By Jeffrey Orji

The popular Latin axiom, Nemo dat quod non habet, literally meaning “no one gives what he doesn’t have” best summerizes how unfortunate Nigeria has been with their choice of leaders over the years. When you gather bandwagon of leaders who have little or nothing to offer, your situation will definitely be retrogressive. Consequently, this accounts for the reason why Nigeria’s situation has continued to detoriete in geometric progression. Giving in leadership, they say is the key to success, fulfillment, and economic prosperity. Nigeria has been very unfortunate with leaders that are in office to take, who came to make an affluent living not to give. Little wonder why someone opined thus “we make a living by what we get, but we make a life by what we give.”

Nigeria has been in the hand of non-committed and non-focused leaders that can not build nor sustain public wealth, hence the country has lost all her pride before the committee of nations even among African countries where she used to be the Giant to the extent that at the moment Nigeria falls among the last category in human development index at number 32 in Africa and 168 globally with 0.514 human development index (HDI values) and 0.88% in average annual growth between 2010-2022. The economic decline has become devastating that Nigeria has overtaken India as home to the biggest pool of the absolute poor in the world. As at 2018, Nigeria has the highest number of poor persons at 87 million – growing by 6 persons per minute’ [Brookings Institution on “The Start of a New Poverty Narrative”, 2018]. But as at the time of the publication, while the poverty rate in India is about 16%, that of Nigeria is about 63% with about 133 million Nigerians classified as multidimensionally poor. ‘Nigeria’s Human Development Index ranking moved from 152 to 157’. [HDI Human Development Statistical Update, 2018]

Furthermore, Nigeria’s Global Competitiveness Index rating moved from 124 to 127 [Global Competitiveness Reports]; Nigeria’s Stress ranking is 148 of 149 [Stressful Cities Ranking]; ‘Nigeria has the highest number of out-of-school children. 60 percent of children out of school live in sun- Saharan Africa and ten million of them live in Nigeria.[BBC and UNICEF]; ‘While the federal government budgeted N340 billion for Health and N400 billion for Education, it paid over N1 trillion on Fuel (PMS) subsidy’. [Minister of State for Petroleum and FG Budget Office].Check out for the statistics of undeclared crude oil being smuggled out of Nigeria when Nigerians are running short of supplies even as they pay exorbitantly for gas, petrol and kerosene. Yet this a country where NNPC reports that they spent about spent 33 billion in buying recharge cards and tea/biscuits for visitors only for last year.

Obi’s comparison of Nigeria with certain countries such as India, South Africa, Mexico, China, Turkey etc is a positive step in a right direction because they used to be at same level or Nigeria even better at a time in the past. One begins to wonder if these pedigree of leaders in Nigeria can’t learn from the experiences of the countries that are overtaking us in everything. It becomes even funnier when one sees them travel to all these places for qualitative medical services and other businesses yet they come back with still their devil’s mindsets only thinking of borrowing to spend. It is a shock that Nigeria used over 50% of its revenue to service debt’ [Nigeria’s Debt Management Office (DMO) reported that Total Debt Service as a percentage of FGN Retained Revenue was 58.56% in 2017]; ‘Nigeria’s total debt stock was N22.7 trillion – about US$80 billion;’ [DMO June 2018 report put the figure at N22.38 trillion (US$73.21 billion using an official exchange rate of N305.70/US$. Include the US$2.8 billion Eurobond issued in November 2016 bring the total debt stock to US$76.01 billion]; ‘Mexico’s GDP & GDP per capital are over US$1 trillion and over US$8,000 respectively’. [The World Bank, 2017]. Nigeria’s public debt reached N44.6 trillion in the third quarter of last year (Q3 in 2022). This represents a 2.9 per cent quarter-on-quarter decline when compared to N42.84 trillion recorded in Q2 in 2022.

In another development, some Northern politicians that clamours that power must remain in the North has no justification for such claim. Yes, the North might have good population but the question that begs for all truth is, how has all those administration affected lives of common people in the North? Can you imagine a state in the North Zamfara state registering only 110 candidates in the last National examination council (NECO) and only 24 students passed. What other statistics do anyone seeks to quantify the educational progress in such a state. This is the same examination that so many other states in the East and West registered over 100,000 candidates. These crop of leaders have continued to canvass sentimentally on the basis of geographical location, ethnic origin, religion, political parties but in their mind they don’t have any intention of delivering dividends of good government. They only succeeded in uniting the citizens in suffering and confusion to the extent that Nigerians are used to a dysfunctional society since no one gives a damn about quick intervention in the ugly plight of the people not withstanding the high level publicity on these issues from the media palace. Recently, universities were on strike for about a year. Now the country is suffering fuel scarcity for about 4 months now. There is visible crisis in every sector as health, road network, education, power etc. Accountability is one factor that is not in the dictionaries. of the current leaders rather corrupt and sharp practices is found in multiple proportion in their dictionaries.

