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NATIONAL TRANSFORMATION AGENDA (TA): MYTH OR REALITY1 By Femi Aborisade Labour Consultant and Attorney-At-Law aborisadefemi@gmail.

com INTRODUCTION I want to thank the Dean of the School of Applied Science of the Federal Polytechnic, Ilaro, Mr. O. A. Oduwobi and the Organising Committee of this National Conference for the opportunity given me to deliver a Keynote Address. In the course of inviting me to this Conference, Mr. Oduwobi has created in me an indelible positive impression, which I feel compelled to publicly acknowledge. He gave an undertaking to visit me one-on-one. The appointed day was fixed for 29 March 2013 between 11am and 12noon. He fulfilled his promise. He arrived a minute to 12noon! Such level of commitment, focused devotion and dedication to defined objectives is required from national leaders if the goal of societal transformation is ever to be achieved. Structure of the paper This paper is structured as follows: 1. Definition of key concept transformation 2. Dissecting the Transformation Agenda a. The roots of the Transformation agenda b. The perception of what is wrong with previous development plans of successive Nigerian governments: c. lack of continuity, consistency and commitment (3Cs) to agreed policies, programmes and projects d. lack of adequate funding e. recurrent expenditure crowding out capital expenditure f. the nature of jobs needed to be created g. The focus and measurability of declared objectives 3. What is to be done? DEFINITION OF KEY CONCEPT: TRANSFORMATION The concept of transformation means a break with the past with a sense of finality and totality. It suggests system change - the bringing about of fundamental changes in the working of a social unit, which may be a company, a school, a country, local government council, and so on. The word transformation means a total overhauling of the system as opposed to making marginal improvements to the working of the system. It implies not only a completely new way of doing things but also a re-organisation of society on a new basis, paradigm, policy, programme, perspective and philosophical world outlook. In order to appreciate the essence of the concept of transformation, it should be contrasted to reform. A programme of reform is concerned with bringing about gradual changes within aspects of the existing system in order to promote improvements in limited areas. While transformation denotes radical changes, a complete overhauling of the system or system change for short, reform may either be progressive or retrogressive. A progressive reform tends to
1 Being Keynote address delivered at the 2nd National Conference of School of Applied Science of the Federal Polytechnic, Ilaro,
Ogun State on 7 May 2013.


promote limited positive changes while a retrogressive reform tends to resist changes or cause negative reversal of changes already in place. Within the context of Nigeria, a programme that places full responsibility for health care and education of all Nigerians (rich or poor) completely on the shoulders of government is an example of a transformative agenda. A programme that aims at subsidizing cost of health care and school fees by fifty percent would be an example of a progressive reform. A policy that promotes divesting government of ownership of Public Enterprises and vesting their ownership in private individuals or private companies is an example of a retrogressive or reactionary reform. DISSECTING THE TRANSFORMATION AGENDA (TA) I consider it pertinent to first X-ray the Transformation agenda in order to take an informed position on whether or not it is a myth or reality. An X-tray of the Transformation agenda will be undertaken from the following points of view: The roots of the Transformation agenda The perception of what is wrong with previous development plans of successive Nigerian governments: o lack of continuity, consistency and commitment (3Cs) to agreed policies, programmes and projects o lack of adequate funding o recurrent expenditure crowding out capital expenditure o the nature of jobs needed to be cretaed The measurability of declared objectives Permit me to say that for this paper, I rely on the publication of the National Planning Commission entitled Transformation agenda 2011-2015: summary of Federal Governments key priority, polices, programmes and projects2. THE ROOTS OF THE TRANSFORMATION AGENDA (TA) The introductory part to the Transformation Agenda (TA) publicly declares that the agenda: is based and draws its inspiration from the NV 20:2020 (page 6). Tentatively, we may pose and answer the question: if a transformative agenda means breaking with the past, is the Transformation Agenda, which is based on and draws its inspiration from a past programme, a myth or reality? It is submitted that on the ground of being based on a past agenda, which has never being acknowledged to be a success, the Transformation Agenda is a myth. Since the Transformation Agenda is rooted in Vision 20: 2020, it is imperative to understand the kernel of this Vision. What is Vision 20:2020? The key goal of Vision 20:2020 was to catapult Nigeria into the league of the first global 20 economies by the year 2020 hence the name Vision 20:2020 The idea of Nigerias Vision 2020 has been traced to a research conducted by some American economists who predicted that based on the abundance of human and material resources, Nigeria could be in the league of 20 top economies by year 2025, provided the resources are properly managed and channeled
2 Available online at


