Military mentality haunts Nigeria governance: NEPAD


Nigeria’s leaders still need to shed some of the attitudes and values built up under military rule if Africa’s most populous nation is to reach its full potential, according to a review by its continental peers.

The African Peer Review Mechanism (APRM) is part of the New Partnership for Africa’s Development (NEPAD), set up eight years ago to try to make African leaders promote democracy and good governance in return for increased Western investment.
“Corruption in the political and economic spheres primarily explains poverty in Nigeria,” says the report, presented in Abuja in December 20009 by Nigerian economist Adebayo Adedeji.
“Nigeria also faces the challenges of reversing some values and attitudinal practices, particularly during the later part of its military history,” it said.

Nigeria vies with Angola as Africa’s top oil producer yet the majority of its more than 140 million people live on less than $2 a day, many with limited access to power or clean water.

It emerged from military rule a decade ago but critics say democracy still has a fragile hold.

Since General Abdulsalam Abubakar ceded power in May 1999, elections have been far from exemplary in a country that considers itself the biggest democracy in the black world.

The polls which brought President Umaru Yar’Adua to power in May 2007 were so marred by intimidation and vote-rigging that international observers said they were not credible.

The turbulent run-up to elections next February in south-eastern Anambra state suggests the country has learned little from those flawed polls and that the 2011 presidential race will once again be chaotic.

The APRM review said corruption, a lack of political will and an over-dependence on crude oil revenues were responsible for hindering Nigeria’s development and bringing about a “high rate of poverty in the midst of plenty”.

It said Nigerians made up 6% of the world’s poor.

Yar’Adua came to power pledging zero tolerance for graft in one of the world’s most tainted countries, but faces questions from critics over his commitment to the campaign.

Critics say NEPAD is little more than a talking shop with no power to back up its words.

The report on Nigeria was presented to a closed forum of heads of state in Benin in October 2008 and should have been made public about six months later in line with APRM guidelines, but was delayed until this week.

The G8 a grouping of the world’s most industrialised nations the African Development Bank and bilateral donors pledged to boost aid to countries that received good NEPAD peer review reports and cut aid to those that performed poorly.

Nigeria is only the fifth African country to undergo the review, after Ghana, Kenya, Rwanda and South Africa.