by Opeoluwa Dapo-Thomas
This article is not an empirical evidence on the effects of Politics on the Nigerian economy but rather it is an analytical discuss on how the influence of Politics can affect our economy.
It would be naive to assume that Politics and Economics are two distinct landscapes. As more often these days, political developments have had ripple effects on the world markets as well as investment decisions in many economies. Speaking at the 14th CVL lecture held in Lagos State, the distinguished Keynote Speaker, Professor Paul Collier, said for “an economy to thrive, there has to be a golden alliance between the business environment and the authorizing political authorities”. Suffice to say, Politics is a key factor required for an economy to develop especially given the type of economic system we operate. But to what dimension does politics influence the Nigerian economy? In this regard, i have proposed two theories. For each theory, i will support with a practical example.
The first theorem is what i call “Progressive Politics”. Progressive politics occurs when the economic plan is strategically followed up by the politicians. This is what we refer to as political will. Most economic plans are not achieved because of lack of political will. Planning is one thing, implementation is another ball game. In Nigeria, the ball game is usually played by the Executives, Lawmakers and the Political parties. Once there is an agreement between all these political agents, there will be progress. A classic example of Progressive politics occurred when Acting President, Professor Yemi Osinbajo visited the Niger Delta leaders and consulted them on issues which eventually brought permanent peace in the region. Permanent peace in Niger Delta is a win-win for the Nigerian economy as we rely heavily on the oil assets in that region to boost our revenue.
More revenue ultimately leads to economic development. Progressive politics is the use of political power to support a good cause. Progressive politicians help in reducing bottlenecks, supporting schemes and policies that will beneficial to the people and not to their pocket. They are those who see public service as service and not occupation. Progressive politicians undertake social, economic, and in some cases, political reforms that will alter the status quo to move the society forward.
The second theory is what motivated me to write this article, and that is because this type of politics has seriously hampered the growth of the Nigerian economy. It is what i call “Retrogressive Politics”. In Hans Morgenthau’s book “Politics among Nations”, he avowed that ‘Politics is all about struggle for power’. In every struggle, everyone seeks to exert their power for personal motives. A real-world instance of Retrogressive politics is currently on between a certain governor and a certain minister whom some weeks ago revealed how they are both frustrating each other’s economic projects. The Governor needs a road leading to an airport rehabilitated plus access to the Presidential lodge in his state in his bid to transform an axis in his state into a world-class arts and tourism hub. Whilst the Minister says his ministry’s request for land for the National Housing Programme in the Governor’s state is yet to be acknowledged talk less of accepted.
They say when two elephants fight; it is the grass that suffers. The both of them need to put aside their differences. The welfare of the people is paramount. Personal vendetta should not come before economic agenda. That is Retrogressive politics. Not to say, they are not Progressive politicians, but once personal feelings interfere with clear economic objectives, we cannot record progress in the foreseeable future. The concept of ‘Retrogressivism’ against the backdrop of the current happenings in the country’s landscape explains that retrogressive politics can pervert any politician and might drive him or her to pursue self or group interest against the collective interest and welfare of the society and this is what occurs in the polity at the moment.
Conclusively, various critics suggest that Retrogressive politics overshadows Progressive politics in Nigeria. This assertion might be true but it is left for the progressives to use their capacity to transform all form of politics to ‘Progressivism’. Edmund Burke (1729 – 1797) said “The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing” This suggests that inaction can be just as effective as actions. The existence of politics in Nigeria cannot be overemphasized, it’s presence in economic matters cannot be overstated, but as politics in Nigeria proliferates, it is imperative for our leaders to direct it towards a more progressive course.