Adanna Elechi: Restructuring Nigeria Will Make the Country Better
Nigeria’s federal government system has outlived its usefulness, and the call for restructuring should be heeded. I said what I said, and so have others.
Nigeria, today, is like a class where all the students are below average and they are okay with it. For Nigeria to get better, we need a paradigm shift. There is a need to decentralize the government by restructuring the country. We have too much power and attention concentrated at the top while people in our backyards are doing the most with our resources, with nobody paying them any attention.
Nigeria has 36 states and the Federal Capital Territory; everybody looks at what the president and the people at the federal level do with keen eyes. Don’t get me wrong, we should always call them out when they go out of line. My problem with this is that we ignore the people at the local levels. Our governors get some heat, but not enough. Even when they get the heat, they will always find a way to direct the blame to the federal level. We are not interested in their salaries and security votes plus other allowances, and how our monthly allocations are utilised. Many of us do not even know the people who represent us in our state House of Assembly, or what they do there. They claim to represent us, but they don’t care to engage us online or offline, and we don’t know when they sit and whether they truly have our interest at heart.
The most interesting of it all are those at the local government councils. We feel like they are inconsequential and have no part to play in governance when they should be our primary focus. Do you know how much allocation these local governments get monthly? What do they have to show for it? What do the primary schools in your various communities look like? Let us not even talk about health centers. These are some of the things they should be doing.
This is a call for all to look inwards – which can only happen when there is a shift in structure. We need to go back to the regional system of government; this way, we will be better positioned to know who to hold responsible when things aren’t working as well as they should.
I am not ignorant of why we have a federal government system; we want every state to have a share of the resources of the individual states. We are good siblings who should share what we have with our brothers and sisters. We want it to be called Nigeria’s oil, not just Niger Delta’s oil. But now, countries who used to patronize us now have electric cars and are now all in love with mother nature. They no longer want to ‘stain mother nature’s white’ with carbon emissions.
It may look like we are doing the states with little or no resources a favor by sharing our common oil (or wealth), but if we are truly honest with ourselves, we are doing the opposite. Not everyone in a class will take the first position. Some have to come first, second, or even thirty-seventh. Therefore, we should not try to make everyone equal by holding us at ransom in a government system that has held us back.
If we decentralize government today and hand back power to the regions like it used to be, every state in the region will have to buckle up and develop themselves. We, the citizens, will know who to hold accountable when things are not working the way we want it to work. The people who represent us will be more accessible to us, and there will be little or no room for any werey to disguise.
Restructuring the country will go a long way in aiding development as the economy will be forced to diversify. States who do not have oil or other natural resources will be forced to find different ways to develop. We will start to pay more attention to agriculture, tourism, technology, entertainment and textile industries, among others.
The issue of insecurity will be better addressed if the regions and, by extension, the states, were in control of their security apparatus. How can one person be in charge of security in thirty-seven states? Make it make sense. You can’t possibly be in Abuja and fully understand the security issues of Katsina and Benue. Let the people on the ground handle it.
The federal government system has made us complacent, not because we want to be, but we now have that ‘since everyone is performing below average, then I don’t have to work hard’ mentality. It is dragging the entire nation back. The people in government do not see any reason to develop their states, federal constituencies, and local governments.
This is why people can go and commission pit toilets and planks across a gutter as constituency projects in 2020. State governors feel that since no other state government is building low-cost housing for the poor, why should they. Of course, nobody will blame them because all eyes are on the president, 2Pac style. We used the same things in secondary school: when most of our classmates were failing a particular subject, the rest of us would decide to fail it because who am I to pass chemistry when Chioma got an E?
It is time to change how this country is governed. We have tried this federal thing, and we have seen it didn’t work. The only thing it has achieved is to enrich the people in government and their cronies and impoverish the citizens. We have nothing to boast about as an oil-producing country. Now the oil phase is over; we cannot afford to make the same mistake by making all the states dependent on the next big thing we discover.
There is a need for competition. Yes, let the regions compete. Healthy competition is essential for development. Everyone will hustle to be the best, that way, when you come last three years in a row, nobody will tell you to buckle up. This competition will lead to massive improvements in education, healthcare, housing, security, infrastructural development, and unemployment; regions will now start to think outside of the box on how to bring in foreign investments and generally start to find new ways to better themselves. People will start to go into politics because they want to serve and not because they want to have warehouses to stash foreign currencies. Most importantly, there will be no room to hide palliatives if, God forbid, we experience another pandemic.
If Nigeria heeds this call for restructuring, everyone will be better and we can now love Nigeria indeed, not because we are forced to love her.
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