The great 19th century Jewish-German philosopher, economist and revolutionary Karl Marx believed that capitalism was radically unstable and a popular revolution would occur and bring a communist system into being that would be more productive and far more humane. I personally do not believe this anymore. I believe that capitalism offers everyone the benefits that in Marx's time were enjoyed only by the bourgeoisie, the settled middle class that owned capital and had a reasonable level of security and freedom in their lives.
Now over a century after Marx’s communist manifesto, the world has seen the best of both communism and capitalism but none has been able to solve problems plaguing the human race. Some have tried without remarkable success the mixture of both with the hope of milking the benefits the two can offer. Capitalism has some obvious advantages over communism and vice versa and the mixture of both fosters confusion and incoherent policies. Nigeria dabbled into mixed economy mainly in 80s but now wants to go fully capitalist but the route is hugely crooked.
Capitalism has been described as a process of creative destruction and the trouble is that among the things that have been destroyed in the process is the way of life on which capitalism in the past depended. Take Nigeria for a narrative example where in the past, pyramids were built with groundnut in the north; barrels were filled with red oil in the east while sacks of cocoa were churned out in the west. There used to be massive governmental interest in agriculture which provided a strong base for industrial growth and employment. They are no more and things have taken a chaotic and unguided direction socially, economically and ultimately politically. Nigeria’s capitalism has no proper economic and policy foundation which is why the chaos in our society persists unabated with so much policies coming and going with different administrations.
The richest African is a Nigerian, the richest African woman also a Nigerian and many Nigerians have found their way to Forbes rich list. Our country is reported to have over two hundred privately owned ostentatious jets with fabulous yachts on the increase as well. Oil wells are distributed among these same very few who do not stop at that but take close to half of the total budget through the oil subsidy fund, a fund which is hardly reflected at the pump stations. Government owned institutions and companies are sold to them at annoying prices, they collaborate with their puppets in government to turn the policies of government in their favour and they make sure that the masses are repressively held down.
The dawn of a new era in our democracy in 1999 brought a lot of policies which have created greater hardship for Nigerian citizens. Capitalism where a few are buying up all government owned firms is nothing but a “cabalism” of the highest order. Some of the bought over companies are either closed down or turned into warehouses or are kept unproductive just to take it further away from the “wrong” (masses) hand. Nigerians showed their unusual character of oneness in January of 2012 when the president gave them the strange New Year’s gift of a petroleum price hike. But it didn’t take long before Nigerians broke their rank and file.
Nigeria’s economic environment is structured in a way that it will always favour the rich and disfavour the poor. Somebody whose grandfather was poor and growing up under a poor father is likely to be poor and most likely train his children in deprivation and this is what the opponents of capitalism call the hallmark of capitalism. In some other capitalist economies like India and Brazil, over ninety percent of total millionaires every year are first time millionaires while ours create billionaires out of millionaires and trillionaires out of billionaires and hardly ever new millionaires. We are currently not at war but we are definitely in a state of war created by a biased economic order and unwillingness of the ruling class to tackle corruption and harmonize their policies for the benefit of the masses.
Good education is priced away from the affordability of the majority and mass education is more or less destroying the system rather than creating it. The percentage of unemployment in Nigeria cannot be ascertained and there is no social economic security for the unemployed, elderly or even the disabled. The horrendous insecurity situation which the government denied being fueled by poverty of all kinds but instead attributed the cause to political motivations is one problem too many. Different groups of renegades like the Movement for the Actualization of Sovereign State of Biafra (MASSOB), the Oduduwa’s People’s Congress (OPC), Boko Haram, Militants of Niger Delta, Egbesu Boys, etc are not seeking for identity but are products of hash, unbalanced and partitioned economic order.
A report from the United Nations shows that, about one in four Nigerians are currently unemployed and that Nigeria has one of the worst youth unemployment rates in sub-Saharan Africa at 37.7 per cent. These damning verdicts are contained in a 291-page publication called ‘The African Economic Outlook 2012’ jointly published by the United Nations Economic Commission for Africa, UNECA, the United Nations Development Population, UNDP; the African Development Bank Group; and the Organization of Economic Cooperation and Development. With these near truth statistics, there wouldn’t be a better motivating factor for crime and violence. The upsurge in crime is not an unanticipated event as the security agencies claimed but a well tailored event by the actions and inactions of the past and present governments.
Victims of this unjust economic arrangement are asking questions in various unconventional and inhumane ways of bombing, kidnapping, robbery, terrorism, intimidation, etc. The majority do not know where the problem lies hence the call for disintegration. If our economy is well organized to accommodate the majority and reward hard work, it will down play and possibly eliminate sectional and religious identification and politicking which is eating the nation up.
Obi Ebuka Onochie
The views expressed in this article are the author’s own and do not necessarily reflect the editorial policy of SaharaReporters