Nigeria is regarded as one of the fastest developing nations in Africa. In fact, her nickname is ‘Giant of Africa’. However, the country’s political and economic field can be seen to be in disarray. Nigeria ranks 144th most corrupt country in the 180 countries listed in Transparency International’s Corruption Index. The country is estimated to have lost over $400 billion to corruption since independence. There is no doubt there are problems facing Nigeria’s politics and this article highlights these problems and also suggests possible solutions.
List of Political Problems in Nigeria & Solutions
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Godfathers are political sponsors, who use money and influence to win support and success for their preferred candidates. Godfathers are those who have been in politics for a long time and now wield unchecked power to do as they so, please. Thus, they can manipulate election results and also appoint candidates they want into political positions. Most times, someone who is venturing into politics looks for a godfather who will be his career patron, which stands as backing both financially and in terms of influence. When this candidate then gets into power, he or she cannot break free from this godfather and will have to keep obeying him. The danger in godfatherism is that these godfathers wield power as they like, ensuring the leader they put in power do their bid even if it means implementing policies that will not favour the masses. Most times, the leader cannot oppose the godfather anymore because the godfather can get him out of the office just as he put him there. Also, because the candidate needs this godfather so he can attain higher political positions. Nigeria is supposed to be a democratic state; thus, the choice of candidates should depend entirely on the elections of citizens, godfatherism defeats this purpose. A solution to this problem is that policies should be put in place to ensure elections are transparent and true so as to render godfathers useless.
Corruption remains a problem in Nigeria and especially in her world of politics. Nigeria ranks 144th most corrupt in a list of 180. The country is notorious as one of the most corrupted countries in the world. The causes of corruption include greed, tribalism and nepotism, and the general disposition towards corruption in the country. It is in fact reported that 70% of corruption practices in Nigeria come from those in politics. Often times, government officials put public funds in foreign bank accounts or hide money under different names and bank accounts so the society will not be aware of their money laundering. Corruption is in fact not only a political problem, it finds its way into other branches of the society such as economy, law, etc. It is sad and unfortunate that the government which is supposed to be the highest authority is the one involved the most in corruption. In order to curb corruption in Nigeria, there needs to be strict measures and penalties put in place for erring political officials. Those caught in the act of money laundering should be properly brought to justice so as to deter others in the future.
Tribalism has been the cause of war, electoral malpractices, and political instability in Nigeria. Due to tribalism, citizens lose their sense of reasoning and vote a person into power, not because of their political capabilities but because he or she is from his or her tribe. This results in unfairness during elections as the person who is right for the job does not win the elections. Beyond elections, tribalism also leads to inter-tribal conflicts and deaths because people insist the person from their own tribe must get into office. Injustice also thrives in the face of tribalism, for example, when a leader who has been voted in based on tribalism commits an offense, he or she is pardoned without prosecution, however, if the same offense is made by another person, it will cause an uproar. Thus, double standards are set and people figure they can get away with offenses as long as they have their kinsmen on their sides.
The first solution to the problem of tribalism is the re-orientation of the people to embrace diversity and see themselves as a whole, instead of along tribal divides. When people see themselves as belonging to a whole bigger entity, Nigeria, they can let go of hate and conflict. They would also be able to embrace a common goal of developing the nation thus electing or appointing whoever will do the job irrespective of their tribe.
Nigerian youth and political inactivity
Nigerian youths are smart, innovative, and vibrant but most of them shy away from politics. This can be because of discouragement in the area of politics where those in power for than 40 years are still the same ones in power. Many believe the system cannot be changed and is rotten beyond repair. Although laws have been put in place to get youths into politics it has so far yielded little results. If the youths can keep up striving to make sure their voices are heard and their innovative ideas implemented, it will go a long way in evolving the Nigerian political system.
Brown envelop journalism
Brown envelope journalism is a term used to refer to monetary and other benefits given to journalists to gain undue favour. The effect of brown envelope journalism is the media and journalism which is supposed to be unbiased and independent becomes a publicity-seeking outlet. The media begins to wane on integrity and objectivity because news is commercialized. Journalists start to write commentaries and twist news in favour of those who have paid them and the media then cannot be trusted by the people. The media is an important aspect of democracy because it represents the right of people to freedom of speech. The first and primary obligation of the journalists is to state and expose truth and facts. However, nowadays, journalists praise leaders who they benefit from and then espouse their opponents in a bad light. A solution to this problem is that the Nigerian Union of journalists which is the body in charge of journalists all over Nigeria should once again set standards for journalism and also ensure adherence to these standards by putting grave penalties in place for those found to have erred.