The Horizon By KAYODE KOMOLAFE, Email: email@example.com. Tel No: 08055001974
It is an important step in the restructuring debate when proponents call on President Muhammadu Buhari to seize the moment and give leadership in the process. At least, there has been a suggestion that the President should set up a commission on restructuring. In a way, that seems to be an expression of lack of confidence in the National Assembly where the business of constitutional amendment is already afoot. This is because on his return from his medical trip, Buhari directed those interested in restructuring to take their case to the National Assembly. The divergent approaches to solving the problem should interest the Senate President Bukola Saraki and the Speaker of the House of Representatives, Hon. Yakubu Dogara.
After all, restructuring is ultimately a constitutional matter. While the proponents of restructuring are pushing for a new constitutional entirely to be legitimated by a referendum, the National Assembly seems comfortable to be addressing the extant issues of the Nigerian federalism by means of amendments of the 1999 Constitution. The huge deficit in both perspectives is that the focus is almost exclusively on the vertical issues of Nigerian federalism – devolution of powers (to the states or regions as the case may be); fiscal federalism, resource control, state police, contents of the legislative lists etc. There is hardly any corresponding passionate argument on the horizontal issues of the socio-economic rights richly embodied in the Chapter II of the Constitution. How many proponents of restructuring are making the case for socio-economic rights to be justiciable in their proposed Constitution of “True Federalism.” Why is there not so much agitation for the socio-economic empowerment of the people guaranteed constitutionally as proponents of restructuring push for greater powers for governors and state and regional parliaments? It is simply because making Chapter II work can only be a pan-Nigerian struggle and not an ethnic, regional or religious effort.
So when proponents of restructuring dismiss the 1999 Constitution as one imposed by the military they are silent on the remarkably humane content of Chapter II. They ignore the material power that Chapter gives to the people while they hanker after the powers of governors relative to that of the President and the powers of state/regional parliaments relative to those of the National Assembly. Even if the British imposed the welfare and humane content embodied in the Chapter II of the 1999 on Nigeria at their departure in 1960, it would be worthwhile for the working people of Nigeria to defend those provisions called the “Fundamental Objectives and Directive Principles of State Policy.” You don’t need any referendum to implement the policies of access to basic education, primary healthcare, social housing, food security, mass transit, water, sanitation etc. in Chapter II.
What is not being said in this debate is that merely redrawing the political map of Nigeria by means of a restructuring legitimised by a referendum does not on its own provide the magic wand for the achievement of the great objectives encapsulated in Chapter II. It requires massive political economy efforts including competent and modern economic management to realise those objectives regardless of the structure that may be finally agreed upon by the ethnic and regional champions. Otherwise, the real marginalisation will persist, that is the socio-economic marginalisation of the poor who constitute the overwhelming majority by the tiny minority of the economic and political elite. The poor and the elite alike belong to all ethnic groups, regions and religions. This is the yet-to-be- unanswered class question in the restructuring debate.
It is important to reflect deeply on the interplay of forces between democracy and federalism in the Nigerian context. Politicians and their publicists talk so much about “dividends of democracy”; yet the meaning of the phrase has become imprecise. Depending on who is engaging in propaganda, the meaning could range from the construction of an expressway to the filling of potholes on a road built 40 years ago. The dividend could also be massive waterworks providing millions of litres of water a day to some communities or simply the construction of boreholes. Similarly, there is a lot of imprecision about the benefits of restructuring as a democratic and federalist proposition.
However, those who at least still harbour some social democratic convictions should insist that the gains of democracy should not be trivialised or perverted. For the real dividend of democracy is freedom including freedom from poverty, disease and ignorance. Therefore, we cannot seriously talk of dividends of democracy in a social order in which the basic human rights are not protected.
It must be emphasised that these rights include the socio-economic rights. So when next a politician tells you his story about “dividends of democracy”, steer away the conversation from propaganda and ask him or her pointedly what he or she has done in terms of policy execution, articulation or legislation to ensure that the socio-economic rights of the people are adequately protected. The struggle for the protection of basic social economic rights guaranteed in the constitution is a legitimate struggle ultimately towards the inauguration of a humane social order in Nigeria.
The proponents of restructuring argue that “true federalism” would make Nigeria more democratic. But their idea of democracy does not envisage the social democracy guaranteed in Chapter II. It is the duty of lovers of genuine democracy and anti-poverty activists to stress the centrality of socio-economic rights to a “true federalism.” A few years back, this reporter made this point on this page when an anti- poverty bill was proposed in the House of Representatives. The bill was aimed at empowering the citizens to sue government officials for failing to provide basic needs in education, healthcare, security, water etc. These are the issues that should be raised with strident voices in the present conversation about Nigeria’s constitutional future. Of course, the social Darwinists in our midst (and some proponents of restructuring are among given their ideological background) would jeer at such a proposition and dismiss it as “utopian”.
The state and society do not owe anybody a living in their limited comprehension of the inherent contradictions in this inhumane social order. To those with this philosophical bent, socio-economic life is all about competition; those who cannot compete may as well disappear from the face of the earth. The authors of austerity budgets and theoreticians of Structural Adjustment Programmes (SAP) abhor social spending. By the way, economic policies in the over 30 years in this country have been consistently ideological mutants of SAP. However, the fact they often ignore is that if the resources lost to massive treasury looting, corruption, leakages and other forms of economic crimes are applied to social welfare programmes, poverty will be reduced and society will be safer.
Inequality is not only regional or ethnic. The primary question is about social inequality. Even in the metropolis of capitalism, theoreticians are having a rethink about social inequality. Nobel Laureate in economics, Professor Joseph Stiglitz, once argued that when policies bridge gaps created by social inequality the economy will grow better. The policy process in favour of people’s welfare would be enhanced when the basic law of the land backs it up. That is why those who are not outraged that more than 13 million children are out of school or that thousands die yearly in remote villages because of lack of access to basic medical care that could cost less than N1, 000 should be reminded that there is a Chapter II in the constitution. It is part of the basic law of this country.
Millions of Nigerians are denied socio-economic rights that are fully guaranteed as “Fundamental Objectives and Directive Principles” of policy in Chapter II of the 1999 Constitution that is currently under review. However, the weak point in the constitutional provision which those who are cynical about social justice always exploit is that these socio-economic rights are not “justiciable”. A six-year old citizen who is denied primary education cannot go court to enforce his socio-economic right to education.
That has been the obstacle to the advancement of the frontier of this aspect of human freedom in Nigeria. The National Assembly could make their process of constitutional amendment relevant by removing the obstacle in the way of the enforcement of socio-economic rights. The Senate and the House of Representatives should take the initiative of advancing this restructuring debate by deepening the socio-economic rights in the constitution. If the National Assembly toes this line, it would be making a significant contribution towards building social democracy. It is when socio-economic rights are made justiciable that democracy in this land would mean more than calling on the people periodically to queue up to vote for competing candidates in elections.
To be sure, there is no illusion here that the poor will have a better deal in a selfish society by merely amending the constitution to make socio-economic rights justiciable. It would take a greater battle to be waged against the predominant ideology of governance that is opposed to government’s investment in welfare programmes. It takes a genuinely anti-poverty president or governor to focus more on those policies that would democratise access to basic needs rather engaging in propaganda of executing “projects” all over the place. For instance, more than four years ago a civil society organisation, the Socio-Economic Right Accountability Project (SERAP secured a judgment against the federal government in ECOWAS on the child education.
The court upheld the right of child to education; but the government has treated the judgment with contempt while not disputing the jurisdiction of the court. As the people’s lawyer, Femi Falana, often reminds his compatriots, even the idea of justiciability in the present situation should be tested.
For instance, the constitution guarantees right to life and that of free movement. But lives are being lost daily on scandalous roads including the so-called expressways because of the social irresponsibility of governments at all levels that refuse to fix these roads. There is constitutional right to life yet thousands of children are dying of hunger and preventable diseases. Yet all what our bourgeois lawyers can tell us is that the citizens who use these hazardous roads and starving children cannot go to court because the rights involved in these instance are not “justiciable”.
Hence, in several public interest cases, Falana has gone to court to test the justiciability of the rights. Such advocacy should be embraced by all those committed to making the people reap the real dividends of democracy.
Although poverty might not be merely legislated out of this land; yet the law could be employed as a weapon in the important anti-poverty war. Devolution of power to states or regions and resource control by governors would not automatically eradicate poverty. The structure of poverty plaguing this land should also interest the advocates of restructuring.
Culled from ThisDay
A keen follower of the perennial debate on the state of the Nigerian union would have noticed some patterns by now: your diagnosis of the problem inevitably determines your prescription. If you think the problem with Nigeria is the 1914 amalgamation, your prescriptions will most likely be built around “de-amalgamation” or creating a loose union — what they call “open relationship” in the Western world. If you think the problem is federalism, you will vigorously push for “true federalism” and such like. If you think the problem is revenue allocation, you will fight for the Nigerian definition of “fiscal federalism” — by which is meant “higher derivation payment”.
If you are sold on the argument that the problem is the presidential system of government, your prescriptions will naturally focus on that. If you are convinced, like me, that the root cause of our underdevelopment is the absence of good governance, you will inevitably spend your time campaigning for quality leadership that will build strong institutions, design good systems and inspire patriotic followership. I have seen countries develop under various conditions and systems — unitary, federal, quasi-federal, presidential, parliamentary, democratic, dictatorial, homogeneous, heterogeneous, etc — but I am yet to see a country develop under poor leadership.
