Nigeria’s generation of human locusts

Map of Nigeria

While many countries were frequently re-configured by schismatic replacement of the old by the new order through earthquakes and wars, there are also evidences of continual world renewal and societal development across civilizations from inter-continental migration.

But it appears that only black Africa experienced emigration of human and material resources as migrants from other continents expropriated them for use in their continents instead of developing them “in situ” for mutual benefits.

Thus it remains incomprehensible why some black Africans, in imitating the voraciously all-consumptive nature of locusts, decided to become “human locusts” by collaborating with these migrants in pillaging their sub-continent’s resources to impoverish their people rather than develop them with their resources.

Hence, whereas many Nigerians were previously forced into slavery, they now voluntarily offer themselves as slaves in other countries!

Although corruption (original reason for BH!) among Nigerians was relatively mild before 1975, it reached unprecedented level among the 1990-2015 generation when aggressive capital consumption rather than accretion became the rule of thumb in governance.

This was when the sales of public enterprises, the economy’s infrastructural engines for development and growth, on which its buoyancy rested during decades of political instability, was the main objective for seeking political power at all levels.

Rather than improve their management and concession some of them due to poor technical and financial management, many (worth $ billions) were sold at ridiculous losses as “scraps” to those who engaged in vandalistic post-sale asset-stripping, contrary to the pre-purchase agreements, to create a long-term national economic disaster.

“Thus, the public enterprises, the last vestige of the Nigerian economy suffered a catastrophic collapse, immersing the already poor Nigerians into an economic strangle-hold” (Professor P.G Adogamhe in assessing Nigeria’s privatization programme in “Poverty and Public Policy Journal”, 2012).

Similar pillaging of these public enterprises occurred at the regional level: Northern Nigeria Development Corporation, Eastern Nigeria Development Corporation, Midwest/Bendel Development Corporation and Western Nigeria/Oodua Development Corporation.

These corporations had $ billions assets and hundreds of subsidiaries across wide spectra of business activities that employed millions of people for engineering grass-root socio-economic development.

Moreover, the “consumption” rather than the capitalization of the sales proceeds to develop replacement for some of the public enterprises showed that this massive public-asset pillaging was a human locust attack on the economy.

This locust attack also hit the private sector severely but insidiously with the loss of N trillions in the oil/gas sector, collapse of many banks and financial service companies, operational infarctions on the stock market that were never penalized and divestment by many multinationals in the real sector due to systemic fraud by many Nigerian directors through “creative accounting” practices and pre-external audit arson in Finance/Accounts departments.

This is why many Nigerian CEOs have been replaced with South-east Asians and other Africans along with the gradual reversal of the Indigenization Act through foreign investors’ re-securing majority shareholding in some of these companies to regain management control.

This generational pandemic of human locust attack in the public and private sectors produced the disastrous legacy of mass unemployment/poverty despite private jets’ ownership becoming the barometer of business/political/religious success as evidenced by the fact that only 2% of Nigerians own N500, 000 and above in banks, while 98% have just 10% of total deposits (NDIC).

Infrastructural deficit, socio-economic decay and crimes like human/hard-drug trafficking, money laundering, sophisticated banking/internet fraud, illicit emigration, terrorism, suicide etc have become endemic simultaneously with the plummeting of the national resource base to dim realistic hope for re-creating those enterprises and expanding the down-sized businesses without higher-cost capital and FDIs for re-building the economy.

These problems were aggravated by the structural failure of trickle-down economics and importation-pillared economic policies that degraded Nigeria into the consuming outpost for the world’s producing economies rather than creating synergistic chains of value-adding jobs from imports-substituting and exports-targeting manufacturing policies through the implementation of well-resourced and long overdue economic diversification strategy.

Furthermore, just as several empires collapsed through their leaders’ corrupted minds since fish rots from the head, many business and political leaders in Nigeria’s 1990-2015 generation were also corrupted by miracle-merchandizing preachers who indirectly abetted economic collapse through endemic corruption by extorting resources from the political and business sectors for self/institutional enrichment.

Thus, Nigerian leaders acquired syncretism, hedonism and moral anomie in business and politics from Religion’s two-tiered structure: mega/industrial scale in cities and SMEs in towns, which became slowly integrated with the traditional tier in villages, being increasingly linked with the rise in kidnapping, ritualism and youth cultism.

These were the recipes for looting the economy as commercialized religion and corrupt politics became Nigeria’s biggest “industries”.

With Nigeria’s owning more prayer shops than factories and farms and more “praying-mantises” than snails, she became the world’s poverty capital as evidenced by the fact that 80% of Nigerians live on less than $2/day (AfDB).

Accordingly, the Nigerian economic landscape is as pathetically devastating as a post-locust ravaged farmland at harvest time with the distressed farmer’s trauma from the losses, borrowing to procure new seedlings, waiting for the next cropping season along with uncertain hope for good weather even while enduring hunger and other deprivations.

But, rather than engaging entomologists and agronomists for clearing the locusts, re-cultivating the farmland urgently and preventing future invasion, the resource-predatory, unrepentant/non-restituting and self-exculpatory political and religious elite ignore the fact that, stripped of ethnicity/tribalism and religious bigotry, mass unemployment/poverty is the outstanding residue for “restructuring” after the devastating trails of these locust attacks instead of their “political restructuring” polemic!

Therefore, since Nigeria seems to have reached socio-economic and political point of inflexion requiring painstaking bottom-up solution, Nigerians should know that this resultant economic desertification of their country demands skilful strategic re-building by a new generation of patriotic leadership along with vigorous national ethical re-birth/re-development and patient collaboration by the citizenry over the long term to reverse the monumental multi-sectoral losses from that generation of human locusts and prevent national economic cataclysm through schismatic political re-configuration, regardless of the pendulous swings of party politics.

• Okunmuyide, wrote from Lagos.

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