towards attainment of defined economic goals 3. Central to the Vision is the target of reducing extreme poverty, along the line of NEPAD and Millennium Development Goals, MDGs. Under Vision 20:2020, the State is to be, on the one hand: the enabler (helping the private sector to grow); the facilitator (putting in place policy measures to attract private sector investment) the regulator (putting in place laws, rules and regulations and ensuring private sector compliance) On the other hand, the private sector is to be: the executor (carrying out economic activities) the direct investor (committing capital to economic activities) manager of businesses In short, under Vision 20:2020, the private sector is to be the engine of economic growth. In other words, Vision 20:2020 (and by implication, the Transformation agenda) is a programme based on the government shifting responsibility for the attainment of social and economic goals worked out by public organs/officers on an unelected private sector. Thus, the Transformation Agenda also stipulates that: The role of government should be limited to creating the enabling environment aimed at facilitating sustainable growth and development in the country (page 20). As an evidence of its private-sector orientation , the Transformation Agenda (TA) has the following policy thrusts: On the Power sector: Creating a deregulated and competitive electric power sector to attract foreign and local investments (p, 16). On Oil and Gas sub sector, the TA states it is committed to: Promotion of private sector investment in both upstream and downstream activities of the oil and gas industry (Section 5.1.3, p. 14). Deregulation of the industry, (Section 5.1.3, p, 14). The implication of the above pro-private sector declaration in the Agenda is a continued commitment to the neoliberal privatization agenda whereas what is required is to reverse the trend. I contend that government officials were not elected or appointed to pass responsibility for public good to the unelected private sector. The primary purpose of government (so declared imperatively and mandatorily by the Constitution) shall be the welfare and security of the people4. Government lacks the right, under the Constitution, to shift responsibility to the private sector. Any Agenda that avoids constitutionally backed responsibility is not only
3 See Eneh, O. C. 2011. Nigerias Vision 20:2020 Issues, challenges and implications for Development Managment. Asian
Journal of Rural Development, 1:21-40.

4 S. 14 (2) (b), Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, 1999, as amended.


unconstitutional, it is equally immoral. Any Government that authors such an unconstitutional Agenda becomes illegitimate. For the avoidance of any doubt, Nigerias Constitution opposes privatization. In order to ensure that the State has the capacity to fund socio-economic rights that require budgetary provision to execute, S. 16 of the Constitution provides essentially for state ownership and control of the major sectors of the economy. That the state shall:

manage and operate the major sectors of the economy, without prejudice to equally operating or participating in other sectors of the economy (S. 16(1)(c) protect the right of every citizen to engage in any economic activities outside the major sectors of the economy, even though any person may still participate in the major sectors of the economy (S. 16(1)(d); not operate the economic system in such a manner as to permit the concentration of wealth or the means of production and exchange in the hands of few individuals or of a group (S. 16(2)(c); ensure that the material resources of the nation are harnessed and distributed as best as possible to serve the common good; (S. 16(2)(b); (b) control the national economy in such manner as to secure the maximum welfare, freedom and happiness of every citizen on the basis of social justice and equality of status and opportunity (S. 16(1)(b). In the spirit of ensuring availability of resources to meet socio-economic needs, Chapter II, in Section 15(5) mandates the state to fight corruption: The State shall abolish all corrupt practices and abuse of power. THE PERCEPTION OF WHAT IS WRONG WITH PREVIOUS DEVELOPMENT PLANS OF SUCCESSIVE NIGERIAN GOVERNMENTS The conceptualization of what is wrong with past development efforts by successive governments in Nigeria in the Transformation Agenda appears faulty and simplistic. A problem identified is a problem half solved, they often say. But when a problem is not appropriately identified and defined, finding appropriate solution may become a tall order. The Introductory part of the Agenda posits that: Nigerias development efforts have over the years been characterized by lack of continuity, consistency and commitment (3Cs) to agreed policies, programmes and projects While lack of continuity, consistency and commitment may be a problem, it does not tell the whole story. Such a conceptualization is a reflection of a weak appreciation of the issues at stake. I contend that unless both the cause and effect of mercantilist policy which governs the economic sub system of Nigerias social structure are adequately appreciated, the striving for a way out of economic doldrums will continue to be a mirage. Mercantilism has implications on declining terms of trade, rising debt stock, increasing interest rates, and so on. What is Mercantilism5