Your diagnosis logically determines your prescription. My bias is always evident in my writings. I always blame leadership. But I am not demanding that Nigeria should become like Japan by Christmas. I am a little realistic. All I seek is a leadership that is determined to deliver the basic things of life: potable water for the poor, hospitable hospitals for the lowly, good education for underprivileged, regular power supply and motorable roads. Pardon my naivety, but I do not think we need Sharia to end meningitis and cholera in Gusau, or balkanisation to build roads in Aba, or 1963 constitution to run good primary schools in Ibadan. But that’s me.
In any case, while we await the manifestation of the Nigeria of our dream — either the “balkanised” Nigeria, or the “1963 Nigeria”, or the “good governance” Nigeria — there are other critical issues we can devote a fraction of our energies to along the line. We just can’t fold our arms and do nothing simply because the Nigeria of our dream is yet to materialise. In the meantime, we can revive some critical conversations that focus on our common challenges, irrespective of “tribe and tongue”. I have chosen three of such today: one, the Armageddon in the education sector; two, the doom among the youth population; and three, the calamity awaiting the federation revenue.
Some statistics need to sink in properly. There are about 13 million Nigerian children who will never attend primary school — that is the highest number of any country in the world today. That is more than the entire population of the Republic of Benin. Among the lucky ones who attend primary schools, millions do not attend class regularly and the poorest don’t make it to secondary school. They terminate at Primary 4, 5 or 6. Where are they now? And about 70% of those who manage to write WAEC fail. Where do those who fail go? About 1.6 million candidates write UME every year, and only 450,000 places are available in the universities. Where do the rest go?
These statistics need as much attention as the clamour for state police and regionalism. In the year 2017, nearly 180 years after missionaries introduced Western education to Nigeria, there are still over 13 million children who will never see the four walls of a school. They will never learn to read and write. Over 13 million of them! If this does not tug at your conscience, nothing else will. What is the future of these illiterate generations? What will they become tomorrow? Are they among those we call leaders of tomorrow? Sadly, most of our leaders are busy accumulating obscene wealth while a horrible future unfolds before their very eyes.
And, I want to ask, even for those who attend school, what is the quality of instruction? How many teachers know what they are teaching? What is the quality of classroom infrastructure? Are there desks? Are there books? Do the poor pupils eat the basic proteins — meat, fish and milk — which are necessary for brain development? We are teaching Chemistry without chemicals. We have libraries without books. As Beautiful Nubia sang, “Why do we lie to the children about their future when we are not building good schools?” And we have many leaders — Muslim, Christian, north and south, Igbo, Yoruba, Hausa — who are looting the treasury while our education system rots.
Our today is like this because of what we failed to do yesterday. But what are we doing today to prevent a more tragic tomorrow? We are already reaping the fruits of the wickedness in high places. The doomsday is no longer a prediction. Some 91 million Nigerians are under the age of 30. That is more than the combined populations of Ghana, Côte d’Ivoire, Republic of Niger and Burkina Faso. How many of our U-30s have the basic skills to make anything meaningful out of their lives? And among those who manage to pull through all the way to the university, where are the jobs? It is one thing to be unemployable; it is another for there to be vacancies.
Do we ever make a link between these horrifying statistics and the growth of Boko Haram, IPOB, Badoo, Niger Delta militants, kidnappers, internet fraudsters, political thugs and armed robbers in the country? The jobless youth are getting employed somewhere! Do these statistics mean anything to us at all as we continue to focus our energies on “tribe and tongue”? Are these statistics significant enough to engage the energies of the political elite who are busy bickering over the distribution of plum jobs in government? How many of their children attend public schools? How many of their children are enrolled in Nigerian public schools with no desks and no teachers?
I have just highlighted the Armageddon in the education sector and the doom among the youth population, but we seem to have forgotten our conversation on the imminent calamity in the oil-based federation revenue. We had a foretaste in 2015 and 2016 when crude oil prices hit the floor and we could not pay salaries and the exchange rate went haywire and the stock market caught fire and the country fell on its knees. The message was very clear: without oil revenue, we cannot breathe. Only Lagos state could pay its workers without bleeding; the rest 35 states fainted. The federal government went into more debts. We were badly exposed as petro-parasites.
But that is just introduction to trouble. The real trouble is that the future of oil — which we have been talking about without really talking about it — is doomed. Many more countries are discovering hydrocarbon and reducing their dependence on imports while many are developing alternatives that are cheaper and more environment-friendly. To add insult to injury, some of the biggest energy consumers have set deadlines to phase out vehicles that use our oil. But you know what we are busy doing in Nigeria? We are looking for oil in Borno and Sokoto states. Who is going to buy it? We are still sleeping. We are not ready to wake up yet. It’s called the sleep of death.
If we are wise in this country, we should be worried that our future is under serious attack and begin to act immediately and collectively. Most of our public schools, from primary to tertiary, are a disgrace. We have an exploding youth population that is mostly unskilled, underemployed, unemployable and unemployed. We should be concentrating our energies on building the human resources that will take us a better future. We are still building our hopes on natural resources. We do not appear to care about tomorrow. Most of our conversations are contrived to heat up Nigeria. Those who should give us direction are leading us astray.
Most of the people who direct public discourse are hardly interested in these issues. They are more excited about ethnic and religious issues — that is where they get their adrenaline from. When you raise issues about potable water, maternal mortality, infant mortality, sanitation, roads, malnutrition, unemployment and police brutality, they say you are living in denial or trying to be politically correct. Their real interest is the elite struggle for political power and personal share of the national cake. Who cares about the tens of millions of unschooled children and unemployable youth all over the federation? Yet, these are the conversations we should be having.
AND FOUR OTHER THINGS
My alma mater, the University of Lagos, represents everything that is wrong with Nigeria. After postponing its post-UME test, it still emerged that the school was not ready. Hundreds of teenagers were subjected to traumatic conditions on Wednesday at the test centres. After arriving at the school as early as 7am, many of the candidates did not write the test until 7pm. And to think some came from outside Lagos! Some of these youngsters, denied food and water, fainted. Many computers set up for the test did not work. Some candidates were beaten by soldiers for being “unruly”. And now we would be told the candidates failed. Is this a human society? Rubbish.
GOD BLESS ZAHRA
My star of the week is Zahra Buhari, daughter of the president. A few hours after she posted a message on social media criticising the sickening state of the state house clinic, there was a response from the appropriate quarters! Newspapers have been doing the story for a while, but the state house permanent secretary, Mr. Jalal Arabi, could not be bothered. Now he’s bothered! Can Zahra please drive on a few federal roads across the country and help us post the pictures? Can Zahra please help us comment on the state of other hospitals in Nigeria? A visit to ABUTH, LUTH and UNTH (yes, federal character) will help. Keep posting, Zahra, we love you. Impact.
Is Dr. Ibe Kachikwu, minister of state for petroleum resources, on his way out? His weighty letter to President Muhammadu Buhari on the conduct of Mr. Maikanti Baru, NNPC GMD, paints the picture of someone who is frustrated and ready to call it a day. Truth be told: Buhari’s government is in disarray — there are too many cases of insubordination, power play and unpunished impropriety. As the chaotic APC government continues to mess up, I’m further amused that the pathetic PDP is equating the award of contracts by NNPC with the diversion of security funds to 2015 electioneering. But, then, what is the difference between APC and PDP? #OneChance.
What is happening in Edo state? It is one tale of woe after the other as criminal gangs unleash horror on the state. A professor was killed last week. Kidnapping is becoming rampant. It is believed that all hell has been let loose since Mr. Godwin Obaseki, the governor, began to dislodge touts and extortionist gangs from the streets. Meanwhile, the police commissioner, Mr. Haliru Gwandu, has a lot of question marks on him. He has been transferred out of the state since July but Mr. Ibrahim Idris, the inspector general of police, has chosen to retain him there for reasons we can only speculate, in the light of the weighty allegations against Idris himself. Bemusing.
At last, our young friend, Festus Keyamo, has been honoured with the laurel of Senior Advocate of Nigeria, SAN, the highest honour of the legal profession in our country. If you are not a SAN and you are a lawyer, you remain a member of the crowd. Once you are a SAN, you are now a red-cap chief and your bank alerts would indicate your new status. Since the return of democracy in 1999, the SAN club has witnessed many worthy entrants and few could be more worthy than Keyamo. In his set this year was Olusola Oke, former governorship candidate of the Alliance for Democracy in the last election in Ondo State. Oke, a modest man of spectacular professional achievements, practices his law mostly in Ondo State.
Indeed, few professions have been able to create a special elite class as the lawyers have done with the SAN club. I remember those days of serious legal combats between two giants of the bar, Chief Rotimi Williams and the irrepressible Chief Gani Fawehinmi. Many times, Chief Williams would be the only one on the front row reserved for senior lawyers with the SAN title, while Fawehinmi and other lesser mortals occupied the second and other rows.
Once at the Supreme Court in Lagos, Fawehinmi was quoting from the Laws of the old Western Region to back up his case, while the judges, including Justice Kayode Eso, were listening attentively. At the end of Fawehinmi’s submission, Chief Williams was asked to respond.“We wrote those laws,” he said. The court exploded in laughter. Those were the days of Otutu Obaseki, Mohammed Bello, Eso, Chukwudifu Oputa, Bolarinwa Babalakin and other legends. When the Legal Practitioners Privileges Committee would not honour Fawehinmi with the coveted laurel, students of the Obafemi Awolowo University, Ile-Ife, honoured him with the title of Senior Advocate of the Masses, SAM. I cannot remember now whether any other lawyer won that title which was like tee-shirt Number 10 in the Brazilian football team, meant eternally to represent the incomparable Edson Arantes do Nascimento, alias Pele.
