*Nigeria must not sink
By Adewale T. Akande
On April 1st, 1953, Chief Anthony Enahoro, a back bencher in the Central House of Representatives as it was called then introduced a private member's Bill demanding for self-government for Nigeria by 1956. His historic motion was developed and later realised on 1st of October, 1960 with collected efforts and cooperation of our early nationalists and founding fathers of Nigeria which include Sir Ahmadu Bello, the Sardauna of Sokoto, Dr.Nnamdi Azikwe, Chief Obafemi Awolowo and Dr.M.I.Okpara, all of the late memories.
These are leaders with the values of patriotism, with uncompromising emphasis on integrity of character. These people meant well and seek for a country with milk and honey, a true federalism where democracy flourish, where fundamental human rights are respected, where there is free and qualitative education, good health services without need to travel abroad for medical treatment every months, undisrupted electricity supply, regular supply of drinking water and good road network linking all states of federations. But what we are now experiencing is exactly the opposite of all listed above. If there is a life after death: What do we think our past nationalists and founding fathers in heaven will be saying by now? Are we saying now, that, after 49 years of independence we cannot produce a leader that can lead us to a “good government and welfare of all persons in our country...”as firmly and solemnly resolved in our constitution? Where are those men and women to transform our resources into greatness? How are our leaders wanted to be remembered? Do these present leaders have REAL vision for Nigeria? They keep on talking about vision every year without serious goals, planning or implementing integrity and dedication. What are the outcomes of the National Political Reforms Conference inaugurated on February 21,2005 by President Obasanjo? No miracle will happen if these set of greed and selfish leaders are in realm of power. They should be VOTED out. They should remember the great words of Franklin D. Roosevelt that” Happiness is not in the mere possession of money; it lies in the joy of achievement, in the thrill of creative efforts”. Where are those past leaders that stole billions of Nigerians money?
Meanwhile, we should get it clear that, the difference between a poor country and the rich or developed nation is not the age of that country. If anybody compares our years of independence with that of other developed countries as an excuse for our under-development, it is either, that the person is suffering from dementia or does not meant well for Nigeria as a nation. Is the giant of Africa not sinking down? Greatness is not based on rhetoric but on achievements. Judging with the country’s God gift in natural and human resources; the largest crude oil producer in Africa, the second largest oil reserves in Africa and this reserves make us the tenth most petroleum-rich nation in the world, its strategic geographical location, with its inherently sizable market that could provide trade opportunities for all countries of the world. Nigeria could compete with ANY developed nations of the world if all these opportunities are well managed and utilised. To know that nature is not cruel to us, according to a recent publication of America Oil and Gas Journal (OGJ), Nigeria had an estimated 36.2 billion barrels of proven oil reserves as of January 2009. To be sincere with ourselves: Can we name five important things that the country has achieved since 49 years ago? What have we gain from the six successful military coups and four failed ones? Everybody embraces and tolerate bribery and corruption. Is it Unity, Peace and Stability to talk about? Is it good militarism or democratic governance? Is it the present state of our education or health sectors? Nigeria name is fading in the world of sports? To qualify for the first edition of soccer world-cup in an African soil is a problem. Nigerians now prefer to watch English premier soccer league than Nigerian soccer league matches. Many Nigeria professionals left the country to escape impoverishment and political repression. Who do you think will come and invest where there is no security to human lives? We cannot boast of good road or railway network in the country. We cannot conduct a free and fair election and declare the winner. We don’t even love each other in all our actions. With LOVE, all these problems wouldn’t have exist! Our developing rate is as slow as snail. Time waits for nobody. Time and resources wasting culture is not new in all sectors. A government worker can hardly spend four hours judiciously and productively from his or her eight hours daily working agreement. All these have both short and long time effects on the nation’s productivity. China clocks sixty recently. A country that was once rated among the poorest nations of the world few years ago has now become the heartbeat of the world. Tell me a place in the universe where there is no Chinese product? Malaysia came to Nigeria forty-nine years ago and took away palm-seedlings. Now, Malaysia is the largest exporter of palm oil in the world while we the ”good Samaritans” are still a net importer of palm oil. Are we not sinking?
