VOICE OF LIBERTY: If Only Nigeria would take a cue from Georgia ~ ‘Lanre Olagunju


After the Independence Day address by President Goodluck Jonathan on the first of October, I was expecting the usual torrential attack and flood of criticism from Nigerians who in every rational sense, are not satisfied with the destructive pace at which the country is moving against economic development. To my astonishment, I was surprised to notice a kind of shift in the willingness of the average Nigerian elite to dish out verbal disgust on the deceptive reformation agenda of Jonathan’s administration and the Nigerian government at large. President Jonathan, who has claimed to be the most criticized president in the world need be reminded that uneasy lies the head that wears the crown. If social media was a vital tool during his electioneering campaign, he shouldn’t be surprised at its consummate potency as a bite back tool at his administration’s inadequacies.


Criticizing the inept government will not by itself bring about the much desired transformation that Nigeria earnestly deserves. But to a large extent, the involvement of the governed in governance is ensuring the sleeplessness of the present administration. One can only hope that by constantly and aggressively contesting issues of governance within the jurisdiction of freedom of speech and also by applying sharp strategic thinking, a democratic dispensation will emerge to weaken Nigeria’s present democratic kleptocracy.


Despite all the man-made ills that has befallen Nigeria, singularly as a result of the insensitivity of government cum purposeless and corrupt leadership, yet, in that impoverished state that exposes the lack and penury in the body and soul of many Nigerians, one can still catch a glimpse of hope and positivity in the average Nigerian’s expression. There’s this belief among some of my countrymen that Nigeria will be great again, and such I say is very welcoming and needed. Though you just might want to probe further and ask, “was Nigeria ever great?”

How I wish dwelling on hope and positive belief  will stop the crazy killing of innocent people by unknown gun men in the north. Oh how I wish corruption will simply die a natural death by the belief of one day e go better that is embedded in the heart of many Nigerians. Or just like President Jonathan out of no shame claimed lied to the world in his Independence Day broadcast that “In its latest report, Transparency International (TI) noted that Nigeria is the second most improved country in the effort to curb corruption.” Anyway, this has been refuted by Transparency International (TI), a Berlin-based organisation.  Unfortunately, it’s not just enough to believe, make wrong claims, and then helplessly resort into a one year prayer project to effectively pray for divine solutions to the country’s man-made problems just like my dear President has done. Again, President Jonathan must be reminded that man must do for himself that which he must do. Prayer and fasting might raise the dead, just like it actually did in the case of Lazarus in the holy book, but men had to roll away the tomb before the miracle of his resurrection. They also had to loosen his raiment and ensure that he was also fed thereafter.


Moreover, economic success is not a switch or a button to be powered on. Rather than ask Nigerians to close their eyes in prayer for the country so looters can plunder away the nation’s wealth while they do so, the nation would get a better return on time if only President Jonathan will harness the will and look into history and then take a cue from countries who have recorded breath taking and neck breaking transformation via quality and purposeful reforms.


While Nigeria was celebrating her 52nd Independence Day anniversary on the 1st of October 2012, Georgia, a small mountainous nation in the southern Caucasus held her 7th parliamentary election since her Independence from the Soviet Union in 1991. Georgia, like Nigeria, has a mountainous history of corruption. In 2001, USAID portrayed the Caucasus Republic as the single most corrupt country in the post-Soviet space. Georgia’s Sunday, November 2, 2003, parliamentary election was characterized by the kind of corruption every Nigerian electorate can easily identify with. Talk of ballot stuffing, multiple voting, late poll openings, ballots not being delivered to some polling places, and voter lists that included dead people but excluded thousands of living voters. Georgia was also notorious for its corrupt business practices. Today, Georgia has been made whole of it, as lower-level and mid-level corruption is considered virtually eliminated. Among the most important reforms Georgia had were anti-corruption measures which started out with the police. In 2004, President Mikhail   Saakashvilidismissed about 30,000 notoriously corrupt traffic policeofficers which was virtually the entire traffic police force of the Georgian National Police, for a much smaller, better-paid, and more honest force which was subsequently built around new recruits.


Saakashvili didn’t stop his anti-corruption reform with the police. He also saw to it that many of those who ruled and dominated the economy for their own purposes during the administration of Shevardnadze were incarcerated. Majority of them had to cough up millions of dollars for their freedom.

Georgia was named "top reformer." by The World Bank in 2006 and 2008. Lately, in its "Doing Business 2012" report, where countries were ranked in terms of the ease of doing business, the Caucasus nation has notably climbed from 112th to 16th place since 2005, basically as a result of massive improvements and reforms of many of its business regulations. Georgia created a vibrant economy based on free market reforms. As a result, the number of registered companies skyrocketed from 36,000 to 51, 0000 between 2005 and 2007. To this effect USAID commended Georgia for having implemented “the broadest, deepest, fastest business climate reforms of any country in the last 50 years”

When I think of the transformation of Georgia I get rejuvenated that Nigeria has a chance for greatness if reforms are implemented to tackle corruption which stands as the greatest impediment to economic growth.



‘Lanre Olagunju is a contributor and also a prize winner with African Liberty.

Georgia did rise, will Nigeria do the same?