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The necessary retreat to the starting point

By Adisa Adeleye

To many Nigerians, the 2012 Olympic period was a nightmare, if not a season of despair while the super powers – USA, China, Russia and Britain were busy hauling medals of all sorts, Gold, Silver and Bronze, Nigeria was busy counting its losses.

Perhaps, the recent event would be the worst setback suffered by Nigerian athletes because no single medal was won.  Many people are of the opinion that Nigeria needed such a shock to understand the concept of proper preparation for any world event.  One could easily imagine the agony of those fine athletes who were chosen to represent their country, but later to become what one reporter described as “Olympic flops”.

Personally, I believe that the dismal failure of all the athletes would not be put on the individuals who represented this great country, but rather, on the system that produced them.  The shame of a country in the recent Olympics should now be an experience to any deserving nation.

What many would admit is that Nigerians, especially their leaders, always believe in reaping without investing in human, physical and financial resources.  Some years ago, Nigerian athletes in field events and boxing were major threats at Commonwealth and Olympic games.

Illusion in London
Our female jumpers had once captured the gold medal; our football team once won the Olympic gold; our long jumpers (both female and male) had been adorned with both silver and bronze medals while our boxers had won silver and bronze medals in past Olympics; our Relay teams were always sure of gold, silver or bronze medals.

These illustrious tales turned to illusion in London 2012.  What could have been imagined as the shame of the ‘Black Race‘ was eminently reversed by the golden men and women of the USA and the West Indies who are of African descent.  One hopes the present leadership will not miss the point on unnecessary investments on sports development to meet future expectations of adequate rewards.

At the same period, while our black brothers were winning medals in London, members of the Boko Haram sect were busy killing and maiming their fellow Nigerians through physical attacks and ‘suicide bombs‘.

It is remarkable that during the period of insecurity, the American Secretary of State, Mrs. Hilary Clinton had time to visit Nigeria where she made some useful suggestions on Internal Security.  The first time the golden lady visited us, she lamented on the sorry tale of a giant oil producer becoming a net importer of refined oil product.

No leader then took her seriously until last year when it was discovered that the country had spent about N2 trillion on subsidies on imported petroleum products.  If we had been a listening nation, the country would have been spared such a sad loss of valuable amount of money used in importing the products that abound locally.

This time, by the happy reaction and cheerful exposition of the President and members of his government to Hilary Clinton‘s visit, it is assumed that something better would come out from her advice.

To many analysts, her advice is on good governance when she was reported to have said that, “We really believe that the future for Nigeria is limitless but the most important task that you face, as you have said, is making sure that there are better opportunities for all Nigerians, South, East, West, every young boy and girl to have chance to fulfill his God given potential”.

The gospel of giving every opportunity to everybody throughout the country is the right recipe for peace and prosperity.  However, this concept requires common sense politics, sensible economics and good administration in a corrupt free enviroment.

It must be admitted that what we have now under a party which is addicted to a policy of “winning at all cost”, “and winners take all” is not the ideal.  This calls for a drastic change of attitude by party leaders at both federal and state levels.

It is reasonable to expect that where opportunity is given to every citizen to fulfill his endowment, the national income should be shared equitably.  For example, the “oil money” which should be the engine of growth of the national economy is shared in such a way that is neither economically justifiable nor politically satisfactory.

National revenue is at present shared with the Federal Government having over 52% of the total, leaving the remaining part to States and Local governments.  The situation is that both states and local government run to Abuja every month to collect what they described as inadequate allocation.

This sharing formula does not recognize the concept of federalism on which the country should be firmly based.  Each area should be able to manage its resources to the best of its ability.

As for the petroleum resources which the Federal Government as at present places under its firm control, I have stated in this column several times that that principle should be reversed to allow the oil producing areas to have a say.

This means that the government agency dealing with production and sales should be jointly owned by the Federal Government, Oil Producing areas and other States in the country, and the revenue shared in accordance with the agreed percentage of shareholding.

This looks a neater arrangement than the provision of increasing revenue to oil producing states (in PIB) from the profits of oil producing companies.

The higher percentage of shares to  oil producing areas would solve the future problems of fighting for the control of what is normally regarded as our oil.  This arrangement would make the monthly journey to Abuja not a journey to share the booty by the Federal Government, but for a meeting of shareholders of petroleum resources.

The message so far has been on going back to the starting point to review false steps on federalism, to re-emphasize the important features and re-plan the way to peace and prosperity.  If the steps towards peace and prosperity of the nation are too wide for a single party to handle as it is evident now, the road to a genuine national government is wide open to a visionary leader to follow.

Over the years, I have canvassed that the agenda for a truly constituted national government could be economic and political reconstruction to reflect true Federalism, suitable reform of the judiciary and complete overhaul of the electoral processes.

The present Boko Haram insurgency should be taken as a national issue and brought to a satisfactory end.  Delay may be a dangerous game.


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