Of course, Keyamo represents a new kind of Fawehinmi. He is courageous, sometimes reckless, often combative and always in support of the underdog. Keyamo graduated from Ambrose Alli University, Ekpoma, Edo State, in 1992 and was called to the bar in 1993. At the height of the June 12 struggle, he joined the chambers of Fawehinmi where he learnt the art and science of legal wrestling. As we have seen, he was an outstanding student of the Fawehinmi school. Since he established his private practice, Keyamo has attracted many politically sensitive cases. He was the one who got the taped confession of the alleged killers of Chief Bola Ige. He was also the one who took the Presidency to court over the appointment of Service Chiefs.
Indeed, Keyamo is a revolutionary of a different kind. However, he may not have agreed with the iconic Chinese revolutionary hero Mao Zedong that “power grows out of the barrel of the gun.” Keyamo is a democrat who prefers the eloquence of the ballot box. It would have been good if we could send Keyamo to China to learn more about Mao, the revolutionary, and why our country is so different from China now.
In recent weeks, we have been learning more about the ability of the Chinese to perform wonders of engineering. They are building the largest dam for Nigeria on the Mambilla Hill that, in six years time, promises to generate 3,050 megawatt of electricity. The dam is estimated to cost $5.8 billion with China paying for 75 per cent of the cost. Nigeria is going to bear only 15 per cent. Great bargain you will say.
The government-owned China Civil Engineering Construction Corporation, CCECC, which is handling the dam project, is also involved in many other constructions across the country. It is the flagship of the Chinese involvements in our country, especially in the building of public projects. They are building the Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport, Abuja. They have projects across the country. Indeed, there is probably no governor in Nigeria who has not visited China. We are told now that the future of Africa is in China.
It was Mao, however, who secured the future for China. At the beginning of the 20th Century, China was as backward as Nigeria. The country was divided by several colonising powers, especially Japan and Britain. Though the puppet emperor was toppled, foreign influence was still dominant despite the nationalist uprisings. Mao became one of the founders of the Communist Party in 1927, the year the Chinese Civil War started, and the fledgling movement was soon pitched against the entrenched regime of the Kuomintang led by Generalissimo Kai-Shek. The Civil War was fought with profound ferocity and after 22 years of struggle, the Communists came to power on October 1, 1949. That day, at the Gate of Heavenly Peace in Beijing, Mao declared: “The Chinese people have stood up.”
Mao was a communist and he believed that the communist super power, the Soviet Union, would help China to industrialise. Soviet experts came in to help build roads, rail lines, airports and schools. They not only wanted to control China, they wanted to own it. China-Soviet split was inevitable and by 1958, China was struggling for freedom from its strong friend, the Soviet Union. The country was an anathema to the West at that period, which recognised Taiwan, the small island where the Kuomintang had established a government, and now it was facing a painful ditching by the Soviet Union. It was this split that made China to re-discover itself.
As they were pulling out, the Russians dismantled factories, ripped off rail lines and destroyed electric pylons and rendered the Chinese economy comatose. China became an isolated country, with only Albania, as its friend as most of the other communist countries sided with the Soviet Union. Faced with this great crisis, Mao decided on both the short term and the long term solutions. In the short term, China decided to rely on its inner strength, knowledge and resources. In the long run, it sent its students to study in the best universities in Europe and the United States, to acquire knowledge that would help to transform China into a modern country. By 1972, American President Richard Nixon visited Beijing and ended the era of Chinese isolation.
Today, China is the second largest economic power. Its investment in knowledge acquisition all over the world has paid off. Its students continue to dominate many top universities in the world. The rulers of China focused on the imperatives of planning, persistence and implementation. They know that for China to join the league of developed nations, it must provide employment, encourage skill acquisition and improve the standard of living. Today, China manufactures everything from toothpicks to torpedoes, from cars to aircraft carriers. Today, Nigeria imports everything, including power generating sets and the ceremonial uniforms of its generals.
But in Nigeria, it is our governors and other top officials who keep going to China “to attract foreign investments!” They want the Chinese to come and help us build our country; build our dams, our roads, our hospitals, our bridges, our airports and our industries. We did not ask the simply question: Was it the Americans who developed China? Or was it the Japanese or the Koreans?
Chief Obafemi Awolowo, the first Premier of the defunct Western Region (now balkanised into Delta, Edo, Ekiti, Lagos, Ondo, Ogun, Osun and Oyo) said the first requirement for good leadership “is the capacity to think.” He called it “mental magnitude.” I have no doubt that our leaders have the capacity to think. The problem is what they are thinking about. Are they thinking about the future of Nigeria or just the next election? Or are they thinking of what Diezani Alison-Madueke used to think about in that era when she was the Dragon-Queen of the Jonathan Court?
We have now seen where a state governor would decree the establishment of a university without any thought about the future of that institution and what would happen to its products. In one of the states where the number of vehicles is not more than 20 per cent of those owned by the Dangote Group, the state government has already committed a substantial part of the state resources to many years of building an overhead bridge. Yet, the governor, a frequent visitor to China, has not been able to attract one Chinese investment (or any foreign investment for that matter) into his state. Yet this is a state where at least 60 per cent of youths are unemployed. It is one of the states where many okada riders are university graduates.
Mao was ruler of China for 27 years until he died in 1976. For that long reign, he travelled outside China only twice. Let us start by putting a six-month moratorium on foreign travels for our governors and ministers and let us see whether we might save enough foreign exchange to import rice for one year. By 1979 when Shehu Shagari was elected our President, Nigeria was the largest producer of rice in Africa. Today, we are the largest importer of rice on the continent, spending an average of One Billion Naira daily on the importation of the magic grain.
Let us send Keyamo to lead our youths to China and acquire knowledge on how to build a country. If we do this, we may learn to build many things instead of consuming so many things, including tea from China. We may even end up building military vehicles that would be useful for the future Operation Tortoise Speed.
PRAGMATIC STEPS TOWARDS RESTRUCTURING NIGERIA BY
PASTOR ‘TUNDE BAKARE
Fellow citizens of Nigeria, Happy Independence Day to you all.
At crucial moments such as this, I have, by the grace of God, stood on this platform to bring timely admonitions to our beloved nation. I stand here once again at this defining period in the evolution of our nationhood to bring the mind of God to a nation in the valley of decision. I stand here today as a patriotic citizen of Nigeria, as an ardent believer in her great future, and as an unrepentant optimist in the God-given potential of the Nigerian people to surmount the present challenges and build a great nation.
Let me begin this address with gratitude to God for the recovery and return of our dear President Muhammadu Buhari. As I have done privately, I once again congratulate Mr. President on this pleasant climax to a trying period in his personal life and that of the nation. Together with all well-meaning Nigerians, I pray for a continuous supply of health, vitality and wisdom as he resumes his duties. Let me also use this opportunity to commend the vice president, Prof. Yemi Osinbajo, who, as Acting President, courageously held the fort and steered the ship of state with grace and skill on behalf of his principal.
Furthermore, I congratulate the nation on the victory of constitutionalism over conspiracies. The correspondence between the president and the National Assembly in line with section 145 of the constitution each time the president left to attend to his health indicates some progress in our democratic experience, compared with almost eight years ago when a cabal hijacked power in circumstances bordering on the health of a sitting president. In this regard, credit must be given to President Muhammadu Buhari for his compliance with due process, and to the leadership of the National Assembly, including the Senate President, Senator Bukola Saraki, and the Speaker of the House of Representatives, Honourable Yakubu Dogara, for making the most of the constitution despite its flaws. This evident growth is a shimmer of hope at a very sensitive period in which the destiny of the nation is at stake.
The State of the Nation and the Quest for Leadership
Undoubtedly, Mr. President has returned to a nation hanging in a precarious balance. Indeed, our nation is enmeshed in a prolonged war against the retrogressive effects of a structure that was created by the fear of the past, has become institutionalized by the fear of the present, and is being perpetuated by the fear of the unknown. These fears have morphed into a horde of agitations which, in an address upon his return in August, Mr. President charged aggrieved persons to channel to the National Assembly and the Council of State.
However, due to the reputation that members of the hallowed chambers have created in the minds of Nigerians, many have expressed doubts as to the ability and willingness of the National Assembly to midwife the structural, institutional and constitutional solutions demanded by Nigerias historical and present circumstances. As a result, Nigerians from all walks of life are questioning Mr. Presidents recommendations as to proper channels for agitations, even though the National Assembly and by extension the State Houses of Assembly are the only available constitutional avenues for making peaceful change possible and violent change inconceivable.
We can only keep hope alive by reminding ourselves that the National Assembly has, in the past, risen to the occasion and intervened at crucial moments such as this. From the decisive death blow dealt the third term agenda of the then president, Chief Olusegun Obasanjo, by the 5th National Assembly, to the doctrine of necessity invoked by the 6th National Assembly, the 8th National Assembly has sufficient precedents on how to act in the best interest of Nigeria. We believe that the distinguished and honourable lawmakers will rise to the occasion and work closely with the president to pilot Nigeria into stable and prosperous nationhood.
Having laid the foundation of the need for legislative responsibility, I must state that, as far as championing the far-reaching structural, institutional and constitutional changes necessary to salvage the soul of our nation is concerned, the words on the desk of the 33rd president of the United States, Harry Truman: THE BUCK STOPS HERE!, are relevant to President Buhari whose legacy is at stake. Mr. President, the buck stops at your desk and, as always, my earnest prayer is that you find the courage and political will to do what is right at this momentous period in the history of our nation.
