Since getting independence from Britain in 1960, Nigeria has played a major role in politics in the African continent. Nigeria’s peace keeping efforts and struggle for the liberation of other African countries from internal and external forces in the 60’s and 70’s were outstanding and commendable, earning it the tag as ‘the giant of Africa’. That put the West African country in good stead to develop into Africa’s superpower. Such projections were enhanced by the fact that it has the largest population in Africa of more than 160 million people.
Nigeria is also Africa’s leading oil producer with the continent’s biggest gas and oil reserves. Nigeria’s quest for the position of a superpower on the African continent is still ongoing but its chances of clinching that position is gradually being eroded by growing cases of insecurity and monumental corruption that have crippled the country. Each year, more than US$18bn is lost in Nigeria through corruption by those in government and private sector. A myriad of problems have put paid to such prospects, with analysts pointing out corruption and civil strife top of the list of hindrances. In the past decade, Nigeria has moved from one case of insecurity to another. From ethnic and religious crises to the Niger Delta crisis and most recently, the Boko Haram threat, Nigeria’s security problems appears unending and insurmountable. On the premise of the many unresolved ethnic and religious crises, the US government security report in 2009 predicted that Nigeria would disintegrate by 2015. Five years after the security report, indications are that it may become reality.
Government critic and human rights lawyer, Barrister Oyekachi Ubani, said the potential of becoming a superpower in Africa and even in the world was there but insecurity and corruption remained Nigeria’s greatest undoing. “We have the potential to achieve this dream but this potential has not been maximised by those at the helm of affairs. They (office bearers) have succeeded in mismanaging Nigeria – this is why we have so many problems cropping up at the same time. “We have security issues, a political crisis, economic crisis, religious crisis, tribal crisis. Militancy and kidnapping are all over the place. There is no sense of patriotism because those in government only look out for themselves and not the citizens. “Leadership in this country has obviously failed, and it has also translated to a failure of the state because almost everything is not working,” Ubani said. He added: “The hope of becoming a superpower in Africa is a mirage. It is an illusion. There is nothing to show that we are even aspiring to get there. Is it in terms of infrastructure, welfare or good governance? “Virtually no sector of the economy is working optimally.”
Analyst and chairperson of the Coalition Against Corrupt Leaders, Debo Adeniran concurred, adding that Nigeria would remain in “bondage” as long as corruption persisted in the country. “With the way Nigeria is going, things are certainly going to become worse! The industries are not working and our educational sector is in total collapse. “…for as long as we are not building our industries, we will never be a superpower. No country that neglects its industry as we do has ever become a world superpower. “Again, corruption is our biggest problem. Our leaders are stealing from this country, which solely depends on one mineral resource – oil. How can we become a superpower when our leaders are pocketing the money meant for education, employment, development and so many other things,” Adeniran said.
Ghana, West Africa’s second largest economy, now boasts a diversified economy with oil, gas, agriculture, mining and retail all contributing to gross domestic product. Statistics revealed by government on the impact of vast oil reserves painted a grim picture of the Nigerian corruption levels. Nigeria currently makes billions of dollars from sales of an estimated four million (4 000 000) barrels of crude oil every day, but that has not had enough impact on the country’s economic growth. A recent report indicated that 75% of Nigeria still live on less than $2 a day. Although the government claims to be tackling the problem of corruption, the recent pardon by President Goodluck Jonathan of one of the few prominent persons convicted of corruption, brought up the question if the fight against corruption was a dream that will never come true. Jonathan was reported to have granted a state pardon to his former boss and ex-governor of his state (Bayelsa), Deprieye Alamiesiya, who was convicted of fraud of over $20m. The US government condemned the pardon of the ex-convict who is still wanted in the United Kingdom (UK) where he faces a money laundering charge. Several high profile corruption cases are also still pending in the Nigerian courts for many years with no meaningful process being made by government prosecutors to secure convictions.
A member of the Nigeria’s ruling party, People’s Democratic Party (PDP), Chief Ernest Adenike, however thinks that Nigeria can indeed become a world superpower in the nearest future. Adenike argued that given the country’s considerable resource endowment and coastal location there was potential for huge growth. “Yes, Nigeria has realised very little of this potential (of becoming Africa’s superpower). Previous efforts at planning and implementation were not sustained. “The history of economic stagnation, declining welfare and social instability has undermined development for most of the past 30 years but we are making progress. “President Jonathan is taking corruption seriously. Several high profile cases of corruption are being prosecuted in court. On the issue of insecurity, the president is also working hard on that. These are internal issues and I can assure you that they will soon be over,” Adenike said.
Nigeria’s host of problems currently leaves South Africa as the sole dominating country in Africa.