this scourge threatening to send this nation to the oblivion as they look the other way. The cases of corruption ranging from the cabal in the oil sector, to public servants embezzling public funds such as the pension fraud case to political office holders looting of public treasury. With dysfunctional anti graft agencies which either work for the government of the day to harass purported perceived enemies of the presidency to very slow legal and judicial systems that have made fighting this monster an impossibility as Corruption has a high propensity to thrive when legal and political institutions are weak and government policies generate economic rents.

More stringent and aggressive measures are to be taken against government officials and politicians caught in any form of corrupt practice if this government is serious to curb the ever rising trend of corruption.

Ø  Power

This is one area one could say that the government has done really well and if all the policies and measures taken are followed and carried out to the letter they will achieve giant strides. The privatization process has shown the willingness of government to make power issues a thing of the past with the improvement we have seen across the nation on power supply, one will hope that things are indeed looking up.

Ø  Education

The current impasse between ASUU and the FG is a clear indication of the abysmal low our education has sunk and the level of neglect the government of the day has for education as it considers the current fractionalization in the PDP a matter of urgency more than the ASUU strike which have forced our students and children to remain at home.

There has been a steady degradation of the educational system in the last 3 decades. It is no news that less than 10% of the national budget is allocated to education as standards have fallen and access to quality education is priced out of the reach of the ordinary Nigeria. The inadequate funding of education is the main reason for this decline and rot as our government is less concerned with education since they can afford to pay for their children’s study abroad.

As a student of microbiology in his final year in one of the universities recently revealed, he has never accessed an autoclave. One begins to wonder the quality of graduates we churn out and how they will face their contemporaries in other climes.

Ø  Infrastructure

The level of decay in our infrastructures ranging from the roads, railways, airports etc is deplorable.

Our roads are death traps as the daily rate of accidents go up. The Lagos –Ibadan express is still in its deplorable state even after several months of awarding the contract.

The aviation sector is nothing to write home about as our airports when compared to that of other civilized climes will come across like airstrips, despite the commendable work of the Minister for aviation Stella Oduah in recent months which has witnessed the first international flight from Enugu Airport. Only last year we had over 3 plane crash disasters with that of Dana Air the most disastrous as we lost over 150 lives and the most notable with dignitaries involved is that Involving Patrick Yakowa and Andrew Azazi.

The railway which would have done a lot in transportation of goods is no longer functional or in a state of comatose.

Ø  Health

 The deplorable condition of the health sector in the country, in spite of government spending on the sector, raises serious concerns about the management of the health sector; the adequacy of funding for the sector; its focus and use. Nigeria’s health sector is today bedeviled by many problems that have lead to reduction in quality of service delivery in most health institutions. One of the major problems is the inadequacy of health care facilities in most parts of the country especially in the rural areas. According to UNICEF, some 20 per cent of child deaths in sub-Saharan Africa occur in Nigeria. Often a patient with a minor ailment like malaria, has to seek for treatment in the tertiary health centre; a case that should have been treated at the PHC and the General Hospitals. This has lead to congestion and overcrowding in many Specialist Hospitals and tertiary health centers. Sometimes, a patient from a government health centre has to be referred to a private clinic for investigations like ultrasound scan, laboratory tests before diagnosis is made; just because the government health facility does not have that diagnostic equipment. Most medical personnel have poor remuneration compared to their colleagues working for non governmental and private organizations. This has lead to incessant strike actions in the health sector in demand of salary increase.

From the foregoing it is clear that the country is in dire need of a messiah with clear cut visions on how to lead Nigeria out of this wilderness to our promised land not one banking on good luck to deliver the dividends of democracy we all have awaited.

Sancho Oprah is a freelance writer. He Tweets @sancho_oprah email: sanchoo.opara@gmail.com

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In the beginning...Let there be Light http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Japheth_J._Omojuwa

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