Nigeria: What Will It Take for Nigeria to Work?

Nigerians want a country that works and truly delivers on the dividends of democracy rather than an illusion that remains as promises every electoral cycle. While we are not generally considered a failed state, we face various challenges including political and economic issues that edge us closer to that precipice unless drastic changes are made to course correct. However, these come at a cost to government and to citizens alike but let’s focus on the government as citizens continue to pay the price heavily.

Reflecting on the last few weeks and the challenges that constantly hang over us beggars the question: what will it take or cost for Nigeria to work? While we have made good strides in some areas, challenges remain with corruption, poor governance, infrastructural deficits, and socio-economic disparities which continue to plague us as a nation. The World Health organisation (WHO) suggests that countries aim to allocate at least 6% of their GDP to healthcare, 4-6% for education, 1-2% for water and sanitation and 2-4% for the justice sector. These are but minimum thresholds.

Creating and maintaining a country where the rule of law is sacrosanct is the first step and involves various costs, spanning legal infrastructure, law enforcement, judiciary, and societal factors.

Can Nigeria Afford the Costs?

Establishing and maintaining a robust legal framework requires significant resources including drafting and updating laws, regulations, and policies by legal experts, legislators, and administrative staff. Not to mention the process of legal research, documentation, and the creation of a comprehensive legal code. Closely linked to a robust legal framework is a functioning judiciary which demands substantial financial resources for maintaining courts, paying judges and legal professionals, and supporting administrative staff. Costs associated with legal aid and public defenders ensure that access to justice is equitable.

Additionally, funding law enforcement agencies is essential for maintaining public order and enforcing the rule of law. This includes salaries, training, equipment, and technology for the police. Targeted investments in crime prevention strategies, community policing, and technology like surveillance systems cost money. For that to happen, there must be strong mechanisms to prevent corruption within the legal system and public administration which involves implementing anti-corruption policies, establishing oversight bodies, and conducting regular audits to ensure accountability and transparency. Encouraging transparency in government operations contributes to reducing corruption and promoting the rule of law.

On the heels of that, there must be concerted efforts to promoting legal literacy and awareness among citizens as a long-term investment. Educational programs about rights, responsibilities, and legal processes contribute to a law-abiding society. Public awareness campaigns and civic education initiatives help citizens understand and appreciate the importance of the rule of law and ensure that The Office of the Citizen is truly the highest office in the land to hold elected and appointed officials accountable to their commitment to social programs. Addressing socio-economic disparities through targeted social programs can contribute to reducing crime rates. Investing in education, healthcare, and poverty alleviation helps create a more just, stable, and egalitarian society. Developing effective emergency response systems, including healthcare and disaster management, ensures the protection of citizens and maintains order during crises.

In summary, creating a country where the rule of law is sacrosanct involves a multifaceted approach, requiring substantial financial investments. The costs extend beyond the legal and judicial domains to encompass societal, educational, and international dimensions. While the initial investment may be high, the long-term benefits include a stable and just society that attracts investment, fosters economic growth, and ensures the well-being of its citizens.

Strong Institutions, Not Strong Persons

The second step is strong institutions. Economists say a developed country is typically characterized by several key features that reflect high levels of economic, social, and institutional advancement including a high GDP per capita, indicating a strong and diversified economy that provides a high standard of living for their citizens; advanced industrialisation with a well-developed and diverse industrial sector. They often lead in technology, innovation, and the production of high-value goods and services; infrastructure development featuring robust and modern infrastructure, including transportation, communication, and energy systems. Efficient infrastructure contributes to economic productivity and enhances the quality of life.

Developed countries also typically prioritise education, resulting in high levels of literacy and advanced educational systems. They usually have comprehensive and accessible healthcare systems marked with long life expectancy, low mortality rates, and advanced medical technologies. A well-educated and healthy population contributes to innovation and economic competitiveness. Sadly, decades of poor educational and health infrastructure and poor fiscal policies have impoverished citizens’ resulting in weaponisation of poverty by the political class.

Technological advancements and innovation with heavy investments in research and development, foster a culture of creativity and progress; access to basic services such as clean water, sanitation, electricity, and housing that ensure contribute to a high quality of life for citizen ensure they exhibit cultural richness and diversity. Social factors including tolerance, inclusivity, and cultural expression, contribute to the overall quality of life rate.

Additionally, developed countries have political stability and effective governance which are essential for development through strong institutions, the rule of law, and well-functioning democratic systems – not strong men and women. They also generally have lower levels of poverty and income inequality with strong social safety nets and policies that aim to address disparities and provide support for vulnerable populations.

A Country That Works for All

Government institutions must demonstrate efficiency and transparency to work for citizens by addressing corruption, improving public administration, and ensuring accountability. A strong commitment to the rule of law is essential ensuring that legal frameworks are applied consistently, without bias fostering an environment where citizens can trust that their rights are protected. Quality and accessibility of public services, including healthcare, education, and infrastructure, reflect a government’s commitment to its citizens. Investments in these areas contribute to the well-being and development of the population. Providing avenues for economic growth and job creation is also crucial with targeted policies that support entrepreneurship, address unemployment, and promote inclusive economic development and work towards the betterment of citizens.

Combating corruption through transparent and accountable governance ensures that public resources are used for the benefit of the entire population, rather than a select few. Implementation of social welfare programs helps address poverty and inequality because adequate support for vulnerable populations demonstrates a commitment to the welfare of citizens. Investing in infrastructure, such as roads, power, and water supply, is vital for citizens’ daily lives, economic activities, and overall quality of life.

A focus on education and healthcare contributes to human capital development. Accessible and quality education, along with affordable healthcare, ensures citizens can lead healthy and productive lives. Ensuring the safety and security of citizens is a fundamental responsibility of the government. Addressing issues such as crime and insurgency is crucial for citizens to live without fear. An inclusive governance approach that encourages public participation and feedback is indicative of a government working for its citizens. Engaging the population in decision-making processes fosters a sense of ownership and accountability.

It’s important to note that the term “developed country” is subjective, as development is an ongoing process, and even developed countries continue to face challenges and pursue improvements. The government’s commitment to ongoing reforms, effective policies, and addressing these challenges will determine its success in working for the well-being and prosperity of its citizens. Lastly, public engagement and collaboration between the government and civil society are essential for achieving meaningful and sustainable progress.

A Nigeria that works for all is affordable if government is committed to making it so.

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