In a post shared on his Facebook page today, former presidential media aide, Doyin Okupe, asked this question as he ponders on the recent events in the country, particularly the total compliance of the sit at home order by IPOB leader in the South East last week, cancellation of the budget signing ceremony, recent agitations for restructuring of the country among others. He wrote; “This is a nation where the political elite class lie and are pretentious to each other, everybody abhors and stay as far as possible away from the Truth and plays the Ostrich in this country”.
Nigeria is an interesting country. Its rulers leaders and citizens are sometimes partially blind and often totally deaf.
A young man, from virtually nowhere, issues a decree for a section of the country to stay at home. Surprisingly, there was maximum compliance even beyond his immediate natural constituency.
Yet, the next day, the whole country pretends nothing has happened or at best , as if, it was an isolated event somewhere in Southern Cameroon.
About the same time, there was and still is conflagration, confrontation and war-like proclamations from major sections of the country on the persistent and perplexing call for Restructuring of the federation.
Statesmen from the South threatened fire and brimstone that Nigeria will break up if restructuring is resisted by the North. Their colleagues from the North responded in similar vein, that if the country will break up because of their adamant position on Restructuring, then so be it.
Yet, no word was issued from the official quarters on the very obvious and menancing threat to National unity and stability from all sides.
Intriguingly all Southerners are united in the clamour for restructuring while all Northerners are united in condemning and or rejecting it… The grave implication of this confounding development, appears to be a none issue in government circles.Neither does it constitute a matter of urgent national importance in any of our legislative chambers.
Ministers were nominated, screened by the Senate. One month down the line they are yet to be sworn in into their respective offices which have been vacant and therefore lacking leadership for several months. In current Nigerian parlance, this also is not an issue.
An announcement was made that budget which is already over-delayed will be signed on a particular day, only for this event to be cancelled unceremoniously and without any specific official explanation that same day. This is half way down the year and still life goes on without qualms. indeed what manner of a Nation is this?
How do we get our GDP to rise and for us to get out of this crippling recession, if there is no government spending to propel the economy? How can the government spend without the validly signed legal document. Was this not how we got into recession in the first place.
When Fulani herdsmen go on rampage, the South is “rambunctious” but there is dead silence in the North.
This is a nation where the the political elite class lie and are pretentious to each other. Everybody abhors and stay as far as possible away from the Truth. Everybody plays the Ostrich in this country.
There are Northerners and Southerners in government and parastatals. They are also in Aso-rock; the seat of power. All busy with several schedules and meetings. In all of these sittings, these issues like plagues are carefully avoided.
Yet, no supervising angels from above will come down to sort things out for us.
We move slowly towards a state of ANOMIE, yet nobody attends to the real infirmity crippling the nation, officially.
I say to this nation, to whosoever wants to listen, that ethnicity, not religion or corruption for that matter, is the greatest threat to the corporate existence of this nation, especially If we do not want to speak openly, earnestly and truthfully to one another about the problems confronting us and dividing us.
We all have fears, we are all angry with one another, We distrust each other and we are dissatisfied with the ways things are.We dont even like solutions being proffered by various zones yet we do not want to discuss it openly. It is politically incorrect. But it is okay for us to clandestinely go to our ethnic caucsuses to plot How to scheme out other nationalities or manipulate things in our own favour legally or illegally, justly or unjustly. For How long can we honestly manage the affairs of our Nation with such crudity and shameless degree of dishonesty and brazen selfishness.
Do we have a Nation we can truly say belongs to us all. Have we ever had a government where we are all equal stakeholders? Have our officials, high and low divested themselves from crass nepotism and Prebendalism?
If we don’t have a nation, how can we expect development or prosperity?
We need to talk to and with each other before this approaching or creeping darkness falls.If the South desperately wants restructuring; why? If the North is vehemently opposed to restructuring; why?
Always, there is a middle road in all issues concerning national discourse, where there is genuine love of the Nation. We must find it, and we must talk about it; eyeball to eyeball and heart to heart. Enough of these pretensions.
If ‘not restructuring’ will break the country, then ‘restructuring or nothing” too, obviously will do same. Can that be our desire or ultimate objective after coexisting for over a hundred years and more than five decades of existence as a republic?
I do not at this stage want to go into the merits and demerits of Restructuring .Today we are a Nation. If we must restructure or not we must boldly and sincerely come to a table and talk and agree one way or the other.
Without doubt, it is regrettable and very shameful that very distinguished men and women will at public expense sit down and talk for over 6 months, spend more than N7 billion, agree willingly on 600 items and all of a sudden, typical of us, declare it a non event!!!!
With all humility, i wish to propose the following as middle road points of discussion for our leaders to ponder on urgently. Maybe if we go piecemeal as the attorney general suggested, we may make some reasonable progress in this direction and perhapd in a space of say five years, we can get to a point of righting most of the inherent contradictions in our union.
1. Education: Let the Federal Ministry of Education hands off from primary to tertiary and concern itself with policy, curriculum development, monitoring and implementation. JAMB should be refocused to serve as a clearing house only for universities to use its database to assist them in choosing who to offer admission, which must now be a prerogative of each university.
2. Create State Police: To stem climbing crime rate, and provide security through effective policing.
3. Let all natural resources in every state be owned by the states; who will exercise full rights of ownership and exploitation. However, 50% of derivable revenue must be paid to the central government.
4. Create a list of economically disadvantaged states for federal intervention which may be needed to cushion the effects of shortfalls in revenue; which will happen due to leaner federal purse.
5. All VAT collected by each states to be expended by the state.
6. All federal appointments, ministers, Permanent secretaries, Director Generals of parastatals to be on equitable basis. This is to be monitored and supervised by the Federal Character Commission.
7. All roads with states to be designated state roads, except those linking one state to the other. (Trunk-A roads)
8. Power generation, transmission and distribution to be decentralized. States should have powers to do all of the above and also to license third parties to do the same within their states.
9. Company tax to be split into two: between Federal and State governments.
10. Each state to determine its wage structure.
11. Local Governments to be completely state affairs.
12. Let each state have its own constitution, based on its history, culture, needs and dreams… However, where there is a conflict the federal constitution shall prevail.
Perhaps if we can accept some of these listed items cor wbich we had required answers for in the past, we may slowly begin to build a Nation State of our dreams