This is the concluding piece of the 3 part series on the state of the Nation and the way forward written by the first class product in the family. If you missed the first two, click before the marriage and the rocky road after the marriage to catch up.
Enjoy the insightful article below….
100 years after the marriage and 55 years after independence and here we are. The giant of Africa brought to her knees. Floundering and staggering about without real progress. Bedevilled by so many problems that reinforces themselves in a vicious cycle with bad leadership being at the helm, birthing poor economic policies, which in turn gives rise to poverty, unemployment, inflation, poor infrastructure, and Social vices including corruption, and that lands us back to bad leadership.
How then do we break this cycle? How do we make this a fruitful union? Welcome to the marriage counselling…..
First, a proper population census has to be conducted; an unbiased headcount of everyone in the country that gives us the correct figures and not the inflated figures characterizing previous population censuses. Next, both parties in any marriage must be willing to solve their problems as a team. Unfortunately this has not been the case with Nigeria.
As the years have gone by, the Southern “lady” of means has grown richer and the “Well behaved youth” it seems, has only gotten poorer. Discontentment lies in the hearts of the southerners because they feel cheated. The bedrock of the economy’s wealth is gotten from them and they feel they have not benefited enough from it.
For instance, let’s look at the issue of distribution of revenue to the Local governments which accounts for about 21% of the national revenue allocation. Kano state alone has 44 LGAs and that is equals to Imo and Enugu states combined. So Kano state alone receives federal allocations equals to 2 states in the South East.
Isn’t it ironic then that the North has continued to maintain rising levels of poverty? Northern poverty is not as a result of unfair national revenue distribution but is a result of unfair levels of acquisition in a tradition-bound and hierarchical order that has seen a concentration of wealth in the hands of the privileged few.
In the 1963 constitution, the derivation formula (how revenue is allocated) was 50% i.e the federal government pays 50% of the proceeds of any royalty received by the federation in respect to minerals extracted in that region to that region. After the civil war, in the “reconciliation” with the Eastern region, one of the conditions set by the Northern delegates stated that before independence, the right to all mines and minerals was vested in the Crown (British) and now that we have gained independence, that right should be transferred to the Federal government. This has been the practice till date and today, the derivation formula is a mere 13% as enshrined in the 1999 constitution.
The solution to this problem lies in True Federalism hand-in-hand with Fiscal Federalism. According to Itse Sagay, Federalism is an arrangement whereby powers within a multi-national country are shared between a federal authority and a number of regionalized governments in such a way that each unit, including this central authority, exists as a government separately and independently from the others.
Fiscal Federalism will embody Resource control by the owners of the resources with specified taxes paid to the central government. If every region is to control the exploitation and use of their natural resources, then ultimately the economy will become diversified. Those who do not have oil will have to look for a means to generate internal revenue, be it agriculture, tourism etc. This will then foster a dynamic, diversified and stronger economy.So the constitution should be amended to accommodate this.
On the issue of leadership, once the centre is made unattractive then people will vie for positions in public office with reasons other than self-enrichment because the prospects of monetary benefits are removed. Fiscal Federalism will achieve this as there will be no concentration of wealth at the centre.
Slashing of salaries/remuneration of public office holders is another option but hard to implement. According to the constitution, the salaries and remuneration of even the president is determined by the National Assembly in conjunction with the Revenue Mobilisation Allocation and Fiscal Commission. You can see why it will be difficult but not impossible to implement. If achieved then it will further act like a sieve to separate the genuine public servants from the thieves.
Looking at the state of the nation, once we have a committed leader, then my advice is to focus on the Energy sector(Electricity) and security. Using the theory of Unbalanced Growth, development can be achieved when a country invests in a sector which has the highest inter-sectoral linkages(a sector whose development will lead to the development of other sectors). In my opinion, that sector for Nigeria is the energy sector.
Imagine a Nigeria with constant power supply. The ripple effect will be tremendous. Inflation will reduce because the cost of doing business will greatly reduce. Unemployment rate will fall because private individuals will be encouraged to set up enterprises without being crippled by the cost of burning fuel/diesel. With inflation and unemployment down, poverty level will decrease.
As for corruption, that falls solely on the Judiciary. Even in countries like the US, corruption exists just not as blatant, flagrant and impudent as ours. The punishment for various degrees of stealing as stated by the constitution includes fines and different years of imprisonment. This should be enforced by the court. There is no other way of bringing the guilty to book.
To wrap this up, in my opinion, a combination of fiscal federalism, good leadership and investment in the Energy sector is enough to set us on the right path as a country. Thanks for reading. God bless Nigeria.
Article Credit: Nduka Uzoamaka