Against this backdrop, we shall now examine the latest buzzword in Nigerias political lexicon with a view to distinguishing the noise from the voice, separating the wheat from the chaff, and presenting practical steps towards building a strong and stable nation.
The Clamour for Restructuring
Some years ago, the word restructuring was the exclusive lingo of pro-democracy groups like the National Democratic Coalition (NADECO), the Pro-National Conference Organisation (PRONACO), and The Patriots. The leading individual voices in this call emerged mainly from the southern part of the country, including the likes of Chief Rotimi Williams, Chief Gani Fawehinmi and Chief Anthony Enahoro, all of blessed memory. Others included the likes of Prof. Ben Nwabueze, Prof. Wole Soyinka and Chief Emeka Anyaoku. However, in more recent times, leaders from the northern part of the country have increasingly lent their voices to this call. From former vice president, Alhaji Atiku Abubakar, who has aired this opinion since around 2012, to a former governor of Kaduna State, Alhaji Balarabe Musa, and, most surprisingly, former Head of State, General Ibrahim Babanginda, the call for restructuring appears to be reaching a tipping point.
Nevertheless, in spite of the fact that the restructuring of the polity is implied in the manifesto of the All Progressives Congress (APC), the government has, for a long time, been silent on the matter and has, very often, drawn the attention of Nigerians back to the tripodal policy agenda of President Buhari, namely, anti-corruption, security, and job creation through diversification. However, after much evasion, the APC, two months ago, eventually constituted a ten-member committee headed by Mallam Nasir El-Rufai, the current Governor of Kaduna State, to address the increased agitations for restructuring.
As we await the submission of that committee, I acknowledge that some opponents to the call for restructuring, including serving officials, have ascribed ulterior selfish motives to those calling for it. Whether or not this is the case, not only must we not allow the counterfeit overshadow the genuine, we must also not allow the voice of cynicism drown the voice of reason. Thus, the words of David, the shepherd boy, when he was confronted by his brothers as he was about to take on Goliath, should be the response of every genuine advocate of restructuring to the criticisms. David said, and I quote: Is there not a cause? (I Samuel 17:29; NKJV)
Moreover, the hue and cry over President Buharis address to the nation on August 21, 2017 suggests Mr. President is perceived by some stakeholders as opposed to restructuring. But, from my interactions with the president in the past seven years as an advocate of a properly structured polity, I am convinced that this is not the case. Not only does the president want agitations managed through appropriate constitutional channels, he also wants a clarification of demands in concise terms, as well as propositions on practical pathways towards achieving those demands. That is the essence of this address and I believe that Mr. Presidents expectations are valid.
However, before I proceed to elucidate on the practicalities of restructuring, permit me at this juncture to cast our minds back to our consistent calls for the restructuring of the polity, long before the current bandwagon effect.
Our Calls for Restructuring
In 2010, the Save Nigeria Group (SNG) presented a Contract to Save and Transform Nigeria to President Goodluck Jonathan which, among other demands, made a case for devolution of powers, called for a review of the revenue formula, and advocated the convocation of a national conference towards the creation of a draft constitution that would be adopted through a referendum. Following the inaction of the government, we subsequently convened a Dialogue of the Nobles attended by Donald Duke, Mallam Nasir El-Rufai, Dr. Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, Mallam Nuhu Ribadu, Dr. Oby Ezekwesili, and Fola Adeola, among others. As part of a series of dialogues, in a bid to seek the best of the North and the best of the South as an alternative to the then incumbent administration, we also engaged the major candidates ahead of the 2011 elections in search of commitment to the restructuring of the nation, among other desirables.
General Muhammadu Buhari stood out among the available contenders and, on October 10, 2010, we expressed our conviction that he was best suited to lead. On January 15, 2011, I was invited by General Buhari to be his running mate and I initially declined because I had engaged the polity not with the intention to contest elections but to midwife genuine national rebirth. My eventual acceptance was contingent on the mutual understanding that the restructuring of Nigeria would be top on the agenda. This was reflected prominently in the manifesto of the Congress for Progressive Change (CPC) in which we promised the initiation of action to amend our Constitution with a view to devolving powers, duties and responsibilities to states and local governments in order to entrench Federalism and the Federal spirit. This provision subsequently made its way into the APC manifesto.
In 2014, we took our demands for restructuring to the National Conference, where a case was made for a unicameral parliamentary system of government to reduce the cost of governance, and for a federal structure comprised of a strong central government with six geopolitical zones as federating units. In addition, we sponsored a Nigerian Charter for National Reconciliation and Integration as the basis of our union as a nation, as against Decree 24 of 1999 by which the current constitution was promulgated.
Following heated debates, in the spirit of trustful give and take, the conference adopted a modified presidential system that would harness the separation of powers inherent in the presidential system, while guaranteeing the needed cooperation between both arms of government as intended in the parliamentary system of government. We recommended the selection of the Vice President from the legislature and advocated the institutionalization of the principle of zoning in the Electoral Act. Furthermore, the Nigerian Charter for National Reconciliation and Integration was unanimously adopted. This address will use the propositions at the National Conference as a springboard but will necessarily include bolder and more far-reaching recommendations given the current state of the nation.
On January 4, 2015, in a message titled The Gathering Storm and Avoidable Shipwreck How to Avoid Catastrophic Euroclydon, I sounded a note of warning at the height of the electioneering campaign. I charged the nation not to place the cart of elections before the horse of restructuring, proposing “true federalism under Zonal Commissions as well as fiscal federalism
Rather than pay heed to the warnings, many of our politicians kept on with their business as usual” attitude that brought the nation very close to the brink of disaster. Fortunately, by divine intervention through the efforts of distinguished Nigerians, the international community, and through a demonstration of statesmanship unprecedented in Nigerias history, we scaled through the 2015 elections by a hairs breadth. Mindful of our narrow escape and the festering socio-political and economic challenges, soon after the inauguration of this administration in 2015, we submitted to Mr. President an extensive document that called for a Presidential Commission for National Reconciliation, Reintegration and Restructuring comprised of eminent Nigerians, and guided by the Nigerian Charter for National Reconciliation and Integration which was adopted by the 2014 National Conference.
Our submission anticipated the need to reconcile contentious interest groups, foster the integration of the diverse sectional groups into true nationhood, and facilitate the evolution of an acceptable functional governmental structure for Nigeria. We proposed that the new structure would be contained in a new constitutional framework which would come into effect by way of an executive bill to be submitted to the National Assembly by Mr. President and decided upon by the Nigerian people through a referendum.
All our efforts have been inspired by our belief that, as a nation, we are better off together and should find acceptable ways to stay together. We are driven by an urgent responsibility to find, within the constitution, pathways to a more perfect union. Having laid this background we shall proceed to further simplify the seemingly complicated but, indeed, simple concept of restructuring.
Understanding Restructuring: The Basis
Restructuring simply means to change the way an entity is organized or arranged. In the corporate context, restructuring is a management term for the act of reorganizing the legal, ownership, operational, or other structures of a company for the purpose of making it more profitable, or better organized for its present needs. In the context of a nation, restructuring requires redefining the relationship between the people and the government, including taking another look at the structures and systems of governance as encapsulated in the constitution. The diverse positions on the restructuring debate are being championed by at least ten categories of advocates, give or take a few overlaps, namely:
The Economic Structure Reformists
The Non-Structural Constitutional Reformists
The Political System Reformists
The State Creation Advocates
The Resource Control Activists
The Regional Federalists
The Regional Confederalists
We shall now examine these positions and then proceed to present our prescription on the way forward for Nigeria.
Category #1: The Conservatives
The Conservatives are generally satisfied with the systems and structures of governance, current challenges notwithstanding. They generally hold the view that attitudinal adjustments, not necessarily systemic or structural changes, are required. This position is held by the likes of former president, Chief Olusegun Obasanjo, and Kano State Governor, Dr. Abdullahi Ganduje, who believe Nigerians need a restructuring of the mind.
Category #2: The Economic Structure Reformists
The economic structure reformists frown at the focus on politics and emphasize the need to restructure the systems and structures of economic governance, in order to diversify from an oil-based economy, reduce the size and bureaucracy of government, and loosen governments grip on the economy through the privatization of key sectors while the government simply plays a facilitatory role. Proponents include policy and economic experts like my friend and sister, Dr. Oby Ezekwesili, who has said: We need economic governance as the basis for any political grouping the country may need”, or, in the words of James Carville, chief strategist for the Bill Clinton campaign in 1992: Its the economy, stupid.”
Category #3: The Non-Structural Constitutional Reformists
These are those demanding amendments in certain aspects of the constitution that have no direct bearing on the structure of governance. They include young people advocating a reduction of the age qualifications into certain political offices through movements such as Not Too Young To Run; they include advocates for such affirmative action that reserves a percentage of political offices for women; they include those advocating the removal of the Land Use Act from the constitution, as well as those advocating the separation of the office of the Attorney General of the Federation from that of the Minister of Justice, and so on.
Category #4: The Political System Reformists
Political System Reformists make a case for such constitutional changes that include a unicameral, rather than a bicameral, legislature to reduce the size of government. Others prescribe part-time legislature while some make a strong case for the parliamentary system of government or, as the 2014 National Conference resolved, a modified parliamentary system.
Category #5: The Devolutionists
These are multi-state federalists making a case for ceding more powers to the federating units even if such units are the current 36 states. Many of the current advocates of restructuring, including former vice president, Alhaji Atiku Abubakar, belong to this school of thought. The devolutionists envisage a constitution with a leaner exclusive legislative list, a more robust concurrent list, and a workable residual list. Also on the agenda of the devolutionists is the review of the revenue sharing formula in favour of the states and local governments.
