Thursday, March 4, 2010



By Adewale Akande
Alicante, Spain

On April 1st, 1953, Chief Anthony Enahoro, a backbencher in the Central House of Representatives, as it was called then - introduced a Private Members'
Bills demanding self-government for Nigeria by 1956.

Enahoro's, historic motion was developed and later realised on the 1st of October,1960, with collected efforts and cooperation of our early nationalists and founding fathers of Nigeria. They included the late: Sir Ahmadu Bello, the Sardauna of Sokoto, Dr Nnamdi Azikwe, the Chief Obafemi Awolowo and Dr M.I.Okpara, all who are of distant memories.

Greatness is not based on rhetoric, but on achievements

These leaders portrayed the values of patriotism with an uncompromising emphasis on the integrity of character. They meant well and searched for a country with “milk and honey”, a true federalism where democracy flourished and where fundamental human rights were respected. In a democracy – qualitative education, good health services that provide adequate medical treatment, without the need to travel abroad for treatment, should be available to everyone. The everyday things that make everyone's existence on this world more bearable, things like: an undisrupted electricity supply, clean drinking water and good road networks are fundamental.

But, what we are now experiencing is exactly the opposite of all that is listed above. If there is a life after death: what do we think our past nationalists and founding fathers in heaven will say now? Are we seriously saying that after forty-nine-years of independence; we are enable to produce a single leader that can lead us to a “good government and welfare of all persons in our firmly and solemnly resolved in our constitution? Where are these men and women who are capable of transforming our resources into greatness?

“Happiness is not in the mere possession of money.........”

How do our leaders want to be remembered? Do these present leaders have a real vision for Nigeria? They keep on talking about vision every year without serious goals, planning or implementing integrity and dedication.

What are the outcomes of the National Political Reforms Conference inaugurated on February 21, 2005, by President Obasanjo? No miracle will happen if there are greedy and selfish leaders in the realms of power. They should be voted out.

It is wise to remember the words of a great man, Franklin D. Roosevelt, when he said, “ Happiness is not in the mere possession of money; it lies in the joy of achievement, and in the thrill of creative efforts”.

Where are those past leaders that stole billions of Nigeria's money?
Meanwhile, we should be clear that, the difference between a poor country and the rich or developed nation is not the age of that country. If anybody compares our years of independence with that of other developed countries as an excuse for our underdevelopment, it is either; that the person is suffering from Dementia or has something against Nigeria as a nation.

Is the giant of Africa now sinking? Greatness is not based on rhetoric, but on achievements. The country is overflowing with natural and human resources. Nigeria is the largest crude oil producer and has the second largest oil reserves in Africa. These oil reserves makes us the tenth most petroleum rich nation in the world. Its strategic, geographical location, with its inherently sizeable market, could provide trade opportunities for many countries.

Nigeria could compete with any developed nations, if all these opportunities are well managed and utilised. To know that nature is not cruel to us, according to a recent publication in the American Oil and Gas Journal (OGJ), Nigeria had an estimated 36.2 billion barrels of proven oil reserves, as of January, 2009.

To be sincere with ourselves: Can we name five important things that the country has achieved in forty-nine-years? What have we gained from the six successful military coups and four failed ones? Everybody, embraces and tolerates bribery and corruption. Is it unity, peace or stability we talk about or is it good militarism or democratic governance? Is it the present state of our education or health sectors?

Nigeria's name is fading in the world of sports? To qualify for the first edition of the soccer world cup on African soil, is a problem. Nigerians' now prefer to watch English premier soccer league matches rather than Nigerian soccer. Many Nigerian professionals have left the country to escape impoverishment and political repression.

Who do you think will come and invest in the country, when there is no security to human lives? We cannot boast of good roads or railway networks. We cannot conduct a free and fair election and declare the winner. We don’t even love each other in all our actions with love, all these problems wouldn’t have existed! Our developing rate is slow and time waits for nobody. Time and resources wasting culture is not new in all sectors. A government worker can hardly spend four hours judiciously and productively from his or her eight – hour, daily working agreement. All this has both short and long term effects on a nation’s productivity.

