In this era of globalisation, the degree of success of nations depends on stability of its democracy. True democracy is very strategic to the success of nations. It also affects the quality of life of the citizens as well as the number of investors attracted to the economy.
How buoyant the economy of a nation will be depends on its level of adherence to rule of law, freedom of expression, protection of property rights, contractual rights etc. They also make the markets work effectively as well as facilitate market integration.
Nigeria is a beneficiary of dividends of democracy and globalisation, which created socio-economic development. It has also made way for international trade and bilateral relations with other nations.
It is interesting to see on paper that Nigeria has legal systems at par with other developed nations but enforcing these rule of law has been very challenging especially cases with high profile Nigerians who seem to be bigger than the law.
Nigeria has the potential to be one of the most successful economies globally, however, the threat to its democracy makes it very difficult to reach. Nigeria is currently the biggest economy in Africa with GDP of US$443 billion 2020.
The 1999 Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria has been widely criticised as a document hurriedly put together by the military in preparation for hand over to the civilian government at the inception of the Fourth Republic.
Despite attributing several of Nigeria’s challenges to these perceived imbalances and inadequacies of the constitution nothing has been done to restructure it to reflect true federalism.
Recently, Nigerian Council of Registered Insurance Brokers (NCRIB), drew the attention of government to some of these challenges (kidnappings, insecurity, corruption, and marginalization). They all scare away investors. NCRIB described the challenges as overwhelming and a big risk to the growth of the economy.
While we all will agree that true democracy helps to facilitate growth of an economy(attracts foreign investors and multinational enterprise (MNE); Nigerian government seems not to be doing enough to take advantage of these benefits to grow its economy, create more business, job opportunities, improve its infrastructure and the living conditions of the citizens.
True democracy determines how fast an economy can grow and its importance has great multiplier effects and broad multifaceted implications to the development of the nation.
It also helps in determining how strong the economy can be socio-politically, financially, and economically.
Furthermore, its democracy is fundamental in driving FDIs (foreign direct investments) and MNEs. It is also a determinant of potential FDI destination.
Nigeria relies heavily on oil exports as its economic pillar but with the advent of COVID-19, recession, and low oil price in addition to insecurity, difficulty of SMEs (Small and medium Enterprises) business survival makes the situation worse.
Also increase in secessionists groups, lack of freedom of expression, marginalization, kidnapping, insecurity, high unemployment rate, corruption, electoral fraud, terrorist attacks, herder-farmer conflict, armed banditry, police brutality, nepotism, marginalization, lack of patriotism, freedom of speech, online freedom also contributes to the challenges.
It is expedient for government to diversify the economy and make it more attractive as well as closing of all communication gaps with the people to build more confidence and trust will go a long way.
Nigerians have not experienced it this bad since after the 1967-1970 civil war and citizens seems to be running out of patience for government to fulfil their election promises (its Inflation ticked down to 17.8% in June from May’s 17.9%).
Currently, Nigerians are frustrated with the present situation where leadership positions are mostly attained by election fraud, bribery, intimidation, and violence.
Also, it is interesting to note that despite the current political, security and economic challenges enforceability of the rule of law seems has become a big issue because of bribery and corruption.
Those saddle with the responsibility to tackle the challenge have turned blind eye to it and is big concern for foreign investors.
While it is important to understand implications of Selective law enforcement, we must not forget it affects ease of doing business and undoubtedly discourages investors. Government needs to do more in upholding rule of law as well as ensure enforceability.
The way forward to change the narrative is for governments to tailor and restructure its laws to create a more attractive market environment, resuscitate some of its dead SMEs that will attract more investments.
Also, adherence to the rule of law is important for healthy development of the economy as well as having a level playing field for all no matter the ethnic group involved. This will build more confidence in the hearts of the people and help unify Nigerians more.
Government at all levels needs to invest more and leverage on technology to drive greater performance, communicate with its people and deliver the dividends of democracy to its people
They need to urgently nip these challenges in the bud to keep Nigeria united.
It needs to start investing in platforms that can help maximize benefits of globalisation through establishment of legal frameworks that would improve equal, reasonable, and non-discriminatory law enforcement.
Government also needs to overhaul and rejig its current team and hire more experienced, competent, credible, and patriotic hands to drive the needed change they promised (Nigeria’s interest should come first before personal interest)
If Nigeria’s constitution can be restructured in line with the challenges threatening it, Nigeria will be one of the greatest nations on earth (its e-commerce market is estimated at approximately USD$12 billion.
Also very important is the need to restructure National Orientation Agency to be more efficient, as the Nigerian resilient spirit that drives us not to be deterred, discouraged, or give up, seems to be fading away.
Finally, there is urgent need to start massive education and orientation of voters on the importance of their votes, ahead of 2023 elections because it is pivotal to the continuity and sustainability of the nation.
Nigeria must get it right and the votes of the people must be the determinant to our next direction.