5 and


Mercantilism is a system of political economy, which aims at restraining imports and promoting exports so as to achieve a favourable balance of trade (in international trade) and generate employment in the domestic economy. This system dominated Western European economic thought, policies and practices between the 16th and 18th centuries. While the policy worked in the interest of the colonising countries, it undermined the productive capacities of the colonised countries. Colonies were discouraged from production of manufactured goods. They were to engage in primary production of cash crops and mineral extraction for export and depend on importation of manufactured goods . That was the division of labour at the level of international trade. From the standpoint of developing countries, mercantilism is an economic structure that perpetrates unequal terms of trade, as costly manufactured goods are to be exchanged for cheap primary raw materials. Mercantilism is thus a protectionist economic system, which protects the economies of the industrial countries against those of the developing economies by a combination of economic, financial, legislative and political pressures. Though there is the tendency to transfer capital to the economy that offers the most conducive atmosphere for profitable investment today, the mercantilist economic system still largely characterises economic and trade relationships between the industrial countries and the economies of the former colonial countries. Though the phenomenon of Nigeria producing crude oil and depending on importation of petroleum products is largely a product of the corruption and failure of the internal ruling class, the reality of that economic relationship is a typical example of the way mercantilism works. UNEQUAL AND DECLINING TERMS OF TRADE The economic relationship between developing and industrial countries is characterised by unequal terms of trade, which continue to worsen. The UNCTAD6 has noted that: There has been a long-term downward trend in real nonfuel commodity prices since 1960 ... The commodity prices recession of the 1980s was more severe, and considerably more prolonged, than that of the Great Depression of the 1930s . Findings by Christian Aid7 have also confirmed the assertion by UNCTAD: the prices Third World countries receive for many of their traditional exports, from coffee and cocoa to rice, sugar, and cotton, continue to decline. The relative value of their exports has declined even morefor example, in 1975 a new tractor cost the equivalent of 8 metric tons of African coffee, but by 1990 the same tractor cost 40 metric tons. Even World Bank8 has confirmed the trend of falling commodity prices: Between 1980 and 1986 the real prices of primary commodities fell sharply. 6 UNCTAD (2002) Least Developed Countries Report 2002: Escaping the Poverty Trap, New York and Geneva: United Nations,
p. 138. (18 November 2009) (cited in Povey, 2012, p. 4).

7 Christian Aid (2003) The Trading Game: How Trade Work, Oxford: Oxfam, p. 22. (cited in Povey, 2012). 8 World Bank (1988) World Development Report 1988: Public Finance in Development, Oxford: Oxford University Press, p. 24.


