The Big Ideas Podium (BIP) is a public policy debate forum where well-informed and involved Nigerian citizens with big ideas boldly discuss topical and burning issues of national and international significance. The main objective is to discuss extensively national issues that can provoke high impact policy making.
The 15th August 2017 edition of the program featured Dr. Oby Ezekwesili whose presentation was on “Nigeria: The Economics of Failure”. The discussants were two professors of Political Science, Okwudiba Nnoli and Okey Ibeanu, while a distinguished professor of law, Joy Ngozi Ezeilo, anchored the event. The timely topic was presented at a period when several indicators like the global happiness index; fragile state index; inequality index; etc all ranked Nigeria very low. The topic attracted participants from the government, civil society organizations (CSOs), media, business and industry, academia and local communities. Much of the discussions focused on: (1) the statistical evidences that portray the nation as a fragile state, (2) inept and irresponsive political leadership in Nigeria; (3) addressing the present economy, economic structures and economic inequalities; (4) using positive disruptions to fix the nation’s problem; and (5) the need for the citizens to take positive actions towards reclaiming Nigeria from the political class. These issues were anchored on how best to deal effectively with the challenge of good governance and to improve the standard of living of average Nigerians.
Ø Many statistical evidences on human capital development, poverty reduction and quality standard of living revealed negative and abysmal rankings of the country on theseindicators. Other evidences include weak central government, lack of adequate public services, widespread corruption and criminality, sharp economic decline, etc.
Ø The existing political leadership/class for the past 57 years needs to be uprooted. Past leaderships have only delivered poor governance, decadent and spent status quo. Therefore, the political structure that has been existing since independence is not compliant with the 21st century rule of ideas.
Ø The failure of Nigeria has become normalized and internalized as her citizens have adopted diverse coping strategies. Many Nigerians have become resilient with economic hardships and poverty.
Ø There is a sound of war again. The polity is heated up in another cycle of political disenchantments, ethnic restiveness and multiple dimensions of insecurity. Unfortunately, the political class is neglecting this introspective understanding of today’s Nigeria and the changing times and season. They remain stuck in their pursuit, or quest to capture, recapture and retain power for purely primitive accumulation.
Ø The Nigerian political elite class has reduced governance to a Russian roulette. The widened gap of inequality and high poverty rate showed that the quality of citizenship is quite poor.
Ø The existing disconnect between the ruling class and the rest of the citizens is a consequence of economics of failure in Nigeria. The only time the ruling class interacts with the citizens is during election campaigns which come after every four years.
Ø It is only positive disruptions that can fix the Nigerian problem. Intellectual revolutionary war or war of ideas is what is needed to topple the predatory political elites, who see the commonwealth or national resources as their economic anchor and safe zone.
Ø That there is an urgent need to reverse the current economics of failure in Nigeria
Ø That the citizens are the major catalysts for creating a new Nigeria based on ideas revolution
Ø The country should play less politics and invest more in the economy. The national resources that are invested in politics should be redirected to addressing the economic challenges facing the country.
Ø A constructive citizens’ united action is imperative. The ‘Citizens’ Era’ shall see ordinary people empowered enough with economic ideas which will reverse and end Nigeria's economics of failure. Thus, the market of governance will witness a structural shift from the supply side to the demand side.
Ø There should be a structural shift in governance from the supply side to the demand side. This could be achieved with organized citizens with economic ideas who can anchor the debate and legitimize the new economic order.
Ø There is an urgent need for the members of the academia/the intelligentsia to lead an intellectual war of ideas or debate among our leaders in order to ascertain who is best suited to deliver the kind of dividends that citizens of countries like South Korea and Singapore have taken for granted.
Ø Nigeria’s priority should be to create the greatest happiness for the greatest number. For this to be achieved, strong institutions should be created and sustained not just for making laws/rules, but also for enforcing and implementing such rules so as to generate the greatest happiness for the greatest number.
Ø The government should initiate a new kind of education for innovation and liberation of the poor masses.
Ø The citizens of Nigeria should get more involved in the process of governance by holding the political class accountable at all levels.