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*How El-Rufai & Other Northern Elites Underdeveloped & Impoverished Northern Nigeria
By Intersociety Nigeria
Anambra Versus The North: How Nasir Ahmad El-Rufai & Other Northern Elites Underdeveloped & Impoverished Majority Northern Populations
(Onitsha Nigeria, Wednesday, 13th day of June 2012)-In the Social Bond or Control Theory of Travis Hirschi, social deviance including criminal offending becomes uncontrollable the moment people are made to disconnect from the core agents of socialization, especially the four areas that bind them with the core agents of socialization, that is to say: involvement, belief, attachment and engagement. The absence of the foregoing, criminologically speaking, leads to social disorganization as we see it today in the North.
Similarly, in the Strain/Anomie Theory of Emile Durkheim and Robert K. Merton, when there is disconnect between cultural goals and legitimate or socially approved means (when the two conflicts), a state of “anomie”(alienation of self from society due to conflicting norms and interests) sets in. When this state occurs, it results into five categories of social conditions of: conformity, innovation, ritualism, retreatism and rebellion. Those in the class of conformity accept the cultural goals and legitimate means; those in the innovation accept the cultural goals but use illegitimate means to achieve them; those in the ritualism lose faith in cultural goals but feel obligated to work under routines for legitimate daily life; those in the retreatism, such as drug addicts, reject both cultural goals and legitimate means and transform themselves into the dregs of the society; and those in the rebellion not only reject both cultural goals and institutionalized means, but also seek to redefine new values for the society through uprising and violence, i.e. Boko-Haram uprising in the Northern Nigeria.
It is on the premise of the foregoing that we at the International Society for Civil Liberties & the Rule of Law (Intersociety) , decide to critically evaluate the Nasir Ahmad El-Rufai’s assessment of the public governance in Anambra State of Nigeria, titled: Anambra’s Budgets of “Mispriorities” , which was widely published on 8th day of June 2012. This evaluation of ours, therefore, is in the context of Anambra versus the North in terms of soio-economic comparison. While it is a widely held view that Mallam Nasir Ahmad El-Rufai, like other Nigerians, is entitled to his opinion, but his opinion should not be expressed at the gross expense of Anambra State and its People, especially in the context of returning the State to its former pariah status, as a pariah member of the States of the Nigerian Federation, which his piece tried in vain to do. As noted by many respected writers including Barrister Daniel Elomba, the Ahmad El-Rufai’s piece is fraught with utterly discredited facts and stranger’s information. It is purely an assessment from outside observation, fed by laptop statistics.
For instance, contrary to Ahmad El-Rufai’s position in his piece, Anambra State has minimum rural-urban drift. Non- Anambra State citizens of Enugu, Imo, Ebonyi, Abia States, etc vastly populate the State’s old urban areas of Onitsha and Nnewi as well as some of the new urban areas in the State. These brother and sister-citizens have also made an inroad into Asaba, Delta State, where they built many residential houses and business facilities. Also, contrary to Ahmad El-Rufai’s submission, Anambra now has over ten urban areas of Onitsha, Ogbaru, Idemmili(Awada, Ugwuagba, Obosi, Nkpor & Omagba), Nkwere-Ezunaka/Nsugbe, Ekwulobia, Oko/Umunze, Ihiala, Awka, Igbariam/Umuleri/Aguleri, Ogidi/Abagana and Oba. Anambra population is over 5million and not “4,2million” as he erroneously stated. The State is highly urbanized and densely populated with commerce as its major economic base, engaged in by over 70% of its adult residents. Anambra State is also second to none in self-help development index with evenly spread incomes per head. In old Onitsha and Nnewi urban areas, for instance, three out of every five commercial multi-storey buildings, have their own sunk bore holes. Also, sophisticated private hospitals adorn many of these old and new urban centers. In terms of primary and secondary schools, the number of government-approved private schools surpasses those of government and missionary schools and they are evenly distributed among the old and new urban centers and semi urban areas in the State.
The number of high and low rising commercial and private buildings in Anambra State surpasses the total number of same, if any, in the seven States of the Northwest geopolitical zone put together, from where Mallam Nasir Ahmad El-Rufai comes from. As at 1997, there were over 200 private large-scale industries in Nnewi alone. Presently, the major problem hindering the industrial growth in the State is the power epilepsy, caused not by the government and people of Anambra State, but by the Federal Government (power is in the exclusive legislative list). Presently, there are over 200 markets in the State alone and more are springing up. There is no major industry in Nigeria that does not have a link to Anambra State. Any item of legitimate human use is not in short supply in the State. Forty-percent of the Internally Generated Revenues of Delta State comes from Anambra State. Therefore, the State is typically a blue-collar society and one of the juiciest sources of the police illicit enrichment due to high carriage of cash or hand-to-hand cash transactions.
