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Nigeria — Any Idea, What is the Ideology?

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Ideology is like breath: you never smell your own.—Joan Robinson

You can imprison a man, but not an idea. You can exile a man, but not an idea.You can kill a man, but not an idea—Benazir Bhutto

Introduction

President Yoweri Museveni of Uganda took a bold swipe at world leaders during his speech at the World Bank’s International Development Association summit for African Heads of state, held in Nairobi, Kenya, on Tuesday.

The Meat
In his remarks, Museveni opined that most of Africa’s problems predicted over 60 years ago were a result of philosophical, ideological, and strategic economic mistakes.

He alleged that a fundamental African problem is that aid from the World Bank and other Western bodies was majorly for profiteering.

“The crisis which is in Africa today is because of philosophical, ideological, and strategic economic mistakes which we have been talking about since the 1960s. It is not an accident when you see the crisis in many African countries, the collapse of States. We predicted this in the 1960s – philosophical, ideological, and strategic mistakes. I don’t have time to amplify each one but I was very happy to hear the president of the World Bank talking about prosperity instead of profiteering.

Aid has been for profiteering, this has been the problem. Now, the World Bank people and other groups have been talking about sustainable development. Even in your documents, I have seen those words there, sustainable development”, Museveni stated.

He argued that what Africa needed to thrive as a continent was not sustainable development as always suggested by the World Bank, and other key players in economic development, but social and economic transformation.

We Dey Play
He urged the World Bank and world leaders to quit pushing sustainable development as a key factor in achieving a more developed African continent.

I would ask you to change those words in your documents. Africa does not need what you could call sustainable development. Africa needs social and economic transformation. The main reason why there’s no growth is because the growth factors are not funded, they are not even understood. What are the growth factors, we now talk of private sector growth. Yes, but for the private sector to grow what does it need? It needs a low cost of production”, he said.

He added that for Africa to be more developed and independent, the private sector needs funding. According to him, adequate funding for the transportation, power and agricultural sectors will boost low production costs.

“Ministers of finance, what are the low costs of production? Number one is transport. You must have low transport costs. Where do low transport costs come from? The railway? If you don’t fund the railway how will you get low transport costs?

“The second cost pusher is electricity. If you don’t fund electricity and you talk about sustainable development, what are you then talking about? We must have low-cost electricity not exceeding 5 cents per kilowatts, per hour.

He lamented the rate at which loans are promptly approved and grated for frivolities but not for serious projects that would yield economic gains.

He said, “Borrowing, for what? Capacity building! Imagine! They call you to a hotel where you eat Chapati and mandazi, and they say that is capacity building. Capacity building should be on the ground and not just in seminars.  

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While you try and digest the above, it is not exactly about Uganda, or even Africa, it is about my beloved Nigeria, the sleeping giant, one that many of us believe that if we get it right, Africa can get it right.

Confusion

So, in June 2021, a proposal suggesting United African Republic or United Alkebulan Republic as Nigeria’s new name was submitted to the House of Reps, last week, Reps ignored starving Nigerians, fought over change of national anthem to ‘Nigeria We Hail Thee‘.  In February this year, about 60 members of the House of Reps sought to transition from the presidential system to the parliamentary system.

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And don’t worry this is not about controversial bills by the National Assembly or very controversial pronouncements by political leadership because they come in hundreds and more, it is about ideology, it is about how can the World Bank or International Development Partners take us serious, how can they not continue to profiteer from us, when we practically for all intents and purpose lack a driving ideology.

Food for thought

The concept of a “Nigerian Ideology” is multifaceted and often debated due to Nigeria’s diverse and complex socio-political landscape. However, there are several key elements and principles that can be considered as forming the foundation of a Nigerian ideology:

1. Unity in Diversity

Nigeria is a country with over 250 ethnic groups and numerous languages and cultures. A core principle of Nigerian ideology is the promotion of national unity despite these differences. The motto “Unity and Faith, Peace and Progress” encapsulates this idea, emphasizing the importance of integrating various ethnic, religious, and cultural groups into a cohesive national identity.

2. Federalism

Nigeria operates a federal system of government, which is designed to ensure a balance of power between the central government and the individual states. This system is intended to accommodate the diverse interests of its various regions, promoting local autonomy while maintaining national coherence.

3. Democratic Governance

Commitment to democratic principles is another cornerstone of Nigerian ideology. This includes the promotion of democratic governance, the rule of law, human rights, and the conduct of free and fair elections. Nigeria’s transition from military rule to civilian governance in 1999 marked a significant step towards these democratic ideals.

4. Economic Development and Self-Reliance

The Nigerian ideology emphasizes the importance of economic growth and development. Policies and initiatives aimed at diversifying the economy, reducing dependence on oil, and promoting agriculture, manufacturing, and services are crucial. Self-reliance and sustainable development are also key themes, reflecting the desire for economic independence and resilience.

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5. Social Justice and Equity

Addressing inequalities and ensuring social justice are vital components of the Nigerian ideology. This includes efforts to reduce poverty, improve access to education and healthcare, and create opportunities for all citizens. Policies aimed at empowering marginalized groups and promoting gender equality are also important.

6. Patriotism and National Service

Fostering a sense of patriotism and encouraging national service are important aspects of the Nigerian ideology. Programs like the National Youth Service Corps (NYSC) aim to promote national unity and development by requiring university graduates to serve in different parts of the country.

7. Cultural Heritage and Identity

Nigeria’s rich cultural heritage and identity are celebrated and preserved. This involves promoting indigenous cultures, languages, and traditions while fostering a sense of pride in Nigeria’s diverse cultural landscape.

8. Anti-Corruption and Good Governance

The fight against corruption is a significant element of Nigerian ideology. Various administrations have prioritized tackling corruption to promote transparency, accountability, and good governance. This is seen as essential for building trust in public institutions and ensuring sustainable development.

9. Pan-Africanism and Global Engagement

Nigeria’s ideology also includes a commitment to Pan-Africanism and active participation in international affairs. Nigeria plays a leading role in African politics, regional organizations like the African Union (AU) and the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS), and maintains a strong presence in global diplomacy.

Summary

The Nigerian ideology, while diverse and evolving, fundamentally seeks to promote unity, democracy, economic development, social justice, and cultural pride within the framework of a federal republic. It is a dynamic concept that reflects the aspirations and challenges of a nation striving to harness its vast potential and navigate its complexities—May Nigeria Win!

Prince Charles Dickson PhD is the Team Lead The Tattaaunawa Roundtable Initiative (TRICentre). Email: pcdbooks@gmail.com Skype ID: princecharlesdickson

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