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An end to self-deceit

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The truth is that Nigeria’s fraudulent federalism or, at best, unitary federalism, if any system can be so called, imposed by the military since 1966 has not only failed, it has retarded the nation’s progress and kept the people in want.

It has bred poverty in the midst of plenty, sorrow in the house of joy, instability, injustice and disunity. The time to end self-deceit and self-immolation is now. The time to begin the rebirth of a prosperous, peaceful and united Nigeria is now.

Almost all of the 36 federating states are not viable and they go cap in hand to the national capital every month to share revenues that accrue to the federation account from resources in a few of the states, thereby encouraging the indolence of others.

Because of fundamental flaws that have encouraged and nurtured what was once called “dependency syndrome,” Nigeria produces below capacity and snores when it should be awake, harnessing its full potentials with a view to reaping a bountiful harvest. Satisfied with a façade of wealth from oil, a ruling elite misleads the people into believing that it is the only product that unites Nigeria. Hence the claims and counter-claims of its ownership.

Against all the clear signs to the effect that the poor political structure and the absence of genuine federalism in the governance of Nigeria has been a problem, it is unfortunate that President Muhammadu Buhari who rode on the wings of the promise of effecting change in the direction of all aspects of the country has been the most disdainful of the idea of change in words and in conduct.

Luckily, once again, his attitude has not polluted the people’s consciousness on this matter and the calls are getting strident by the day that making Nigeria functional, prosperous and united as a properly run federal state is a powerful idea that cannot be stopped by any force on earth.

There is already the common denominator, poverty and mass illiteracy, all over Nigeria. A new united tribe has been formed from the hundreds that make up Nigeria: the poor, the deprived, the oppressed and the alienated.

And this is the effect of those decades when the military ruled and bastardised the practice of federalism. They are the effects of the dishonesty and lack of vision of the past 17 or so years during which the democratically elected governments have played the ostrich over making Nigeria a federal state.

In other words, as once canvassed on this page, the real trouble with Nigeria is not just poverty nurtured by corruption and illiteracy but lack of understanding of the impact of the abolition of the principles of federalism.

Against the background of diversification, with emphasis on agriculture and mining as central elements, the fact that all things are available in every state but not exploited till now is the shame of a nation.

Again, governments should step forward and remove obstacles to these resources and the value that would accrue to all citizens from them.

Nigerians, especially members of the elite, must show and demonstrate an understanding beyond the dubious position of those who associate true federalism with the balkanization of the country.

Buhari’ s new year message on restructuring fits into the earlier narrative by his apologists that his mandate is to fix Nigeria and not restructure it.

This, once again, is the most dishonest attitude to governance because it is quite impossible to mend a broken economic and political system such as Nigeria’s without restructuring most of its components.

This newspaper has said it repeatedly that besides the political system, there are so many areas that urgently require reforms in the country. The areas include, education that is at the moment not capable of producing the manpower needs of the 21st century, healthcare system that is so bad that even the country’s leaders at all levels cannot patronise it and the economic system that cannot lead to the prosperity of the citizens.

No government can fight corruption, build a buoyant economy and deal with insecurity anywhere without restructuring the factors that produced all that ail the country.

Interestingly, restructuring of the polity is a fundamental part of the All Progressives Congress, the ruling party’s manifesto.

The Buhari administration told Nigerians it was coming to change the way things were done. Therefore, why should change not come to a wobbly, fraudulent federal structure that has served no good but succeeded only in holding the nation down?

Much of the work has been done and there is no need for unnecessary exertions. The current leadership’s attitude must change if it would truthfully and conscientiously serve the purpose of Nigeria. An implementation of recommendations in the report of the 2014 constitutional conference is the best starting point for Nigeria’s journey to a functional, prosperous and united federation.



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