Can Nigeria Be Developed Without Discipline?


Okachikwu Dibia


In my article dated 17th December, 2018 and titled “Rumour’s Argument on Nigeria’s Stolen and Wasted Resources” published in thenigerianvoice, modern Ghana etc, I promised to follow it up with another article to proffer solutions. The solution I thought of is discipline not restructuring because no matter how you restructure a place, the ideals that ruled the place will still rule them after restructuring.


For a solution, we must paint the picture in context: the lack of discipline in the political leadership of Nigeria affects her development. Therefore the objectives of this article are to expose the meaning of the key variables (discipline and development) being engaged, know their nexus, see how lack of discipline affects development and what could be done to reverse the unacceptable Nigerian situation. This unacceptability results from Nigeria being resource rich, but suffers resource curse through indiscipline, the harbinger of underdevelopment.


Manifestations abound to testify the afflictions of the country by indiscipline: in 1966, there was the phrase “ten percenters”; in 1975, we were told Nigeria had so much money that she didn’t know what to do with it and by that time, Nigeria was 158 out of 159 in the UNDP HDI; in 1975-79 during the military government of General Obasanjo, $2.8b was found missing; in 1980-83, Nigeria imported shiploads of sand and paid fully for them; in 1991, Nigeria lost $12.4b oil wind sales to the IBB federal government; between 2003-2007, $16b for building of power plants was missing under the watch of Chief Olusegun Obasanjo; in 2013, Nigeria lost over N3t to fuel subsidy within three years; in 2014, Dasuki was given $2.1b to share to political elites so that the coming 2015 election will favour the ruling political party; in that same year, the then Central Bank governor declared that $20b is missing from the NNPC’s account at the Central Bank; in 2016, a Canadian professor declared that Nigeria spent $1,5t on foreign education (see The Guardian, 28th August, 2017); in March 2021, the FEC approved $1.5b for turnaround maintenance of the Port Harcourt refinery that has not refined one barrel of crude oil in the past five years; over 70% of Nigerians live below the poverty line, yet a federal legislator is paid over N29m monthly; over the past 20 years, SPDC has reported that about 100,000 barrels of Nigeria’s crude oil is stolen daily and at an average price of $50 per barrel, this equals $1.75b or N665b per annum. The total estimation of these stolen, lost and wasted resources have not been investigated and culprits rewarded accordingly. What is wrong with Nigeria? Indiscipline is the problem; therefore discipline will be the solution.


What is discipline? Morality and discipline are synonyms and will be used interchangeably here. Omoregbe (1993: 71) describes morality as follows: to perform an action is to use it as a means to an end…if the end aimed at is evil, the action as a whole is evil even if the means…is good, for a good means cannot justify an evil end”. This means that morality is about the good or the bad; but because morality is strictly more for the just, it is favourable to the good. Two key issues are here: the means and the end. To morality both should be good. Even if the end is bad, let the means be good; and the corollary that even if the means is bad, it is good if the end is good. The later is the Machiavelistic thesis which most Nigerian political leaders adopt in pursuing development efforts and ruin it.


The issue of the end is important because aiming at an undefined end is dangerous. When you do not know where you are going, where you are coming from becomes golden and frosty. I am not sure Nigeria knows what type of development she needs or to target or aspire to achieve.


On discipline, “it is a means to an end, it does not reside on any action but the purpose intended for the action. An action will serve moral purpose if it is intended to serve the good of the people irrespective of personal interests or emotions”. Nigerian political leaders use the wrong or bad means aiming to achieve the good end and it most times backfires. Evil cannot beget good! Discipline is doing what is right or good.


The concept of development has no generally agreed definition. Many argue, especially political leaders in Third World countries, that development is the provision of infrastructure or change or improvement or transformation or increase in the nation’s GDP or income per capita. Amaele (2014:189) describes development as follows: while it is true that one cannot do without infrastructure, it is difficult to defend the thesis that the provision of infrastructure and or industries alone can speak for the development of a place. When government embarks on massive road construction, building of model schools, scholarships, hospitals etc…have the problems of traffic congestion …in that place been addressed or tackled?  When model schools are built, have the basic problems of education, like examination malpractice, quality of education, truancy and dropout addressed?


Consequently, development is not the building of roads, railways, schools, hospitals and health centres; these are facilitators of development and cannot be development on their own. Growth or otherwise in economic metrics is not development: low interest rates, low inflation, low debt portfolio, high GDP rate and so on. How do all these affect the goodness of ALL the people? Economists with human face now have a new view of development, provoked by Dudley Seers when he asked: “what has been happening to poverty? What has been happening to unemployment? What has been happening to inequality?” (Todaro and Smith 2015:17). In other words, the focal point of development is the human being. As a condition, the human being according to Amartya Sen must have “capability to function”. Consequently, “development implies increased skills and capacity, greater freedom, greater self discipline, responsibility and material wellbing”. Thus development must be about goodness in “purpose, intention, aim; which must be bettering human life, else it is not development but waste.  Change, infrastructure, economic growth cannot be divorced from morality. Development must be built on morality and discipline…that can bring about positive change in all sectors”. Otherwise, it is not development and what you will have is “a government made up of dishonest fraudulent leaders, a fang of thieves and treasury batters…with the key to national treasury in their hands”.


The nexus between discipline and development is goodness: both strongly seek for the good of the state, hence they are linearly related with development depending on discipline.


What are the effects of indiscipline or lack of discipline? Indiscipline nurtures, breeds and grows impatience and when this happens, orderliness is killed and buried. Indiscipline will always give birth to a weird octopus called corruption which destroys the essentiality of humanity, enables political leaders to see stealing of public funds meant for development as their right and duty. With impatience and corruption, everyone fights for survival not living, crimes and insecurity take over the land as cultism, kidnapping, banditry, herdsmen and women, rape, armed robbery, religious and ethnic killings. With insecurity, peace and development are killed. When underdevelopment is added to the “body bags”, numerous afflictions become the people’s inheritance, welcoming them to anger, hatred, mental torture, health cardiacs, depression, insanity and sudden unwanted deaths. At this point, life is governed by fraudulent behaviours which kill decent means of livelihood and all of a sudden the good is shamefully forced into minority status. Underdeveloped becomes the nation’s tag and name. These are the consequences of indiscipline that have catapulted Nigeria to manifest those despicable things mentioned earlier.


Panacea! Mandatory morality education at all levels of formal education in Nigeria; reinvent the war against indiscipline, verifiable character standing should inform participation in national politics which also must be hinged on relevant ideologies. Values must dictate family and national ethos, pathos and logos such that reward should be unequivocally instant, merit must be the basis for allocating national opportunities. Nigerians must do the right things.


Nigeria must know that as an entity, its unity is NEVER sacrosanct. With huge injustice across the land perpetuated by political leaders who cut across all the groups in the country, restructuring may not be the ultimate solution. We need discipline, justice and development. With discipline, Amotekun and Ebubeagu will self destruct and we can deal decisively with those horrible manifestations earlier mentioned. Otherwise, sooner or later, welcome to an underdeveloped Nigeria ready and willing to burst, even restructuring cannot stop it.