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Overriding Nigeria’s development impasse: The enclave paradigm – Part 3

By Sylvester Odion Akhaine
05 March 2020   |   3:12 am
There is already not-a-well acknowledged evidence in the oppressed population of an exit approach, mainly in the educational sector. The deliberate destruction of the educational sector

There is already not-a-well acknowledged evidence in the oppressed population of an exit approach, mainly in the educational sector. The deliberate destruction of the educational sector through deliberate underfunding and disarticulation of policy and encouragement of mediocrity has produced a counter-response, almost spontaneous in nature.

Nigerians oppressed and with some means, have had to ensure that they send their children to schools wherever the opportunity exists to enhance the development of their children. It flows from an understanding that the future is knowledge, and knowledge as the trite saying goes, is power.

Odia Ofeimun speaks to the political stricture in the sphere of policy and the corresponding resistance especially from the southern half of the country that is key for my enclave paradigm interim prescription.

In relation to the contradiction in the education sector, Ofeimun notes that “Defenders of Nigeria’s lopsided architecture like Jubril Aminu had no patience for such arguments [free education arguments perceived to benefits the South] as he himself presented it to the consternation of the Academic Staff Union of Universities, free education and other forms of liberalized access to education would inexorably put the already educationally advanced South too far ahead of the North.

In Aminu’s view, the North could only catch up if educational development in the Southern states could be reduced in some cases by up to 66 percent. The minimum programme he proposed to the receptive masters of the central government, who talked national unity but pursued Arewa opportunism, was to ensure that no new secondary schools and universities were established; that school fees would be increased to discourage over-educated states from moving too fast; and that merit principle would be de-emphasized in admission to unity schools”.

For those of us familiar with the educational sector, the genealogy of this lethal policy could be traced through the many contradictions that have beset the educational system in the country. But it has bred as aforementioned a corresponding resistance. Ofeimun in a streak of anger remarked that destroyed as many layers of educated southerners, many super layers would endure.

Indeed, the diaspora silos exist to replace and regenerate the lost layers. The enclave paradigm evident in the educational section can be extended to fix problems that today would appear rocket science. I talk about the problems of energy, industrialization, unemployment, decayed infrastructure, and neglected social services like education, health and leisure. Resolving the ‘how the question’ is not rocket science. The autocrats at the centre hold the ‘feeding bottle’ apologies to Senator Ekweremadu, to the states to suckle.

The occasional mouthful suckles constitute the fiscal strengthen of the states and within the autonomous space carved out grudgingly within the concurrent and residual legislative list, the state must utilize the little resources creatively to generate some form of development and social intervention.

As I have remarked earlier, the enclave paradigm is an interim measure, a breather from the suffocating strictures of a recalcitrant centre, until the Lugardian architecture is either restructured for greater autonomy or implodes as it is the case of all old societies pregnant with new ones. The wise counsel now profuse is that the system must be restructured. Recently, in three related developments, well-meaning Nigerians have called for a restructuring of the state system. The former governor of Central Bank, Prof. Charles Soludo, called for institutional redesign of the state in the light of contemporary reality. As he puts it, “…for the national economy, it will be difficult to have a competitive and prosperous post-oil economy of the future (with additional hundreds of millions of citizens and dwindling land space) with the same legal and institutional foundation designed for the consumption of oil rent”.

Alhaji Aliko Dangote expressed concern about key economic fundamentals evident in the disparity in the growth of gross domestic product and a rising population, called for reforms for sectoral linkages and productivity. Also, Prof. Anya O. Anya also called for the restructuring of the lumbering state system. He notes that: “the country to remain peaceful and get the economy working better, it must return to the basics of federalism, as the foundation of her national enterprise”.

As Huntington rightly notes, “Political community in a complex society thus depends upon the strength of the political organizations and procedures -in the society. That strength, in turn, depends upon the scope of support for the organizations and procedures and their level of institutionalization. Scope refers simply to the extent to which the political organizations and procedures encompass activity in the society. If only a small upper-class group belongs to political organizations and behaves in terms of a set of procedures, the scope is limited. If, on the other hand, a large segment of the population is politically organized and follows the political procedures, the scope is broad. Institutions are stable, valued, recurring patterns of behavior. Organizations and procedures vary in their degree of institutionalization”.

The point really is that state and its institutions that presently exist in our country today fall short of institutionalization because they do not engender state-building neither do they advance nation-building that is if we take the two concepts from Ali Mazrui’s prism that “Statehood is ultimately a problem of structure, authority and control. Nationhood is ultimately a problem of culture, identity and consciousness. Statehood is about central command; nationhood is about collective empathy. Statehood is about who is in control; nationhood is about who is a fellow compatriot”.

What I have argued in the above is that the national population is under the oppression of central authorities. The oppression translates into underdevelopment for the components units of the Nigeria state. But as we confront the larger problem of restructuring the complex political community, stagnation is to be jettisoned for some redemptive measures.
Akhaine, a Professor of Political Science at the Lagos State University delivered this lecture at the instance of Oriwu Club of Ikorodu, Lagos.

The redemptive measures are articulated in the enclave paradigm, a rational survival strategy from the behemoths at the centre which calls for the creative use of the available resources and within the limits of the social space. This will act as bulwark against the prevalent despondency in the system and the predictable implosion. Conceived as a stop-gap measure, the ultimate solution to our national impasse lies in redesigning the state system along the path of equity. It is a fresh start but by no means the end of state-building and nation-building. It is the path of hope and we are capable of pulling it through.