Although the two documents are still undergoing scrutiny, a tentative critique of the campaign documents the two leading presidential candidates are offering show they all lack even a single sentence hinting of their analysis of where Nigeria’s problems are coming from. Although each has a list of problems he has tackled as in the case of President Buhari or intends to tackle as in the case of Atiku Abubakar, none is saying where those problems originated. Atiku, in particular, recognised the paradox of Nigeria’s great human and material endowment versus Nigeria’s unique underdevelopment, he did not go farther to say how this puzzle might have come about. The danger is that he could start brilliantly should he win the election only to be caught up in a web he has not tried to understand or understands but cannot critique most likely because he is a card carrying member of the global neoliberal confusion.
That question has been a long running debate under the rubric of the trouble with Nigeria. The most popular standpoint on the puzzle is the claim that the trouble with Nigeria is leadership: leaders who emerged without adequate grooming in what it means to be a leader and are easily overwhelmed by the epistemic, ideological and pragmatic challenges of good governance
But there are others who list other standpoints. Among these additional standpoints are:
- Alleged racial or genetic make-up that is antithetical to successful organisation of orderly society
- Imperialism and neo-colonialism or the historical rape of Nigeria by externally located interests
- The burden of the state, (That is those who say that the Nigerian State is neither Nigerian nor even a state)
- Cultural pluralism: ethnic and tribal congestion
- State interventionism and the associated crisis of government property being no one’s
- Corruption: estimated at $400 billion pilfered since independence
By their ‘silence’, the two presidential candidates render themselves liable to what Canadian political economist, Robert Cox, calls problem-solving approach. There is nothing wrong with problem solving approach, he says, except that the approach “takes the world as it finds it, with the prevailing social and power relationships and institutions into which they are organised, as the given framework for action”. Cox continues by saying that “the general aim of problem-solving is to make these relationships and institutions work smoothly by dealing effectively with particular sources of trouble”.
At a time the Nigerian State is too overwhelmed to assert its stateness in relation to renegade killers, kidnapping, banditry, insurgencies, sundry militia and, in short, the democratisation of violence, can a problem solving approach help?
Can Nigeria make it to the club of 20 most established economies in the world that Atiku, for example, envisages through a problem solving approach? Who are the best experts he says he has been with on this question? Could he be absolutising his lived experience? That is, is he thinking that the same elements that aided his business success will also aid Nigeria’s national leap irrespective of the global, regional, class, internal diversity and unique underdevelopment dimensions of social transformation in Nigeria?
The big question here is: why might they be very enthusiastic about solving problems they are not enthusiastic in locating? Is any other presidential candidate doing anything different?