• Friday, July 19, 2024
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BusinessDay

Nigeria’s government disconnected from the people

Indigene versus citizen – the national question in Nigeria

Traditionally, the government is a sample representation of a people. Presenting, projecting and defining their interest.

Government at all levels has to retain the support of the citizens to remain relevant and to achieve development strides. The absence of this will imply chaos, spell trouble and be detrimental to both parties. The traditional basic needs for human existence are food, shelter and clothing. Recently, access to basic health care, education and security has been included. These socio-economic essentials are rudiments to making life meaningful and progressive. Recent trends of events in Nigeria have raised concerns about how the government has ensured it actualizes these benefits for a vast majority of the citizens. A careful investigation and analysis of these human needs will attend to one’s curiosity.

There are 87 million extremely poor Nigerians who live below $2 per day according to the World Bank and World Poverty Index, indicating they simply lack access or cannot afford these basic needs of life. This is the highest number of people in the world with such vulnerability, thus making Nigeria the Poverty Capital of the world since 2016. Nigerians are facing a high food crisis due to rising cases of armed conflicts and violence, especially in the northern part of Nigeria. Children and women are most affected with malnutrition, poor hygiene and lack of access to potable water. There is a housing crisis in Nigeria, especially in urban cities like Lagos, Abuja, and Port Harcourt, where empty houses with no occupants litter these cities.

Although the minister of Housing in Nigeria, Babatunde Fashola has refuted this claim that Nigeria has a housing crisis even though reports from the United Nation prove otherwise. Only a handful of Nigerians can afford a good and comfortable housing unit from their savings, salaries or even loans. The housing schemes in Nigeria have been almost non-existence, with only little success from it. Despite the huge investment growth in real estate in urban cities in Nigeria, only the rich can afford these houses. Clothing is also a concern mostly when people cannot afford to feed and cater for their shelter.

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Access to basic health care services is lacking in most parts of Nigeria, especially in the rural areas. An inefficient and underperforming health care insurance scheme implies that most Nigerians cannot meet their health needs, especially in cases of emergency. Governments’ low budgetary allocation to health care and health care staff unions squabble with the government about their welfare and salaries, continuing to lead to a shift to the private sector for good health care. These facilities are expensive and unbearable for most Nigerians. The ratio of a doctor to 2,500 patients as against the World Health Organization (WHO) ratio of 1:600 remains proof why medical manpower is also a problem. Wealthy Nigerians have resorted to quality health care outside Nigeria.

The level of literacy is considerably fair though worse in the northern part of Nigeria mostly affected by insurgency, banditry and kidnapping. According to UNESCO, Nigeria has over 10 million out-of-school children, the highest in the world. This is largely due to insecurity in Nigeria. The repeated kidnap of school children in Nigeria, most notably, the adoption of school children of Baptist High School in Kaduna state, 300 Kanakara schoolboys in Kastina state among others, have worsened access to basic primary and secondary education in Nigeria.

The government has been unable to fund this vital sector over the years. This is an indication of the government’s neglect and disconnect from providing the citizens with the basic needs necessary to make life sustainable. The level of insecurity in all parts of Nigeria has become unbearable with each state in Nigeria faced with its own security challenge.

The sad reality faced by most Nigerians is the need for them to provide these basic needs for themselves with little or no government support whatsoever. Nearly every social or public goods that should be a dividend of good governance and provided for a large number of Nigerians are privately sorter-after by only those few Nigerians who can afford it. This has widened the social equality gap between the rich and the poor. Power supply, security, basic health care, quality education, good shelter, basic means of transportation and other essential services are provided privately to few Nigerians who can pay for them.

The role of the government is missing, unseen, or not enough. The government must take responsibility for this total disconnect from the people and address these challenges. The government cannot be insignificant to the people when the people themselves are meant to be the government’s key priority. The multiplier effect of this disconnect from the people will be difficult to manage if allowed to persist.

Alikor Victor is a development and health economist