Nigeria’s three-tier restructuring programme
Clearly Nigerians needed and voted for change in 2015 to escape from an evident political and socio-economic disaster. But like a car whose engine has knocked, the repairs to effect this change must be painstakingly comprehensive as there is no panacea for achieving it. This is why it should be progressively multi-layered for a lasting effect through a systematic, medium/long-term, sequential and inter-dependent three-tiered re-structuring programme in moral, economic and political components for achieving a sustainable recovery.
Moral re-structuring must precede any meaningful re-building of Nigeria through the recovery of all the stolen wealth from wherever and whoever has been involved. The looting of public funds caused the collapse of socio-economic infrastructure, emigration of many multi-national and collapse of small/medium-term companies, explosive unemployment, upsurge in socio-economic crimes, brain drain, youths’self-enslaving emigration, recurring debts for recurrent expenditure etc even as many are dying of critical human needs
Stealing has become the most vibrant industry as business partners steal from each other routinely, employers invest more time and infrastructure in guarding against theft by employees than generating more business revenues while the laity and the clergy also help themselves with church/mosque funds. These are morally reprehensible evils even to atheists despite Nigeria’s hosting at least 500,000 worship centers. Yet many forget that the merciful God also punishes the sins of the fathers on their descendants! Is it a mere coincidence that impunitively stealing politicians’, technocrats’ and business executives’ previous crimes formerly sealed by bribery and corruption in the police and judiciary are being unfolded like onion peels as investigators are increaingly escalating relatively “minor” scale infarctions to previously hidden larger-scale malfeasance? Surely, God’s slowness to act does not imply tolerance of injustice! Thus moral re-structuring is a compelling requirement for Nigeria’s socio-economic and political recovery.
This is why the government should sponsor the constitutional amendment for expunging Section 308, the pernicious cover for mindless looting of public funds and should commence the recovery of looted funds in the states and local governments soonest. Also with the slow pace of recovery of these funds through the apparent frustration of the process by the judiciary and lukewarmness of the legislature, the government should include the moral-conscientist approach for better and quicker response through voluntary restitution than court-coerced refunds.
This demonstrates the critical link between moral and economic re-structuring through which the looted funds can be used for repairing/expanding critical socio-economic infrastructure and diversifying the economy by reducing foreign loans with severe conditionalities which may be very difficult to re-pay before the diversification projects mature for harvesting, especially noting that after the 2005/6 luck, Nigeria will never receive debt relief again!
Political re-structuring should logically follow moral and economic re-structuring. Otherwise, clamouring for political re-structuring now by insisting on a center-weakening resource formula in a recession-hit nation, struggling to avoid the Greecan and Venezuelan political and socio-economic pits, without efficient power, public transportation and other critical infrastructure is unproductive.
Although amnesia on political affairs is an incurable Nigerian ailment and despite the immense personal benefits enjoyed by the protagonists of regionalism in the 50’s and 60’s because of the ethnic/tribal classifications under which they enjoyed such patronage, they should also come clean on its several negative effects for the youths who are their foot soldiers in this campaign including the enthronement of explosive intra-regional ethnicity and inter-regional tribalism that eventually tore the central government apart. Certainly no patriotic Nigerian should advocate a return to the region-center impasse between 1962 and 1967 that cost several lives and retarded the country’s economic development again or the pervasive tensions from intra-regional ethnicity that only seemed to have abated after the last creation of states in 1996.
In particular the constitutional lawyer who drafted what became Decree 34, 1966 for General Ironsi that sought to transit the country from the extremes of regionalism in the first republic to the extremes of unitarism that partly ignited the May and July 1966 progrom and the 1967-1970 civil war owes the youths an explanation of the raison d’etre for that act, if only for penitential purposes. Among other dangerous socio-economic and political trends, certain parts of Nigeria were off-limits to other Nigerians from other parts of Nigeria as if these areas were foreign territories.
Although this writer studied in one of the best secondary schools with students from virtually all major parts of the country and even Liberia before the 1966 coup d’etat, he heard the then-meaningless distinction between “western Ibo” and “eastern Ibo” for describing Ibos from present-day Anioma and present South-east zone by a senior student from the present-day Imo state! Is that the politically correct Nigeria also in which separate regions had and maintained separate embassies which “meets the yearnings of the people” that we want to return to? Thus the fundamental logic that regionalism is inherently divisive that can only produce a severely unstable political structure should not be glamourised through empty and self-serving rhetorics!
Moreover the lack of political restructuring was/is not the cause of unconscionable looting of public funds. When the looted funds in the states/LGs and from ghost contracts in over N2 trillion already invested on the development of the Niger-delta by the Federal Government are revealed and recovered, many will know who of the town-hall criers for political re-structuring are their true champions
Raphael Okunmuyide, Lagos.