• Thursday, June 20, 2024
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BusinessDay

It simply isn’t working!

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I’m supposed to be on a ten day break, and as such writing an article was never part of this week’s plan. But after reading the Vice President’s statement regarding the more and more vociferous calls for a restructuring of Nigeria, I feel duty bound to clarify what seems to be a huge misunderstanding regarding not only the reasons so many of us desire this ‘back to basics’ solution, but also the numerous gains that will no doubt arise as a result.

But if I’m thoroughly honest the likely-hood of breaking my holiday time to pen my thoughts on this particularly important matter was always fairly high, bearing in mind Mr. President’s attitude towards it.

This rather odd notion that the status quo must be preserved at all costs; that the mode of federalism which presently exists – albeit precariously and by no small means fractiously – is the only possible and true way in which Nigeria can survive and prosper continues to baffle my senses to the point of desperate exasperation.

They say the definition of madness is continuing to do the same thing over and over again and expecting a different and better result. Surely our somewhat misguided determination to persist with this particular choice of sovereignty is nothing short of outright naivety.

Why?

Allow me to give you five basic reasons why the current federal system will continue to fail us.

  • Way too expensive: We simply cannot afford this system. The costs of running for office are absurdly high, resulting in those that succeed having only one thing on their mind- how to get their money back. Furthermore the cost of running government is simply ridiculous – made so much worse by ‘federal character’ appointments. Rather than have two/ three ministers for one portfolio in order to promote ‘federal character’ why not have the best people serving their respective regions?

 

  • Centralised power always leads to trouble: Absolute power corrupts absolutely. A system wherein too much authority is vested in the centre will always lead to flagrant abuses power. Indeed this is one of the main reasons why the people of Britain recently voted to leave the EU. Whenever power is too centralised the needs and requirements of the people are very rarely met. Whilst many believe Britain made a huge mistake by voting for Brexit the fact remains that the majority of the British population feel their interests are not being met by those at the centre – Brussels.

 

  • Pathetic dependency: The fact that so many states across Nigeria continue to depend on the centre for sustenance is not only hard to fathom but is increasingly becoming a very bitter pill to swallow. That this facile dependency on the central government’s oil money has deprived so many states of initiative, development, and progress is blatantly obvious. If we want this nation to become self sufficient then we must encourage regions to develop and promote the natural resources they are so very blessed with.

The strongest resistance to restructuring comes from the North – from an ill placed fear that the rest of the nation would progress so much and so far as to leave it behind. Well, one can’t lie – the reality is that unless the North wakes up and embraces what God has blessed it with – land and agriculture – it will indeed fall far behind the rest.

And what’s the topic of the moment? Is it not agriculture? Is agriculture not one of Nigeria’s biggest hopes of angling away from a dependency on crude oil revenue? And is not the north blessed with cattle and fertile land??

There’s no reason for anyone in the north to fear. Actually maybe a little – for there is likely to be some discomfort in the early stages, due to the likely job losses that will occur as a result of re-channelling focus, energy and resources. However this is where the support of the other regions must come into play. Regional restructuring shouldn’t mean every man for himself. Rather, all regions should try and help each other as best they can – even if it means firmly holding each other’s hands during the early stages so that no-one is left behind. In this case all other regions must help the north as best they can – to ensure that the north achieves its huge potential.

 

Security
The nation’s centralised Police Force hasn’t been a great success. Security has never been and still isn’t our forte. A regional police system will go a long way towards not only fostering better security and safety for all, but also pave the way for more professional and service focused police forces across the nation.

 

Ethnic rivalry
Is anybody else tired of the constant ethic suspicions? The South West insists the north is holding it back, the Igbos quite rightly remain upset about the catastrophic events of the late sixties, and the north continues to believe it has some sort of divine right to rule.

 

These emotions / beliefs are permanently festering beneath the surface; and more than capable of causing active, if not violent unrest across the nation.

A little over the top? Allow me to give you an example.

During a recent conversation with a friend and business associate, my friend made the following statement.

“I think we all made a huge mistake in voting for Buhari. I also think he’s part of a northern agenda. Like this whole Fulani herdsmen thing – not once has Buhari publicly apologised to the families of those that were killed, or even addressed the nation.”

I wouldn’t go so far as to say that voting for Buhari was a mistake. Yes I’m definitely not impressed with his administration’s dire economic performance, but because I believe we needed a government that would stem the heavier than heavy tide of corruption, I’m of the view that this is the government the nation needs right now.

However there are some loaded and indeed poignant points in my friend’s statement. For the sake of this article’s subject matter, let’s focus on just one – northern agenda.

Are we really here again?

Are we really wondering about a northern agenda again?

Feels like we’re back in the 60’s. Or is it the 80s? The 90s? Okay maybe all of them. In other words we have made absolutely zero progress as a nation.

Why?

Do I really need to spell it out?

Fine – This system simply isn’t working!

 

Segun Akande