• Monday, May 27, 2024
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Terribly divided at 60: Will there be a United Nation!

We Choose to Celebrate

In a reply to the growing accusations of the PMB government as ineffective and dividing the country with nepotistic policies, actions and inactions, the Presidency through Femi Adesina unsurprisingly maintained that PMB inherited a ‘terribly’ divided country. And not done, he traced the division to 1914 and as such nothing new and nothing to worry about. Focusing mainly on General Olusegun Obasanjo and Professor Wole Soyinka, Adesina dismissed their counsels with the view that they are habitual critics of every government who never supported the PMB quest for power in 2015. Wonderful and interesting submission!

No doubt that Nigeria has been divided since 1914, the question for Chief Femi is what has the present government done to heal and unify a divided country since their triumph to power in 2015.

Is it through the lop-sided appointments most glaring in heads of security agencies and other sectors? Is it through equitable distribution of heads of the executive, legislature and judiciary arms of government or in the transparent and just application of policies, allocation of national resources and recruitment in our public agencies?

Revising the question, why is there a rapidly growing consensus across Nigeria that PMB’s government has through actions and inactions created more divisions and disunity like never seen before.

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The problem with Nigeria’s leadership particularly PMB’s government is the unfortunate unwillingness to appreciate that Nigeria is a very plural society and then the appropriate structure of governance to achieve sustainable growth. Nigeria is like a malaria patient that is being treated with paracetamol due to improper diagnosis by the medical team.

Expectedly the patient will have volatile temperatures with illusionary signs of recovery. Lower temperature in the morning, high in the afternoon and mixed in the night. With such volatility, the focus of attention moves to the changing temperature rather than the cause of the changes.

While the medical team will blame the patient possibly due to his reluctance to continue with the unending medication or external relations urging the patient to disobey the medical instructions, the spiritually connected will blame it on an evil spirit that comes in the afternoon and night.

With an immense power at the centre, Nigeria has been turned into a theatre of power competition instead of a centre for development competition

To another medical team, the situation is due to the behaviour, cluelessness or body language of the chief consultant or medical director. If the chief consultant is eventually changed possibly after four or eight years of trying, some of the doctors, nurses and other members in the team will quickly join the new chief consultant blaming the old and former chief consultant for his lack of firmness to insist on the dosage of paracetamol.

After a sudden increase in paracetamol and the ailment subsides and persists, the chief consultant and his new team quickly takes credit for the temporary relief and subsequently blames the ailment persistence on the fake paracetamol administered by the former chief consultant and the blame goes on while the patient’s health deteriorates.

At 60, looking at his vast resources, his wives, children born and unborn, the patient begs to live! Will he survive to see and enjoy the potentials of his big polygamous family? Yes, he might but depends on the humility of all his medical teams particularly the present one to do a proper diagnosis of his ailment and offer the appropriate medication.

Just as paracetamol cannot cure malaria, so is the impossibility of Nigeria’s sustainable growth and development with the present structure of governance. What we need is a structure of governance most suited for a plural society.

According to Van Den Berghe (1964: 2), “a society is pluralistic to the extent that it is structurally segmented and culturally diverse. In more operational terms, pluralism is characterised by the relative absence of value consensus; the relative rigidity and clarity of group definition; the relative presence of conflict, or, at least, of lack of integration and complementarity between various parts of the social system; the segmentary and specific character of relationship, and the relative existence of sheer institutional duplication (as opposed to functional differentiation or specialisation) between the various segments of the society.”

With the above a perfect description of Nigeria, our focus as a country (particularly our leaders) is to identify, accept, apply and sustain a structure of governance that is suitable for a plural society. That structure is a properly organised devolved system of governance. Anything to the contrary presents us with one option. The country will continue in her free fall until it completely fails and disintegrates. As this is the most unlikely outcome that anybody will want including the present government, the only alternative is to make hay while the sun shines.

With an immense power at the centre, Nigeria has been turned into a theatre of power competition instead of a centre for development competition. As such, who becomes the president and the tribe of the person becomes a do or die affair. Nothing matters in the assessment of the individual than his tribe and loyalty to his government most prominent from his tribesmen! Should we continue like this? I don’t think so! There is no justification and it benefits nobody.

Since, 1960, the North has been in power more than any other section in Nigeria. However, in all development indices the North is behind. In the last National Bureau of Statics report on poverty in Nigeria, about 17 states in the North are included in the 20 states with the highest level of poverty.

Recalling that almost all sections of the country experienced reasonable growth and unity when we had regional government even with little resources, is not an option we can rethink, refine and adapt for sustainable and inclusive growth and development of Nigeria. As the centre cannot effectively hold and grow Nigeria, trying an alternative through power devolution to the regions and states might not be a bad idea. Another 60 years is not guaranteed!

Dr. Ngwu, is an Economist/Associate Professor of Strategy, Risk Management & Corporate Governance, Lagos Business School and a Member, Expert Network, World Economic Forum. E-mail- [email protected]