SOCIO-ECONOMIC PROBLEMS IN NIGERIA & THE POLITICS OF “CONTRACTOCRACY”: IS SOVEREIGN NATIONAL CONFERENCE THE PANACEA? For sometime now, particularly since the annulment of the June 12, 1993 presidential election won by late business mogul, Chief MKO Abiola, the call for a Sovereign National Conference (a round table talk) by all the different ethnic/religious groups and other stakeholders that make up the Nigerian entity has been rampant. In the forefront of this call were the NADECO members, particularly the dominant South-western members, who felt, rightly or wrongly, that the Hausa-Fulani group that have used the military to dominate the governance of Nigeria did not want a southerner, particularly a knowledgeable and influential Yoruba, like Abiola, to take the mantle of leadership of Nigeria. The call for the National conference subsided when Gen Olusegun Obasanjo was sworn in as president in May, 1999 and he raised the hope of Nigerians with his epoch inauguration speech were he promised to lift Nigeria again to the heights discernible Nigerians know it is capable of reaching. But it was a forlorn hope as, with the passage of time, Obasanjo and the group of bandits in the saddle of leadership across the country from the presidency to the State Governors and local government chairmen and councillors, particularly of the stock from the PDP proved an abysmal failure in the leadership of Nigeria! They created more tension, insecurity and poverty among the populace despite the large “petro-dollar” earnings during the years from 1999-2004, which meant that some states and local government councils now have Revenue allocations from the Federal pool, as much as four times what they used to get before 1999. This dismal performance by Obasanjo and his gang of PDP Governors, who hijacked the leadership of Nigeria, from the military in 1999, despite the sacrifice and struggles of NADECO members, made many Nigerians to begin to cry of marginalisation and the call for a SNC reached a crescendo, particularly from the civil and human rights groups and the people of the Niger Delta who felt they will be forever short-changed in an entity called Nigeria, as it is presently constituted, by the three dominant ethnic groups- Hausa-Fulani, Ibo and Yoruba. To a larger extent, the cry of marginalisation by almost every ethnic group is the result of injustice and bad governance made worse by the creeping poverty that has engulfed Nigeria in the last two decades. For a long time Obasanjo defied the call for the SNC, even though the call was loudest from his Yoruba ethnic group- to be fair to the Yorubas, we have never believed Obasanjo represented our interest, we felt he was an imposition on us by the so-called Hausa-Fulani oligarchy, whatever that meant! He (President Obasanjo) argued that there cannot be two Sovereign institutions in one country, as there was already a National Assembly in place empowered to make laws for the country. SNC was only necessary, Baba argued to those who cared to listen, when military dictatorship was in place and no representative government was about to further the interest and wishes of the Nigerian people. However, President Obasanjo later succumbed to the blackmail of the Southern elites particularly South-West and the minorities of the South-South to have a conference, which out of his own volition he termed a “National dialogue.” So what happened to the National Assembly, Mr President? According to him there will be no role for members of the National Assembly in the “Dialogue”, they may only ratify the outcome or report of the conference. But are we not back to square one if they- National Assembly members- have to ratify (read amend, delete or append) the work of the conference? If I may ask, what is wrong with the structure of the country, Nigeria that people keep shouting about restructuring the polity? Is it right to believe that the problem of Nigeria is caused by the dominance of the Hausa-Fulani in the leadership of Nigeria? Are the kleptomaniacs and inept Governors and local government chairmen in your own states members of the Hausa-Fulani that are causing all the problems of Nigeria? What have they done (Particularly the Niger-Delta Governors) with the huge allocations they have gotten from the Federal allocation, including the extra 13% Derivation fund as provided for in Section 162{2} of the Constitution of the Federal Republic? They say a bad workman will always quarrel with his tools. I don’t think the structure of Nigeria is much of the problem as much as the people themselves, who have imbibed very terrible attitude over time particularly during the years of the locust of the military dictatorship as represented by Babangida and Abacha! These eras of military dictatorship bastardised every thing noble about Nigeria, and Nigeria has been descending the slope since then. The people, including the youths no longer believe that hard work is the way to wealth accumulation. Integrity, honesty, discipline and character have been thrown to the dogs! Everyone now want to “make it” (euphemism for inordinate wealth accumulation) through the short cut approach-without hard work, commitment and diligence but by stealing, armed robbery, prostitution or other forms of abuse. The Nigerian society worship idle money, no matter its source, so long as there is the money to flaunt. Traditional rulers, mangled by poverty, will make you a serial chief in your hometown or even other neighbourhoods! Even local universities will give you chains of honorary degrees, so long as you donate part of the ill-gotten money for some projects. They say a society gets the leadership it deserves! And this is an apt reflection of the reality of Nigeria today! The dominant group of rulers in Nigeria today are crooks- 419-ers, thieves; Government contractors who take the money and share with crooked civil servants without executing the contracts to acceptable standards, where they do any job at all! That is why our so-called impostors (some call them leaders) do not wink when they rig themselves into power. And because they have all rigged themselves into government they do not feel any obligation to the people they purport to represent (them no send you message!). Yet it is the people, the so-called ordinary