Nigerians Are Poor Because Nigerians Are Not Free.

img_5602Nigerians are not free because of government. Free in this sense means absence of force or threat of it. There are two sources of force. One source is government and the other is non-governmental. To be prosperous, Nigeria needs to be design in such a way as to minimize force from both sources, thereby maximizing freedom.

Minimizing force cause by government

All government actions are force and therefore must be minimized under a free society. For example, when a government tells you to do something, you must do it otherwise be punished. The best way to minimize such force is not to assign government too much power. This means to limit the functions of government to only a few legitimate ones specifically geared to protect you from the second source of force. That is, protect you from people who want to hurt you both within and outside Nigeria and provide substitute to market failures.

Minimizing force cause by non-governmental agents

Aside government laws, people could violate your freedom by causing you harm on your body or property. Courts are set up to settle disputes arising from such violations as well as punish offenders so as to provide justice and deter future violations. Police and defense are also set up to protect you from others wanting to hurt you. That is why police patrol our streets to protect us from those who want to hurt us and soldiers protect our borders.

Natural monopolies also threaten your freedom by not giving you options. Government could subsidies such services (rural internet service), put a price cap (electricity) or even provide one (water).

What functions should government undertakes to protect you?

Defense is an example of one of the few legitimate functions of government to protect you from forces outside the country. Police is another function to protect you from forces within the country. Others are to establish a court system for settling disputes; look out for children and the disabled; and lastly provide substitute for market failures. Most of these functions of government must be assign to states while fewer to federal. This is knows as decentralization.

Now you might ask, Nigeria has police, courts and all the defense forces. Why does the country suffers from so much insecurity?

Part of the answer is for example, our police is not decentralized. That is, we do not have independent community, Local Government Area and state police hence the police system is corrupt and doesn’t protect Nigerians and their properties as it should. Many if not all of the legitimate functions of government in Nigeria follow the police example above except defense and federal courts.

The other part of the answer further makes the decentralization problem above worse because government at all levels in Nigeria are doing so much more than the legitimate functions I mentioned. For example, JAMB, NECO, NNPC are few of the several duties that no government should ever provide. They shouldn’t do it because these items are not part of those that protect you. Also important, is that you as a private person is better at providing JAMB (for example) than the government.

Conclusion and why freedom is important

Advanced countries are doing much better than Nigeria in the area of human, economic and political life because of freedom. Freedom enables individuals to achieve prosperity, peace and stability because human beings are incompatible with force. That is, we do not live our best when forced or threatened with force and the reason why we need to minimize the power of government and use government only to protect and preserve freedom. This is what True Federalism means to me.

I like to use this analogy to tell an ideal relationship between you and government,

A government is like a tiger, it can guard your house from intruders but you need to put a barrier between you and the tiger so it can’t get to you otherwise it is going to hurt you.

You must put a barrier between you and government by limiting its function to only those that protect and preserve your freedom. You, as a private individual, could then live your life and use your property the way you want it.

Learn more about what’s wrong with the current system of government in Nigeria.

Take action, advocate for True Federalism in Nigeria.