This search for our national identity continues 103 years after amalgamation and almost six decades of independence. This torturous search; Searching for Nigeria among Nigerians can be described by the pessimist as passing the camel through the eye of a needle. Why wouldn’t it? Self-inflicting, we continue to deliberately spurn the uncommon wisdom of Einstein, ‘that insanity is doing the same thing over and over again, but expecting different results’. The explicit inference there is that achieving the promised change on which the ruling party rode to power, requires a new approach. Such new approach would involve a new ideology, concepts and policies that are reformatory. How else do we define change?
Change, this change we voted into power unfortunately has failed to live up to all the hype and promises. Rather a culture of self-denial, self-redemption and populist propaganda is the new order, with abysmal amelioration of the plight of the electorate. Quite unfortunate, this change, the Nigeria kind of change is void of principles and ideologies capable of transformation. Rather it is the movement from one political party to another. More succinctly, a migration of old dusted, disgruntled power seekers from the umbrella plains to the broom valleys. We expected more!
Defining the Nigeria’s change, lovers of grammar choose to categorize change into two: Positive change and negative change. With the latter seeming more pronounced with our definition. Fifteen months after the Premium Motor Spirit, otherwise known as petrol was “changed” from N87 to N145 per litre, a 68% increase, Nigerians are still awaiting the miraculous crash of prices. According to the Minister of Petroleum Resources, Dr. Ibe kachikwu, “We mean well and Nigerians should please trust us. Give us a chance; you will be surprised what will become of your PMS’ price over the next six to eight months”. The wait continues. Data reports by the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS) for Q4 2016, shows that a staggering 61.6% of Nigerians in the labour force, aged 15 – 34, considered as youths, were either unemployed or underemployed.
For a government of change, having 61.6% of a youth population force of 40.74 million (representing 50.2% of total labour force in Nigeria of the 81.15 million), without jobs isn’t just embarrassing but out rightly sardonic. Nothing seems to be placating, as some states still owe workers 6 – 8 months’ salary arrears. What change, throws the electorates out of their jobs? According to NBS report released on Wednesday, August 2016, 4.58 million Nigerians have lost their jobs, since the current administration came to power. Unfortunate!
Insecurity is rife, as Fulani herdsmen adjudged the fourth deadliest terrorist group in the world, slaughter helpless and unarmed civilians in their home. And quite recently, Nigerians – mostly women and children – under the protection of the Nigerian military were slain in cold blood by suspected Fulani militias, with no arrest or conviction made till date. Kidnapers continue to gallop our high ways unchecked, boko haram miscreants, though ‘technically defeated’ continue to maim, kill and terrorize civilians in the North East. The Niger Delta is a hot bed, as calls for secession are more vigorous than ever before since the wake of the 1967 -1970 civil war. Nothing unites us as a people today. We are more ethnically, religiously and economically divided than we ever were since the end of the war.
Changing this depressing state, the reasoning is a return to the once workable constitution that guaranteed economic growth, peace and prosperity for Nigerians. Restructuring, no matter how one chooses to define it is returning purpose to federating units. One of such purpose is economic purpose; which is giving federating units the right to develop along their lines of strength. The military imposed feeding bottle federalism intended to foster unity has rather created more divisiveness and stalled economic growth.
Political reforms, restructuring, is the sine qua non for lasting prosperity and peace in this nation. The current structure is too deficient and cannot be managed. It should be changed. Countries like South Korea and Taiwan, admired as beacons of democracy and prosperity in Asia had to move beyond the military and its admiration of government. Nigeria should too. The unitary system of government practised, but guised as federalism is a reminiscence that we are technically still under the influence of the military and its administration.
The imperative therefore is for this change government to really exert change. Although, personal integrity is important in the making of a great leader, great leaders are better immortalized by the quality of decisions they made. Revisiting the 2014 National Confab recommendations, repealing obsolete laws like the 61- year-old section 29 of the Railway Corporation Act and championing this restructuring debate in the National Assembly could be a good way to start. Posterity stands at your door Mr President.
Written by Asotah Wisdom, News Editor