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Sunday, 28 October 2012

NIGERIA'S FAILED STATE STATUS


A BAD ROAD IN A CITY IN NIGERIA
                                                                                                                    
Nigeria became a failed state in the early seventies when a former military Head of State said that the problem with Nigeria was not money but how to spend it, yet there were no much developments at that time. A nation becomes a failed state when the leaders have no vision, mission, plan and focus or direction.
 What is a failed state? A failed state according to Max Weber, “A state has failed when there is dominant presence of warlords, paramilitary groups, or terrorism, the very existence of the state becomes dubious, and the state becomes a failed state”. Max Weber went further to say, “A failed state is not able to enforce its laws uniformly because of high crime rates, existence of political corruption, an extensive informal market, impenetrable bureaucracy, judicial ineffectiveness, military interference in politics, cultural situations in which traditional leaders wield more power than the state over a certain area but do not compete with the state, or a number of other factors”. The Crisis State Research Centre in America defines a “Failed State” as a collapse state, i.e. that is a state can no longer perform its basic security and development and that has no effective control over its territory and borders”.


Also, the United States think – tank, the Fund for Peace and Foreign Policy Magazine listed 12 indicators of a failed state. They include three social indicators: (a) mounting demographic pressures (b) massive movement of refugees or internal displaced persons creating complex humanitarian emergencies and (c) legacy of vengeance-seeking group grievance paranoia. There are two economic indicators of a failed state which include (a) uneven economic development along group lines (b) sharp and or severe economic decline. There are nine political indicators of a failed state which include (a) criminization of and/ or delegitimization of the state (b) progressive or deterioration of public services (C) widespread violation of human rights (d) suspension or arbitrary application of the rule of law and widespread violation of human rights (e) security apparatus operates as a “state within a state”. (f) rise of factionalized elites (g) intervention of other states or external political actors.

Looking critically at the 12 indicators mentioned above and the various definitions of a failed state given by Max Weber, the Crisis State Research Centre, United States think-tank, the Fund for Peace and the Foreign Policy Magazine, Nigeria has all the factors of a failed state. The country has many warlords at the moment that are leading various militia groups such as Boko Haram, Movement for the Emancipation of the Niger Delta (MEND), Niger Delta People’s Salvation Front (NDPSF), Niger Delta People’s Volunteers’ Force (NDPVF), Egbesu Boys etc. 
There are so many paramilitary groups across the country that are giving Nigerians sleepless nights. Here in Lagos, we have the Kick Against Indiscipline (KAI) brigades that are extorting money from innocent people who urinated into the bush or people who carried loads on their heads when returning from the market and are branded as hawkers. Also, we have the Lagos State Transport Management Agency (LASTMA) officials who charge as much as #25,000 from those whose vehicles broke down on the road instead of helping them to tow such vehicles away from the roads.

Terrorism is on the increase as lots of people are being sent to their early graves through bomb explosions across the country. On October 1st, 2010, which was Nigeria’s golden jubilee anniversary, three bombs exploded, killed 12 persons and injured many people that are still recuperating in the hospitals. Terrorist activities have been recurring all over the country. Many terrorist activities that were carried out by the Boko Haram sect in Bauchi State, left many innocent people dead. Many prisoners were also set free from the Bauchi prison through terrorist attacks. Another element of a failed state is inappropriate enforcement of laws due to favouritism. In Nigeria today, there are two types of laws; one for the poor and another for the rich. The poor are given expedited trial in courts and are jailed for stealing a loaf of bread but the rich who steal hundreds of billions of naira have their cases drag on for years and have them discharged and acquitted at the end of the day. This can only happen in a failed state.

The crime rate is something to be worried about. People are being killed for money rituals. Politically motivated assassinations are rampart and the culprits are not being apprehended. Kidnappings are the order of the day as little school children are being kidnapped for money. Prostitution is also a common phenomenon as both undergraduates and graduates have taken prostitution as a job due to the high rate of unemployment. Armed robbery has also taken its turn on Nigerians because of unemployment too. One other factor of a failed state is political corruption. Political corruption includes electoral and financial fraud. Electoral fraud is an illegal process of ascending political offices. It is occupying elective position without receiving the mandate of the electorate. Financial fraud is a situation in which political office holders divert public funds to private use. Electoral and financial fraud is prevalent in the country at present. In fact, these two crimes brought Nigeria to the failed status she is today. Year in year out, huge budgetary allocations are never used for the projects they are budgeted for, rather they are stashed away in foreign banks.

