Dividend of Democracy: What The People Want

Uyo Stadium - Akwa Ibom State
In finance, dividend is the sum of money set aside from a company’s earnings, which will be distributed to its shareholders. 

The number of shares an investor holds determines his dividend and his say in the company. So profits are divided in proportion to the shareholder’s stake.

Dividend mustn't be paid in cash. A company may decide to retain all of its earnings for growth purposes. In return, it offers additional shares to its existing shareholders (bonus issues).

However, there’s another type of dividend that Nigerian politicians and their followers often propagate. It is called dividend of democracy.

Dividend of democracy, in my opinion, is the reward every Nigerian should receive from his investment in the Nigeria project.

A company may divide its dividends according to its shareholders’ stake. But every Nigerian citizen has equal stake in the Nigeria project. As such, must have equal dividend from the country’s earnings.

Since the country won't be sharing cash dividends, I believe it will make sense to ask the citizenry how they would want to receive their dividend of democracy. I guess service delivery would be appropriate for all.

And so, on Friday 7/11/2014, a ‘dividend of democracy’ was celebrated in Akwa Ibom state of Nigeria. The state governor, Mr Godswill Akpabio presented a magnificent stadium that he built with the state’s funds. 

Now, is this stadium a dividend or an investment? If it’s a dividend what is the share of the fisherman that lives in the village of IKOM or the trader that lives in IKOT ABASI?

As an investment; how would the state break-even from the 30,000 seats stadium that was built at the cost of about $200 million? What’s the projected yearly income? How would it better the life of the poor people of the state?

In contrast, the cost of the Beijing National Stadium (Bird Nest) in 2008 was US$423 million. It has 90,000 seats, 5 star hotel, restaurants, shopping mall, etc.

The yearly maintenance cost is $9 million. According to Chanel 4 news, the owners (National Stadium Co.) are struggling to raise money to maintain it.

If the owners of Bird Nest are struggling to maintain the stadium; how would Akwa Ibom state raise money to maintain theirs?

Mr Akpabio, however, has improved the state since becoming the governor. For instance, the city of UYO, the state capital shines with its 5 star hotel. But this stadium project is a misplaced priority, in my opinion.

Some supporters of this project have made reference to how other governments spend big in hosting sport events such like Olympics. They also failed to mention that these governments make profit at the end of the events.

Let’s take Beijing 2008 and London 2012 Olympics for example. China’s expenditure = US$44 billion; net profit = US$146 million. The Bird Nest is privately owned. London 2012 spent US$14.6 billion; net profit = £52 million. The Olympic facilities have since been sold.

So what’s the purpose of Akwa Ibom stadium? Who would use the facility? Even the Abuja national stadium has been taken over by rodents for lack of usage. Is it another white elephant project by a Nigerian politician to boost his ego?

There are other projects, which these funds would have been used for. For instance, Nigeria is a country known for its medical tourism. They travel to India, Europe and America for medical attention.

As Mr Akpabio travelled to Germany to copy Bayern Munich stadium, so he should have gone to India and copy one of those hospitals that Nigerians go to. Build and equip the hospital in Akwa Ibom.

By so doing, medical tourism will shift to Akwa Ibom state. The hospital will generate income.

Finally, if the state government doesn’t share cash dividend to the people, it will offer them bonus issues. This will represent free medical services to the people of Akwa Ibom state, which in turn will become appropriate dividend of democracy.