NIGERIA: BUILDING A VIRILE FOUNDATION FOR NATIONAL GROWTH
It is possible to build a house either upon the wrong ground or upon a loose foundation. The foundation default of the Nigerian nation is quite understandably not based on the wrong grounds. In appreciation to nature and its bestowal, I dare say that Nigeria has the best grounds in the world upon which her foundation can be built.
Nigeria has a well-endowed weather and climate conditions, excellent geography which embraces five vegetation belts, world class human resource base, multi-cultural and traditional heritages, world class capacity for socio-cultural competition and a rich historic background. Nigeria is surely a world class country, with a world class capacity to demand competition from world class economies.
If a building site is good for construction, it also makes the building cost less expensive, especially the cost of its foundation. In all building construction endeavours, the soil nature also determines the cost of construction materials it requires to put the building together.
This much I have realized in my 25 years as an active participant in the building construction industry. It is this wealth of experience and my concern for a national renewal that lowered me down to contemplate what the problem is with the nation-construction of Nigeria.
Of course it is clear that the problem is not with the soil upon which Nigeria stands and it is not also with the materials needed to construct a virile foundation for her. If these vital components of construction are not Nigeria’s construction problems, then it has to do with the competence of its builders and with the right application of available building materials.
It is very possible to have a good ground to construct a sustainable foundation and high grade building materials with which to construct it, but a building plan that has no professional undertaking or its erroneous understanding, and the substandard proportioning of available construction materials can deliver a very poor, unstable and a regrettable foundation.
This is what seems to be wrong with the foundation upon which our nation rests: incompetent builders with no knowledge if what to do.,, especially in the fave of the fact that we still operate laws framed with a regimented mindset.
It is absolutely the grace of Mother Nature and its bestowals that has kept the Nigeria-building from collapsing. I grew up hearing elders say that what causes war in other countries is not up to a quarter of what happens in Nigeria, and it is surprising that Nigeria, in the face of all the grievous abuses meted on the citizenry has not been at a protracted war by now. The Biafran imbroglio of the late 60s was a demonstration of the resistance to citizen’s abuse and disrespect for brotherhood.
Contemplating this position some time ago, I realized that it is the seeming sufficiency in nature’s bestowal on the country that has made majority of the citizenry find minimum comfort to enable them ignore the urge to rise in popular insurrection against their government. It is the norm to hear those who are propelled to poplar protests respond with “you are on your own” (OYO). It is such a grace for our leaders that the ordinary people are quite easily moved to find alternatives for the lacks in their livelihood than to hold the government responsible for these lacks.
For how long therefore would our leaders continue to count on the grace of nature and the peoples’ magnanimity in refusing to confront their incompetence and gross incapacities? It was confiding for government in the past that it was pension remittances that were annoyingly been owed.
I remember how in the late 90s, my father, a pensioner of the Nigerian Railway Corporation, was owed an upward of 23 months in pension arrears, and up till now, those arrears still has a two-year outstanding to be cleared.
Now that salaries of regular workers are been owed for upwards of 8 months, it has jolted me to remind our leaders that wherever insurrections arose, they were spontaneous and unprepared for, and if the trend of deficits in our balance sheets continues, I am sure nature’s grace and the peoples’ “belly full” with nonsense will give way to the public trashing of our national and State leaderships. The continuous reckless in the handling of our national wealth and the imbalances in its apportioning will soon raise an international attention and focus on Nigeria.
I think it is such a terrible lack of idea for progressive method of national wealth disbursement to put peoples’ money under the control of one man who is clearly more powerful than, and can manipulate, the institution he represents. It is a corruption of the law for it to claim “no one is above the law” yet classify some officials of government who cannot answer to the law no matter how much they offend it.
I see this as the legal protection of illegality. Why wont politicians shed innocent blood to occupy the office of a governor against the mandate of the people over whom he forces himself? This is slavery in itself, especially when subsequently the wealth of the people is further placed under his approval.
I will recall that before the exploration and exploitation of crude oil, our external trade index, which was solely computed upon agricultural products and near-surface mining, provided for and met the needs of our people far more than we are able to cope with these days. We had the groundnut pyramids, cotton extracts, hide and skins products in the North; cocoa extracts from the West; palm extracts and coal mines in the East; and the self-sufficiency of the regional governments contributed 50% of their revenue and income to the “Centre”. During this period, every region had self-pride, and self-development initiatives was not a matter that concerned the “Centre”.
It was the regions that determined what happened at the “Centre”, especially considering the example of the North “not been ready” for Nigeria’s independence in 1956: Northern Nigeria pulled out of the talk and paralyzed the drive for Nigeria to purse the 1956 independence deadline. I am very sure that if this had happened in these days, that independence of 1956 would have been forced on the North. Or could it be that the North had always had its way in what relates to the entire Nigeria? This is left for us to follow from now on.
