Nigeria Matters

Collapse The States

Nigeria is presently governed and populated by rudderless leadership – and as well by such terrible followership to the extent of being led by the nostrils like some Elizabethan or Shakespearean mob. Otherwise, how can one rationalise the recent clamour and support for the creation of states by these rudderless individuals if not that that would be the only way for the rudderless leaders to lay claims to relevance and justify the obnoxious sums of monies they cart away for occupying positions that best can be described as sinecures.

For the purpose of substantiating these claims, let us call on history. In the early 70s when Nigeria’s leaders were creating states, they created these states on the premise that Nigeria had too much money pouring in from oil, and had no idea what to do with it. And to a large extent, that set the tone for the wanton profligacy today, which is the hall mark of an often so-called nascent democracy. But some of the leaders, like Murtala Muhammad had honest intentions (at least in my estimation) because while those rudderless Nigerians saw themselves as having no idea what to do with money from oil, Murtala’s concept of state-creation was hinged on bringing development closer to the people (at least that was the key phrase in the speech he read while decreeing the creation of states). And if I may digress here a little bit, I dare say that development can never be development unless it is sustainable and operated in such a manner that it builds the people who should be the direct beneficiaries of the dividends of democracy, instead of erecting mansions and edifices that are directly and indirectly disproportional to the aspirations of the Nigerian and his uplift.

And that said, we come to the point where these rudderless people devised this skewed formulae of using the proceeds of oil to ‘develop’ (a synonym for enrichment and corrupt enrichment) other areas of Nigeria, leaving the communities where this oil comes from to such neglect. Therefore, the theme behind the creation of states is still that same theme of the pre and post that there is a well of somewhere where any lazy person can just go to and fetch a bucketful of money.

But what really is the argument that the proponents of states creation are pursuing? Simply put, they say they want to bring development closer to the people. But that is a lie isn’t it – and if English as a language is not as prescriptive as it is, I would have said that that is the lie, liar and liest thing to say. Indeed, the average politician speaks with two mouths and would define ‘people’ from the dictionary in his pocket – after all, isn’t that what he really means when he says the word ‘people’? Therefore, those who are thinking of creating states in fact are those people who hope to benefit as much as they can from the oil exploration in the Niger Delta, not minding the toll that that exploration takes on the ecosystem from where that oil comes from. They are a people who feel short-changed somewhat in the boju-boju game that politics is all about, and just know that if not politics as practised here in Nigeria, where else would you go to, to earn monies that gets you mansions and flashy cars just like that?

For me, creation of states is a mere duplication of the over bloated apparatchik of governance. Take an instance of the creation of state X. With its creation, a governor would emerge who would only come cap in hand to Abuja to collect monies. And in a likely case, these monies would go to his own pockets anyway, not to talk of the fact that he is unlikely to be able to harness the environment his state is located for the development these jobless people are clamouring about. And at the end of the day, what we will experience is an additional burden to the farms, rivers, lakes and the natural environment of the Niger Delta. Let us look at Abuja for instance: that entity does not have industries does not produce any exportable commodity that should add value to Nigeria’s pocket as a nation. Yet, it is the one place where the money from exploration of oil from the Niger Delta is spent. Of course it is our federal capital but we should not further insult the people of the Niger Delta by asking for the creation of more states.

What we should do, I think, is for us to collapse the existing system. There are many states today that are not viable – all they do is wait for money they will share at the end of the month – not one today among the ones that are even viable (so-called and apart from Lagos and Kano) is producing anything with which to run their states . They do not add value even to their people. The second thing is for us to truly make independent and strengthen the capacity of the subsisting agencies like the EFCC, ICPC already in place to ensure accountability, fiscal federalism and the rule of law.

That call for creation of states is an insult.

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