History has it that Nigeria was granted independence on October 1st 1960, and became a Republic on October 1 1963. Ever since then, the country has witnessed several types of governments which include Military and Democracy.
As a growing child in the early 90s, I won’t forget the Abacha military junta. It was a government that people prayed and fasted for it to end quickly. The Abacha regime ignored due process of law, press freedom, individual liberty, and human rights. The government used violence and intimidation as a weapon against its opponents and critics. For instance, when Abiola proclaimed himself president, following the annulment of the June 12 Elections, he was arrested in June 1994 and died in jail in 1998. Also within that period, Trade union movements were suspended and protesters were killed, yet opposition to the government, particularly outside of the country, did not halt. Abacha and his loyalists again used the state as an instrument of personal gain and enrichment.
The breakthrough Nigeria got and the subsequent military disengagement came with Abacha’s sudden death in June 1998. Following his demise, Gen. Abdulsalam Abubakar was appointed to replace him, with a firm promise to transfer power to civilians. He freed political prisoners, ended the harassment of political opponents, and set forth a timetable for the transition to civilian rule. The country’s international image improved, but economic performance remained sluggish.
The country however returned to democratic rule with Olusegun Obasanjo elected as the president and was re-elected in 2003. The transition moved from President Umaru Musa Yar’Adua to Goodluck Ebele Jonathan and presently Muhammadu Buhari.
Although from these democratic governments, you will expect exceptional developments, especially infrastructural development, increased prosperity, developments in all sectors-from aviation to education to health to power, in fact, an holistic national development, alas, it was not to be.
I remember the stories from older people who witnessed Nigeria’s developmental strides in the 70’s and 80’s. In the transportation sector, the trains were functional, hence trailers were not everywhere on our roads that now cause avoidable accidents. Education was a delight as it was free with facilities and libraries fully equipped. The standard of education was rock solid and some folks from other countries studied in our universities. In education, we were rated high in world ranking. Dollar exchange to the Naira was equivalent because we exported more than we imported. The export of cocoa, cotton and other cash crops brought increased fortunes to our country.
As a key regional player in West Africa, Nigeria accounts for about half of West Africa’s population with approximately 200 million people and one of the largest populations in the world. Nigeria, with an abundance of natural resources, is Africa’s biggest oil exporter, and has the largest natural gas reserves on the continent.
According to worldbank.org, oil price volatility continues to influence Nigeria’s growth performance. Between 2000 and 2014, Nigeria’s gross domestic product (GDP) grew at an average rate of 7% per year. Following the oil price collapse between 2014 and 2016, combined with negative production shocks, the gross domestic product (GDP) growth rate dropped to 2.7% in 2015. In 2016 during its first recession in 25 years, the economy contracted by 1.6%.
Since 2015, economic growth remains muted. Growth averaged 1.9% in 2018 and remained stable at 2% in the first half of 2019. Domestic demand remains constrained by stagnating private consumption in the context of high inflation (11% in the first half of 2019). It further asserts that Nigeria’s growth is too low to lift the bottom half of the population out of poverty. The weakness of the agriculture sector weakens prospects for the rural poor, while high food inflation adversely impacts the livelihoods of the urban poor.
With all this, you may want to know what exactly our problem is in this country and how did we get here?
We have talkative leaders!
Am of the opinion that back then, our leaders were doers and not talkers. The likes of Chief Obafemi Awolowo, Dr NnamdiAzikwe, Alhaji Tafawa Balewa and the likes were leaders who were men of actions and had a clear vision for the country. They laid a foundation that has now been destroyed by the present leaders who are talkers and visionless.
Recently, I was listening to the Kogi State Governor at an event regarding the elections. He spoke with audacity and confidence. His manner of speech was not in consonance with the present state of deplorable state of infrastructure and rising poverty in his state. In the last four years, salaries owed have increased the sufferings of workers in his state. With all that, you begin to wonder if fine speeches and press conferences can bring developments in the state or even improve the lives of the people.
You see, in this country, we talk too much, but do little. We are indeed a talking nation. We have loads of professors, brilliant politicians, but most of them just speak grammar and it ends there. They are quick to point out the problem and solutions, but when they are voted in, they do nothing; their bellies become their God. We have a track record in wagging our tongues, making empty promises with no corresponding actions.
Few months to the general elections that ushered in the present government for instance, politicians were busy campaigning, diagnosing problems bedevilling the country, the solutions to the problems and also promising heaven and earth if voted. But fast forward to this present day, what have they done? Which foundations have they laid for a glorious future for this country? Have they started what they talked about?
In marriage, we have men who talked at length during courtship, promising heaven and earth, convincing the lady that he will do this and that. Only for the reverse to be the case.
Again, the problem we have is we talk too much. Great countries of the world do less of talking but more of actions. They talk less and do more. But here, even after doing as little as providing a borehole for a community, we call press conference and we spend precious time talking over little achievement. I call that Talk-velopment.
Dear leaders, back your speeches, press conferences, campaign promises, and town hall meetings with corresponding actions and make Nigeria work again. Don’t be a talking leader, be a working leader.
Dear reader, don’t be like our leaders who talk and talk but without actions. Don’t be like a dog that barks and can’t bite. Where the success lies is when you do- action. You can say all you can, but you can never have a successful year if you don’t ACT. The year is almost ended, what are those things you wrote at the beginning of the year to be achieved? What were those things you spoke about that you want to achieve this year? Don’t continue to wait forever, waiting for the perfect time; ACT. Swing into action. Even the Bible says, faith without action is dead. Work the talk. Talk less and act more.