If you look at China, for example, this was once a country that was rated among the poorest nations of the world a few years ago. It has now become the heartbeat of the world. Tell me a place in the universe where there is no Chinese product? Malaysia, came to Nigeria, forty-nine years ago and took away palm-seedlings. Now, Malaysia is the largest exporter of palm oil in the world, while we the ”good Samaritans” are still a net importer of palm oil. Are we not sinking?

Democracy is the best and most human form of power

We have just witnessed, ten-years of democratic rule.
How can we conduct a free and fair election where true representatives will emerge? Those emerged are not responsible to the electorates. Democracy cannot survive in absolutism.

Democracy is not a static concept as practised by our representatives. Democracy is the best and most human form of power. It is for achievers to emerge as representatives and not those fake and greedy politicians, who can’t give what they don’t have. How many times have our representatives found the time to meet their subjects at a local level? Rigging is still prominently an outstanding feature in our political life.

Everybody wants power by all means. The standard of living of ordinary Nigerians has dropped to the lowest ebb. Over seventy-per cent of Nigerians are living below the abject poverty line. Shameful, as we are suffering in the midst of plenty. Ethnic and religious conflicts are mixed-up with politics. The issue of national revenue or allocation, national unity and stability; leads us to, in my opinion, the true solution to Nigeria's problems which is –True Federalism.

As Professor Wole Soyinka, rightly said, “The man dies in all who keeps silent in the face of tyranny”.The foundation of any country is the education of its youth. Which foundation are we now laying in, if our education is in a mess? It is now time to demonstrate the capacity of our brains to rescue our nation from its doldrums and make her great again. Nigeria is blessed with well educated and skilled professionals to drive the country forward.

There is no country in the whole world where we don’t have Nigerian professionals. It is now time to act to stop a political and social catastrophe of our beloved nation. How long shall we remain silent? Gani, is gone! NANS kept mute for three-months during the university strikes! How shall we get rid of the corruption, 419 syndrome, armed robbery or kidnapping in our system? How can we keep the country from not splitting apart?.How can we stop violation of human rights? The 1999, Constitution, which was signed by General Abdusalam Abubakar, stated that :

”We the people of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, having firmly and solemnly resolved to live in unity and harmony, as one indivisible and indissoluble sovereign nation under God....and to provide for a Constitution for the purpose of promoting the good government and welfare of all people in our country on the principles of; freedom, equality and justice, and for the purpose of consolidating the Unity of our people....”.

The argument for a true federalism

These are all misinterpreted in the concepts of Nigeria's polity. We need a true federalism, where each arm of government does his own functions independently and where government is based on the principles of; fairness, equality and justice. In a true federalism, the national wealth should be distributed more equitably without any grievances to threaten its unity. In federalism, the country’s liquid and solid mineral resources have to be jointly exploited by both the Federal government and the state involved, under mutual agreement. This gives a lasting solution to Niger-Delta issues.

A true federalism should generate growth, healthy competition and developments among all states or regions of the federation. It is high time that states should be granted independent powers and responsibilities to perform successfully. True federalism empowers states to make treaties, respond directly to the interest of their citizens. They should be able to pass, enforce and interpret laws within their own legislative, executive and judiciary jurisdictions, as done in the United States of America. The wastages in central government structures and the cost of governance are too much to sustain the nation. Each state should fashion or work out its own wages and salary-scale or structure and pay what it can afford to its civil servants. We need federal and state police officers that will be well-paid, better trained and well-equipped. With this in place, the issues of crime and disorder will be taken care of. This new arrangement will help the police to achieve their long term, Mission Statement of:

“The creation of a safer and more secured environment conducive for meaningful socio-economic development through crime prevention and control”.

In this true federalism, the central government will still retain certain jurisdictions over states in respect to; federal policy, tax, international relations, aviation, census, federal elections, immigration, defence, currency and national security.

Reforms should be made on the following sections of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria,1999, as soon as those areas discussed above, have been completed. The subject of elections to the offices in the state, should be the exclusivity of the state jurisdiction. Mine and mineral allocations should be independent of Federal and state police and be the responsibility of Trade and Commerce. Prisons should be concurrent respectively.

A new Nigeria is possible in our time. We must not become an object of ridicule to the world. Nigeria must not sink!

Mr Adewale T. Akande, is an author and a Road Traffic Safety Consultant, based in Alicante, Spain.

Edited by Raspal Sian