Vanguard (Lagos)

24 December 2012

Nigeria: Saving Nigeria From Nigerians

THE number of meetings Nigerians convene to save their country is impressive. What is disturbing is that these meetings achieve nothing, though some would argue that if things remain as they are, with all the meetings, they would have been worse without discussions about the future of Nigeria.

What is the problem since everyone agrees that Nigeria is unsustainable the way it is run? Why are the solutions not raining in torrents to match the enormity of the challenges?

Many factors are responsible for the state of Nigeria. Many have joined in ruining her. Others are seeking opportunities to continue in the ruination of the country through ceaseless wasting of opportunities that present themselves to improve the country.

What did many of those calling for changes in Nigeria do when they were in-charge? Do people only see the challenges Nigeria faces only when they are not in office?

The most critical issue facing Nigeria is not federalism as many think. People who cannot make the changes that would improve Nigeria in their own little corners as council officials or state governors would not benefit from federalism which they still see as a magic wand.

Concentration of changes at the centre would not be enough. Laws that transfer the powers that the centre has to various segments of government would be a new set of experiments that do not guarantee instant results.

Our people should concentrate on seeking ways that would improve governance. Changes in the federal structure would not address governance, it would not change the attitude of politicians, it would not stop corruption, and it would not teach us new ways of managing our resources.

How would politicians become responsible? Would federalism remove immunity and impunity from our laws? Would a new phase of federalism cure us of corruption or infuse us with new ideas about the future of our country.

Federalism has its good sides. Those sides are what we see practised elsewhere. There is no proof that federalism is the elixir that we require. Granted it could free more resources and power notches to other tiers of government, there is nothing to indicate that those resources would not be frittered away by the new power holders.

Solutions to challenges Nigeria faces could be drawn from political restructuring, but a more sustainable path should be leadership. The unconscionable looting of the country has nothing to do with the system of government.

Nigerians who promise to save the country are the ones we are trying to save the country from their clutches. May be, stiff penalties for failed leaders, could check the scandal called leadership. Nigeria has no future without leadership that cares.

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