By Ebun-Olu Adegboruwa, SAN
IMPUNITY AND LACK OF RULE OF LAW
The rule of law is a principle or system where a society or nation is governed by a set of legislation instead of by an individual making the whole decision. Rule of law makes it impossible for one person to have the unrestrained exercise of power over a society or nation. It applies and puts a limit or check to the behavior of everyone including government officials. Nigerian leaders do not show respect to the rule of law which breeds room for impunity. There is a seeming freedom to exempt persons from punishment as consequence for their injurious action. The culture of impunity has permeated virtually every facet of the Nigerian polity, particularly from the Executive and other tiers of government to the least common man. In this context, people are seen as a law unto themselves whereby they believe they can do whatever they want regardless of the dictates of the law. This leads to disregard for the justice system and especially judicial decisions by the Executive arm of government. The judiciary is so unpredictable because the political elites still undermine the independence of the judiciary through patronage appointments, and judicial administration is marked by weak enforcement capacity. An end-product of impunity and lack of rule of law is the absence of Accountability and Transparency which tends to drift the nation to a state of Dictatorship. An accountable government is one that is responsive to the demands of the citizen. Accountability is best enforced through the instrument of an independent judiciary and the rule of law. Citizens can seek redress in the courts for acts of omission or commission by a government and its officials. However, in the absence of the three (3) Cs in the Judicial Arm of Government to wit: Certainty of Judicial Independence and Impartiality; Certainty of speedy adjudication of cases and Certainty of enforcement of judicial orders, impunity and lack of Rule of Law will continue to abound and reverse any if not all gains/ development attained by past government.
LACK OF IDEOLOGY AND POLITICAL WILL
There is a saying that everything rises and falls on leadership. A weak leadership corresponds to poor development and underdevelopment of a State. The lack of ideology and leadership has become a tragedy to our national development. An ideology is a collection of ideas or beliefs shared by a group of people. It may be a connected set of ideas, or a style of thought, or a world-view. Political ideologies are sets of ethical ideas about how a country should be run. Epistemological ideologies are sets of ideas about philosophy, the Universe, and how people should make decisions. The South Western part of Nigeria (Old Western Region) made tremendous impact in several spheres of life of the citizenry in the First Republic; especially in the area of education and commerce. The celebrated success of the Old Western Region was founded on the political ideology of the government (political party) in power.
In the present scheme of things however, the political elites constitute a non-productive class who rely on the control of state structures to access economic rewards. The nature of the current political contest ensured the emergence of a local governing class without ideological commitment or lack of political will to follow through such ideology (if any). Rather than pursue political contests within ideological frameworks, politics has become a contested terrain for shallow, self-centered political gains. In the absence of good leadership, we have improper assessment of policies implementation which serves as a challenge to the development of Nigeria. It is why despite successive governments with their manifesto, Nigeria still remains a mono-product economy whereby oil accounts for over 90% of its export earnings. At the advent of the Buhari civilian administration in 2015, there was no confusion as to the political mantra of fighting corruption and wiping out any form of internal insecurity and aggressiveness. The recent surge in banditry and kidnapping in the Nigerian-State however betrays this political mantra.
Most policy makers fail to access the goal-achievement gap factor, implying that policy makers often fail to access the level of achievements of certain implemented public policies. The reason for this is because most leaders present policies which are too cumbersome and difficult to achieve within the short period spent in office. As such, most plans for national development are usually abandoned at the end of such tenures and subsequent governments also fail to continue on the plans which were left uncompleted. The recent scarcity of cash that hit the country following the naira redesign policy of the Central Bank of Nigeria is a classical sample of policy summersaults hence the nullification by the Supreme Court. This therefore explains reasons for numerous abandoned projects not necessarily as a result of corruption but bad leadership and lack of political will.
HIGH RATE OF ILLITERACY
Nigeria is seen to have one of the worst illiteracy rates in the world. According to the National Commission for Mass Literacy, Adult and Non-formal Education (NMEC), over 35% of the nation’s adult population are illiterate. Whereas education has been regarded as the greatest force that can be used to bring about developmental changes, it is quite worrisome that the literacy rate as stated by NMEC in Nigeria is a little above 60%. This is very low compared to other African countries such as Botswana (with 88.5%), Zimbabwe (86.5%) and even Ghana (with 76.6%). What many do not understand is that the high rate of illiteracy partly accounts for the low level of development in Nigeria. Education is the acquisition of knowledge and skills by those who pursue it to become capable people ready and able to contribute to the welfare of their families, communities and country. For a state or nation to achieve sustainable development, the quality of its education should be improved. Quality education connotes the education that is pedagogically and developmentally sound and educates the students in becoming active and productive members of society.
Conversely, education provides the needed manpower, knowledge and skills to win a nation’s state for sustainable all-round growth and accelerated development as well as holds the master key that unlocks a country’s potentials towards national transformation and development. Education is therefore not an end in itself; but a means to an end. Literacy is so critical to national development that it should be considered only as next to health. Literacy has proven to be a very strong vocal point in political participation in developed countries. The multiplier-effect of the high rate of illiteracy in Nigeria cannot be overemphasized. Low rate literacy leads to increase in unemployment and poverty, which leads to low standard of living. The ripple effect is then an increase in crime by the youths who have no jobs to keep their mind and body busy. The emergence of banditry and kidnapping in Nigeria has largely been associated with illiteracy and youth unemployment. Not ending there, there is an increase in drug and other illegal substance abuse. Eventually, there is poor health and an increased mortality rate.
Little wonder education is categorized as a fundamental human right to which all children and adults should have access as it contributes to individual freedom, empowerment and to human development. Schooling plays an instrumental role in helping individuals to achieve their own economic, social and cultural objectives and in helping to ensure social cohesion and strong governance. For instance, increase in job opportunities, the assurance of a better lifestyle, and an increased awareness of society through job contributions. To commence the gradual eradication of terrorism and conflict by Boko Haram and ISIS in the North, the Government as well as other stakeholders in the educational sector must begin to endorse and provide quality education for the youths by which more awareness and enlightenment is spread across teenagers and young adults. In all, if we wish to witness any increase in our developmental strides, we must improve the literacy rate of Nigeria.
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