The late Professor Chinua Achebe wrote: The trouble with Nigeria is simply and squarely a failure of leadership. The Nigerian problem is the unwillingness or inability of its leaders to rise to the responsibility, to the challenge of personal example which are the hallmarks of true leadership
Leadership, the future of Nigeria
by Emeka Anyaoku
Nigeria’s political and economic progress began its retrogression with the military intervention in the country’s governance in January 1966.
For thirty-three years thereafter until May 1999, minus the relatively short period of the second republic (October 1979 to December 1983), the successive military regimes became responsible for dismantling the foundations of the country’s political stability and economic progress.
First, they dismantled the country’s true federal structure which had been carefully negotiated and agreed as the basis for stability and progress by the nation’s founding fathers, and in its place introduced series of constitutional arrangements that reflected the army command structure, thereby transforming the central government to the equivalent of the supreme military commander whose orders must be obeyed by all rank and file, in this case the federating units.
Second, they replaced the negotiated and democratic process of creating new federating units, as was done when the new Mid-West region was created in August 1963, with arbitrary creation of federating units by military fiat.
Thirdly, they imported and sustained the culture of impunity which is a natural concomitant of rule by force. As has been amply demonstrated, impunity not only vitiates the rule of law, it also facilitates corruption.
I must however add that the retardation of Nigeria’s progress cannot be blamed solely on the military. The civilians, some of whom have been involved in encouraging and supporting the various coups, and many of whom as politicians whose brand of politics has promoted corruption and divisiveness in the polity, have their fair share of responsibility for the current very worrying state of affairs in Nigeria.
Our country is currently beset by among others, the following worries: a totally enervating atmosphere of moral and ethical decadence; a debilitating rancorous politics that is partly exacerbated by lopsided federal appointments; increased divisiveness and lack of cohesion as the country slides deeper into ethno-religious and sectarian divisions; a limping weak mono-crop-economy in which values are hardly added; loss of the country’s influence and standing abroad; and a growing insecurity of life and property with sickening daily reports of killings of human beings.
The question therefore is: how can we arrest this current drift towards a failed state and build the Nigeria of our dreams?
I want here to reiterate the view that I have been expressing since my return to Nigeria in 2000 namely, that based on the experience of other similarly pluralistic countries across the world, Nigeria will not achieve enduring political stability or realize its deserved development potential with its present non-conducive “federal” constitution.
I believe that restructuring Nigeria’s present governance architecture by returning to the provisions of its 1960 and 1963 constitutional arrangements will not only help the emergence of a leadership that will pave the way for a national rebirth, but will also put the country on a more assured path to political stability and faster socio- economic development.
Taking into account the historical and current developments, including especially the continuing outrageous killings in the North Central zone of the country, I am proposing a restructuring of Nigeria into a true federation of eight (8) federating units comprising the existing six geo-political zones plus a restored old Mid-West region and a newly created Middle Belt federating unit.
The present mostly non-viable 36 states many of which can no longer pay the salaries of their workers, should be retained in the new federating units but as development zones to be administered without their current costly executive and administrative institutions.
It would be for each federating unit to decide if and when to create within it additional development zone(s) in response to any genuine cry of marginalization.
In addition to considerably reducing the overall cost of recurrent expenditure which at present amounts to about 80% of the national revenue, I believe that the new bigger and more viable federating units, with their regional police forces can better monitor and enforce the security of the citizens; with fiscal federalism can better plan and pursue at their own pace and on a more sustainable basis their economic, education and health facilities development; and also can more effectively check corruption and hold their administrations to greater accountability.
Such restructured governance architecture will facilitate overall national economic productivity and bring about the necessary shift away from the present virtually unitary structure which encourages the 36 states and federal capital territory (Abuja) to rely on a philosophy of “sharing the national cake”, and it will encourage the more viable federating units to focus on productivity and internally generated revenues.
Besides, I believe that the restructured federalism will rekindle among the citizenry a sense of nationalism and the spirit of unity in diversity. The more viable and fewer federating units will also discourage the “do or die” politics which in the competition for the all-powerful centre exacerbates the divisive tendencies within the country; and the centre because of its reduced responsibilities and the consequent significantly reduced “national cake” to share will become less attractive to our power hungry politicians.
A restructured Nigeria would make it easier to do away with a political class that is mainly driven by self-centred concerns, and encourage the emergence of a class of leaders that are capable of inspiring and forming affinity with the people – leaders who, like our First Republic regional leaders, would be capable of delivering their electoral promises and meeting the needs of the people as well as articulating a vision of how to continue to sustainably meet those needs.
I would like to conclude by saying that while leadership is a critical factor in the life of Nigeria and indeed of every other nation, good leadership thrives best in a conducive political and governance structure.
An example of a major national disaster was what happened to the Socialist Republic of Yugoslavia because of a flawed governance structure. For failing to adopt a constitution that catered for the divisive tendencies that existed in the country, Yugoslavia disintegrated into seven independent countries after the death of Josip Broz Tito who by all national and international reckoning had been a charismatic and committed leader.
I therefore call on our governments and lawmakers to heed the growing warning signs of potential national disaster by agreeing to adopt a restructured true federalism which I believe will provide the best basis for the realization of the Nigerian nation that we all desire, a stable, united and socio-economically fast developing country with a correspondingly accountable and citizen-empathetic leadership.
Finally, now that national elections are approaching in 2019, I would like to end by urging all intending voters to regard a firm unambiguous and time-specific commitment to the restructuring of Nigeria’s present governance architecture, as the pre-requisite for voting for any political party and its candidates.
Shared from Vanguard Nigeria