Category #6: The State Creation Advocates
At the last National Conference, 18 demands for state creation were approved, taking the possible number of states in the nation to 54. Some advocates are regionalists deploying multi-state strategies in the quest for equitable allocation of resources to the respective regions from the centre, including the leaders of the South-East calling for one more state so each region would have six states apiece except the North-West, which has seven. The Middle Belt states seeking regional autonomy from the North-Central also fall into this category. They recognize that, given the current revenue allocation system, the more states a region has, the more allocation goes to that region or geopolitical zone. Other advocates of state creation are motivated by the need to give geographical expression to ethnic identities.
Category #7: The Resource Control Activists
This is a more radical group that swings between devolution and secession. They include the Niger Delta activists and militants demanding outright resource control, which is the exclusive right to regulate the exploitation of resources in a geographical area. Their clamour simply reminds us that we need a more pragmatic resource distribution and management system.
Category #8: The Regional Federalists
The Regional Federalists argue not only that the current system falls short of true federalism, as the devolutionists point out, but also that the vast majority of the current 36 states are not viable. Recent reports indicate that Lagos State, where the commercial activities of Nigeria are concentrated, generates more internal revenue than 32 states combined. This school of thought therefore makes a case for the integration of states along geopolitical zonal lines to create economies of scale. A number of options have been thrown up as to possible number of zones but the six geopolitical zonal formula featuring the North-West, North-Central, North-East, South-West, South-South and South-East, has been the most advocated. Proponents envisage a strong central government catering for matters like defence, foreign affairs and monetary management, with six strong zonal federating units having concurrent legislative powers in such matters as policing, mineral resource management, electricity generation, and transportation. Groups such as Afenifere are inclined in this direction, taking a cue from the 1963 Constitution.
Category #9: The Regional Confederalists
These also advocate a regional or geopolitical zonal arrangement. However, advocates of confederacy prefer a weak central government and strong regional governments with each region having its own army and as such able to defend itself in cooperation with other regions.
Category #10: The Secessionists
These are those calling for Biafra Republic, Oduduwa Republic, Arewa Republic, Ijaw Republic, Ogoni Republic and so on. This is because sectional identities have survived independence and are still reflected in our social interactions and intensified by perceptions of marginalization. Decades after the civil war, we are yet to forge true nationhood and Nigerians still tend to think of themselves as Yorubas, Igbos, Hausas, Fulanis, Kanuris, Tivs, Idomas, Nupes, Ijaws, Edos, Urhobos, and so on, within the Nigerian state.
Some of the ongoing calls for restructuring are motivated by the aim of finding geographical expressions for these sociocultural identities. Although we can compel statehood by show of force, we cannot force true nationhood into existence. Relationship cannot be legislated; it can only be cultivated. Nationhood can be built only through good and equitable governance.
Therefore, those asking for the opportunity to negotiate their existence within the Nigerian state based on their ethnic or cultural identities have a right so to do, as captured in international legal instruments such as the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, to which Nigeria is a signatory.
However, these negotiations must be handled with decorum and all the sensitivity required so that the Rehoboams in the polity do not play into the hands of the Jeroboams and push the nation from bad to worse as it happened to Israel of old (I Kings 12:1-24 & 14:1-11, 14).
As for those calling for secession, they should bear in mind the fact that, before the creation of the Nigerian state, there was no Yoruba nation, there was no Igbo nation, there was no Hausa nation, neither was there an Ijaw nation. We must not be misled by nostalgia for a spurious harmonious past or the myth of homogenous ethnic groups that is far removed from reality. The area around the Niger was marked with unrest, continuous intergroup conflict, subjugation, enslavement and oppression of the weaker by the stronger until Nigeria provided the possibility for peaceful coexistence. For this, we must appreciate the Nigerian state, we must celebrate our Nigerian-ness and we must gravitate towards strengthening our nationhood rather than cursing our blessing.
Be that as it may, there is no doubt that the current structure cannot hold the greatness that awaits the nation but could hinder it. The demand, however, should not be for secession. The question should be: How best do we organize ourselves for equitable, peaceful and productive coexistence? This takes me to our position on the pathway to a stable and prosperous Nigeria.
Pathway to a New Nigeria
Each of the schools of thought on restructuring reminds one of the story of blind men who visited a zoo to “see” an elephant. One grabbed its trunk and concluded the elephant was like a snake. Another touched its ear and concluded the elephant was a fan. A third touched one of its legs and concluded the enormous animal must have been a pillar. Rather than resolve that they were all wrong, we believe there is a measure of wisdom in the various perspectives and that, like a jigsaw puzzle, the bits must be put together to achieve a desired objective.
For those who care to know where I stand in all this, I am an advocate of progressive and pragmatic restructuring; progressive because ours is a long-term approach, and pragmatic because the interests of every segment of the country are taken into consideration. It is to this end that we reiterate, and even expand the scope of, our call for the creation of a Presidential Commission for National Reconciliation, Reintegration and Restructuring by the president through an executive order, in full consultation with the Council of State and the National Assembly.
The Presidential Commission should be given the mandate and the powers to facilitate, within ten years, the evolution of a functional and acceptable geopolitical structure subject to constitutional provisions while the 1999 Constitution is progressively amended. This Commission shall undertake a geoeconomic and geosocial path to geopolitical restructuring by creating geoeconomic frameworks, mending geosocial faultlines, and attaining a geopolitical climax.
Creating Geoeconomic Frameworks
The Nigerian economy is clearly regional in structure with comparative advantages defined by climate, geology, biogeography, population and culture. It is why, in the era of the regions, even though agriculture and mineral production were the mainstays of the economy, there were areas of specialization.
The six geopolitical zones not only roughly reflect six sociocultural zones but also mirror six geoeconomic zones that can be deliberately cultivated over a period of about ten years within which political structures can be designed. The ten-year window is meant to cater for the concerns of parts of the country where the notion of restructuring is opposed due to perceived economic disadvantages. Within the ten-year period, the six zones would have been aided to develop areas of comparative advantage. Therefore, in the interest of sustainable economic development over the next ten years, we propose the following seven-point agenda:
The federal government will progressively devolve powers to the existing 36 states, which will themselves progressively evolve into a zonal arrangement. To facilitate this, we propose the creation of 6 zonal commissions to be headed by zonal commissioners appointed from each zone, to work with the 36 state governors to facilitate integration. The zonal commissioners will be charged with a mandate to map out the economic potential of each zone, design or update, as the case may be, a zonal economic master plan, and coordinate federal and state efforts towards transitioning into zonal economies within ten years, thereby harnessing the comparative resources of each zone to achieve globally competitive economies of scale and scope;
Instituting a social bond to fund the transition to zonal economies, thereby attracting local and international investments to the possibilities of vibrant zonal economic clusters;
Within the financing framework, instituting a 5-part Transitional Zonal Economic Fund focused on key sectors with unique expressions in each of the six geopolitical zones, including extractive minerals, agriculture, industrialization, creative and cultural development, and human capacity development;
A progressive increase in percentage of funds from mineral extraction accruing to the state from which it originates such that, by the tenth year, either by derivation or by partial resource control, subject to constitutional provisions, 50% of revenue will be returned to or retained in the zone of origin as it was at independence and in the First Republic;
Consequently, a progressive shrinking of the distributable pool account over ten years based on recommendations by the Revenue Mobilization Allocation and Fiscal Commission in line with the restructuring thrust;
Aside the Transitional Zonal Economic Fund, the creation of a special Internally Generated Revenue Grant aimed at rewarding the efforts of the states in each zone at generating internal revenue as against compensating non-viable states for economic laziness. This grant will be in the form of counterpart funding;
The national infrastructural development thrust will thus be managed by the federal government in conjunction with the Zonal Commissions and the state governments towards ensuring seamless linkage.
Mending Geosocial Faultlines
While the economic component of the restructuring agenda is being implemented, the geosocial component, which calls for a resolution of the inter-zonal and intra-zonal aspects of the Nigeria Question, should be immediately activated. This will entail harnessing the collective strengths of statesmen and nation builders across the nation to reconcile historical and current grievances and to reintegrate the diverse components of our nation into united nationhood. The details of this component are beyond the scope of this address but are contained in the framework for a Presidential Commission for National Reconciliation, Reintegration and Restructuring.
3. Attaining a Geopolitical Climax
The climax of the work of the Presidential Commission will be to codify the geoeconomic and geosocial outcomes and facilitate their evolution into vibrant geopolitical zones as federating units, each with rich sociocultural expressions and viable, world class economic clusters, all knit together by a strong federal government. The geopolitical zones will have the power to organize the constituent states and local governments as districts and counties based on the models created by the geoeconomic and geosocial aspects of the process. By the tenth year, the codified outcomes will be presented to the president who, in conjunction with the National Assembly, will have, within the ten-year period, championed the necessary constitutional amendments for progressive development of good governance, including allowing for a referendum in which the Nigerian people will eventually adopt the framework as a new constitution for a New Nigeria.
The proposed ten-year transitional window is expected to kick in from 2018 to 2028. I understand that this translates to the administrations of at least two, or at most four, presidents spanning three election cycles. Therefore, if the policy is flagged off by the current administration, there is the clear danger of policy discontinuity unless the process is institutionalized. However, the 1976 Abuja Master Plan offers an example of collaboration and continuity spanning fifteen years and five administrations.
