‘A monopoly democracy cannot correct itself’, says Ezekwesili

By John Silas and Cyriacus Nnaji

Former Minister of Education and co-Convener, Bring Back Our Girls, Dr Oby Ezekwesili, has stated that a monopoly democracy cannot correct itself.

The ex-Vice President of the World Bank, took the position at #FixPolitics Conference which was held at the Federal Palace Hotel, Victoria Island, Lagos recently.

Speaking on her Research Findings ‘Illustrating Africa’s Broken Political Structure through Nigeria’s Condition’ Ezekwesili said “A Monopoly Democracy is fundamentally much more dangerous because of the multiple causations and correlations it has to a Country‘s performance. Evidence abounds that ‘Monopoly Democracy’ reigns unchallenged and lacking of any credible threat in Nigeria, nay Africa. A monopoly democracy cannot correct itself,” Ezekwesili said.

Comparing Competitive Political Structure and Monopoly Democracy, she said that a competitive structure is where utility is most maximized for the consumers saying that a Competitive political structure is where the welfare or wellbeing of Electorate is maximized. She maintained that for a market to be perfectly competitive market, it would have the features such as free entry and exit into the market; large number of buyers and sellers; adding that Sellers are price takers.

On the other hand, she said that Monopoly exists where a single supplier controls the product or service available in the market. She postulated that a monopoly has dominant power to set or curtail supply or raise prices to increase profits.

“A Monopoly is characterized by a lack of economic competition to produce the good or service, a lack of viable substitute goods, a high barrier to entry and a high monopoly price that is well above the seller’s marginal cost which then leads to a high monopoly profit.”

Other features of Monopoly according to Ezekwesili include a lack of incentive on the part of the supplier to offer consumers value in Quality or Price; a lack of incentive for innovation for efficiency gains and in rare cases when innovation happens, to retain the gains to self; a lack of incentive to ever change or give up the state of things.

Speaking on how Nigeria can refer to a Democracy in which there are several political parties and diverse politicians seeking to vie for elective offices from the local to nation, from legislative to executive, she said

“It is the Characteristics of the Product the political class supply that is more relevant than their number. Although the politicians may be many and are members of different parties, their dominant political

culture is the same. In the theory of market structure, Monopolies are illegal and are generally harmful for the economy and consumers’ welfare

“It is why anti-trust laws and effective regulation steps in immediately a monopoly situation is detected. It is why functional markets prevent the staying power of Monopolies. A Democracy Can Be A Monopoly Democracy! This is what happens when a Democracy is evaluated to have the same features of Economic monopoly.

“A Monopoly Democracy is fundamentally much more dangerous because of the multiple causations and correlations it has to a Country‘s Performance. Evidence abounds that ‘Monopoly Democracy’ Reigns Unchallenged and Lacking of any Credible Threat in Nigeria, nay Africa. A monopoly democracy cannot correct itself.”

She went further to state that Nigeria’s Monopoly Democracy has no incentive to yield the distortionary damage it does to Governance. In the absence of an effective regulatory system to reduce the powers of the monopoly, a few citizens can step up and take responsibility for correcting the distortion in the political system. The Monopoly Democracy is a structural defect. Every problem that is structural demands Structural Solutions.

Ezekwesili illustrating further on her research said her Research is proposing a 3 – pronged concurrent measures: “Raise the influence and exertion of the powers the electorate: Make the vote of the low-income class expensive. Raise productivity and improve political literacy for higher consciousness. Provide the Middle Class evidence of their declining wellbeing and journey to Poverty.

“Flood the political space with a new political class trained on customized content on Politics, policy and governance to offer a new political culture that subordinates collective welfare and mobilize the public to collectively compel executive and legislative actions for the reform of political and electoral system,” she said.

On who should lead the campaign she talked about the Power of Citizens’ Collective Action for Success, she said “Sound Policies (Especially Economic Policies) Strong Institutions; Effective and Efficient Priorities of Investment in Public Goods and Services, she added that Democracy becomes whatever the people want it to be. “We can’t solve problems by using the same kind of thinking we used when we created them,” Ezekwesiri stated.

Michael Famoriti, Chief Economist, Head of Stears Data Advisory & Consulting Practice, spoke on The State of the Nation.

He began by saying that Stears Data specialises in designing knowledge and data solutions to help companies drive growth. The group also uses data collection and analysis techniques to provide industry research and economic advisory services.

Famoriti began by trying to find out what the trouble with Nigeria is, adding that Nigeria struggles to produce, struggles to trade, and also struggles to raise money.

Speaking on the Nigeria’s electricity problem, he said Nigeria generates 3,000-4,000 Megawatts (MW) of electricity on average each day, adding that it is two-thirds of the output of a single dam in Washington – the Grand Coulee dam built in 1999. Referring to 2014 and 2017 World Bank survey of businesses in 40 countries, he said Nigerian businesses reported that electricity outages lasted for 380 hours on average each month and that it is almost double the number reported in the next worst country: 235 in the Central African Republic. He said 7 out of 10 businesses use a petrol or diesel generator.

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