Political corruption has prevented many government establishments including Ajaokuta Steel Company from production since it was established in the early eighties as about $150 billion dollars have been sunk into it. Such huge sums of money went to private bank accounts. The Power Holding Company of Nigeria (PHCN) under former President Olusegun Obasanjo’s regime between 1999 and 2007, gulped over $10 billion dollars yet, the country is still in total darkness. Many industries have closed down, while others have relocated to other countries as a result of lack of regular supply of electricity. The roads are overstretched and have become death traps because they are the only means of transportation in the country because there are no railway, metro lines, tube, cable cabs etc transportation system. Houses are not there for the masses and the education sector has fallen over the years, churning out half-baked graduates that cannot compete favourably with their counterparts from other climes. Corrupt leadership has led to the decay of infrastructure such as buildings, transportation, energy resources, administrative system and lack of potable water. Recently, about 1000 children died across the country from preventable diseases such as cholera and diarrhea due to none availability of potable water. Drinkable water is not available yet the Federal Government spent a whopping #6.6 billion to celebrate the nation’s 50th anniversary. This is a sign of a visionless leadership. Once the leaders are corrupt, the nation becomes dislocated and nothing works because the money that is supposed to be used for development will be diverted to private use, thereby making the state to remain underdeveloped.

The World Bank report in 2000 shows that the poor in Nigeria has increased from 18 million in 1980 to 67 million in 1999, while it grew to 80 million in 2004. Another report from the same body in 2002 also shows that 70% of the 150 million people in Nigeria are poor. The poor people in Nigeria live on less than a dollar daily. In a situation where about 80 million Nigerians are poor and about 105 million of them which is 70% of the 150 million people live on less than a dollar daily, is something to be worried about by all Nigerians. The inflation rate in Kenya, Ghana, Malawi etc, is just 1% but that of Nigeria is 13.3%. The high inflation rate and the abject poverty in the nation were caused by thieving and corrupt leaders. Nigeria has earned about $200 trillion dollars from crude oil since it was discovered in 1958 yet the citizens are wallowing abject poverty deprivation. How can people be poor in the midst of plenty? It is only in a failed state such abnormalities take place. 

Nigeria has no effective control of her territory and borders that was why Cameroon was able to take over the Bakassi Peninsular from her. Today, the Cameroonian gendarmes are terrorizing Nigerians living around the Nigeria and Cameroon borders, yet the Federal Government is doing nothing to remedy the situation. This is an evidence of a failed state. The Niger Delta region has been denied of its God given wealth by the Federal Government that is why they are fighting against the government. The judiciary is ineffective that is why cases drag on for years in courts. Some cases that have been decided in the past were done in unquestionable manners. When people feel that they will not get justice in courts, they will resort to personal vendetta, this is why there are many cases of assassinations all over the country.

Another factor of a failed state is military interference in politics. Since October 15, 1966, the military have staged nine coups in which lots of innocent lives were lost. Military coups disrupt the democratic processes and make a nation undemocratic, thereby making unelected people to occupy political offices.
Nigerian pensioners who have served the nation meritoriously are not being paid as at when due. Some die while waiting for meager pension. Most universities’ lectures are on strike now due to poor working conditions. So also are medical workers in many states. The country has also been factionalized into various groups especially in the South-South and South- East regions who have been clamouring for self determination occasioned by neglect and oppression the Federal Government.

Thus, Nigeria has all the indicators of a failed state as mentioned by experts. Looking at Nigeria critically, no sector of the nation is functioning. Infrastructure is not available to drive the economy, there is high crime rate, militia groups are springing up every day and terrorist activities are wasting innocent lives. Political corruption has opened up elective offices for thugs and hooligans. Thieving politicians are holding sway to power and are impoverishing masses the more. These are all indicators of a failed state.
                            

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