And if this is true, that the North has been leading others by the nose, then they are the incompetent hands that have left us struggling with our nationhood. When therefore did this initial foundational national building plan, which aimed at the independence of the regions and availing regional self-sufficiency changed to the “Centre? A Centre which is an unproductive Santa Claus.
The question that quickly comes to mind is, how much of the economic laws that provided the virile economic foundations for our former regions and the national prosperity experienced at that time have been sustained until now? If there was a deviation, what necessitated such deviation? Nigerians need to know what caused the disappearance of the groundnut pyramids, cotton plantations, palm plantations, coal deposits, hide and skins, cocoa plantations…what happened. What propelled an economically unproductive and an abstract “Centre” into becoming the sharer of national wealth?
Thinking very clearly, it is not far fetched where the problems from which our national development stems. And no wonder our governor would gather at the Centre and clamour for the sharing of “everything”. I really could not understand why the Nigerian Governors Forum protested the setting up of the Sovereign Wealth Fund by the Jonathan administration. Why would leaders of federating States in a country protest the “saving for rainy days”? Yet these are men who steal and invest the peoples’ wealth in stocks across the globe.
Our constitution is said to be our “ground norm”, a sort of our national bedrock, and therefore the seeming building plan for our nationhood as Nigerians. I have developed a series of notes to analyse some aspects of our constitution and see how, apart from the corrupting of our laws by the organs of our government; how the law also in itself is inequitably availing itself in been unfortunate for the common man. It is not in doubt what rural to urban migration and criminality has done to our socio-economic process.
What led our youths out of their family farmlands and their homes to seek refuge and residence under the overhead bridges of our urban cities; in the process of which our pedestrian walkways have turned to toilets and out urban environments unsightly polluted? How interesting to us is the requirement for the issuance of the US visa that requires one to show evidence of self-sustainability while on a visit or stay in the US?
Are there really vital reviews we need to consider for our constitution, especially as it has to do with our policy for national integration in view of rural to urban migration? Why do we have such numbers of beggars’ colonies in our cities? How trustworthy are our lawmakers that they are people we can trust to wish all Nigerians well?
The providence surrounding the emergence of President Buhari as Nigeria’s fifth democratically elected President can only be said to be divinely propelled. I therefore will not give credence to whoever desires to take the shine from God by telling a naked lie that he facilitated Mr President’s victory.
Recently Senator Saraki attempted to add salt to the injury he inflicted on public decency by telling a grandiose lie that he forewent his presidential ambition for Buhari’s, when he actually never expressed an interest. I have warned before now that his intention is not to Secure the Senate Presidency for public service but as an easy stairway to steal the office of Mr President. He is just a step away, having seen the Vice President as a “mere Commissioner”.
The exigency of the clamour by the PDP to “return to power soon” is not far from this fetching. My eyes are on Saraki and the National Assembly. Nothing must happen to President Buhari’s tenure of 4 years. I will raise Nigerians to engage the National Assembly to the need for them to justify their budget and to earn their wages appropriately by the number of law driven vehicles they dispatch with dividends of democracy for Nigerians.
The era of “business as usual” died with the “Jonathan’s” administration. I am eager to see Senators Bukola Saraki and Ali Ndume clear their names from charges of corruption and accessory to terrorism respectively. President Buhari must be quick about this.
For once since the entrance of the present democratic dispensation, Nigerians had their earnest prayers for a people-driven leadership answered. This is the reason many Nigerians think this opportunity must not be lost, as we clearly seem not to have another if this one is wasted. Muhammadu Buhari has clearly won the trust of Nigerians, seen as one with the right attitude and discipline required for self control, frugality, and fiscal responsibility, from where our dilemma as a nation stems. Having therefore been asked to lead, he is sorely responsible to set the ship of State aright.
Ordinary Nigerians have suffered such neglect and official abandonment since the country’s independence in a way that the administration of President Muhammadu Buhari is expected to begin afresh to rebuild the visible failures in the foundation of our nationhood. It must be clear to all that no nation is built by its self-serving elitist class; they can only pilot its affairs aground, sometimes in a clueless and reckless drive as the recent past administration bequeathed.
True nations are built by the love of brotherhood shown between its citizenry and by their patriotic disposition to national advancement. This cannot be said to be so with Nigeria. We have seen how participation and privileges in this country has been either by a “man know man” basis or by the survival of the fittest. This is why our youths weld guns and others embrace cyber crimes.
We live in a country which operates an extravagant government, but where the basic needs of life for the people are left for the citizens to provide for themselves: housing, health, water, power, food and necessary amenities that should uplift the peoples’ life expectancy and the fundamental objectives requiring a government over a people.