The effect of the declining terms of trade could be better appreciated when we consider the findings by the United Nations Food and Agricultural Organisation, FAO 9. This body estimated that if commodity prices had maintained the same real value as in 1980, the Global South would be earning an additional $112bn in annual export revenues, which was double the then level of their aid receipts. Causes of worsening terms of trade But the worsening terms of trade did not just arise naturally; the causes are due, more to consciously determined policies and conditions, than chance occurrence. The causes could be explained as follows: The economy of a typical African economy is more susceptible to the vagaries of world price changes and other external shocks than more diversified economies10. the World Banks encouragement of all primary commodity producers to pay off their debts by increasing their exports11 From the publication of the World Bank,12 the following factors can also be identified: Slower growth in industrial countries and corresponding depressed demand. shifts in technology in the industrial countries aimed at reducing reliance on, and demand for industrial raw materials. Growing subsidies and trade protectionist policies in the industrial countries, as provided, for example, by the EC's Common Agricultural Policy. Past investment in infrastructure and new techniques, and subsequent output expansion in developing countries in response to the high prices of the early 1970s. Domestic policies adopted by developing countries in response to directions dictated by the core industrial countries. EFFECTS OF UNEQUAL TERMS OF TRADE Rising Debt Stock Nigerias external debt profile has again been on a gradual rise. Before the exit from the Paris Club debt as at end of December 2004, the external debt stock was about $35.94bn. After the uneconomic and slavish payment of over $12bn in 2005/2006, the external debt stock dropped to $3.54bn. As at April 2012, it had risen to $5.9bn while the total debt stock, external and internal amounted to $44bn13. Though the current debt stock is about 20 per cent of GDP and is generally not considered a problem, because the general recommendation is that debt stock should be less than 60 per cent of GDP. However, it is important to note that the debt stock is rising gradually again and may sooner than later reach disturbing proportions. It should also be appreciated that much of the existing and new loans being incurred are from multilateral sources the World Bank, African Development Bank, International Fund for Agricultural Development, and so on. Though these are termed soft loans with certain concessional terms, including no interest
9 FAO (2005) The State of Agricultural Commodity Markets 2004, Rome: UN Food and Agricultural Organisation.

10 T. Mkandawire & C. C. Soludo (eds.). (1999). Our Continent, Our Future: African perspectives on structural adjustment,

11 M. B. Brown (1995). Africas Choices: after thirty years of the World Bank, London: Penguin Books, p. 79. 12 World Bank (1988) World Development Report 1988: Public Finance in Development, Oxford: Oxford University Press, p.

13 (retrieved on 14/10/12).


charges, repayment grace period of 10 years and long repayment of between 20 and 40 years, they carry a service charge of 0.75% per annum. The critical implication of this nature of loan is that the future of the coming generation is being mortgaged and enslaved. The debts are being incurred, stolen and enjoyed by the current ruling class but the burden of repayment is to be borne by future generations. Increasing interest rates The reasons for the rising debt stock include: Unequal terms of trade. Rising interest rates. Imposition of penalties for failure to repay loans on time . On a continental basis, UNCTAD14 calculated that between 1970 and 2002 sub-Saharan Africa received $294 billion in loans, paid back $268 billion in debt service, but was still left with debts of some $210 billion. In the case of Nigeria, the original value of Nigerias external debt in 1985 was $18bn. This increased to $35.9bn as at December 2004. But the cumulative debt service payment during the same period was $36.6bn15. THE PROBLEM OF INADEQUATE FUNDING The Transformation Agenda identifies seven sectors of the economy as the main growth drivers 16 and that the sectors are characterized, among others, by inadequate funding (p. 14). The Agenda thus declares that: A total investment size of N40.75 trillion in nominal terms is projected for the programme period. The public sector will account for N24.45 trillion or 60 per cent, while the remaining N16.30 trillion or 40 per cent is expected to be invested by the private sector. Overall, public sector investment plan is made up of N12.86 trillion for Federal Government and N11.59 trillion for States and Local Governments respectively (p. 8). Three important issues are of concern with the above perception of inadequate funding and funding plan for the agenda: First, the problem with public projects or development plans in Nigeria is not so much about inadequate funding but corruption. It is either budgeted funds are never released for the purpose for which they were meant or that if released, they are diverted into private accounts. Where budgeted funds are not released, new budgets are made without any reference to the previous unspent funds. We may use the controversies surrounding the 2012 budget implementation as an example. This controversy has been succinctly captured in a write up by Nasir El Rufai 17, as follows: Implementation in 2012 was shrouded in controversy; by the third quarter of the year, the finance ministry pegged implementation at 56% but when new facts emerged, the ministry reverted the figures to about 12.6%. The House of Representatives came up with a different
14 UNCTAD (2004), ibid. 15 O. A. Ogunlana (A deputy director of the Central Bank of Nigeria, CBN) (retrieved on

16 They are agriculture, water resources, solid minerals, manufacturing, oil and gas, trade and commerce as well as culture and
tourism (p. 14).

