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A break-up or true unity?

By Adisa Adeleye
The Nigerian Situation
The last few weeks have portrayed vividly the fragile nature of Nigeria‘s political unity and its economic uncertainties.  The ill-health of the President, Umaru Yar‘Adua has certainly revealed to the nation how divided the people are in the understanding of the concept of democracy – its nuances and dividends, and the reality of nation building.
Before the Christmas season, I had started to pray earnestly for President Yar‘Adua speedy recovery to assume his responsibilities of governance in order to stem the creeping growth of political irresponsibility.  I also asked God to allow me to enter the New Year in bright light as against the prevailing darkness of the other nights; I wished also that the unnecessary queues at the petrol stations for petroleum products (petrol, gasoline and kerosine) would miraculously disappear.

Unfortunately, my strong prayers and wishful thinking were not answered.  In the new year the prices of petroleum products have succumbed to the tyranny of evil oil marketers and the incompetence of some officials of the monopoly supplier.

Prices of gasoline in some petrol stations outside Lagos still range from N90 to N100 per litre and diesel oil from N90 to N105 per litre.  Forget the theory of loads of products from NNPC depots to destinations missing on the roads as marketers have their own ways of picking products from designated depots, whether NNPC‘s or private ones.

However, the suffering continues until deregulation becomes a reality and the regime of high price is enthroned through the back door in collusion with greedy people.

Although my wish to have a bright entry into the New Year did not happen, subsequent days  are bringing some joy of new hope of steady supply (if my joy would not lead to the sorrow of other consumers).

Though the voice of the ailing President could not be heard on the New Year‘s day, the address of the Vice President, Goodluck Jonathan, (who reigns without ruling during  his boss‘ absence) shocked the nation into reality by his cold comfort on the condition of the nation.

Dr Goodluck Jonathan‘s address was specific and was greatly welcomed by eager commentators.  ‘At the inception of this administration‘ the Vice_President agreed, ‘we promised to drastically improve access to electric power by the end of 2009.  This is because power is a basic necessity in a technological driven world.

Our target which was modest, was set at generating 6,000 mega watts of electricity by year end‘.  Noting some success, he said, ‘I regret to mention that for a number of unforeseen and unavoidable reasons, the target could not be met‘.  He concluded, ‘Millions of Nigerians are, therefore, still without power.  For this, I render, on behalf of government, very sincere regrets.

There is absolutely no doubt that the docile but patriotic Nigerians would certainly accept the apology of the No 2 man on the lack of seriousness and obvious inefficiencies on the part of the present administration.  On deregulation (in shameless disguise), the Vice_President was plain, if not deceptive(?) by saying, ‘I note with concern that Nigerians continue to suffer pain and stress at fuel queues.

Be assured that the situation is quite disturbing to government.  Far reaching measures are therefore, being taken to make this unfortunate trend a thing of the past‘.  One would think that the VP would not be naïve as to believe that any positive action by the government would be trusted, even by the gullible masses.

Under the present administration, the prices of strategic petroleum products have moved up without any ease in their supply for economic development.  Between 1999 and 2010, price of gasoline (petrol) has moved from N20 to N65 (black market N100) and diesoline (gas oil) from N19 to between N95 to N105.

The lack of steady electricity supply and instability in the price and supply of alternative power (diesel) has stunted industrial growth in the country and has driven many manufacturing plants out of the country.  It has also worsened the unemployment situation in the urban centres and has deepened poverty to a worrying situation.

Since the government has admitted publicly its own failure to supply adequate power to fuel  industrial growth, and has not been able to manage oil products supply efficiently (in a nation that is one of the oil majors of the world), what then should be done?

In a parliamentary democracy, a party that could not fulfill its promises to the electorate would be thrown out through a subsequent election, and in its place, is enthroned a credible opposition (if there is one so organized).  In the Nigerian context, it is different.

A ruling party that could not be seen to be ruling efficiently in the absence of its ailing leader would not submit to any change in leadership which might lead to a new election.  It would not also bow to public opinion to go for any early election.

The idea of a peaceful break-up of the country has been muted in certain respected and influential quarters.  Many political contrived countries in the 20th century have broken into new national states – Russia,  Yugoslavia, Czechoslovakia etc.  That Nigeria is made of several nationalities, different  tribes and cultures is beyond argument.

The former Premier of Northern Nigeria, Sir Ahmadu Bello, the Sadauna of Sokoto lamented the amalgamation of Nigeria by saying that, ‘Lord Lugard and the amalgamation were far from popular among us at that time‘ There were agitations in favour of succession; we should now set up on our own.  We  should cease to have anymore to do with the Southern people.  We should take our own way‘.

Alhaji Tafawa Balewa (former Nigerian Prime Minister) echoed the same feeling in 1952 during a debate in the Northern House of Assembly, when he said,   ‘We here in the North, take it that ‘Nigerian unity‘ is not for us‘.

Unfortunately, both leaders were killed in the coup of 1966 by soldiers of southern origin.  The views held by the Northern leaders were re-echoed by Chief Melford Okilo (former Governor of defunct Rivers State) in his London address on, ‘WHAT ARE WE AFRAID OF?  Melford Okilo was reported to have asked his London audience a simple question! ‘Have you known a country like this ?

A country in which more than 140 million people live entirely on nine million people‘…”  I say they live on us like parasites and predators.  We cannot exercise even the basic rights of the ownership of our God given hands and our resources‘  Why can‘t we separate and every community, a group of communities go its own way?  Why I ask ?‘

That, we have not reached our potential as a developing nation at this time is not open to debate.  However, between the extreme views of a break_up comes a sobering one.  In order to save the country further from prevailing economic, political and social decadence and widespread poverty, it is necessary to seek a new solution in the idea of a GENUINE NATIONAL GOVERNMENT (of tested talents) to sort out our problems of true federalism.
In the reality of Nigerian present situation, What Oil has joined together, let nobody put asunder.


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