Instrumental approach to politics: An evil that created economic imbalances

Nigeria’s problems are myriad and multi-layered, a lot of them often induced by poor decision-making, lack-luster management at the higher political levels and a normative approach to governance.


Godfatherism determines ethical stances of political office holders. Since the early 50s, political parties have played prominent roles in unifying and locally mobilizing the economy elite. Distribution of wealth was based on cooperation with the ruling federal coalition thus retaining their power and position and keeping the masses subordinate. Major parties were backed up by banks that assisted in the transfer of substantial public funds to the party. The elites of the three regions preferred to close ranks to share the fruits of office and to prevent challenges to their positions. Stakeholders’ interest was then defined by those who were instrumental to the ruling parties.

Economic history in the 80s as in 70s was characterized by dependence on petroleum which accounted for 87 percent of export receipts in 1988. Deterioration in the country’s per capital income made World Bank to classify it as one of the poorest nations. Its disastrous history of protracted military rule has virtually destroyed all facets of its national existence. Militarism is a scourge that mere cosmetic reforms cannot eradicate. The oil boom in the 70s provided bigger tax revenue base for the central government to enhance its political and administrative capacity. It did little to achieve that objective but rather it created increase incomes and more jobs for the governing elites to distribute to their loyalists.

Inequality in wealth distribution amongst the pristine capitalists led to substantial discontent and conflict between communities and nationalities in early 1983 and 1985. During this era also, the government focused on the interest of those that they can use. The political office holders did not have their own moral standpoints but rather to protect the interest of those they could use to achieve their selfish interest.

Modern democracy thrives on the idea that the government exist because the society wants her. It is presumed on the concept of government of the people, by the people and for the people. The government exists on the license giving to her by the people and is answerable to the people – a social contract. But democracy is otherwise in Nigeria. In 1999, Nigeria was in search of a democratic Chief Executive officer who will work under a balanced 3-tier board structure – The Executive, Legislative and Judiciary arms. Nigeria and Nigerians wanted a candidate who will have the mandate of the people, transparent, honest, fair and accountable to all stakeholders in Nigeria – the people, animals, environment, international communities and what have you. A leader who will not share the view point that fulfillment of responsibility to people is only desirable because they contribute to his/her personal objective. Former President Olusegun Obasanjo emerged as the CEO of Nigeria.

Primary stakeholders to a political officer holder are his godfather, the party, his family members, loyalists and any other persons instrumental to their assuming and continuing stay in office. After wrecking our economy, they still want to have their relevance at all costs. These costs cost our economy so much: ill economic policies, suboptimal resource allocation, unemployment, insecurity, rural-urban migration, terrorist labeling, increased poverty, environmental degradation, e.t.c. They create political instability to destabilize economy activities. Their loyalists ride the best of cars in town, own the biggest companies in the country and live on the hill top. These companies are their special purpose vehicles for money laundering. Wealth imbalances were created by these political scavengers ravaging the commonwealth of all Nigerians. They leave office without being accountable to the citizenry who voted them in. Widening the gap between the rich and the poor creates social and economic discrepancies. Legitimate and involuntary stakeholders become second citizens in their own country. The country of over 150million people is being governed by less than 5000 people who only work for their selfish interest. Privatization and indigenization was thought to be the solution to economy liberalization. Rather than privatizing government entities, the country (through political offices) was privatized. They move from local government chairmen, to governors and now they want the President seat in Aso rock. Have we forgotten the cabal that existed in our own modern demo crazy during the Yar’Adua administration? If the political permutation is not a monopoly, the combination will be a cartel. At the state level, we can all see the monopoly in Kwara state and other states. The Northern caucuses are moving towards a cartel. The best candidate will emerge on how instrumental he is to the Northern caucus. The zoning arrangement within the PDP was born out of instrumental approach to politics. Nobody has the national interest in mind again. It is now the game of egoism!