(Published March 24, 2013 and retrieved on 6 May 2013).


figure entirely and issued a threat to have the President impeached if by September the same year the budget was not implemented 100%. The budget was not implemented 100% and neither was the president impeached. Interestingly, the implementation for the four quarters of 2012 fell below the projected estimates. It is disturbing that the issue of corruption is not a concern in the Transformation Agenda. Is such an Agenda a myth or reality? Second, the Transformation Agenda is an Agenda of the Federal Government. There is no evidence that it was collectively drawn up democratically or with the participation of the private sector, the State and Local Government Councils. Yet, the Agenda has estimated how much of its cost will be contributed by the State and Local Governments (N11.59 trillion) and the private sector (N16.30 trillion or 40 per cent). The question again is: Is an Agenda drawn up exclusively by the Federal Government but which allocates roles to others without consultation a myth or reality? THE ISSUE OF RECURRENT EXPENDITURE CROWDING OUT CAPITAL EXPENDITURE The Agenda expresses concern over recurrent expenditure crowding out capital expenditure, as follows: 2.3 Public Expenditure Management The sub-optimality of the expenditure profile of the Federal Government of Nigeria (FGN) has been a major area of concern. Since 1999, recurrent spending has consistently crowded out capital expenditure, exacerbating the already abysmal state of infrastructure. Recurrent expenditure has fluctuated between 47.5% in 1999 to 80.29% in 2003, while capital expenditure accounted for only 19.71% of total government expenditure. It has since increased continually to a high of 38.37% of total expenditure in 2009. It has grown much worse in 2011 with government borrowing to finance recurrent expenditures. (p. 9) The above conceptualization of the problem is nothing but an excuse to sack workers. From this point of view, the Agenda should be seen as anti-worker or anti-poor. It was on the basis of this anti-poor people reasoning that the CBN Governor, towards the end of last year called for massive retrenchment of as much as 50% in the Federal public service. Reducing the workforce is not a solution to the crisis of the economy for the following reasons. First, those who work deserve their pay, as a legitimate right. Payment of salaries is not a gratuitous gift; it is consideration for services rendered. Second, there is a relationship between the state of the economy and the number of persons employed. When workers are sacked, the capacity to buy goods and services dwindles. Thus, in some other industrial economies, in the face of the financial crises, various governments tend to find a way to put money in the hands of the people and cushion the effects of the crisis. Third, as the NLC reasoned, if workers are sacked, the money saved in the process is likely to be stolen. Fourth, the stolen wealth should be recovered and invested to establish public enterprises in order to enhance the capacity of the state to employ more hands. 8|Page

Fifth, if the wage bill must be reduced for any reason, it is the salaries and allowances of elected officers that should be cut. For example, as pointed out by the radical, pro-people Pastor Tunde Bakare, the average cost of maintaining a national legislator in Nigeria(based on the 2012 national Budget) is N320million or $2.1million per year or about N27million per month, in a country in which the official (as opposed to the actual) minimum wage is just N18,000 per month or N216,000 per year, a ratio of 1: 1,500. The calculation of the average cost of maintaining a national legislator is presented below: Number of Senators = 109 Number of Members of the House of Representatives = 360 Total Number of Legislators = 469 2012 Budget Proposal for the National Assembly = N150 billion Average Cost of Maintaining Each Member = N320 million Average Cost of Maintaining Each Member in USD = $2.1 million/year Indeed, on the basis of international comparison, the Nigerian Senator earns about seven (7) times what the US President earns. Whereas the US President earns $400,000 per year, or N60million, inclusive of all allowances, the Nigerian Senator earns N163million or $1.10million per year, at the exchange rate of $1:N150. The average salary of the Nigerian Senator per year is about N11million while the allowances amount to N152million 18. Indeed, the cost of a Senators car (Toyota Land Cruiser Jeep)19 is $100,724 or about N16million (The Nation, online version, 12 February 2012), in a country where minimum wage is N18,000 per month or N216,000 per year! Sixth, it has also been argued that the proportion of the population in public service is too limited, and that in reality, governments ought to employ more. Prof Funmi Adewumi 20 has asserted that by governments own admission, as at early 2006, the total employment figure in the entire public service of Nigeria from the Federal to local government levels was 2,267,492. With a population of about 140million as at then, this translates to only 1.61% of the populace. He wonders why anybody would argue that it is too much for a government to directly employ less than 2% of its total population. Also, according to Adewumi21, by governments own account, those in the cadres of permanent secretary and the directorate during the same period each earned on the average, US$1,000 and US$ 700 per month respectively and constituted less than 2% of all employees. The bulk of the employees outside the directorate cadre as at 2005 numbered 178,445 Those at the level of confidential secretary are credited with a pay packet of US$400 per month (Adegoroye, 2006) while those at the lowest level earn less than US$100 each per month. We can then put the average earning of the civil servant at about US$ 250
18 Pre 2012 Budget figures 19 For 2012 Financial Year

