By Douglas Anele

Read Sense, nonsense, and commonsense (4)

Of course, the Hobbesian state of nature is a hypothetical scenario invented by Hobbes to anchor his theory concerning the origin of civil society. But it might become real in Nigeria if the federal government does not take immediate steps to expand opportunities for productive work and engage the growing number of discontented, disillusioned and frustrated unemployed youths nationwide. The argument by top government officials who are not experiencing the hardships Nigerians are facing at this time that things must get worse before they get better is pure nonsense. First, it is an unequivocal admission of incompetence and unpreparedness to lead by the APC.

A compassionate, committed and creative leadership would not allow things to worsen before they get better: rather, it would build on available resources to improve people’s well-being. Second, it is an insult to millions of ordinary Nigerians who voted for President Buhari based on his reputation and campaign promises for APC chieftains to turn around afterwards and tell them that they would suffer more before experiencing the change the party promised them. All the sermonising about “sacrificing now for a better tomorrow” ignores the fact that the masses, not the leaders, have been sacrificing for a long time and, yet, their existential condition has been deteriorating from one dispensation to the next. Besides, many Nigerians have died waiting for a better tomorrow, which implies that it is unreasonable, in our uncertain environment, to ask people to continue enduring avoidable suffering in the hope that tomorrow would be better.

Third, the easy resort to blaming Jonathan’s government for virtually all our problems indicates that President Buhari and his cohorts did not do their homework well before taking power from the PDP. Indeed, it is becoming increasingly clear, judging from the repudiation of some of its campaign promises, that the APC underestimated the enormity of the challenges it has to tackle and does not have a strategic action plan for solving our problems.

Thus, there is no guarantee that the kind of change Nigerians expect from the APC federal government would materialise after all the hardships they are going through now. Finally, why is it that our leaders always demand and expect Nigerians to make sacrifices for the good of the country without also making sacrifices to set a good example for the masses? Why must ordinary Nigerians continuously bear the pains of mediocre leadership whereas those responsible for our problems live in obscene opulence? There is no iota of doubt that former President Goodluck Jonathan made mistakes. But his successor, Muhammadu Buhari, has no business compounding our problems, telling us that we must experience more suffering first before we start enjoying the dividends of democracy under his leadership. An imaginative President that loves his people would not allow things to degenerate so quickly to the extent that workers across the states have not been paid for several months, companies are retrenching staff, and the masses are becoming disenchanted with government. Buhari must ignore what sycophants are saying to him and start thinking seriously about the fact that Nigerians are losing faith in his ability to govern well, because there is a noticeable gradual evaporation of the tremendous goodwill and trust Nigerians had for him when he was elected President last year.

It is interesting to note that ardent Buharimaniacs like Dr. Dele Sobowale, Chief Emmanuel Ofodile and Chief Raphael Obiduba are beginning to doubt whether Buhari can deliver on his campaign promises. A week ago, Dr. Sobowale lamented the fact that Mr. President is steadily losing his reputation as a disciplinarian who keeps his word, whereas Chiefs Ofodile and Obiduba now accept that their hope for positive change based on Buhari’s reputation as a man of integrity might be mistaken. Those who still believe that President Buhari has “performed excellently well” despite the escalating suffering in the country are either deceiving themselves or are living in cloud cuckoo land. As I stated earlier, like most Nigerians my economic situation presently is worse than what it was before the new government came into office. Therefore, for those of us really struggling to survive, there is change in power but we are yet to experience the power of positive change promised by the APC.

From the foregoing, it can be inferred that after one year in office the APC leadership has failed to provide good reasons for Nigerians to continue believing that the party can actualise its populist campaign promises. Only high ranking government officials, APC chieftains and top businesspersons benefiting from the current situation are comfortable with the way things are going; the vast majority of our people are worse off now than they were before Goodluck Jonathan left office. In my opinion, President Buhari has not lived up to the expectations of Nigerians who thought that his government would pay serious attention to those things that would really enhance the welfare of the “common man.”

That said, because Nigeria belongs to all of us despite the irrational master-servant inequalities deliberately created and nurtured by the ruling elite, it is necessary for everyone to do whatever they can for the improvement of our country. Certainly, we cannot make progress without good ideas that must be implemented by government. Now, the fundamental problem with Nigeria is the grotesque and inappropriate federal structure we are operating now. Since 1970, scholars, politicians, activists and other interested Nigerians have argued correctly that the unitarist federalism introduced by the then Col. Yakubu Gowon in 1967 to emasculate the secessionist Eastern region is one of the biggest obstacles to the emergence of a truly virile, viable and prosperous Nigerian nation. Overall, Nigeria recorded the most impressive development in her chequered history during the First Republic when she was divided into self-governing regions. Unfortunately, since the creation of states degenerated into a malignant cancer, the quality of governance has declined steadily.

Clearly, the current political architectonic enshrined in the 1999 constitution is unsuitable for the country. Yet, because of parochial ethnic calculus and selfishness, key members of the ruling class especially from Northern Nigeria have rejected calls for restructuring the country in a manner that is most appropriate for a multiply plural country like our own.

President Buhari and APC leaders in general are wasting time if they think that sustainable development can be achieved without devolution of powers to the six geopolitical zones in the country. In this regard, the President displayed an appalling lack of imagination and historical vision by disregarding completely the report of the 2014 National Conference organised by his predecessor. Commonsense dictates that he should at least consider the billions of naira spent on the conference and try to see how its recommendations can be applied to resolve some of the challenges facing us as a people. Surely, I am not under the illusion that return to a modified version of regionalism would automatically solve our problems. However, I believe strongly that in order for us to develop Nigeria must be restructured along the lines of a functional federalism in which the geopolitical zones exercise much greater political and fiscal autonomy as was the case in the First Republic.

President Buhari should realise that no serious development can take place unless the six geopolitical zones are empowered to exploit the natural resources domiciled in each zone and pursue their developmental agenda without the overbearing influence of an oppressive and meddlesome federal government. The way I see it, restructuring Nigeria and reducing drastically the amount of money spent in running the government is the greatest legacy Buhari can bequeath to our people. President Muhammadu Buhari has a rendezvous with history. But I am afraid his obdurate refusal to consider calls for what is misleadingly referred to as “true federalism” will ultimately count against him in future, years after he would have left office.

Concluded.

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