In terms of public governance, Ahmad El-Rufai ought to know that another name for high self-help development index is “government made easy”, in that a society with high self-help development records reduces the burden of government in the provision of social services to its people. Anambra, like other Southeast States, to a large extent, had two major set backs before now; its post civil war challenges, which deprived its post-civil war generations and their parents of conventional education, resulting in its present adult population’s limited education especially among the male adult traders, as well as the tragedies of the early 2000s when criminal gangs took over the management of the affairs of its men and women. Perhaps, the likes of Mallam Ahmad Nasir El-Rufai are still dwelling in this past ugly history of the State per his recent lopsided assessment of the State and its public governance, by utterly ignoring the great wind of change in the State epitomized by the present popularly instituted governance, which originated in March 2006.
To govern well in Nigeria’s context and under a democratic setting, a governor must not have identity or personality and moral bankruptcy. Very importantly, he or she must not be an electoral robber and he or she must have the hallowed electoral mandate of his or her people. There are four conventional ways of sourcing funds for public governance in Nigeria, that is to say: federation accounts receipts, internally generated revenues, borrowings and local/ international grants or development funds. Among these four core areas, borrowings are not socio-economically helpful because of their devastating effects on immediate and future well being of the affected State or locality. To this effect, we give it to the present government of Anambra State, which has successfully resisted the borrowing temptations in the past six years, unlike Imo State, for instance, that has over N100Billion internal debts to its deficit. In the inglorious epoch of Dr. Chinwoke Mbadinuju, a $10Million loan was secured from an Egyptian bank, for the “building of an international market”, which was never built. Another N650Million loan was secured from a Nigerian bank for “the building of a stadium complex” in Awka, the State capital, which was also never built, to mention but a few. The debt regime under the illegitimate and unlawful regime of Dr. Chris Ngige remains utterly sketchy. Today, these loans with hash conditions are part of the $24.4Million still owed international lending institutions by the government of Anambra State. In the four core areas of fund sourcing, the government of Anambra State, under Mr. Peter Obi, has done well in the international fund sourcing or development partnerships as well as in the area of maintaining almost zero-borrowing culture both internally and externally.
However, true to Ahmad El-Rufai’s observation, the government of Mr. Peter Obi has failed woefully in the area of improving the IGR fortunes of the State, considering its vast revenue potentials. This is due to weak revenue generation mechanisms, which tend to favour illicit revenue agents, sometimes backed by some corrupt officials of the government both at State and local levels. This failure appears to have been necessitated by bountiful international patronage enjoyed by the government as well as the availability of the Local Government funds, used, under special conditions, for the development of selected infrastructures in the affected LGAs. Again, some of the deficiencies of Mr. Peter Obi’s administration are poor maintenance culture, snail-speed response to matters of urgent public importance, non-conduct of the local council polls, armchair syndrome of some, if not many of his bookish top aides and weak/ untimely enforcement of law and other conventional social controls.
As for Ahmad El-Rufai’s criticism of the Anambra’s budgets and their sectoral allocations, he missed the point frontally and logically. This is because there exists legitimate and illegitimate budgeting. Budget is legitimate when it is realistic and executable, not fat and theoretical allocation with little or zero execution capacity. It is illegitimate when it is bloated, loan and white elephant driven. It is better to have a small and realistic budget than to have lofty, loan driven and white-elephant budget. Apart from attention being given to over 20 active gully sites in the State, our field team has also found that there exists a rapid response team that timely checks the newly developed gullies in parts of the State. On-going works on two of such young gullies at Uke Community in the State is a case in point.