In the early 1970s, the Nigerian government began to mull the idea of relocating the federal capital from Lagos. It felt that the capital had become congested in terms of population and available land. It sought a new capital that would be sited in the centre of the country, thus providing a surer guarantee of security and ensuring a more balanced representation of the countrys ethnic and religious diversity.
To this end, in 1976, the government of General Murtala Muhammed identified a site for the proposed new capital and established the Federal Capital Development Authority (FCDA) to mastermind the process. Policy execution of this restructuring spanned the administrations of General Olusegun Obasanjo, President Shehu Shagari, General Muhammadu Buhari and, eventually, General Ibrahim Babangida under whose watch the relocation phase commenced in 1991.
The fact that such policy consistency occurred during Nigerias unstable political history, characterized by successive military takeovers and a truncated democracy, shows that the right dose of political will can sustain a policy when the need is universally appreciated. Therefore,
the following points should be noted in the quest for sustainability.
We expect that the project will be flagged off under the administration of President Muhammadu Buhari in the period leading to the next governmental fiscal year;
Alongside the kickoff of the project, the President may send to the National Assembly a Bill for the Establishment of the Commission for National Reconciliation, Reintegration and Restructuring, however so named, to provide institutionalization, continuity and legislative guarantee for the objectives of the restructuring agenda;
To further safeguard its operations and objectives, we charge Nigerians to hold as a standard for electoral decision making the commitment of aspirants and candidates towards the ten-year framework for a restructured Nigeria;
Finally, we expect subsequent holders of public office at all levels of government to demonstrate the desired political will, drawing lessons not only from the Abuja story but also from more recent policy transitional success stories, including the Integrated Payroll and Personnel Information System (IPPIS), the Government Integrated Financial Management Information System (GIFMIS), and the Treasury Single Account (TSA) which were enacted by the preceding administration but are being implemented by the current government.
Recently, the Minister of Finance, Mrs. Kemi Adeosun, was reported as stating that the Nigerian economy has struggled so far because it is not structured to meet demographic needs. She therefore cited, as regards respites, the governments policies aimed at diversification from an oil-based economy. However, I am confident that the success of its diversification programme is dependent on the ability of the government to embrace the zonal geodemographic nature of the economy as we have spelt out in this proposal. This entails a revisiting of existing plans and policies including the Medium Term Expenditure Framework (MTEF) and the Economic Recovery and Growth Plan (ERGP).
I believe that as we adopt these proposals and take these steps towards building a new nation, we will see breathtaking economic miracles. With the world transiting from crude oil, the northern zonal economies will become hubs of sustainable energy harnessing solar power and biomass while deploying solid minerals like lithium in the emerging electric automobile industry. Meanwhile, the southern zones will harness the huge gas reserves while optimizing the vast coastal waters for wind turbines.
The president, the National Assembly, the Judiciary, the state governments, the State Houses of Assembly, the Council of State, political parties, the private sector, and the generality of Nigerians all have a critical role to play in initiating, implementing, sustaining and defending the process and its outcomes. We must think, not as sectionalists but as nationalists; not as skeptics who only see obstacles, but as optimists, who see opportunities; not as politicians, mindful only of the next election, but as statesmen mindful of the next generation.
By the grace of the Living God, who calls those things that be not as though they are, and according to the proportion of my faith in Him who cannot lie, I call forth today, the 1st of October, 2017, the New North and the New South to come together to the table of brotherhood and negotiate the destiny of a New Nigeria with mutual respect and trustful give and take void of mutual suspicion.
Finally, I urge all Nigerians, with unassailable courage, unalloyed patriotism and unrelenting faith in the destiny of our nation, to arise and seize this opportunity to build a great nation, with the confident assurance that there is no army powerful enough to stop an idea whose time has come. (Victor Hugo). For, in the words of President Theodore Roosevelt, The government is us; we are the government, you and I.
Thank you, God bless you, and God bless our country, Nigeria.
Pastor Tunde Bakare
Serving Overseer, The Latter Rain Assembly;
Convener, Save Nigeria Group (SNG)
STATE OF THE NATION BROADCAST
The Political Manipulation of Nigerians
By Simon Kolawole
Nigeria is 57, going by the year of independence, and the consensus in every corner is that we can be, and should have been, better than this. I have not met a single person who said this is the best we can be. Our ecrronomic and development indices at independence are largely better than what we have today, but the real deal is that we were such a promising nation in 1960 that it was thought we would dominate Africa with the speed at which we were developing. It is a fitting tribute, isn’t it, that the immortal Lee Kwan Yew, the man behind the Singapore success story, saw Nigeria as a model to be emulated when his country became independent from Malaysia in 1965.
If things had worked out well for Nigeria, especially if the stupendous petrodollars gushing into our treasury had been intelligently managed, our story would have been significantly different today. We would not be talking about thousands of kilometres of bad roads, we would not be lamenting epileptic power supply, we would not be crying over hospitals that are basically torture centres, we would not be groaning about third-rate quality of instruction and infrastructure in our schools, and we would not be moaning that millions of people are homeless. Poverty rates would be low. Literacy rate would be high. We would be an economy built on production and productivity.
The biggest question as we clock 57, at least going by the headlines, is the unity of Nigeria. There is a trending agitation for “restructuring”, “true federalism” and “Biafra” which, we are made to believe, hold the key to the development of Nigeria. Many think Nigeria is like this — underdeveloped and conflict-prone — because of the amalgamation of “strange bedfellows” in 1914, or because we run a “military constitution” aka “unitary constitution”. Some even blame our multi-ethnicity, maintaining that until we are broken up along ethnic lines, our problems will persist. But, at least, there seems to be a consensus that corruption is hurting our development.
For those who say Nigerians cannot live together, I have always begged to differ. Having travelled around Nigeria for years, having interacted intensively with people from different ethnic and religious backgrounds, having observed Nigerians at close quarters, I have always concluded that we are impressively integrating socially and culturally. Ordinary Nigerians have learnt how to live with one another. Inter-ethnic marriage is what we usually give as an example, but I am also enamoured by the culinary intercourse — delicacies such as suya, isi ewu, amala and edikaikong always leave a sweet taste in the mouths of Nigerians across the divides.
What’s more, words such as “ego”, “oga”, “oya” and “shikena” have successfully crossed lingual boundaries and become part and parcel of everyone’s daily conversations. I don’t even know the origin of some words anymore. An example is “garri”. Is it Igbo? Is it Yoruba? Is it Edo? That is how far our cultural integration has gone since amalgamation and independence. Our sartorial preferences have also crossed ethnic boundaries: you see dresses such as “senator” and “agbada” being worn by northerners and southerners, Muslims and Christians alike. For those who think we hate one another with passion, their evidence is inconclusive.
The entertainment industry excites me on the viability of the Nigerian project. Our home movies typically feature people of different ethnic and religious backgrounds. You see Igbo and Edo actors and actresses featuring in Yoruba-language movies in a country where we are made to understand we hate each other. In music, cross-cultural collaborations are the in-thing. Artistes like Onyeka Onwenu, Sonny Okosuns, Christy Essien Igbokwe and Funmi Adams did an enormous job in the 1980s and 1990s promoting, in different languages, the one love that binds us together. In churches, worshippers switch from Igbo to Yoruba to Hausa to Urhobo to Ibibio songs like second nature.
I have long concluded that ordinary Nigerians do not have problem living with one another in spite of our differences. But because we are different along the lines of ethnicity, religion, ideology, history and politics, there will always be conflict. That is not peculiar to Nigeria. As I always say, there is no country in the world that does not have its own internal divisions, rivalries and flashpoints. Conflict is human nature. The real issue is the political management of diversity and conflict. Ultimately, it is the political leadership that has the responsibility of managing conflicts and potential conflicts to the best of their abilities.
Unfortunately, most unfortunately, while ordinary Nigerians have largely integrated culturally and have evolved ways of living together, they are daily being let down by the political elite who manipulate ethnic and religious sentiments for selfish ends. Those who control the airwaves have ceaselessly poisoned the minds of Nigerians against each other, stirring up sectional strife, stoking tension and promoting political messages that are designed mostly for their personal pecuniary benefits — under the pretext of fighting for “my people”. All said and done, who eventually benefits from “it is our turn”? The elite or the market women?
Sadly, our political elite, working hand-in-glove with their intellectual sidekicks, have successfully developed narratives that muddle up the real issues and becloud our reasoning. There is a popular claim that “military” constitution has hindered our development. This is absolutely false (although there is even the bigger falsehood that Nigeria’s constitution was written by the military, but I’m done with that argument). Anyone who has studied the history of the role the military played in the development of South Korea, and the role of civilian dictatorships in the development of Singapore, Indonesia and Malaysia, will laugh off the claim. China is not even a liberal democracy!
To be clear, I do not recommend dictatorship for Nigeria, but neither will I support the narrow proposition that we can’t develop because of “lack of true federalism”. This is ridiculous. Norway, consistently ranked No. 1 on UNDP’s human development index (HDI), runs a unitary system. In fact, there is no resource control or derivation payment. All the oil revenue is managed by the central government. Yet Norway’s per capita income is $67,614, compared to $5,442 in the resource controlled-Nigeria. I do not propose a unitary system for Nigeria, but neither will I contribute to the claim that Nigeria cannot develop because of the supposedly “unitary” constitution.