Let us look at the case of ASSU’s recent one year strike and the tale of oil theft in the country. ASSU demand is as old as 2009 about 14: years when they agreed on this 1.3 trillion with the government. Jonathan’s government paid 200 billion remaining 1.1 trillion. This bill can be taken care of by one month oil stealing by the government. Nigeria is the only country in the world that do not meet up with OPEC production except Venuzuella because of factions. Take for instance, in July last year, Nigeria production was 1083000 meaning that Nigeria had 717 000 shortage. If you multiply it by 31 days, it will give you 22,227000 barrels. The average pricing of oil that month was 110 dollars per barrel which brings the loss to 2,445,000,000 dollars in one month. If you multiply it by 550 exchange rate, it will give you N1,344,760 000 000. In August it became worse as the oil supply was 975 000 and we lost 825000 per day which gives you 25,652,500. Oil was sold 100 dollars in August meaning that the country lost 2.5 billion dollars and if you multiply by the exchange rate of 550, you will get N1.4 trillion. This is what has been going on in the country for years. If you meditate on all these high-level of insensitivity among these funny leaders, you will agree with me that Nigeria has no business with borrowing or under- budgeting.

As a matter of fact, Nigerians ought to have been protesting long time ago. Look at Iran of 70 million people with a GDP of 400 billion dollars with per capital of 6050 dollars protesting. But Nigeria of 923000 square kilometers landmass and over 200 million people has per capital of 2000 only. Iran generates 74000 megawatts of electricity but Nigeria generates 4000. Iran has unemployment of 11percent and youth unemployment of 25 percent but Nigeria has employment of 23.1 percent and youth unemployment of 61percent. Can you imagine such comparison and they are protesting but Nigerians are not. Thank God all hands seem on desk now to find solution of leaders that will take Nigerians out of the suffering. And the time is ripe. The time is now hence Nigerians must not gamble with the opportunity.

Peter Obi, the presidential candidate of Labour Party’s speech at Chatham House, London recently further highlighted the ugly situations in Nigeria. “We have alarming insecurity that has led to loss of many lives and properties, significant decline in food and economic output, immense trauma that has compromised the mental health of communities, and in some cases, irredentist pressures and disaffection with the Nigerian project. The economy is in crisis with a troubling debt profile worsened by oil theft of proportion once hard to even imagine, two economic recessions in six years and a lamentable power sector that significantly constrains manufacturing and social life. The Nigerian state is captive to an elite gang-up and a rentier political economy that has concentrated political power in the hands of those who came to power and influence mainly through their own contrivances and not through the affirmation of the people, and therefore, do not have the incentive to serve the people’s interest.”

“Even after exploiting ethnic and religious cleavages and sentiments to ascend to political power, the very people on whose sentiments they grabbed power often become the primary victims of such political fraud that has rendered Nigeria a failing state with a worsening leadership crisis. Consequently, Nigeria’s Democracy has been on the wane, evident in the Afrobarometer longitudinal tracking which reveals low voter turnout and apathy in the current Republic”

The solution to Nigeria lies in voting in leaders with a thorough understanding of Leadership, Institutions and Demographics. The good news is that demography is driving the change we are seeing in Africa with election after election in the last year in Africa, in which the establishment parties are being upturned by new or small parties I am convinced that voting the Labour Party (LP) presidential candidate Peter Obi and his vice Yusuf Datti Baba-Ahmed will bring back the glory of the country and suppass same. Their understanding of leadership, demographics and statistics has changed the campaign scene in Nigeria. For the first time in many years especially in the 24 years of Nigeria nascent democracy, we see contestants dishing out statistics and radical developmental solutions.

Let Nigerians believe in the track records of Obi as the most performing governor in Anambra history. The track record of Senator Dati Yusuf is equally enviable. Let Nigerians follow the words words of Peter Obi and Yusuf Dati as they have demonstrated strenghts that are not known in Nigeria political history. In his words Obi said “It is for this change that my vision of policy change and institutional development is rooted in the push for a broadened scope of SOCIAL MOBILITY AND FREEDOM for Nigerians, particularly our children and youth. Like Former British Prime Minister Harold McMillan said at the start of the Independence decade, a wind of change is blowing through Africa. Today a new wind of change sees the ballot box as being instrumental to changing of bad leadership. Senator Yusuf Datti Baba-Ahmed, my running mate, and I are committed to a new politics that starts with the ethics of servant-leaders and anchored on the marriage of clean hearts and skillful hands. We know that unless we change our politics by changing our political leadership, we are stuck with this terrible state of underdevelopment and misery.
We will patriotically reform our institutions particularly ones directly responsible for implementing Government policies to make them fit for purpose. It is not to be doubted at the global scene that Nigeria is blessed with some of the most entrepreneurial youths in the world, in science, in business, in art and entertainment. We believe that what remains is to change the leadership class from predators to creators of value; from those whose wealth and power derive from the destitution of the nation and its peoples to those who have demonstrated the competence, character and capacity to invest in human development, create prosperity, and instill the right values and ethical conduct deserving of servant leaders”.
Finally I wish to charge, the flag bearers of Labour party to change the narrative of leadership in Nigeria if they come on board. Ofcause, a new and better Nigeria is very possible. Nigerian youths should make it happen.