masses that sell themselves out and allow charlatans to rig themselves to power without question (shouting “Carry go” after they have eaten a pot of porridge for one day only till the next election when the thieves will remember them again!) The ordinary people of Nigeria are as bad as the leadership! After all the leaders did not fall from the moon, and until the people themselves change their attitude we would continue to have bad leadership and the cry of marginalisation. How much can we go with self-governance (called self-determination)? Right in our own local government council the chairman and the local councillors just sit down and decide how they will share the months allocation to themselves, and then they will tell you there is no money to pay civil servants, repair roads or equip the local hospital with drugs and equipment. Meanwhile the next door neighbour cannot even feed their family with two square or round meals a day; yet we feel restructuring will solve the problem of poverty, without calling these so called local leaders to question! Even in the so-called Niger Delta where they are crying of marginalisation, if you ask me, the people have no clue of what their real problems are. Some of the youths are just looking for easy way to wealth without working for it. They have refused to go to school or acquire good skills to become employed and create wealth. You hear some Nigerians say we are endowed with human capital- a well trained and educated labour force, yet every car used in Nigeria today are imported, not even a pin could be produced in such a big country with over 40 universities and a significant number of others trained abroad. The so called oil wealth in the Niger Delta have to be discovered, drilled and exported by the Caucasians (America or Europe) using equipment produced by them or from Asia. We can not repair our refineries when they broke down and have to ship our hard earned foreign exchange to another continent to get them fixed, despite the fact that we have various Chemical, Petroleum and Mechanical Engineering departments in Nigerian universities and that we have been producing oil on a commercial basis since the 1960s. There is even a Petroleum Training Institute in Warri, Delta state but we still do not want to be creative or innovative enough to take any challenge, because there is free “petro dollar” money to be made without hard work. Both the technology and senior personnel of the so called GSM revolution companies are foreign based and so billions of our Dollars are shipped, by way of imports, to Europe, America and even South Africa thus reducing even further the little money we have. Had there been the local technology or personnel locally, much of those money will be spent in Nigeria, and with their Multiplier and Accelerative effects, more jobs and wealth will be created. We like to consume the best of the world, yet we cannot produce anything by ourselves, as large as our population is? Any wonder that the country remain poor! I may have digressed a bit from the subject matter of this write up, but the point I am trying to make is that SNC or restructuring is not the answer to our problems. A Thousand and One SNCs will not solve our problem if the current calibre of personnel in the saddle of leadership or their ilk continues with their rampage unchallenged. Nigerians do not deserve these calibre of leaders across the country as we can do better with a large pool of credible and knowledgeable people to choose from, who appreciate the enormous socio-economic problem the country faces, including infrastructure for such a massive terrain from the Atlantic to the Sahara and apply the very limited resources available to solving these problems head-on, while motivating the people to contribute their quota in the development of the country. Yes there may be a few political reforms that may be necessary, like changing the expensive (monetised) and cumbersome presidential system to a simpler, less expensive (de-monetised) Parliamentary system like is practised in the United Kingdom. With the current presidential system, no average Nigerian intelligentsia group can even dream of becoming the president. Sources claim you need at least N10 Billion to carry out a successful election campaign across Nigeria alone. We are not talking of other campaign materials and election logistics before the “bribing” of local chiefs and electorates to vote for you. Any wonder then that only people like Babangida, Marwa and Orji Kalu,Nuhu Ribadu,Muhammadu Buhari are the common names in the presidential election race, and so continue the cycle of plunder and mismanagement of Nigeria? Yes we do need to change our system to the Parliamentary system where the leader of the party with majority in the National Assembly becomes the Head of State. But even so we do not need a National Dialogue or SNC to make this happen. The National Assembly can be asked to make a law to that effect and it will be enshrined in our Constitution. There may also be some few more adjustments needed to correct perceived flaws in our current Constitution. These also can be corrected or amended if we have the right calibre of legislators in the National Assembly. The fear of some is that the type of leadership we have at the moment are so compromised- PDP dominated assembly men and women- majority of which manipulated themselves through various rigging and shenanigan, to Abuja, and do not have the moral authority or the honesty to do the right thing at the right times. Yet some good may come out of the exercise. I do pray that should the National Dialogue hold, it does not turn out to be one financially wasteful, acrimonious and uneventful talk show! AFUYE Akinyemi,Diploma-In-Law,AIIN,Cert. In Intellectual Property, LLB{in view} is a Chartered Insurer. He served in the underwriting department of Summit Insurance. Victoria Island Lagos. He also had his summer interne at AFE Babalola SAN & Co Mokola Ibadan. His interest is in Law, insurance, religion, philosophy and politics. He cares for body and mind.

Posted with WordPress for BlackBerry.

Posted with WordPress for BlackBerry.

Posted with WordPress for BlackBerry.

Posted with WordPress for BlackBerry.

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