20 F. Adewumi (2012) Welcome Address at the Formal Opening of the Conference on 100 Years of Trade Unionism in Nigeria:
Retrospect and Prospects, Organised by the Working Class and Trade Union Studies Association of Nigeria(WCTUSAN) at the Conference Centre, University of Ibadan, Ibadan, Nigeria, 5-7, December 2012.

21 F. Adewumi (2012), id. 9|Page

THE NATURE OF JOBS NEEDED TO BE CREATED The Transformation Agenda (TA) correctly identifies the enormity of the problem of unemployment. It states that: The Nigerian economy is experiencing growth without employment as the rate of growth of the labour force exceeds the employment opportunities that are being created. The unemployed population is at present, dominated by the youth who are mostly school leavers with senior secondary school qualifications and graduates of tertiary institutions. The composite employment data showed that the rate of unemployment surged from 11.9% in 2006 to 14.6% in 2007 and 21.1% by January 2010 (S. 2.2, p. 8) Also, in another context, the Agenda describes the problem of unemployment as follows: During the period 2004 2010, the country experienced sustained high growth rates, but without commensurate rises in employment. The structure of employment remained basically the same during the period with agricultural self-employment continued to dominate the countrys labour market. The most noteworthy employment development was the expansion of jobs in the communication sector as a direct consequence of the deregulation of the sector (S. 4.3, p. 12). Unfortunately, the measures designed to tackle the plague of unemployment fall short of the monstrous dimension, which unemployment and the accompanying pervasive insecurity and dare devil criminality have attained. The government appears contented with creating jobs, which involve re-charge card selling, job creation by gambling in the name of You Win, graduate street cleaners, graduate road traffic officers, vocational training of a few hands, and so on. What the disturbing degree of unemployment requires today is direct investment by the State and preparedness to fight corruption, head-on The measures articulated or disarticulated in the Transformation Agenda does not show government is committed to positive reform not to talk of commitment to a transformation agenda, which is radical in nature. Let us have a glimpse of the inadequate measures contained in the Transformation Agenda: Accordingly, the following policy measures will be pursued during the programme period to reinvigorate various sectors of the economy and enhance their employment generating potentials: Implementing a youth employment safety net support program that includes conditional cash transfer and vocational training Development of Industrial Clusters Reviewing of university curricula to align with industry job requirements and promotion of apprenticeship/work experience programmes and joint ventures Enforcement of mandatory sub-contracting and partnering with locals by foreign construction companies. Implementation of mandatory skills transfer to Nigerians by foreign construction companies (pp. 8 -9) 10 | P a g e

Under the subsection entitled Priority Policies and Projects for Labour and Productivity the Transformation Agenda also stated that: The key policies to be implemented during the period are as follows: Implementation of the National Action Plan on Employment Creation (NAPEC) targeted at creating 5 million new jobs annually within the next 3 years. Establishment of more Skills Acquisition Centres; Implementation of Local Content Policy in all the Sectors especially in the Oil and Gas Industry in order to boost Job creation in the country (p. 12)

THE FOCUS AND MEASURABILITY OF DECLARED OBJECTIVES There are two concerns here: The focus of the declared objectives does not address welfare issues , which are of interest to the generality of poor people who are in the majority. Much of the declared objectives are not stated in measurable terms. Examples of such objectives include: Judiciary: The policy thrusts of the Justice and Judiciary sector are (i) achieving greater independence for the judiciary in terms of funding (p. 10). Foreign Policy In order for Nigerias foreign policy goals to be achieved it is imperative that Nigerian missions are properly focused and well-funded (p. 11). Legislature The thrust of policy during the period will be to facilitate the creation of a dynamic, constitutionally effective and public responsive legislature that is proactive in its legislature duties and independent but aware of its constitutional partnership with the executive and judicial arms of government... (p. 11). Manufacturing Promotion of private sector investments through the creation of an enabling environment that allows for substantial improvement in efficiency, productivity and profitability (Section 5.1.2, p. 14), Agriculture and Food Security Secure food and feed needs of the nation Enhance generation of National and Social wealth through greater export and import substitution (section 5.1.1, p. 14). Information and Communication Technology 11 | P a g e

