We need one another, no matter the ethnic group we belong. The way God designed different parts of the human body to work together is the same way he designed our different states and individuals with different professions, religions, backgrounds to work together and contribute to the well-being of the people and the country as a whole. For us to live in harmony, God also blessed each state with more than one type of mineral resources. These resources are meant to be harnessed for the well-being of the people and the country as a whole.
The original aim of our fore-fathers was to encourage every state to control and harness the mineral resources and pay royalty to the Federal Government. All the states in the federation contributed to the federal treasury according to their resources. Nigeria did not depend on one mineral resource, “the oil”, for its survival. Most states in the North concentrated on agricultural produce, more so as they are blessed with vast land just like the West. Nigerian’s agricultural produce earned a lot of money equal to that of the oil. The military created states after independence for reasons best known to them.
Indeed the ability of states to sustain themselves and contribute to the national treasury would have been the philosophy behind state creation. Luckily, democracy has its own language such as the rule of law, governmental checks and balances, federalism, separation of power, etc. The greatest attributes of democracy is its conflict resolution mechanism through discussion and dialogue. Absence of good political leadership has resulted in endless cry of marginalisation and people tend to believe that rotation of principal political offices like the president and governors along ethnic lines will be the panacea to the leadership problem in the country. In a country ridden with endemic corruption like ours, this practice will not move Nigeria forward, rather it will legalise corruption by producing “you-chop-I-chop government” as a way of distributing “the national cake”. Nigeria is a county where few individuals are richer than the country. Rotation of principal political offices will only produce mediocrity.
The citizens and the country will be the worse for it. The average Nigerian sees public office as an avenue to enrich himself and generations unborn (to the detriment of majority of Nigerian citizens). The presidential system of government can only work for our own good when men and women of integrity imbued with selflessness, patriotism and love become political leaders. These leaders will then inspire national ethics and values and in the event various agitations and militancy presently plaguing the country will be things of the past and development and progress of the country will fall into place.
Progressive countries have inbuilt systems of political leadership recruitment that encourage youths to participate in politics at local levels. This affords the youths the opportunity to learn political leadership from the grass-root without bitterness. The 36 states governors are in a strategic position to fast-track the required change through the medium of the Governors Forum. First and foremost, the North and South dichotomy could be bridged by discussion and dialogue which will produce solutions to the country’s protracted problems, including issues considered “no go areas” when tabled at national conferences or at the floor of the National Assembly. It is by discussing our problems that we can reach a consensus that will help solve our national problems.
The Governors Forum should consider a cross-fertilisation of ideas between the North and the South to eliminate barriers and mutual suspicion which make governance and national cohesion difficult. Unfortunately, the Governors Forum acted contrary to this when it effectively blocked the bill to amend the Constitution by deleting the section on state and local government joint accounts, and in the process prevented the granting of full autonomy to the local governments. This singular act compounded the social-economic problems in the country.
The importance of effective government at the local level in any country cannot be over-emphasized. Apart from letting the local people participate in government, it enables the youths to receive formal training in the act of governance. This is better than the system that allows the state governors to hand-pick local councillors and chairmen to work for their personal interest instead of working for the people who elected them. The country will benefit immensely if governors seek each other’s co-operation in their areas of needs, especially supporting bills for states to develop and control their natural resources.
This is invoking the principle that where one state is weak the other is strong, so that mutual assistance and co-operation will correct the imbalance and misunderstanding that arise when discussing solution to national problems. It is also important that each state should embark massively in agricultural production. In fact, food production should be the main stay of our economy, instead of the whole country depending on oil from few states. Nothing stops each state government from establishing agricultural or farm settlement. America did same during the Industrial Revolution. Nigeria has surplus manpower, especially youths who will be fully engaged. It is absurd for states to go cap in hand to the Federal Government for money to pay salaries. Over the years electioneering campaigns have not been issue- oriented, instead it is based on attacks on personalities. At the end of the day the elected politicians cannot be held accountable for failure to perform while in office.
They have not been able to provide the basic necessities of life bordering on security and welfare of the people or even about breaking a new ground for the development of the country. Henceforth, those aspiring to govern the states should include in their election campaigns, detailed plan on how they will develop the mineral resources in their states. Politicians should spend money on research on how to provide solution to the nation’s problems by liaising with the research institutions and the universities, instead of spending money on bribing the electorates, training thugs and buying arms and ammunition for election rigging. The President should govern the country with love and patriotism. Various agitations and cries of marginalisation should be resolved by employing democratic principles, namely discussion and dialogue. Our country should be a country under God and not a country under Gun.
Mr. Obasi is a scribe of the Association of Concerned Citizens for Moral Rebirth