So you know, 15 of the world’s top 20 most developed countries, according to the 2015 human development index, are: Norway, Denmark, Singapore, Netherlands, Ireland, Iceland, Hong Kong, New Zealand, Sweden, Liechtenstein, UK, Japan, South Korea (formerly a federation), Israel and Luxembourg. What do they have in common? They ALL run a unitary system. The only “true federalism” countries in the top 20 are Australia, Germany, Switzerland, US and Canada. Next time somebody tells you “true federalism” or “regionalism” is the magic formula for development, ask them for the evidence. In fact, China runs a unitary system! The elite love to prey on our ignorance.
Nigeria has three major ethnic groups and we are often lectured that we cannot develop until we balkanise. But Norway has seven ethnic groups — Norwegian, Sami, Jew, Traveller, Forest Finn, Romani and Kven. They are not doing badly. There are over 300 ethnic groups in Malaysia; its per capita income is four times that of Nigeria. India has roughly 2,000 ethnic groups, and while it is a Hindu-majority country, the population of Muslims is about 172 million, almost equal to Nigeria’s population. India is not yet categorised as a developed country, but it is way ahead of Nigeria. It is an economy built on production and boasts of multinational companies in Tata, Ranbaxy and Infosys.
Frankly, I do not blame the ordinary people who cannot decode the unending political manipulation of ethnic and religious sentiments in Nigeria. I’m rather saddened, if not depressed, when those propagating the false narratives and half-truths about “true federalism” are the enlightened people. There is a glaring lack of sincerity. I need to emphasise, and I will keep doing this for the sake of clarity, that I am not saying the current system or structure of Nigeria does not need tinkering with. We definitely need to restructure the country. My point of departure, though, is the campaign that restructuring has to be along the lines of ethnicity, religion and natural resources.
I do not know of any country that developed simply because of “true federalism” or “regionalism”. I am still frantically researching that idea. But I can give plenty examples of countries that developed because of competent and patriotic leadership, with or without “true federalism”. I hope most Nigerians will come to this realisation someday. As we mark our 57th independence anniversary, I would propose that we rethink these inherited wisdoms that we have always failed to critically question. Those who direct the orchestra know how to make us sing their buzzwords, but a deeper reflection on our part will confirm that it is all politics. Before I forget, Happy Independence Day.
AND FOUR OTHER THINGS
I was elated when I heard that governors have called on the federal government to hand over the so-called federal roads to the states. This makes perfect sense to me. However, I was not very clear about how the reconstruction or maintenance will be funded. One governor spoke about public private partnership, but there are other ways: one, the federal government can hand over the funds budgeted for the roads directly to the states, or more permanently, let go of some of its share of the federation account. I find it incredible that the centre takes 52.68% of the federation revenue, leaving the 36 states with 26.72% and the 774 councils 20.60%. Restructuring.
When the Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN) recently raised the alarm that the Sukuk bond, a non-interest Islamic finance facility issued by the federal government, was an attempt to Islamise Nigeria, the most appropriate response, in my opinion, came from Mr. Femi Falana, human rights lawyer, who said: “I am challenging CAN to Christianise Nigerians. Christianise us by setting up interest-free banks.” Some of the most expensive schools in Nigeria today are owned by churches, and if Muslims decide to offer tuition-free education now, CAN will say it is an attempt to Islamise Nigeria. Someone said it is better to light a candle than curse the darkness. Word.
An intended impact of criticism, I suppose, is change of style and attitude. President Muhammadu Buhari has been accused of being too slow to act on most of the issues he has had to deal with since he came to office in 2015, and I am yet to see any attempt to do things in a different way. It took him ages to constitute a cabinet; it took him forever to respond to economic downturn; and it is taking him an eternity to constitute boards and appoint substantive heads for agencies. In that case, we will wait forever for the implementation of the reports on the suspended DG of the National Intelligence Agency and secretary to the government of the federation (SGF). Frustrating.
My attention has been drawn to a potential case of discrimination by Hillcrest School, Jos. Rinret Yusuf Gukas underwent the entire admission processes without being asked if he had any allergy.
It was only upon his resumption that he was asked. The parents confirmed he has nuts allergy and provided the medication in case of accidental ingestion. To their surprise, the school nullified his admission. He had relocated from the UK and paid all the fees. In advanced societies, this is a case of discrimination on health grounds.
While Hillcrest might be seeking to play safe, it needs to review its admission processes. And where are the regulatory authorities in all this? Sickening.
Imagine Pat Utomi, who wants to be president of Nigeria and Professor Charles Soludu, who had been governor of Central Bank of Nigeria supporting Biafra. – Justice Mustapha Akanbi, former President, Court of Appeal, (Sunday Sun September 17, 2017 page 37)
Unknown to many people, the mother of Major-General Ike Nwachukwu, an old man who is about 75 years, was a Hausa Muslim from Katsina state, which is part of what some anarchist call “Core North”. This is the point. In other words, if a Hausa Muslim woman could marry an Igbo man 75 years ago, is it not irresponsible for any Nigerian to prepare for war simply because he is too parochial to tolerate any Nigerian other than his kinsman in the 21 century. My intellectual hero, Dr. Bala Usman, explains it better: “They (South Africans) wanted to support what they regarded as pro-democracy but when they went there, they were asking for the dissolution of Nigeria at the time South Africa was looking up to Nigeria to come and unite Africa. So the people kept telling Nelson Mandela that, “take it easy with this people who are telling you to come and try Abacha, don’t get involved. Even though Saro-Wiwa was executed, this man was a secessionist, Madiba – be careful.” When they went for this conference – Wole Soyinka and others arranged it – the South African government and others arranged it – the South Africa government kicked them out. They said they were about 130 groups, each of them claiming all sorts of nonsense and when they asked them what future was there for Nigeria, they said there was none. For them it was a shock. When I was there in South Africa, this is what they were asking me: “What sort of people are these; they say they are progressives but they want to break up their country and they are talking of tribes when we‘re trying to unite the country.” My hero went further to argue that even “the blood thing” we emphasize is a farce. Said he: “The tribal groups themselves were formed through history. You use your territorial structure to build things for those who are living there, the inhabitants. People who live in an area doing such occupations that link them up have a common interest. This goes beyond what you call blood. In any case, even you and your mother don’t have the same blood. People don’t seem to know that. Don’t they know that if you are group A, and somebody has AO, or one other group, you can’t even transfuse? But you can bring a stranger – a Chinese or bring an Eskimo who has the same blood group as G.G. Darah, they can transfuse. There are so many areas in which this blood they talk about is nonsense. What you have is common interest, common livelihood. So they preach this type of politics and the idea of the politics is basically anti-democratic. Nigeria is probably among the few countries where the pro-democracy movement has become the most anti-democratic movement because its position is that politics is primarily a matter of fighting for the interest of your tribe under the leadership of your tribal leader.” (Weekly Trust May 11-17, 2001.) If you are one of those who believe that restructuring Nigeria into ethnic regional units, listen to the limitations of such outdated argument, from Dr. Bala: “Do those so vehemently asking for restructuring of Nigeria into a federation or confederation of ethnic regional units know the ethno-geographical realities on the ground, the fishing grounds, the creeks, the pastures, the marshlands, the markets, the town and cities of their country? Where do you set the historical baseline, with regards to the demarcation of the boundaries in order to sort out amicably the conflicting territorial claims? Do you take the present ethnic-geographic situation as given and work on that. Or do you go back to an earlier period? Which year should be the historical baseline? 2000 A.D? 1960 A.D? Or 1000 A.D? Or even earlier…Is this the way we want to enter the 21stcentury, driving each other around, and killing one another, fighting over our grandparents ancient claims over land in the 11th, 18th, and 19th centuries.” When the federal government revealed the role of foreigners in using the pro-Biafra agitators to destroy Nigeria, I was not surprised. Dr. Bala Usman told us about the grand design to destroy nation – state in Africa, as far back as 2002. He argued: “The violent communal conflicts in these states are the out-come of psychological, ideological, political and economic processes which are nation-wide, continent-wide and even global. The attack and denigration on the nation – state in Africa and of its sovereignty and territorial integrity by Africans, funded and encouraged by countries which fiercely promote and defend their sovereign rights, their interests and even the borders of their nation – states, generates, in many parts of Nigeria an atmosphere which encourages violent ethnicity and conflicts, in defiance of the fundamental democratic principle of peacefully resolving all conflicts; even though these European and North American countries and their African Proteges, campaigning against the nation – state in Africa, are very loud in their claims about love for democracy and peace.” Dr. Bala Usman seizes every opportunity to argue that the Europeans conquered Africans not because of maxim gun but because of disruptive disputes. It is a fact that the British used Hausa slaves to conquer Hausa land. How many Europeans participated in the conquest of what is known as Nigeria today? Dr. Bala again: “The blockages, obstacles and barriers to migration, settlement, citizenship and economic interaction which the Sokoto Caliphate, Borno, Benin, the Niger Delta States, Oyo, Eko, and most of the other political systems of the late nineteenth century in the Nigerian area entrenched, weakened their capacity to rise up to the threats of European imperialist penetration and invasion. They were subjugated by the British, not primarily because of the maxim gun, but because of the disruptive disputes, chronic conflicts and civil wars within them, which had their roots in this inability to overcome these blockages, barriers and obstacles to the building of broader bases of citizenship and of incorporations and of economic production and commerce. Contemporary political fabrications like the “Yoruba Race”, “The lgbo Nation”, ‘The Hausa-Fulani”, ‘The Ijaw Nation” or the “Ogoni Nation,” etc, cannot hide this basic reality of the conditions of the peoples and polities of