The development of a national knowledge Based Economy (KBE) 10-year Strategic Plan, Sustained human capacity development in ICT (p, 16). Given the broad and un-measurable terms in which those objectives are stated, can we really say they serve any useful purpose? Are they not just meaningless rhetoric? WHAT IS TO BE DONE? What must be done must be predicated upon a proper appreciation of the dimensions of the realities that we are confronted with. Nigeria is a paradox a rich country with majority of the citizenry living in poverty. According to the IMF, over $700bn had been realized as oil revenue since 1960. Eighty per cent (80%) of this sum accrues to only 1% of the population 22. In spite of its oil wealth, Nigeria is now reckoned to be one of the 25 poorest countries in the world. According to the Coordinating Minister for the Economy and Finance Minister, Dr. Ngozi Okonjo Iwealla, more than 1.8 million job seekers join the army of the unemployed every year. About one billion people are estimated to be living under poverty line world-wide. One third, that is, about 300 million, live in Africa. Nigeria alone is host to about half of the poor people in Africa, going by the figures of the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS) on proportion living in relative poverty as at 2011. From 18 million Nigerians who were living in a state of long-term deprivation of well-being, a situation considered inadequate for decent living in 1980, the figure rose to 120m by 2011. The NBS23 found that poverty levels have been rising by the year, for all types of measurement of poverty, whether based on relative poverty, absolute poverty, subjective poverty or Dollar-perday24, even though the percentage for each type of measurement varies slightly. Indeed, according to the African Peer Review Committee (2008), Nigeria hosts 6% of the core chronically poor in the world. There is no indication of improvement in all available indices. In fact, the more development plans and programmes that are adopted, the greater the people are thrown into deeper poverty. The Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) was adopted in 2000. The time frame for the achievement of the set targets is 2015. Year 2008 therefore marked the midpoint between 2000 and 2015. The Mid-point Assessment Report (2008) showed that the targets set have not been achieved. Under the MDGs, the proportion of the population living in relative poverty was expected to have fallen to 28.78 percent in 2007, if the MDG target is to be met in 2015. But that target was missed. Infant mortality, rather than declining, actually rose from 81 per 1000 live

22 (Cited in Watts, 2009) 23NBS (2012). The Nigeria Poverty Profile 2010 Report. Press Briefing by the Statistician-General of the Federation, Chief
Executive Officer of the National Bureau of Statistics, Dr. Yemi Kale, at the Conference Room, 5 th Floor, NBS headquarters, Central Business District, Abuja, on Monday, 13 February 2012 (Available online at as at 16 May 2012.

24 NBS defines Absolute Poverty as the minimal requirements necessary to afford minimal standards of food, clothing,
healthcare and shelter. Subjective Poverty refers to the proportion of the population who consider themselves to be poor based on self-assessment and sentiments. Dollar-per-day refers to the World Banks Purchasing Power Parity (PPP) index, which defines poverty as the proportion of those living on less than US$1 per day poverty line. According to the NBS, the current dollar rate is US$1.5.

