In this interview, political scientist, Dr. Emeka Enejere, says states would have enough funds if Nigeria is restructured and states are allowed to control their resources.
By Emma Ujah, Abuja Bureau Chief & Gabriel Ewepu
What do you expect the current administration to do with the report of the National Conference which was conducted by the government of former President Goodluck Jonathan ?
I was undergoing surgery in Germany during that period, but I have seen national conferences before, our history as a people and nation-state is littered with so many conferences before we even got independence.
After independence, we have had efforts at conferences, the Nigerian crisis led to ad hoc conferences under Gen. (Yakubu) Gowon, and the insecurity in the country made it impossible for the conferences to continue. Gowon sacked the conferences.
During the civil war and after the civil war, efforts were made on how we can even co-exist and live together. We know that Aburi was one such conference and that the crisis escalated because the agreement reached there was thrown away.
And after that the military continued and we have had conferences under every military regime that had stayed for quite sometime in Nigerian history; Babangida, Abacha, Obasanjo and then Jonathan.
What happened to the three before Jonathan? Just like a lot of things that seem to be almost associated with government reports and investigations, and even White Papers that are written. They are kept on tables to accumulate dust. So when this particular conference came out as usual we had a problem.
The National Assembly has been there and there are rooms for constitutional amendments, I can’t remember any amendment that they have been able to carry out. Each time you carry out amendment they wake up to say it is their job but they don’t do it. So a lot of things have gotten out of hand.
This Jonathan conference was really expected to discuss Nigeria seriously. If you look at the composition and even other compositions of the previous conferences you would see that the membership was made up of many people who have held public positions in the country.
In other climes, people like that become national interest driven individuals, and they don’t allow petty, narrow interest to affect their views.
From my hospital bed I was reaching some of them and said look you have an opportunity to give your best to Nigeria because in a country of almost 160 million, and you have had the best from the country, and this is your time to pay back.
Did the outcome meet your expectations?
The people who made up the conference are the members, and the dynamics of their interaction and engagement can determine the final direction of the conference and the report. Some of them tried to constitute themselves as conference pressure groups in order to push certain interests; national and regional.
Why it is that this regional or state have become an albatross that prevents us from looking at the larger picture?
When I asked that question go back to when I was trying to write an entrance exam to enter University of Nigeria and I learned that Zik was coming to give a public lecture on “Tribalism: A pragmatic Instrument for National Unity,” I left my work at Enugu and travelled to UNN to listen to Zik’s lecture.
Zik lamented that the political elite had derailed and that most nations of the world are one-tribe nations but made up of many tribal nations who constitute a state and effort is made to now consciously create national feeling, which he said was not happening.
If you are talking of having more states have you thought about the cost of running them?
The problem is the structure of Nigeria. After the civil war, the military continued to run the country in their commanding administrative style and that disfigured the country.