the Nigerian area in the late nineteenth century. They are exercises in fiction intended to evade the recognition of the seriousness of the problems and challenges our grandparents faced in the last century, and which we face in the closing years and this century, at a new level.” Surprisingly, not even progressives are immune from the ethnicity project. Listen to Dr. Bala on his experience with Wole Soyinka: “Wole Soyinka was my assistant in the PRP when I was the director of research but I couldn’t get him to do serious work. When we published political education in Nigeria, he came to the launching. We documented the Bakolori killings we documented the Black Maria issue and the Shugaba episode to show what the NPN government was doing to Nigeria. Wole (Soyinka) came to the launching and he flew out to Canada virtually the same day. And we asked him “Wole, please get this thing widely circulated either by publishing it again, re – editing it or distributing it because what is happening there in Bakolori will happen all over Nigeria.” Wole didn’t do anything. When the time for another election came, he sent us one gramophone record which he said we should distribute and we did, singing against NPN. Then one day that Bola Ige was rigged out, because Wole was his campaign manager, the second day, he wrote to me (I’ve got the letter) and said he had realized what I was saying a year ago.” (Weekend Vanguard, April 13, 1996.) Dr. Bala Usman did not spare Northern elite for their incompetence in defending themselves, talk less of defending the weak. He said: “The frustrating thing is that the Northern establishment and the Northern elite are so inept. The newspaper thing I was talking to you about. They can’t even maintain the media. This Afenifere thing is a media thing. They can’t even maintain a newspaper. And they don’t even know, we are backward. The gap between Edo State and Yobe is like between Congo Brazzaville and Belgium in 1990. They just go and wear fancy hats and go about saying they are northerners. The problem with them is my frustration. You can’t even talk seriously with a lot of them. But unfortunately for them, a generation has developed and you find them all over now – people who are trying to do the things on their own. (Weekly Trust, October 15-21, 1999) What is the future of Nigeria? I have been looking for concrete arguments on the future of Nigeria but could not find any because many intellectuals, surprisingly, are busy arguing about restructuring. Don’t blame them. People who have limited vision always end up parroting the agenda of others. Not Dr. Bala Usman. Listen to him. “One possibility is that, if current trends continue, without any decisive political and economic changes, by the year 2010, Nigeria’s place in the global economy shall be one of a raw material exporter, largely minerals, with an enclave economy, marked by low intensity conflicts and an amorphous sovereignty, contested between various warlords, trading barons and political merchants, and governments. We shall have a situation here, somewhere between present-day Somalia and Columbia… the second possibility, if the IMF and the World Bank succeed in imposing the sort of monetarist, civilian, or military dictatorship they want, either through elections, coups or rebel movements Nigeria will be characterised by possessed commodities, and assembled goods, exporting economy, highly regimented, wrecked by severe inequalities and occasional outburst of civil conflicts. We shall be somewhere between present-day Mexico and Egypt… the third possibility is, if the classes and groups who produce the goods and services in Nigeria, develop political parties and take over power and link up with others across Africa… there are of course many other possibilities to consider.” (Tempo Newspaper 24th July 1997) Ironically, it was an Igbo printer who sharpened my understanding of Dr. Bala Usman. I took a document I compiled about Dr. Bala Usman to him for printing at Jama’a Road, Kaduna . As I was trying to negotiate the cost of the printing, he just laughed and said “Oga, if you like I can print it free for you, it is about my man, Bala Usman”. When I asked him how can a man he never met be his man, he replied: “I like him because his thinking is different from the thinking of Nigerians”. But he is not alone in this “Bala Usman business’’. The only time I heard my boss, Malam Kabiru Yusuf, Chairman Media Trust, saying “yes sir, yes sir” to somebody was when Dr. Bala Usman visited our Media Trust office in Kaduna. It was obvious, the visit was unscheduled, as Malam Kabiru was looking surprised and confused. We were laughing at him, saying, as the Hausa people would say, “Baba da babansa” (daddy has a daddy also). For details, ask Dr. Farooq Kperogi!
On the morning of August 23, one month ago, Nigeria’s Vice-President Yemi Osinbajo tweeted: “Today, I presented the Presidential Investigation Panel Report on the allegations against suspended SGF and DG NIA to President @MBuhari.”
The suspended SGF (Secretary to the Government of the Federation) to whom he alluded is Babachir Lawal; and the suspended Director-General of the Nigerian Intelligence Agency (NIA), his co-traveller, Ayo Oke.
They were suspended from their jobs in April, Mr. Lawal for allegedly awarding spurious contracts under the auspices of the Presidential Initiative on the North East (PINE) to companies which trafficked the funds back to him. The funds had been intended for the welfare of the Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) in the North-East. Mr. Oke, on the other hand, had become internationally-infamous following the discovery by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) in a private residential Lagos flat, of mind-boggling sums in various currencies he said somehow belonged to his agency.
Vice-President Osinbajo’s tweet came four months after President Muhammadu Buhari finally did something he has appeared very reluctant to do: be seen to be inflicting the whip of his anti-corruption rhetoric on actual persons. In principle, he prefers the broad strokes of generalisations and broad strokes.
That was in mid-April, when the circling vultures included the Senate, perhaps the most morally-ambivalent legislature known to democracy, ancient and modern. The Upper House had indicted Mr. Lawal in the PINE scandal.
It seemed that Buhari, always in principle eager to pick up the verbal hammer as soon as he hears the word, corruption, but oddly somewhat shy when he looks into its eyes, would do something to substantiate his objection to the open exploitation of the poor.
And then, on April 19, he sent Mr. Lawal on suspension along with Mr. Oke, announcing a three-man panel, to be headed by the Vice-President, to probe each man, and to submit its report to him within 14 days.
Two and a half weeks later, on May 7, President Buhari left for London for medical treatment, less than two months after a similar trip on which he had spent over 50 days in the United Kingdom.
It was unclear how long he would be away, but eventually, he spent 104 days. During the period, neither Mr. Lawal nor Mr. Oke held his office, but none of them suffered any further embarrassment, let alone punishment. Mr. Osinbajo acted as President, but he did not take any action on the file, either.
And so, last month, he finally rid himself of the report, and sent out that tweet to confirm it. As is usual with a government of loud proclamations, we are still hearing the loud bells of that report passing from one set of hands to another, with no action of any kind being announced.
Buhari’s silence confirms what critics and attentive persons already knew by April 19 when the Osinbajo Panel was announced: corruption was bidding its time, holding things in place, trying to outsmart the Nigerian.
And now, over five months later, with Buhari back in London last week, the report under his pillow and the world still laughing at Nigeria over Mr. Oke’s Ikoyi forex hideout, still not one word.
He has now taken over another 30 days to ignore it, reminding the world that the problem with the anti-corruption offensive in Nigeria has always been its lack of a soul.
Even when identified or indicted, sabotage and subterfuge in high places is never roundly, openly and categorically punished. Instead, we come up with new songs and dimensions; we set up a camp fire and dance around it; we deploy new fire-eating oratory. We delay. We defer.
Remember: in 2006, indicted for false declaration of assets by a Joint Task Force (JTF) on corruption set up by President Olusegun Obasanjo, then Bayelsa State Governor Goodluck Jonathan did not go to jail. Instead, Obasanjo anointed him VP the following year.
In 2012, Mr. Jonathan did not send to jail for the crimes that forced her out as minister, his friend, Stella Oduah, and that enabled her to become a senator. And of course, Jonathan pardoned his friend and predecessor as Bayelsa governor, Diepreye Alamieyeseigha, who had been convicted of widespread stealing.
It is these double standards that are hurting Nigeria’s ability to move forward. In Buhari’s case, his limitations can no longer hide under his words. Last week, for instance, at the 2017 Annual National Management Conference of the Nigerian Institute of Management in Abuja, he reiterated he will not stop tackling corruption until it is “completely exterminated” in Nigeria.
But corruption is not a rodent you chase around the house until you catch or kill it, and talking about it does not hurt it. To succeed in this battle, a leader needs a clear strategy, and to be accountable. That transparent strategy should be seen in action, not overheard in words.
In place of this we have a situation where the Buhari government continuously contradicts its proclamations. Among others:
The permanent secretaries who padded the 2016 budget were never punished
The officials who stole and sent to be sold in markets the 200 million tonnes of dates sent this year by the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia to Nigeria’s IDPs in the North-East as a Ramadan gift were never identified, let alone punished
The officials last year reported by the Global Fund to have looted funds it sent to Nigeria to combat HIV & AIDS, tuberculosis and malaria were never identified or punished, despite three separate investigations launched by the Buhari government
The government has refused to publish the comprehensive and systematic list of looters and their loot as ordered by the courts.
Add to these the Osinbajo panel report, which is now gathering dust with the best of them—such as the Halliburton reports and the oil sector reports—and it becomes clear why Buhari is sounding increasingly hollow in his mission claims. At the United Nations last Tuesday, the Nigeria leader extended the concern about his philosophy when he spoke about crises around the world, noting correctly that their primary victims are the people, and the most vulnerable being women and children.
He then urged the world to “be mindful, and focus on the widening inequalities within societies, and the gap between the rich and the poor nations.”
His conclusion: “These inequalities and gaps are part of the underlining root causes of competition for resources, frustration and anger leading to spiraling instability.”
This is a wonderful world view to express, but it is pointless to aim at other cultures, peoples and governments when the opportunity to address history is firmly in your own hands to do the right thing, the reward being to save millions of the poor and powerless, and averting chaos.
But if it takes six months to dance around the case of a top government official who was officially investigated by the Vice-President, and that efforts yield only more speeches, that is insincerity. And we must diagnose hypocrisy as the ultimate recipe for frustration, anger and instability.