The concept of a failed state found its way into the global lexicon in the last two decades or so. Prior to the emergence of this phenomenon, nations were basically classified along levels of economic development into developed, developing, and underdeveloped economies. The most susceptible to becoming a failed state are the underdeveloped countries in Africa and Asia.
With sustained period of underdevelopment, some of the underdeveloped / developing countries are steeping into a failed-state status. That developing economies experiencing economic growth are among those steeping into failed-state status underscores the importance of leadership development to economic, social, and political development.
There is no consensus on the definition of a failed state. As a consequence, the definition of a failed state varies widely. For the purpose of this article, let’s consider the economic concept of market failure. The main function of a free market is the efficient allocation of goods and services. Thus, a market is said to have failed in a situation where the allocation of goods and services are inefficient.
Using the above analogy of market failure, a nation can be said to have failed when it no longer meets the basic needs and expectations of the citizenry. The most important of such needs include the maintenance of law and order, and the security of lives and property. It is against the above background that Nigeria – the country with the highest Gross Domestic Product in Africa – can be termed a failing state.
Causes of Nigeria’s present predicament
The question every rational Nigerian is asking is, “How did we get here?” Since failure or success is never instant, it stands to reason that, as a nation, we got to where we are today through repeated errors of commission and omission. Factors responsible for Nigeria’s precarious condition include:
- Absence of compelling national vision
Vision gives purpose to everything we do. Without a vision, activities are reduced to drudgery. It is the absence of a compelling vision, for instance, that would make some people ever entertain the thought that Nigeria got her independence too early!
That vision is imperative for national development is exemplified by the fact that South Western Nigeria, unarguably the most developed geopolitical zone in the country, owes its development to the visionary leadership of Chief Obafemi Awolowo.
- Lack of clear objectives
This follows from the absence of a compelling national vision because clear objectives are derivatives of well articulated vision.
- Preponderance of white-Elephant projects
The consequence of the absence of vision and clear objectives is wastage of resources. At a seminar I attended some years ago, the key speaker (a British national) said that white-Elephant projects are the bane of Nigeria’s development. He actually gave the acronym ‘Triple A’ to the three projects stalling the nation’s progress. According to him, ‘Triple A’ stands for Abuja, Ajaokuta and Aladja.
Had it been in present-day Nigeria, the speaker would have an endless list of white-Elephant projects as the nation has added many more spurious projects like the multi-billion dollar ID card project, N40 billion Nigeria Communication Satellite, US$476 million Abuja CCTV project, N70 billion Abuja Stadium, N1.3 trillion fuel subsidy scam, just to mention a few.
On the scale of misappropriation of project funds in Nigeria, someone remarked: “How can a country survive let alone thrive with the sheer amount of monetary leakages?”
Effects of our current situation
The Nigerian economy is currently characterized by huge youth unemployment, mass poverty, insecurity of life and property, dilapidated socio-economic infrastructure. Our police force, healthcare, education, electoral, and legal systems are in shambles.
The citizens have responded to the current situation of the country in different ways. Some have opted and are still opting for migration to greener pastures, most through inconceivable means. Others have joined various coalitions using any possible means to exploit the nation and unsuspecting individuals. The vast majority are clueless as to what to do. A large section of this group has resorted to seeking spiritual help. Unfortunately, most of them are subject to the whims and caprices of religious leaders who exploit them for their selfish ends.
Who holds the key to Nigeria’s future?
The future of this country lies in the hands of the middle class. This class includes anyone who has a roof over his or her head (owner-occupier or rented), can afford three square meals, clothe his or her nuclear family members, afford basic healthcare, and have access to basic means of transportation.
The middle class hold the key to the future of this nation because they are, by virtue of their know-how, the operators of the economic system.
The challenge however is with the destructive individualism orientation of this economic class. Most of us have not given up the spirit of competition we imbibed in the school system for the spirit of cooperation / collaboration required to build a good society. Once we can overcome this challenge, we would be off to building a humane society.
What to bear in mind
As we ponder on the above, what we must remember is that the Nigerian masses are waiting for us (the middle class) to arise. More importantly, we must realize that we have a lot more to lose in the future Nigeria is headed, if things remain unchanged.
The masses have nothing to worry about because a person who is down fears no fall. These people don’t worry about safety and security because they have nothing to secure.
What are we going to do?
- Be the leader in our homes
A failing or failed state is a product of failed homes. The miscreants in high and low places causing problems in the country are almost always from dysfunctional home units. As the adage goes, Charity begins at home. When we provide the right kind of leadership in our homes, we make direct contribution to the improvement of leadership in the society.
- Cooperation and collaboration
We must cooperate and collaborate so as to create a united front. There are a lot that bind us together than those things that separate us.
- Leverage on technology to create awareness of a promising future among our teeming youth
According to the CIA World Factbook, of Nigeria’s 174 million population 63% are under 24 years while 15 – 54 years represent 49% of the population. With the right approach, we can galvanize this huge youth population into action towards the desirable future.
We can learn a lot from the recently concluded Indian Election. The election won by 63-year old Narendra MODI had the average age of the 814 million eligible voters as 35 years.
- Get involved in the leadership of our nation.
In whatever capacity we choose, we must get involved in the leadership of our nation. It is foolhardy to hope that those holding the reins of power will hand over to us. It’s not going to happen. However, with adequate preparation and involvement, nothing shall be impossible for us to accomplish.
Together we will build the nation of our dream.
God bless Nigeria!