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births in the year 2000 to 110 per 1000 live births in 2005/6, which is farther away from the global target of 30 per 1000 live births in 201525. The Mid-point Assessment Report (2008) on the MDGs also revealed that primary six completion rate actually declined from 8 pupils out of 10 in 20004 to 7 in 2007. The finding by the Report has been corroborated by the Central Bank Governor, Malam Sanusi Lamido Sanusi, at a recent symposium. The CBN Chief Executive disclosed that out of a hundred girls in Northern Nigeria, less than eight complete secondary school. Indeed, 70.8 per cent of girls in the North West between 20 and 29 years of age cannot read and write, compared with 9% (nine percent) in the South West. In Jigawa State, according to the CBN Governor, the girls' completion rate is as low as 7.5 per cent. The CBN Chief Executive wondered how the country could develop when 93 per cent of the girls in the most populous region in the country do not complete secondary school education26. But Nigeria has the resources to abolish poverty. The problem is that economic decisions that are taken enrich a few while impoverishing the majority. For example, Aliko Dangote is richer than the richest person in Britain. The way out lies in appreciating the challenge thrown by the late Prof Claude Ake. Ake 27 argues that somebody has to determine that development is desirable, that a particular kind of development should be pursued and in a particular kind of manner. This demonstrates that desirability of development, the kind of development and the manner of attainment are neither accidental nor objectively determined. Ake argues that the state is a specific mode of capitalist domination and represents contradictory interests and forces. It is impacted by the nature and effectiveness of capitalist hegemony and by the capacity of the dominated and oppressed classes to deploy effective counter-forces in reaction to their domination. These go a long way towards influencing the possibility of development. The degree of effectiveness of resistance by the dominated tends to determine the extent to which the state uses scarce resources for developmental programs or for building the arsenal of terror required by a militarized state. The sum total of Claude Akes challenge is that citizens should not look up to their governments for solution. They should look up to the amount of pressure they can bring to bear on their governments to effect positive changes. No government in the world does anything willingly in the interest of the marginalized without pressure from below or without the threat of pressure from below. To this extent, I call on you as academics, to join forces with the labour movement in calling for implementation of the socio-economic rights contained in Chapter II (sections 13 -24) of the Constitution. The right to education, health care, housing, full employment, jobs or unemployment allowance, decent work and decent wage, the care of the aged, the care of

26 See THE NATION, Friday, April 12, 2013, cited in F. Falanas Development: how it begins with you. Paper Delivered By
Femi Falana, SAN at the 2013 Annual Lecture held at Jogor Centre, Ibadan, Oyo State on Monday, April 15, 2013

27 (C. Ake, (1989). Africa and the Political Economy Approach in Ihonvbere, J (ed.). The Political Economy of Crisis and
Underdevelopment in Africa, Selected Works of Claude Ake. Lagos: JAD Publishers, p. 43)

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retirees, the care of the disabled, minimum living income for all, regardless of employment status, the right to water, electricity, and so on. Chapter II of the Constitution is enforceable under the following provisions: 1. S. 6(6)(c), CFRN, 1999 2. S. 1(1), CFRN, 1999. 3. Section 13, CFRN, 1999. 4. section 224, CFRN, 1999, and 5. Item 60(a) of the Exclusive Legislative List. It should be realized that what makes a difference in the general quality of life of poor people in different countries is not the government but the level of alertness of the have-nots to organize and fight in defense of their interests. That is the lesson I call on you to draw from the Appendix below. While thanking you for your attention, I wish you a successful conference. Femi Aborisade 6 May 2013 Comparison of Nigeria, South Africa and USA on empirical development indices Factors Nigeria South Africa U.S.A Human Development Index 51 68 96 Life Expectancy 48 52 79 GDP per Capita 474 3,616 37,225 Irrigated land (000 ha) 293 1,498 22,906 Fertilizer consumption 88,334 637,110 29,175,701 Net agric trade -2,148 -224 18,029 Electric consumption (kWh per 121 @ 2009 4,532 @ 2009 12,914 @ 2009 capita) Proportion Undernourished 9 <5 <5 Share of food in agric imports 87.9 67.4 60.9 Mortality Rate 189 59 8 Lending interest rate (%) @ 2011 16.0 9.0 3.3 Poverty level at $1.25 a day 33.7% @ 2010 2.3% @ 2009 N.A. Sources: FAOSTAT, Various issues28 The Table above indicates that Nigeria recorded the lowest on Human Development Index, Life Expectancy, GDP per capita, Irrigated Land, Fertilizer Consumption, Net Agric Trade, Electricity Consumption; and the highest in Proportion Undernourished, Share of food in agric import, Mortality Rate, Lending Interest Rate and Poverty Level.

28 Cited in Prof T. Alimis Chairmans Opening Speech delivered at a workshop on participatory governance held on 24 April
2013 at Iwo, Osun State.

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