Dedicated to Nigeria's socio-political issues
October 3, 2007 - December 2, 2007
ANOTHER NIGERIA IS POSSIBLE
ActionAid International Nigeria
Plot 461 Kumasi Crescent,
Wuse II, Abuja.
In the last one and a half decade, a lot of changes have taken place all over the world especially on systems of government, development paradigms and policies that could bring about development and improvement on the quality of life of people. Previously, there were various contending alternatives on the way governance and development can take place. The system in the United States for instance was unique in its emphasis on individualism, capitalism and free enterprise. The British system was unique in its emphasis on welfarism especially with a very strong labour party. The Soviet system placed a lot of premium on social and economic rights, equality and protection of the working people and the vulnerable in the society not only in the Soviet Union but all over the world. The Chinese system was also unique in its emphasis on the empowerment of peasants. The Cuban system was also spectacular in transforming its economy with only sugar cane as a resource into a modern economy with great feat in health care and other aspects of life. The Asian Tigers transformed their economies by focusing on attracting foreign skills and investment while at the same time developing local capacity with strong control. The Japanese system was peculiar with special focus on human capital since there are no natural resources in Japan.
However, in the last one and a half decade with the collapse of the Soviet Union and the end of the cold war, there is an ascendancy of neo-liberalism with fanatical emphasis on the market as the only driving force of development in a situation where the State will recede with increasing control by International Financial Institutions and transnational corporations characterized by privatization and globalisation. The received wisdom today is that there is no alternative to market forces, privatization, globalisation, World Bank and International Monetary Fund (IMF) for any nation especially in the less developed countries if they are serious about development.
In Nigeria, post independence development planning placed a lot of emphasis on the State as the main moving force of development as manifested in the second annual national development plan (1970-74) and subsequent development plans. In fact, the State went further to consolidate this by nationalizing some foreign companies and putting restriction on the kinds of businesses that foreigners can engage in through the Nigeria Enterprises Decree. The commanding heights of the economy was placed in the hands of the State and entrenched in the constitution. In the implementation of these policies, the culture of debate was promoted even during colonial and military regimes. Thus, during colonial rule, there was a National Conference in January, 1950 in Ibadan to discuss the Constitution that later became known as the 1951 Macpherson Constitution. After independence, in July, 1963, there was a National Conference in Lagos which decided on the change of the 1960 Independence Constitution to the 1963 Republican Constitution. During the military regime of General Ibrahim Babangida, there was a national debate organized by the political bureau, which came with the verdict that Nigerian people prefer a socialist form of government. The Bureau recommended the formation of MAMSER to mobilize Nigerians to actualize the transformation of the country into a Socialist State.
But with the end of the cold war and ascendancy of neolibrealism, the situation has completely changed in Nigeria. The culture of debate is being taken over by violence. Agents of the State insist that there is no alternative to neo-liberalism. They argue that there is no alternative to SAP, privatization, capitalist led globalisation or NEEDS. The government insists that people cannot protest unpopular government policies and that a National Conference cannot be held despite persistent calls for it even by Committees set up by the Federal Government such as the Technical Committee on the review of the 1999 Constitution. Even when ethno-religious and communal conflicts occur, instead of utilizing the time tested approaches of promoting dialogue, consensus, mediation and other conflict management approaches, the government either declares a state of emergency or threatens to issue one. Government officials insist that the private sector even though it is undeveloped, inefficient, parasitic and insincere must serve as the engine of growth without adequate regulatory framework. A typical example is the petroleum sector. Any time a spot check is conducted on Petrol Stations to find out whether the quantity of fuel they sell is in accord with the displayed price, it always show that majority of the petrol stations are cheating the public. Meanwhile, many of these Petrol Stations are owned by transnational corporations. Policies are conceptualized and implemented without consideration of their impact on the poor and marginalized.
In order to arrest the trend of unbridled neo-liberalism and mitigate its harmful effect on development of society, a committee of Brazilian organizations conceived of and organized the first World Social Forum (WSF) from 25th -30th January, 2001. Since then, the World Social Forum, which is not an organization but a platform for open meeting place for reflective thinking has been held every year. The WSF has formulated charter of principles, which include opposition to neo-liberalism and world capital; building alternatives with the slogan “another world is possible”; pluralism and diversity; opposition to all authoritarian and reductionist views of the economy and the use of violence as a means of social control by the state; alternatives to the problems of exclusion and social inequality that the process of capitalist globalisation and environmental destruction engenders; creation of links among organizations and movements with a view to increasing their capacity for non-violent social resistance to the process of dehumanization and violence used by the State and linkage of actions from local level to the national level spiraling into the global agenda to build a new world in solidarity.
There is no doubt that the way Nigeria is being governed today is not the best possible approach. It is possible to organize the process of constitution making in Nigeria differently. The organization of political parties and the conduct of election can definitely be organized differently. The type of people that represent Nigerians at all levels of government can be different. The way the economy is organized and the role of the State can be conceptualized differently. The values being promoted today characterized by corruption, greed, opulence, extravagance, collection of dubious doctorate degrees and chieftaincy titles can be changed.
In a bid to actualize the dream that ANOTHER NIGERIA IS POSSIBLE, the Nigeria Social Forum (NSF) conceived with principles of the World Social Forum (WSF) was inaugurated on 29th May, 2004 in Lagos, Nigeria. The Nigeria Social Forum is a platform for open meeting place for reflective thinking and action. At the inaugural meeting, a charter of principles was adopted, which stipulates among other things; opposition to globalised neo-liberalism and domination of the world by capital; building alternatives with the slogan “Another Nigeria is possible”; pluralism and diversity; opposition to all authoritarian and reductionist views of the economy and the use of violence as a means of social control by the state; alternatives to the problems of exclusion and social inequality that the process of capitalist globalisation and environmental destruction engenders; creation of links among organizations and movements with a view to increasing their capacity for non-violent social resistance to the process of dehumanization and violence used by the State and linkage of actions from local level to the national level spiraling into the global agenda to build a new world in solidarity.
Europe or America will not develop Nigeria for Nigerians. Nigerians have to rise up to the challenge of our time, mobilize the necessary intellectual and human resources that will challenge neo-liberalism and develop the country.
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This page was last updated on 10/27/07.