Still on Anambra Budgets, the present government enjoys two “government-made easy” packages, one from the high self-help development index and the other from international funding and development institutions like UNICEF, EU, World Bank, UNDP, DFID, etc. For instance, we have found that many of the 177 communities, over 1000 public/mission primary schools and 258 public/mission secondary schools in the State now have bore holes courtesy of European Union, UNICEF, etc. In Ogbaru LGA, 30 boreholes are being sunk in thirty strategic places. In all, there are 434 water projects done in the State, excluding those done by the State Ministry of Local Government & Chieftaincy Matters. Bore holes under MDGs(millennium development goals) are 186, UNICEF through RUWASSA are 154, 17 EU Water schemes, 71 bore holes from MPUWRCD, to mention but few. This is in addition to high private borehole ratio per residence in the State and attention being given to the State’s major water schemes in Awka, Onitsha, Nnewi, Obizi-Uga, etc. State’s community/general hospitals and health centers are not in short supply in the State. Most, if not all of them are provided with boreholes. Conversely, it is very important to point out that there are some boreholes, especially those sunk in hilly and dry areas that are not functioning, either due to shady jobs by contractors or difficult terrains. In the area of education, about 800 mission primary schools and about 42 mission secondary schools were returned to their missionary owners (Catholic church-over 400, Anglican church-over 300, etc), excluding the payment of their teachers’ salaries and other welfare, which is still borne by the State Government, thereby living the State with 261 public primary and 216 secondary schools. The intent for returning the schools is for moral rejuvenation.
In the areas of roads, crime rates and other social services, Ahmad El-Rufai also goofed. While many States still find it difficult connecting one LGA to another, road-wise, Anambra has gone far beyond that. The 177 communities in the State are now divided into first class, second class and third class communities in terms of link roads. All the 21 LGAs, first class and second-class communities are easily accessible road-wise. The third class communities and some important street roads in old Onitsha urban like Iyiowa Odekpe/Odo-Rubber, Okpoko/Nkutaku, Awada, Ugwuagba, Nkpor, Ogidi and Woliwo Layout/ Omagba Phase 11, are still begging for government attention. Some of these areas are new layouts. Also, major parts of the Onitsha-Enugu Federal Road, which is at the heart of the State, are still an eyesore, except few parts that have been rehabilitated. On the other hand, urban areas like Fegge, Inland Town, GRA, Nsugbe 33 and Odo-akpu all in old Onitsha urban and major parts of Nnewi have very good road network. Also, the Omambala area of the State, which used to be utterly neglected, is being transformed. Igbariam/ Umuleri and Nsugbe/Nkwere-Ezunaka are the newest urban areas in the State, which are part of the hitherto neglected areas of the State. Over 15 medium and large-scale bridges and their connecting roads have been constructed across the State’s difficult terrains. Conversely, Awka is yet to wear the deserved look of a modern State capital city, though many of its old-fashioned roads are tarred as well as erection of some key public infrastructures like State Secretariat, CBN, etc
In terms of access to justice, there are court of superior records (high courts) in Onitsha (many sub divisions), Otuocha(serving the river-line areas of Anambra East/West, Oyi and Ayamelum LGAs), Awka (many sub divisions), Aguata, Nnewi, Ogidi and Ihiala. In the area of “ high crime rates”, Ahmad El-Rufai lacks professional know-how in criminology and security studies or related fields to understand what “crime rates” are all about. Though street crimes including property crimes are normal in blue-collar society such as Anambra State, which also provides job for social control agencies, other than Northeast zone which is the most crime-prone in Nigeria presently, it is difficult to pin point any State as “being among those with highest crime rates”. Since Ahmad El-Rufai is not a crime statistician, we wonder how he arrived at the lopsided submission that Anambra has one of the highest crime rates in Nigeria, especially taking into account “dark” and “gray” figures of crime statistics as well as prevalence of white-collar crimes and crimes against persons (prevalent in the North). To credibly assess crime rates, crime must be evaluated holistically. What two white-collar criminals steal in Katsina State in a month, for instance, may most likely outweigh the total proceeds of property crimes generated in one year in the entire Southeast zone by property criminals. Contrary to Ahmad El-Rufai’s submission, crime is not restricted to “property crime” of armed robbery and hostage for ransom.
From the foregoing, therefore, it is clear that Ahmad El-Rufai’s piece is ill conceived and utterly political. It may have derived its motives from the forthcoming 2015 political power games. The piece utterly portrayed Anambra State and its People as backward, manifestly poor, under-developed, crisis and crime-prone, and above all, a pariah partner in the Nigerian Federation Project. By canonizing an electoral usurper and thief, Mallam Nasir Ahmad El-Rufai is encouraging electoral roguery and telling the Anambra electorates to always allow their hallowed electoral mandate to be stolen by an electoral criminal gang. His piece ought to be titled:” How Ahmad El-Rufai & Other Northern Elites Underdeveloped & Impoverished the Majority Northern Populations” and not, “Anambra Budgets of Mispriorities”.
