Investor confidence in nigeria

EXCELLENCE IN GOVERNANCE, SUSTAINING INVESTOR CONFIDENCE AND THE 2019 GENERAL ELECTIONS: THE ROLE OF THE NIGERIAN MEDIA by Otive Igbuzor, PhD

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  1. INTRODUCTION

The question of how to develop society has occupied the attention of scholars and citizens over the centuries. Various systems have been experimented including autocracy, monarchy and democracy. But from experience, it has been recognized all over the world that democracy is the best form of government. Autocracy characterized by one individual making all important decisions and oligarchy which puts the government in the hands of an elite are less desirable when compared to democracy.[1] Democracy is so important in the world today that it has become the driving force of development making many scholars to draw a nexus between democracy and development.[2] Although different people put emphasis on different issues which they consider to be crucial to democracy, majority of people agree that liberal democracy contains some basic principles which include citizen participation; equality; political tolerance; accountability; transparency; regular, free and fair elections, economic freedom; control of the abuse of power; bill of rights; accepting the result of elections; human rights; multi-party system and the rule of law. But the challenge especially for the working people is that it has been recognized that liberal democracy is facing a crisis of legitimacy and declining confidence in political leaders and institutions necessitating the need for democratic renewal through increasing citizen participation.[3]

Democracy is expected to deliver dividends to citizens in terms of public goods and services as well a help to provide enabling environment for investments to thrive. But for this to happen require good governance and conduct of regular free, fair and credible elections. In this paper, we focus on the role of the media in promoting good governance and sustaining investor confidence. But first, we explicate the concept of excellence in governance (good governance) and the imperative of sustaining investor confidence.

  1. EXCELENCE IN GOVERNANCE

In this paper, we will use excellence in governance to mean good governance. The concept of good governance has dominated the development discourse in the last three decades. Some scholars have pointed out that there are two major traditions in governance discourse: the academic approach and development community’s approach.[4] The academic approach focuses mainly on the study of the different ways in which power and authority relations are structured in a given society. The development community’s approach places emphasis on the role state structures play in ensuring social, economic and policy equity and accountability through open policy processes.

Governance has been defined as the exercise of political, economic and administrative authority to manage affairs of an entity.[5] It is the complex mechanisms, processes, relationships and institutions through which citizens and groups articulate their interests, exercise their rights and obligations and mediate their differences. It has been pointed out that the term governance entailed the notion of a government’s ability to steer with the aim of shaping the nature of socio-economic structures and processes. [6] Some scholars have argued that the term has assumed new, recent meanings, among which are the co-operative, inclusive and consultative forms of interaction between the state and non-state actors, and the different modes of co-coordinating individual actions, or basic forms of social order such as clans, associations and networks.[7]

The UNDP identifies four types of governance[8]:

  1. Economic Governance includes processes of decision-making that directly or indirectly affect a country’s economic activities or its relationship with other economies.
  2. Political Governance which refers to decision making and policy implementation of a legitimate and authoritative state. The state should consist of separate legislative, executive and judicial branches, represent the interests of a pluralist polity, and allow citizens to freely elect their representatives.
  3. Administrative Governance is a system of policy implementation carried out through an efficient, independent, accountable and open public sector.
  4. Systematic Governance encompasses the processes and structures of society that guide political and socioeconomic relationships to protect cultural and religious beliefs and values, and to create and maintain an environment of health, freedom, security and with the opportunity to exercise personal capabilities that lead to a better life for all people.

The notion of good governance means that governance can either be good or bad. Several scholars have written on the good governance and the characteristics that can distinguish good governance from bad governance. According to Edigheji, some of the characteristics of good governance include:

  • The need for the state to be relatively autonomous from the interests of particular groups;
  • The need for a strong civil society, which is able to articulate and promote the interests of the members of their respective groups;
  • The need for devolution of power through decentralization to facilitate a greater responsiveness to local needs;
  • The need for embeddedness, whereby there are formal and institutionalised ways in which the interests of various groups are synergized within the state;
  • The need for institutionalized procedures and processes for accountability;
  • The need for a strong and adaptable bureaucracy that is able to accomplish its administrative, management, implementation and monitoring tasks efficiently and effectively; and
  • The need for the primacy of the rule of law.[9]

