HINDERANCES TO THE IMMEDIATE SUCCESS OF PETER OBI’S ADMINISTRATION
There are lots of hopes up for the new administration but as much as we itch for immediate changes upon inception, there are a few stumbling blocks that might delay those changes. The previous article tackled problems that need fixing in order to foster development, however this article tackles other problems that may contest with unraveling the previous ones. Sounds quite depressing right?
It is not speculative to say that most, if not all, of Nigeria’s problems is pecuniary. It is also not chimerical to say that they can be attended to, they are just numerous thereby birthing complexities as to which holds priority over the other. Nonetheless we need to deal with these financial problems with none other than finance itself.
The first problem is the augmenting national debt. As at the end of last year, the national debt stock had escalated to almost 40 trillion naira, as stated by the Debt Management Office. So far it has spiraled up with a few more trillions. It is even more tragic that the nation borrows basically for consumption, there is little to no effective revenue yielding project or production plan in which these loans are underwritten. This is also irrespective of the fact that Nigeria’s total government revenue has never amounted to half of the outstanding debt in the past decade. Also, the revenue generated at the first quarter of the year was about 300 million less than the amount needed for debt servicing. This is a Gordian knot.
Secondly, it will be imprudent to fail to include the outstanding debt owed by the Federal Government to the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU). The Union has been on strike for the greater part of the year and will continue embarking on more if their demands are not met. The legal footing backing these series of strikes is the 2009 FGN/ASUU Agreement (they were strikes prior to 2009). It stated that for funding; all regular Federal Universities shall require the sum of one trillion, five hundred and eighteen billion, three hundred and thirty-one million, five hundred and forty-five thousand, three hundred and four naira (N1,518,331,545,304) only for the period 2009 -2011. Meanwhile, each State University shall require three million, six hundred and eighty thousand and eighteen Naira (N3,680,018) per student for the period 2009 -2011.
However, not only were their demands not met, the allocation to the education sector decreases yearly, notwithstanding the devaluation of the currency. The agreement subsumed the salary structure for academic staff, earned academic allowances, non-salary conditions of service (which included various fringe benefits), pension, National Health Insurance Scheme (NHIS) etc. The failure to meet these demands has led to unpleasant academic sessions faced by both academics and students. There is inadequate funding for academic programs, health care facilities and also the well being of staff who have dedicated their lives to pedagogical service, and mostly, risking alternative sources of income. These staff also have families to feed and do not even have enough for themselves. Also, there are students wasting time at home (not everyone has productive vocational skills), some live in toxic homes and school is their escape, some just need their degree in order to move on to their next step in life. It is unfair to ignore these students and unpaid staff.
Lastly, the omnipresent corruption in the system is a hindrance to an effective administration. If the new administration actually tries to make things work, what happens if the corrupt system of government fights back? Great intentions for the country are not enough when the entire system is rotten. There needs to be plans put in place to make things work amidst the rot.
In conclusion, there is indeed a lot of work to be done for a better Nigeria and gradually we will get there if we work smarter.