The deep green would be correct to say that nobody has a right to the use of resources if you cannot sustain it. Most companies that are instrumental to the achievement of a ruling government’s selfish interest only see the light of the day. Companies actions are justified only if those charged with governance are political instruments. Nigeria’s Delta region, home of the large oil industry, experiences serious oil spills and other environmental problems without serious and sincere intervention in the public interest. Nigeria government made spillionaires out of the oil and gas companies. The advent of today’s social unrest in the Niger Delta is the instrumental approach to government. Erosion is eroding properties and lives of legitimate citizens of The Federal Republic of Nigeria due to the ways businesses are conducted. Businesses lack environmental awareness. Businesses have social and environmental footprint and are responsible for minimizing their impact on the society. They serve the interest of ‘capital’ and not the society and environment. They soon borrowed a leave from instrumental politics. Remuneration packages are based on how instrumental you are to the organization and on good-boy, nice-girl orientation. This further lengthens the gap between the rich and the poor creating economic imbalances. Everyone wants to level up through frauds and other corrupt practices.

Nigeria at 50 was hotter than fire! Political instrumentalism was the order of the 50th anniversary with the twin bomb in Abuja. Bomb scare is everywhere on the street of Abuja either as a rumour or as an alarm for proper security checks. State political stakeholders are watching! Nigerians are not terrorists! The injured innocents from the bomb blast are the ‘grasses’ that suffer when ‘two elephants’ fight. The defensive strategy to resolving the ethical and political conflicts (not insecurity) in the country may not be a good instrument. In the first place, if the Federal Government was proactive in security issues, the bomb blast wouldn’t have occurred. As the government of the day, with high moral values, one would have expected that the Federal government should accept her blame and make a public apology to the affected families, and to the nation as whole and as well react to the situation appropriately not minding the consequences. By so doing, the government of the day will still continue to have the societal license to rule and will be considered to be operating at the highest level of moral cognitive.

I wish to commend the retired Generals showing interest in the well-being of Nigerians. They understood that kidnapping and other instruments of insecurity threaten lives and properties of Nigerians and also create economic imbalances hence, the need for security of lives and property to top their manifestos. But let me put it to the retired Generals fighting for Aso Rock seat and/or instrumental to the mak
ing of the next CEO for Nigeria, who know the in and out of national security in Nigeria, were there no intelligent reports of the bombing reaching you before October 1st ? Or maybe security does not matter until you have the societal license to rule? Nigerians believe you’re patriotic. We want to vote you in if you can pledge your security to us now. Give us a guarantee now that collectively with the Presidency we can conquer this barbaric act and allow Nigerians to choose their leaders. If we don’t resolve this security issues now, Nigerians may be made to believe that any candidate emerging from PDP presidential primary is a ‘maximin’ (the best of the worst).

Companies should begin to recognize that they can change the society by using their position power. Let’s empower and encourage our citizens to follow passion. Let not the place of work matters, let the work does! By so doing, once you have a work, you have access to a good life as a citizen – good cars, nice house and what have you without having to work for Chevron or a bank. What initially went wrong (and still going wrong) is leadership style in Nigeria.  Nigerians as individuals should influence companies and elected leaders to public offices. They are accountable to us all and not just to a sectional group. Let us probe into all matters creating economic imbalances.

To all Nigerians and other stakeholders, ethical practices and making our vote count will redistribute wealth to the populace. Let’s say no to all instrumental politicking. All organized group should come out to say no to any act of insecurity. I put it to Save Nigeria Group specially, if you’re a true instrument of change and that national interest is paramount to the group, opportunity has presented itself for you to act again. Nigerians in diasporas, it is time to come back home for your right. Nigeria needs your pledge again. Just as Bob Marley sang let us emancipate ourselves from mental slavery, none but ourselves can free our minds. Let’s have no fear for atomic energy because none of them can stop the time. How long shall they kill our prophets, while we stand aside and look? The time for revolutionary change has come for Nigeria. I see a nation governed by the people and transparency, accountable to the people for its stewardship and serving the national interest at the highest level of moral cognitive. I see a new Nigeria free from social unrest and insincere leaders; a new nation where people from all races- black or white, nationalized themselves either through birth or adoption!  Nigeria is in search of a new CEO governed by high moral values, fairness, equity, accountability, transparency and independence. A President who will say if I die, I die!


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