Hussaini Abdu provides a framework of characteristics of good governance that can deliver sustainable development with the following characteristics: participation, rule of law, transparency, responsiveness, consensus orientation, equity, effectiveness and efficiency and accountability.[10]

  1. Participation: All men and women, inclusive of the physically challenged should have a voice in decision making either directly or through legitimate intermediate institutions that represent their interests.
  2. Rule of Law: laws, regulations and codes of conduct should be fair and enforced impartially, particularly the laws on human rights.
  3. Transparency: Transparency is built on the free flow of information. Processes, institutions and information are directly accessible to those concerned with them, and enough information is provided to understand and monitor them.
  4. Responsiveness: Institutions and processes try to serve all stakeholders within a reasonable time frame.
  5. Consensus Orientation: Good governance mediates differing interests to reach a broad consensus on what is in the best interest of the group, and where possible on policies and procedures.
  6. Equity: All men and women have opportunities to improve or maintain their well being.
  7. Effectiveness and Efficiency: Processes and institutions produce results that meet needs while making the best use of resources.
  8. Accountability: Decision makers in government, private sector and civil society organisations are accountable to the public, as well as to institutional stakeholders.

 

A review of the political history of Nigeria will show that there is no excellence in any of these areas. In terms of participation, political parties are controlled by few individuals. The political space has been hijacked by political godfathers and the very rich in society. Women and youth play marginal roles in governance. In the area of the rule of law, Nigeria is replete with abuse.  It has been documented that the judicial arm of government which is saddled with the responsibility of protecting the rights of the people has either assisted or impeded the course of good governance in areas such as revenue allocation, election petitions, status of local government, intrigues associated with impeachment of certain political office holders, human rights inter alia[11] Nigeria passed the Freedom of Information Act to among other things promote transparency in governance. But experience with the act since its passage indicates that  government at all levels were working deliberately to frustrate the FOI Act by refusing to release relevant information requested by members of the public and civil society organisations. [12] Government at all levels have not been responsive to the yearnings and aspirations of Nigerians. There is no consensus orientation. The people are increasingly being divided along ethnic and religious lines through the manipulation of politicians. As a country we have moved from discourse on national unity to tolerance and from integration to co-existence. Inequality is increasing. There is a lot of inefficiency and ineffectiveness in the system and corruption has remained entrenched.

  1. SUSTIANING INVESTOR CONFIDENCE

The private sector is crucial to the development of any country hence the need to sustain investor confidence- both domestic and foreign. But for many decades, there is a debate about the usefulness or otherwise of Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) in the development of African countries. The ease of doing business index ranks countries against each other based on how the regulatory environment is conducive to business operations.[13] Economies with a high rank (1-20) have a simpler and more friendly regulations for businesses. Ease of doing business in Nigeria averaged 141.88 from 2008 until 2015 reaching an all-time high of 170 in 2014. The figure for Nigeria in  2015 is 169 (Compare with Singapore 1; United Kingdom 6; United States 7; Mauritius 32; Rwanda 62 and South Africa 73).

The World’s Economist Intelligence Unit report which ranks the best and worst cities to live in the world indicated that Lagos in Nigeria is the third worst city to live in the World.[14] The other countries are Damascus, Syria (1); Tripoli, Libya (2); Dhaka, Bangladesh (4); Port Moresby, Papua New Guinea (5); Algiers, Algeria (6); Karachi, Pakistan (6); Harare, Zimbabwe (8) and Doula, Cameroun (9).

It is therefore clear that with the present situation, investors and tourists will not choose Nigeria as a desired destination.  It is only through good governance and addressing the challenges of governance that investor confidence can be sustained.

 

  1. THE 2019 GENERAL ELECTIONS

There is no doubt that elections play a vital role in a system of representative democracy.  They are the primary mechanism with which to implement the principle of popular sovereignty.  Ultimate authority rests with the people and the people delegate this authority to their elected representatives through the electoral process.[15]  It is through the exercise of franchise or the right to vote that citizens can perform this role.

