Nigeria At 47: Which Way Forward?

This paper was delivered on September 30, 2007 at the Nigerian embassy in Moscow, Russia, in commemoration of the Independence Anniversary. The paper analysed the causes of the present political, economic and social crises the country is facing and proposed two options for solving the crises. The implementation of the first option will ensure the unity and fast development of the country. If it is unattainable, then the second option is …

“I have already proved that the inability to win the battle against corruption could hamper economic growth and also be an obstacle to overcoming poverty. However, the war against corruption should only be an integral part of a broader action plan which is necessary. In actual fact, ‘incompetence’ could equally be a serious barrier to development like corruption.”

Joseph Stiglits. Nobel Laureate in Economics.
Excerpt of interview in the Russian edition of The Economics.
(Translated into English by the writer)

“When you raise people of little morals, when you raise half-baked characters to rule over the people, you are just sending a message to the people that that morality is nothing and you end up destroying the society.”

Yinka Odumakin. Publicity Secretary of Afenifere.
Excerpt of interview given to Daily Independent in May, 2007.

” I was worried as soon as [Vladmir Putin] was appointed as a successor. At that time, the world was rather optimistic, upbeat, saying he’s young and energetic, as if it is good to have a young and energetic bastard.”

Vladmir Bukovsky. Russian dissident on exile in Britain since 1976.
Excerpt of interview with a leading Moscow based English language newspaper.

TAKING A HONEST STOCK AT 47

Today, if we are going to be honest with ourselves, it’s obvious that Nigeria at 47 is not only more divided than before but is as well in serious economic, political and social crises. The alarming rate at which Nigerians are trooping out of the country, kidnapping of foreign oil workers, MASSOB, MEND and other militant and political groups clamoring for independence are more than enough evidence to support this claim. Nigeria has made more than $300 billion from oil nevertheless the country is among the poorest in the world and has a shocking 42.2 years average life span.

The $1 billion question now is how did this come about? Some may be tempted to say that it is corruption. Though that might be true, however based on my objective analysis, I came to the conclusion that we are in the present crises because of bad leadership. It is bad leadership that leads to corruption and not vice versa. This assertion has been proved over and over by different political scientists and analysts.

Nigeria, from independence has been ruled practically by the Military and/or Northerners who unfortunately lack the necessary professional background, wisdom and vision to lead successfully. Moreover, suffice to say that the Nigerian Military, Police and State Security Service are the most corrupt and morally bankrupt government institutions in the country.

The present political system is ineffective in the sense that it does not allow “the best of the best” among us to represent us. In addition, it allows a particular region to maintain their monopoly in power while at the same time depriving minority groups, who lay the “golden eggs” that feed the whole Nigeria an equal say in how their resources are used and how the country is run in general.

We have achieved remarkable success in football because we are represented by our best. Unfortunately, when it comes to choosing, electing or appointing our ministers, permanent secretaries, diplomats, ambassadors, scholarship students, advisers, directors of government companies, NTA news casters and even president, we quickly forget about “excellence” and take to “quota system.” So, why don’t we use quota system to select our footballers? Am I to understand that football is more important than education, foreign affairs, health, agriculture, security, electricity, pipe borne water, e.t.c. Isn’t this hypocrisy on the part of the government?

Despite the fact that the country is blessed with some of the best brains in the world, it’s a big tragedy that our country was led by people like Gowon, IBB, alias ‘evil genius,’ Shagari, Abacha, Buhari, Obasanjo e.t.c. The rule of these military dictators and weak civilian presidents has not only led to the loss of lives of millions of Nigerians, but has as well given room to corruption, mismanagement and a total breakdown of democratic institutions which are undoubtedly an integral part of development in any civil society.

It took Yar’Adua more than 2 months just to form a cabinet. There are about 39 ministers in his cabinet. It’s worth mentioning that even Russia, the biggest country in the world by landmass, the United States, the richest country in the world and China, the most populated country in the world do not have 39 ministers!

The present Constitution is a 419 or fraudulent Constitution that deprives bonafide owners the right to the use of their land, mineral and human resources for their own development. For example, billions of dollars have been squandered on “white elephants” project called “Abuja” while the bonafide owners of the resources are still wallowing in abject poverty. What have these people benefited from being part of Nigeria? Their gain so far are only tears, pollution, abject poverty, very high children/infant mortality rate, different diseases, lack of access to clean water, medical service, electricity, education, one of the lowest average life span in the world e.t.c.

Today, the whole of the South east and South south reminds one of a “war zone.” The question we should ask ourselves is “Can there be unity without justice? Does the fact that the new capital is located in the middle of the country tantamount to the unity of the country? Definitely No!
A country or nation is united not because the populace is made to live forcefully together in a new capital, located in the middle, which happens to be in the North, but because the leaders care about the well-being of the populace, most especially the minorities and every Nigerian is treated “fairly” and have “equal opportunity” where ever he or she may be residing in Nigeria. But please don’t confuse equal opportunity with quota system. They are absolutely different.

Nigeria‘s Constitution is a Constitution that robs Peter to pay Paul all in the name of building a false “One Nigeria” at any cost. The Constitution starts with “We Nigerians” although, it is a known fact that neither the present generation nor our grand fathers took part in the drafting of the Constitution but was drafted by the Northern led Military junta.

Given the present political, economic and social situations in the country, there are two solutions to Nigeria‘s problems. The first is a true federalism that will allow people not o

nly to choose their real leaders but most importantly allow them to use their land, mineral and human resources first and foremost for their own development. In addition, a realization of this will also go a long way in correcting the injustice which has been threatening the unity and development of the country.

It is completely “unacceptable” that the “One Nigeria” project should be built or implemented at the expense of other people or regions. The present
“Monkey dey work, baboon dey chop” lopsided relationship is not only unfair, but will lead to more political, economic and social crises. Since all fingers are not equal, subsequently every region should be allowed to develop at its own pace, which will be a “true reflection” of their capability.

Unfortunately, instead of Yar’Adua boldly pursuing a “political reform,” a reasonable and fair option, which the whole of the south has been agitating for, he has decided to squander Nigeria‘s human and financial resources on an electoral reforms committee, which falls short of solving the present political, social and economic crises. In my opinion, this is another “Hide and seek game” that has been purposely put in action to maintain the status quo of political hegemony and in order to avoid solving the “core issues” which have been the bane to our development and unity. How does one also explain the fact that Yar’Adua released from custody Dokubo, the leader of one of the Niger delta militant groups but Nwazuruike, the leader of MASSOB is still being held in custody for the same offence? Is this not another case of insincerity and hypocrisy?

If the first option is not attainable, then the second option left is a peaceful division of the country.

Written by
Bode Eluyera
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