Praise Singing: The Root Cause of Underdevelopment in the Niger Delta



By Engr John Perede Akpoyibo.

The Niger Delta region of Nigeria has long been plagued by issues of underdevelopment, financial mismanagement, and a lack of accountability within the political system. One significant factor that has perpetuated this cycle of underdevelopment is the pervasive culture of praise singing, where young people sing the praises of underperforming politicians in exchange for meager financial rewards. This practice not only masks the true extent of mismanagement but also undermines the region’s progress and hinders the development of a vibrant and accountable democracy. In this article, we will explore how praise singing has become the root cause of underdevelopment in the Niger Delta and discuss the urgent need for a change in approach.

1. Misappropriation of Resources and Lack of Accountability:
The Niger Delta region has witnessed substantial financial wastage and misappropriation of statutory and local government allocations throughout the democratic era. Local government chairmen, governors, and other political officeholders have consistently failed to account for the funds allocated to them. This widespread financial mismanagement has led to the stagnation of development projects and the abandonment of crucial infrastructure initiatives. Praise singing, which offers a form of validation and support to these underperforming politicians, further perpetuates their mismanagement, as they face minimal consequences for their actions.

2. Distorted Political Priorities:
The practice of praise singing distorts the priorities of political officeholders, diverting their attention from serving the needs of the people to maintaining their political image. When politicians realize they can rely on praise singers for support, they are less inclined to focus on delivering essential services, improving governance, and implementing developmental projects. This leads to a widening gap between the intended effect of government policies and the actual benefits received by the people.

3. Inhibited Citizen Engagement:
The culture of praise singing discourages critical thinking and active citizenship among the youth in the Niger Delta. Instead of holding politicians accountable for their actions, young people often engage in praise singing as a means of survival. This lack of citizen engagement allows politicians to operate with impunity, knowing they can exploit the vulnerability of the youth for their own benefit. Consequently, the voices of the people are stifled, and opportunities for meaningful progress are lost.

4. Lack of Transparency and Accountability Mechanisms:
For progress to occur in the Niger Delta, there is an urgent need to establish robust transparency and accountability mechanisms. One vital step in this direction is the domestication of freedom of information bills in the region. These bills would ensure that information regarding government budgets, expenditures, and projects is accessible to the public, allowing citizens to hold their elected officials accountable. However, praise singing often serves as a distraction from demanding such reforms, further perpetuating the cycle of underdevelopment.

5.Discouraging the Act of Divide and Rule:
In addition to the detrimental effects of praise singing, the act of divide and rule has further perpetuated underdevelopment in the Niger Delta. Politicians have often exploited ethnic, religious, and regional differences to create divisions among the people. This strategy not only weakens the collective voice of the region but also distracts citizens from holding their leaders accountable for their actions. To break free from this cycle, it is essential for young people in the Niger Delta to recognize and reject the divisive tactics employed by politicians.
6.The Way Forward:
To break free from the shackles of underdevelopment, the youth of the Niger Delta must take a stand against the practice of praise singing. It is crucial for them to evaluate the performance of political officeholders objectively, demand accountability, and actively engage in the political process. By focusing on tangible results rather than blind loyalty, young people can help reshape the political landscape and demand the development their region deserves.
By promoting unity, cooperation, and a shared vision for development, the youth can transcend the barriers that have hindered progress in the region. They can foster a culture of inclusivity and actively work towards bridging ethnic and regional divides. This shift in approach will enable them to focus on common goals and hold politicians accountable for their promises, regardless of their ethnic or political affiliations.
Furthermore, civic education and awareness programs can play a crucial role in educating the youth about the manipulative tactics used by politicians to divide and rule. By equipping young people with the knowledge and understanding of these strategies, they can resist falling victim to divisive politics and work together towards the collective betterment of the Niger Delta.

Discouraging the act of divide and rule is another critical aspect of the shift in approach required to combat underdevelopment in the Niger Delta. By fostering unity, rejecting divisive tactics, and promoting a shared vision for development, the youth can challenge the status quo and pave the way for a more inclusive, accountable, and prosperous future in the region.

Praise singing has become a detrimental practice that perpetuates underdevelopment in the Niger Delta. It allows politicians to evade accountability, mismanage resources, and neglect the needs of the people. Breaking free from this cycle requires a collective effort from the youth to challenge the status quo, demand transparency, and actively engage in holding their elected officials accountable. Only through such a shift in approach can the Niger Delta region pave the way for genuine progress and a brighter future.



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