The history of election in Nigeria dates back to the colonial era when the Clifford constitution was introduced in 1922.[16] The constitution provided for an income based adult male suffrage where only adult males with a gross income of not less than one hundred pounds (£100) were allowed to vote. The first election under the constitution was held in 1923. The second election was held in 1947 following the introduction of the Richards Constitution in 1946 which reduced the income qualification to fifty pounds (£50). The third election was in 1952 following the introduction of the Macpherson constitution in 1951 which removed income qualification for adult male suffrage. The first three elections were into the legislative council, central legislature and regional legislature respectively. But the first general election was the 1954 General election into the central legislature following the introduction of the Lytleton Constitution of 1954. This was followed by the 1959 Federal elections, the 1964 general elections, the 1965 western election and the 1979, 1983, 1993, 1999, 2003, 2007, 2011 and 2015 general elections.

As noted above, sovereignty rests with the people including the working people. But unfortunately, from the history of elections in Nigeria from the colonial era till date, citizens are losing the right to vote or the vote counting towards the final electoral outcome. In many instances, candidates were declared winners without voting. In other cases, people who did not stand for elections were declared winners. In the particular case of the 2007 elections in Nigeria, the loss of franchise by citizens was very widespread leading to what has been  termed  as the “Direct capture of the peoples’ mandate”. It is clear that loss of franchise is a danger to the consolidation and deepening of democracy and actualisation of development imperatives. It is therefore necessary to strategise to restore franchise in Nigeria.

Franchise is simply the right to vote.[17] Scholars have documented that franchise has gone through five phases in its development. These are the early pre-revoluationary phase, the period of increasing standardisation, the first phase of mass mobilisation, the manhood suffrage phase and the continued democractisation.[18] The early pre-revolutionary phase is marked by provisional and local variations in franchise practices but implicit or explicit recognition of membership in some corporate estate (the nobility, the clergy, the city operators of merhants and artisans or, in some cases the freehold peasantry as a condition for political citizenship).  In the period of increasing standardisation of franchise rules in the wake of the American and French revolution, citizens were allowed to vote under a given property or income criteria. During the first phase of mass mobilisation, the suffrage was greatly extended, but formal inequalities of influence persisted under arrangement for multiple votes or for differential ratios of votes to representatives. The manhood suffrage phase is chareacterised by social and economic criteria of qualification for men including age. Differences can be discerned on the weight given to votes. The final phase of continued democratisation is characterised by universal and equal suffrage when suffrage was extended to women, younger persons and equality of votes. It is important to point out that the development of franchise progressed in differnt sequential order in several countries. As can be seen from table one below, in the 22 OECD countries, there were differences in time when franchise was exercised by men and women.

Table 1: Democratisation of Suffrage in 22 Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development(OECD) Countries

COUNTRY

MALE UNIVERSAL SUFFRAGE

FEMALE UNIVERSAL SUFFRAGE

Australia

1903

1908

Austria

1907

1918

Belgium

1919

1948

Canada

1915/18

1920

Denmark

1906

1918

Finland

1848

1906

France

1869/71

1946

Germany

1918

1919

Great Britain

1877

1928

Greece

1915

1952

Iceland

1918/22

1915

Ireland

1912/18

1918/22

Italy

1925

1946

Japan

1918/19

1947

Luxembourg

1918/19

1919

Netherlands

1889

1919

Norway

1897

1893

New Zealand

1911

1913

Portugal

1911

1974

Spain

1869/1907

1869/1931

Sweden

1423

1921

Switzerland

1848/79

1971

Source: Meena, Ruth(2002), Democracy, Gender and Governance in African Societies in Bujra, A and Adejumobi, S (Eds), Breaking Barriers, Creating New Hopes: Democracy, Civil Society and Good Governance in Africa.Trenton, NJ, Africa World Press, Inc. p117

 