In righting the foundational defects of Nigeria, President Muhammadu Buhari is not only expected to straighten our economical goals, deal with official and officious corruption, strengthen our institutions, release the prosperity of our country and restore her dignity in the comity of nations; he is also expected to address the imbalances in the distribution of national wealth and the corruption in our law books, especially those ones relating to the provisions of benefits for our people.
If no other Nigerian has observed the inappropriate allocation of national privileges to a few in the face of the deprivation of the majority by our laws, I have. I wish therefore to call the attention of all Nigerians to the fact that if we must get the act of our nation building right, we must go back to the foundation.
It is a universal fact that the stability of a building depends on its foundation. Nigeria’s foundation has been faulty from the onset and though we have had series of legislative assemblies, mandated to establish laws that will form the vehicle to convey basic provisions to the ordinary people, their attention has been focused rather on very frivolous issues like enacting laws to set at what age a child should have the right of consent to have sex.
Is there any way the activation of this law can cover for the religious intention that influenced it? Yet we operate a secular State: who is fooling who? It is pitiable that though lawmakers are put in office, paid excessively to chart a true path for our country, they have proved to be a disgusting disappointment.
The Eighth National Assembly is barely three weeks on oath, and at a time they were yet to commence any serious deliberation that centre on the people they claim they represent, the major news coming to Nigerians about them is concerning the cost of their “nakedness”.
I am not saying that they do not deserve what is meant for them, far from it but my point here is; as much as they get what they deserve, their attention should shift to areas where the real structural fault lies. Inasmuch as Nigerians suffer immensely from deprivations to keep them at their job, it is an absolute minimum for them to take the interest of Nigerians seriously.
Ordinary Nigerians are not interested in what lawmakers wear and in determining at what age a child should have sex than in having affordable housing, sustainable food policy, adequate health care, an encouraging maternal and child mortality index, reliable national biometrics and statistical data, dependable private and public sectors economies?
Why would our political class pursue house rats, when our nation is on fire and in dire need of selfless leadership? I will subsequently lists issues that concerns Nigerians primarily and suggest, as simply as possible, how our scarce and limited resources can be assigned to meet the fundamental needs of our people.
An example is: Why should Article 8 (1)(a) to (d) of the Third Schedule of our constitution remember to empower the Federal Character Commission (FCC) to give effect to the provisions of Section 14(3) and (4) under the Fundamental Objectives of the Constitution; and Article 32 of the same Schedule forgets to empower the Revenue Mobilization, Allocation and Fiscal Commission (RMAFC) to give effect to the provisions of Section 16 (1)(b) and (2)(c) and (d) under the Economic Objectives of the same Fundamental objective?
Why should Sections 84 and 124 of the Constitution be the paramount motive for the establishment of the Revenue Mobilization Allocation and Fiscal Commission, when Section 13, which establishes the Fundamental Obligation of the Government to the people, is completely ignored by government?
Why should the RMAFC mobilize our national revenues, allocate and fiscally commission them to service less than 20% of Nigerians in the face of the provision of Section 13 which empowers all the organs of Government to conform to, observe and apply ALL the provisions of the Fundamental Objectives of the Constitution and Article 60(a) of the Second Schedule empowers the legislature under the Exclusive Legislative list mandates our lawmakers “to promote and enforce the observance of the Fundamental Objectives and Directive Principles contained in the Constitution”?
Why are the organs of Government responsible for applying the generous provisions of the Constitution refusing to enforce the laws appropriating our national resources to all Nigerians as provided for by Section 13 and 16 of the Constitution?
Section 13 of our Constitution, in the “the Fundamental Obligation” of the government under the “Fundamental objectives” of the Constitution says: “it shall be the duty and responsibility of all organs of government (including the RMAFC), and all authorities and persons, exercising legislative, executive and judicial powers, to conform to, observe, and apply the provision of this chapter (the Fundamental Objectives) of this constitution.”
In view of the Provisions of Section 13 and Article 60 (a) of our constitution, we can plainly see how our laws protects us through the powers it gives to all organs of government and especially so for our lawmakers to enact law-trucks of goodies for us but they are stuck to churning out frivolities and stuffing their own pockets with our monies. We can understand how they do not represent us as they should, if their paramount concern is centered at the age for which a child should consent to sex.
In my next attempt I shall expose the contradiction of our laws as it relates to the demands it placed on our leaders for our sake, issues that deal with the essentials of our existence that has for long been taken for granted and for which I identify as the corruption in our laws.
There are definitely provisions in our constitution which our lawmakers should review in order to enable the conveyance of democratic dividends to Nigerians, otherwise, we shall continue to wallow in abandonment, neglect and exploitation.