We have just witnessed ten years of democracy rule (1999-2009) and we cannot conduct a free and fair election where true representatives will be emerged. Those emerged are not responsible to the electorates. Democracy cannot survive in absolutism. Democracy is not a static concept as practise by our representatives. Democracy is the best and most human form of power. It is for achievers to emerge as representatives and not those fake and greedy politicians. They can’t give what they don’t have. How many times have our representatives find time to meet their subjects at the local level. Rigging is still prominently an outstanding feature in our political life. Everybody wants power by all means. The standard of living of ordinary Nigerians has dropped to the lowest ebb. Over 70 percent of Nigerians are living below abject poverty line. Shameful as we are suffering in the midst of plenty. Ethnic and religious conflicts are mixed-up with politics. The issue of national revenue or allocation, national unity and stability leads us to the true solution to Nigeria problems, which is –True Federalism.
As Professor Wole Soyinka rightly said, “The man dies in all who keeps silent in the face of tyranny”. The foundation of any country is the education of its youth. Which foundation are we now laying if our education is in a mess? It is now time to demonstrate the capacity of our brains to rescue our nation from its doldrums and make her a great nation. Nigeria is blessed with well-educated and skilled professionals to drive the country forward. There is no country in the whole world where we don’t have Nigeria professionals. It is now time to act if we do not want a political and social catastrophe of our beloved nation. How long shall we remain in silence? Gani is gone! NANS kept mute for three months of Universities strike! How long shall we get rid of corruption, 419 syndrome, and armed robbery or kidnapping in our system? How can we keep the country from not splitting apart? How can we stop violation of human rights? The 1999 Constitution which was signed by General Abdusalam Abubakar stated that:” We the people of the Federal Republic of Nigeria: Having firmly and solemnly resolved: TO LIVE in unity and harmony as one indivisible and indissoluble sovereign nation under God.... AND TO PROVIDE for a Constitution for the purpose of promoting the good government and welfare of all people in our country on the principles of freedom, equality and Justice, and for the purpose of consolidating the Unity of our people....”. These are all misinterpreted in the concepts of Nigeria polity. We need a true federalism where each arm of government does his own functions independently, where government is based on the principles of fairness, equity and justice. In a true federalism, the national wealth should be distributed more equitably without any grievances to threaten its unity. In federalism, the country’s liquid and solid mineral resources have to be jointly exploited by both the federal government and the state involved under mutual agreement and best criteria sharing formula. This gives a lasting solution to Niger-Delta issues.
A true federalism that will generate growth, healthy competition and development among all states or regions of the federation. It is high time that states should be granted independent powers and responsibilities to perform successfully. True federalism empowers states to make treaties, respond directly to the interest of their citizens. They should be able to pass, enforce and interpret laws within their own legislative, executive and judiciary jurisdictions as done in United States of America. The wastages in central government structures and cost of governance are too much to sustain the nation. Each states should fashion or work out its own wages and salaries scale or structure and pay what it could afford to its civil servant. We need federal and states police that will be well paid, better trained and well equipped. With this in place, the issue of daylight armed robbery; kidnapping and 419 fraud will be taken care. This new arrangement will help the police to achieve their long time Mission Statement of “The creation of a safer and more secured environment conducive for meaningful socio-economic development through crime prevention and control”. In this true federalism, the central government will still retain certain jurisdictions over states in respective of federal policy, federal tax, international relations, aviation, census, federal elections, immigration, defence, currency and national security. Reforms should be made on the following sections of the Constitution of Federal Republic of Nigeria, 1999, as soonest those areas discussed above, especially on the subject of elections to the offices in the state should exclusively of state jurisdiction, mine and minerals allocations, the independent of federal and state police, issues of trade and commerce, prisons should be concurrent respectively. A new Nigeria is POSSIBLE in our time. We must not become object of ridicule to the world. Nigeria must not sink.
Written by - Adewale T. Akande, Author and Road Traffic Safety Consultant; Alicante, Spain; Phone: 0034-600877296.