In Nigeria, as can be seen from the table below, the exercise of franchise started in 1922 with the enactment of the 1922 Clifford Constitution. The Clifford constitution  restricted the electorate to adult males in Calabar and Lagos who have been resident in the city for at least one year and had a gross annual income of N100.00. The Richard constitution of 1946 only reduced the property qualification to N50.00. The Macpherson constitution of 1951 removed property qualification but still restricted the electorate to only adult males who pay their taxes. By the Lyttleton constitution of 1954, franchise was universal in the East and West but limited to adult males in the North. In fact, it was not until 1979 before the right to vote was extended to all Nigerians men and women above the age of eighteen years

 

Table 2: Democratisation of Suffrage in Nigeria

YEAR

CONSTITUTION

SUFFRAGE

1914

Amalgamation

None

1922

Clifford

Adult Males with annual income of N100

1946

Richards

Adult Males with annual income of N50

1951

Macpherson

Adult Males who paid their taxes

1954

Lyttleton

Adult Males+ Females in East & West

1960

Independence

Adult Males+ Females in East & West

1963

Republican

Adult Males+ Females in East & West

1979

Presidential

Adult Males & Females

Franchise is very important because it is through franchise that the people operationalise the concept of sovereignty in a liberal democrcay. As clearly stated in section 14(2a) of the 1999 Constitution, it is hereby, accordingly, declared that sovereignty belongs to the people of Nigeria from whom government through this constitution derives all its power and authority.[19]  Non-adherence to electoral standards leads to the loss of franchise and eventually the loss of the peoples’ sovereignty.

 

There are a lot of challenges with the conduct of elections in Nigeria from the 1922 election to the 2015 election. It has been documented that elections in Nigeria are constant tales of violence, fraud and bad blood.[20] The challenges include among other things irregularities which put the credibility of the entire electoral process in doubt; problems with the legislative framework which puts constraints on the electoral process; several organisations are not playing their roles to ensure credible, free and fair election; the electoral system does not give room for inclusiveness; lack of independence of electoral commissions; long process of election dispute resolution; irresponsible behaviour by politicians and followers manifesting in thuggery and violence; lack of effective democratic institutions and monetisation of politics. It has been documented that money not only determines who participates in electoral politics but that money drowns votes and voices in Nigeria as ‘godfathers’ openly confess about shady deals, funding or sponsoring elections for ‘godsons’ and purchasing electoral victory.[21] The end result of the challenges is that the votes of the citizens do not count.[22]

 

The 2019 General Election presents another opportunity for the working people and indeed the citizens of Nigeria to make their votes to count. First and foremost, the level of awareness of Nigerians about how the ruling class is using the political process for primitive accumulation of wealth is increasing on a daily basis. The challenge is how to move from the level of awareness to consciousness and then to organising for change. Secondly, unlike in the past, there are several opportunities for different kind of political parties to choose from. There are new parties and new faces in the political terrain and it offers opportunity for political and ideological struggle. Thirdly, it is increasingly becoming clear to the working people that the ruling class are basically the same in the different political parties necessitating the need for ideologically based parties favourable to the working people. Finally, the working people are increasingly becoming aware that participation in bourgeois politics is part of political struggle in addition to the ongoing ideological, social and economic struggle with the ruling class. The strategic mistake of not engaging in electoral politics on return to civil rule in 1999 must be corrected on an on-going basis.  Therefore, the working people must realise that the 2019 election presents another opportunity to restore the franchise of the people to vote and ultimately the sovereign power of the people.

 

In our view, five key issues will dominate the 2019 elections:

1. Election Promises and Charters of Demand from Candidates:

2. Character, Competence  and Capability of Candidates:

3. Prevention of Vote Buying:

4. Protection of Mandate:

5. Security- Protection of officials, materials and voters; and impartial security officials.

 

Unfortunately, the level of awareness and consciousness has not reached the level that Nigerian people can take a long-term  strategic view and work towards a political culture and leadership selection process that is favourable to decent people with character, competence and capability without blemish and stupendous wealth. This is where the role of the media becomes critical.

 

  1. THE ROLE OF THE MEDIA

For good governance and development to take place in any country requires communication between citizens and their government. The mass media is the means for communicating to large, heterogenous and widely dispersed audiences. The three main types of mass media today are print media (newspapers and magazines); broadcast media (radio and television) and social media. We can categorise the role of the media in the political arena  into two namely traditional role and new evolving role.