The truth is that Anambra surpasses the entire North West zone by any standards of social measurement. Therefore, it is “Anambra versus the North”. While Anambra is highly urbanized, the North West and the entire North excluding the FCT are bedeviled by higher rural-urban drift because of the primitive concentration of the business of governance in the capital cities of the North. While educational opportunities in the North are reserved for Northern elites like Ahmad El-Rufai, alms and religious radicalism are reserved for the vast majority of their populations. When the Northern elites want political power, they recruit this impoverished majority into misconceived religious zealotry and after ascending to power; they reward them with weekly feeding and chaplet incantations at their palatial homes. While the real political slogan of these inhumane elites is “take money or material things and give me power, but when I get power, I will use my power to take my money back from you”, they indoctrinate this majority with “God giveth and taketh power”
Therefore, in the North, the two theories aforementioned are utterly suitable. The Boko-Haram uprising in the North is not only an “intifada” against the Federal Government, but importantly, it is also an uprising against the Northern elites, who mindlessly blocked social opportunities for the vast majority of their people for more than 25 years they held sway at the presidency. Today, the uprising is against the Federal Government and its security establishments as well as Igbo-Christians and non-Igbo Christians as well, but tomorrow, Northern elites may most likely be joined. Ahmad El-Rufai’ s handling of the landed properties of the Southeast people during his days as the FCT Minister, which made him to reveal that”75% of the properties in the FCT are owned by the Igbo people”, as well as the fate of the displaced local indigenes (Gbagi-Gwari) may be a topic for another day. The foregoing, therefore, is part of how the Northern elites including Ahmad El-Rufai under-developed and impoverished the vast Northern majority. We wish to submit that Anambra State is not poor, backward or socially disorganized, and if the North is Mogadishu, then Anambra is Tokyo.
Even in the area of external borrowings and debts, Anambra State is among the five least indebted States, whereas the North including the Ahmad El-Rufai’s North West, is heavily indebted. Some insiders have also revealed that the heaven will let loose if the internal debts profiles of many States of the Federation including States of the North are made open. The Nigeria’s Debt Management Office’s recent report of March 2012 has it that the Southwest zone is the most indebted in terms of foreign debts, with $810Million or N122Billion, followed by North West zone $458Million or N67.9Billion, with Ahmad El-Rufai’s Katsina State owing $74.13Million or N11Billion (Kaduna State owes $182.2Million or N27.3Million); followed by South-south with $289.2Million or N43.6Billion; followed by Southeast with $193.7 or N29.1Billion; followed by North-central with $190.2Million or N28.7Billon; and followed by Northeast zone with $185.1Million or N27.7Billion. The Federal Capital Territory-Abuja owes $36.84Million or N5.5Billion. Anambra is in the fifth position among the five least indebted States of Borno-$12.9Million or N1.9Billion, Delta-$15.4Million or N2.03Billion, Taraba-$20.4Million or N3.06Billion, Plateau-$20.43Million or N3.07Billion and Anambra-$24.4Million or N3.66Billion, using the exchange rate of N150.00 per USD. The present government of Anambra State is also reputed to have borrowed nothing internally since 2006 except statutory controversial service pay arrears owed the workers of State parastatals like State water corporation, State printing company and the State-broadcasting outfit as well as the Federal Government bonded zero-interest World Bank facilities for health-care delivery in selected States repayable under soft conditions.
Finally, we must avoid the grave mistakes of running down our few comrade-governors, who have come to serve their people, simply because of certain primitive political interests. We have always maintained that Lagos people are lucky to have Tinubu/Fashola as their governors, even though they ran and still run government of budget deficits with staggering foreign debts of $491Million or over N73Billion and undisclosed tens of billions of naira of internal debts. Also, Edo people are lucky to have Comrade Adams Oshomoile as their governor and Anambra people are very lucky to have Mr. Peter Obi as their governor. Ekiti and Osun people may be lucky too to have their governors. Governor Rochas Okorocha of Imo State has the mandate of his people, but he must refrain from further mortgaging the future of the State by reportedly being a loan seeking and borrowing governor. Public governance requires towering personality profiles, creativity and frontal initiatives. Therefore, all the 36 States governors are not the same, comparatively speaking. Some are charlatans with mechanical legitimacy. Others are hedonistic compradors, while the remainders are creative and innovative governors with hallowed mandates of their people.
Photo Above: Mallam El- Rufai
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