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Nigeria’s political panorama: Problems of Restructuring

By Adisa Adeleye
MANY critical observers of the social, political and economic scenery of this country could have been rightly described as disgruntled lots [especially those who daily criticise the present regime as being ineffective], but for their unexpected public endorsement by the President himself.

In his message to the nation on October 1, President Yar‘Adua said that “the promise of Independence is yet to be fully realize‘.

President Yar‘Adua in his simplistic approach to problems of governance urged that the nation should now discuss on ‘assured destiny of peace, progress and prosperity for our common destiny‘.  Having recognised later that what many Nigerians have been harping on for decades, it would be proper now to concentrate discussion on the elusive triple  ‘Ps‘ – Peace, Progress and Prosperity.

It should be clearly understood that there could be no progress without peace and no prosperity without progress.  Therefore, in order to examine the factors that had impeded peace, progress and prosperity over the decades since the past forty-nine years, it would be necessary to look, among other serious factors, the structure of the edifice called Nigeria.

The founding fathers, in their unique wisdom, and with the help of the departing British imperialists, settled for a federal system based on the British Parliamentary system with government and opposition [alternative government fully entrenched.  Within a short period, the edifice became ‘shaky-shaky‘, owing to its structural defect.

The problems of the period were attributed to regional rigidity, intolerance by political leaders and tribalism at its worst.

The protracted political crises goaded the five army majors into a crime of senseless murder, subsequent counter coups and unnecessary and destructive civil war.

The return of civil administration in 1979 with a new presidential system of government under a tottering federal structure was a sad reminder of inability of the leaders to learn from the mistakes of the past and the sufferings of the bitter months of the civil war.  The army, the famed custodian of Nigerian unity, ruled until 1999 to give civilians another chance.

At the approach of another democratic experiment in 1999 with the clarion call for Restructuring, especially by politicians of the South, came a thunderbolt from Sanusi Lamido.  Sanusi [now Governor of Central Bank] in his paper, ‘ISSUES IN RESTRUCTURING CORPORATE NIGERIA‘ – a severe critique of false restructuring noises by Southern politicians.  Sanusi‘s message in 1999 [then Asst. Mgr. with First Bank] was that  you could not engage in serious reconstruction without proper understanding of the weak foundation of the shaky edifice.

Politicians should own up to the disaster of the past and promise a change of attitude.

To Sanusi Lamido Sanusi, the problems of the past and the present could be attributed to what Alhaji Balarabe Musa described as ‘Northern Bourgeoisie and Yoruba Bourgeoisie‘.  Of the two, Balarabe Musa was of the opinion that ‘Yoruba Bourgeoisie ‘ are greater problem because of their tribalism and selfishness‘ [Habba Mallam]

Perhaps Mallam Lamido Sanusi in his analysis seemed mere subjective and fairer by having a broader outlook in examining the bane of the Nigerian elite under;
1.      Ethnic chauvinism and Religious Intolerance

2.      Selfishness and the inordinate desire for dominating others

3.      Short-sightedness

As a layman, I agree entirely with the broad analysis of Mallam Sanusi in apportioning blames on all without bias and favour on factors affecting Sharia and religious intolerance in the North; the Yoruba elite and area-boy politics and the marginalization of the Ibos.

To me, Mallam Sanusi in his presentation did not favour the North, even if he was a bit harsh on others ,owing to his comic misunderstand of their psyche.

What would Mallam Sanusi do in 1960 at the head of the Federal Government if he discovered that in 1961 only 400 out of the 41,000 Federal Civil Servants were Northerners [with about 30 in senior post]; only two of the Northerners were in the Department of Customs and Excise; in the Army, there were a large number in the lower rank but about ten [10] were commissioned officers.

Certainly, Mallam Lamido would not blame Tafawa Balewa for complementing Sir Ahmadu Bello‘s policy of Northernisation In Kaduna with his own policy of a ‘national balance‘ within the Federal ministries in Lagos..  The policy of ‘Federal character‘ was a necessary weapon at the time.

Also, it might not be convenient for a Yoruba ‘tribalist‘ at the time to laugh when his idol, Awolowo was jailed under Tafawa Balewa [during the trial, he lost his only Cambride educated son] and UPN governors sent to jail under General Buhari [a coupist] .

What would have happened in 1966 if Dr Azikiwe, Ojukwu and Dr Okpara had been killed during the military coup.  Certainly, the shedding of innocent blood of all victims would not have been tolerated under any circumstance by a civilized nation.

It is clear that the mistakes of the past had affected the present pursuit of areas of pease, progress and prosperity.  Our past leaders sinned in the mistaken belief that they were protecting their people.  In retrospect they were not quite right and this gives opportunity for the new generation to change its attitude.

In the race towards economic prosperity, the role of the country‘s Central Bank cannot be over-emphasised.  The apex bank is saddled with the responsibility of managing the monetary policy of the country to ensure macro_economic stability which leads to progress and prosperity.  The Central Banks‘ help in stabilizing the country‘s banking system is a sure road to economic development.

If it is a major duty of the Central Bank to advise government on achieving macro-economic stability, the Bank has not done well in its foreign exchange policy and its interest rate regime..  At Independence, 2 units of Naira exchanged for a British pound, at present, the importer needs about 247 naira for a pound.  For a highly importing nation like Nigeria, a depreciated Naira is a disaster.

Also, the interest regime of the present regime is not growth friendly.  Many developed nations recognise low interest rate as a stimulant to economic growth.  In Nigeria, high lending rate has led commercial banks into risky and speculative ventures.  A cheap money policy could tempt private investments into infrastructural developments to supplement government efforts.

Lastly, Lamido Sanusi should not sell our banks to foreign interests, it is economic sabotage.  The Central Bank should not usurp the responsibility of the share-holders who are the owners of the banks.  Also, the Central Bank should allow the government to determine its policy on private ownership of commercial banks.

This is necessary to avoid the erosion of public confidence in the banking system.


Comments expressed here do not reflect the opinions of vanguard newspapers or any employee thereof.