Traditional role of the media is in terms of providing information, education and entertainment. The performance of this role can be further classified into three:[23]

  1. Influencing Public Opinion: The media can influence public opinion on what is reported and how it is reported.
  2. Setting Political agenda: The media can set agenda through the issues that they identify that need government attention. The issues that the media focus upon become the issues that government decision makers and politicians discuss and debate.
  3. Socialisation: The media socialise the people through the kind of news and programmes that they bring to the people. The media can reinforce the hegemony or dominance of the existing political culture and order and make people to accept the way things are or they can challenge the existing political culture and order and make people seek alternatives.

The emerging role of the media is coming on board because globally, there is increasing inequality, concentration of wealth in the hands of a few and the political elite are utilising power for their own benefit. This makes it compelling for the media to be at the vanguard of promoting social justice and holding government to account.

The concept of Social Justice has attracted the attention of several scholars and philosophers for the past three centuries- Thomas Paine, John Rawls, John Stuart Mill etc. Social Justice is a concept of fair and just relations between the individual and society measured by distribution of wealth, opportunities for personal activity and privileges.[24] There are several institutions in society that mediate social justice including taxation, social insurance, public health, public school, public services, labour laws and regulation of markets to ensure fair distribution of wealth and equal opportunities.

The struggle for equity and justice among humans historically started with the division of society into classes.[25] There are two fundamental tenets of socialism namely equality and social justice. For Socialists, Social Justice entails even distribution of wealth and opportunities. Therefore, in a society where wealth is concentrated in the hands of a few, Social Justice ensure that there are policies and programmes that will lead to redistribution of wealth. The state can make this happen by intervening in the economy.  Only the media and radical civil society can promote these ideas and issues.

One of the greatest developmental challenges facing the world today is inequality. The past five decades have witnessed monumental changes in the world. Global economic wealth has increased sevenfold and average incomes have tripled.[26] Yet, poverty has increased to record high levels. The major problem is that wealth is concentrated in the hands of a few people while majority of the people live in abject poverty. The UNDP in its 1998 report documented that the three richest people in the world have assets that exceed the combined Gross Domestic Product of the 48 least developed countries. In 2014, 85 richest people in the world had the same wealth as the poorest 50 percent (3.5 billion people). By 2015, only 80 richest people have the same wealth as the poorest 50 percent.

There are many reasons for holding government to account. Holding government to account will promote accountability and transparency and prevent corruption. This is very important in a country like Nigeria where the level of corruption is very high. The problem of corruption is as old as society itself and cuts across nations, cultures, races and classes of people. It is undoubtedly one of the greatest challenges of our times leading to underdevelopment and poor service delivery. Corruption has a lot of negative consequences on every sphere of societal development whether social, economic or political. Corruption not only leads to poor service delivery but loss of lives. Corruption is pervasive in Nigeria with serious negative consequences. Despite the plethora of legislations and agencies fighting corruption in the country, corruption has remained widespread and pervasive because of failure to utilize universally accepted and tested strategies; disconnect between posturing of leaders and their conduct; lack of concrete sustainable anti-corruption programming and failure to locate the anti-corruption struggle within a broader struggle to transform society. This is why it is necessary to for the media to be at the forefront of holding government accountable.

 

  1. CONCLUSION

There is increasing knowledge across the world on how to develop society. It has been accepted by most people that democracy is the best form of government. The elements of good governance are well known including participation, rule of law, transparency, responsiveness, consensus orientation, equity, effectiveness and efficiency, and accountability. But a review of the political history of Nigeria shows that there is no excellence in any of these areas. Similarly, the environment of business does not inspire investor confidence. As the 2019 election approaches, there is another opportunity to revisit the challenges of good governance in Nigeria. The media has a great role to play in promoting good governance. In order to play this role, the Nigerian media must rise above the traditional role of information, education and entertainment to promote social justice and hold government to account. The media in Nigeria has a constitutional responsibility to hold government to account. The media should focus on issues for the 2019 elections and challenge the existing political culture of violence and money politics. The media should set the agenda for good governance and force debate and discussion on issues of good governance. The media should do more of investigative journalism. The media should  promote issues of social justice, equity, accountability and development.

Politics is too important to be left for charlatans and Shenanigans. The media should encourage God fearing and decent people to be involved in politics for as Plato counsels us, the penalty for refusing to participate in politics is that you will be ruled by your inferiors.

 

 

 

ENDNOTES

 


[1] Janda, K, Berry, J. M. and Goldman, J (1999), The Challenge of Democracy

[2] Igbuzor, O. (2005), Perspectives on Democracy and Development. Lagos, Joe-Tolalu & Asociates.

[3] Bentley, T. (2005), Everyday Democracy: Why we get the Politicians we deserve. London, Demos.

[4] Abdu, Hussaini (2013), Government and Leadership in Igbuzor, O and Anuku, C. E. O (Ed), Lecture Notes on Leadership and Entrepreneurship. Abuja, African Centre for Leadership, Strategy & Development.

[5] Ibid

[6] Mayntz, R (1998), New Challenges of Governance Theory. European University Institute, Jean Monnet Chair Pager, RSC No. 98/50.

[7] Mhone, Guy (2003), Democratisation, Economic Liberalisation and the Quest for Sustainable Development in South Africa in Mhone, Guy and Edigheji, Omano (Eds), Governance in the New South Africa: The Challenges of Globalisation.

[8] Abdu, Hussaini, Op Cit

[9] Edigheji, O (2002), Globalisation and Governance: Towards a Conceptual Framework. Mimoe. Graduate School of Public and Development Management, University of Witwatersrand, Johannesburg.

[10] Abdu, Hussaini, Op Cit

[11] Ayodele, B [2008], “The rule of law and constitutional democracy in Nigeria” In Saliu, H.A. , Taiwo, I.O., Seniyi, R.A., Salawu, B. & Usman, A., [eds] Nigeria beyond 2007:Issues,  perspective and challenges.[pp.24-35], Ilorin: Faculty of Business and Social Sciences, University of Ilorin.

[12] Nweje, Chukwudi (2014), FOI Act and Burden of Implementation in Daily Independent 11th September, 2014.

[13] Ease of Doing Business in Nigeria www.tradingeconomics.com

[14] The 9 Worst Cities to live in the World www.independent.co.uk

[15] Capaccio, D. and de Mino, W. H. (1999), “Why Young People Should Vote” in Youth Voter Participation. Stockholm, International Institute for Democracy and Electoral Assistance (I-IDEA)

 

[16] Nnadozie, Uche (2007), History of Elections in Nigeria in Jega, A. and Ibeanu, O (Eds), Elections and the Future of Democracy in Nigeria. Nigeria Political Science Association.

[17] Ujo, A. A. (2000), Understanding Elections: A Guide for Students and Election Managers. Kaduna, Anyaotu Enterprises and Publishers Nigeria Ltd

[18]Ibid

[19] Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria 1999

[20] Agbakoba, Olisa and Ilo, Udo Jude (2004), Where did we go Wrong? A Review of the 2003/2004 Elections in Nigeria. Lagos, The Human Rights Law Service.

[21] Adetula, V. A. O. (2008), Money and Politics in Nigeria. Abuja, IFES, Nigeria.

[22] Transition Monitoring Group (2003), Do the Votes Count? Final Report of the 2003 General Elections in Nigeria.

[23] Janda, K, Berry, J. M. and Goldman, J (1999), The Challenge of Democracy: The Essentials. New York, Houghton Mifflin Company.

[24] www.en.wikipedia.org

[25] Igbuzor, O (2009), Perspectives on Democracy and Development. Lagos, Joe-Tolalu & Associates.

[26] Watkins, Kevin (2000), The Oxfam Poverty Report. An Oxfam Publication

 

 

By

Otive Igbuzor, PhD

Founding Executive Director, African Centre for Leadership, Strategy & Development (Centre LSD), Abuja.

E-mail: otiveigbuzor@yahoo.co.uk

Website: www.otiveigbuzor.com

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