By Dele Sobowale
The wretched nurseries of unceasing discord and the miserable objects of universal pity and contempt”. That was the way Alexander Hamilton, 1757-1804, one of the founding fathers of America described nations such as ours which were always hotbeds of political upheavals and conflict.
Among them was India in the nineteenth century and until it was eventually separated into India, Pakistan and Bangladesh. Then relative peace prevailed. Political restructuring becomes imperative once a large segment of any country feels that there is entrenched injustice which seems not to be adequately addressed.
The national call for restructuring which has reached alarming proportions now can only be ignored at the risk of louder and more sustained protests and political action. The APC stands to lose.
Indisputably, the biggest loss to APC in the 2019 Presidential Elections will be the Southwest, SW. In 2011 and 2015, SW voted for Jonathan and Buhari respectively. Osun State was the only SW state Jonathan did not win in 2011 – check it out.
Yet, Jonathan proceeded to treat the SW shabbily until the dying days of the 2015 elections when dollars were sprayed on political deadwood in the zone. Jonathan’s Igbo Ministers, particularly Works and Aviation, waged war on Yoruba business people. The N132 billion judgment against the Federal Government in favour of Babalakin’s Bi-Courtney resulted from illegal activities of Ms Oduah, Chiduka and Chike Obi of AMCON. Nothing GEJ did in 2015 could have saved him from defeat in the SW.
However, the beneficiaries of SW disenchantment with GEJ would be making the worst mistake of their lives if they assume that SW has changed totally to APC. The romance ended on 2015 Election Day and the people have been watching ever since if they were going to receive a fairer deal from APC. Unfortunately, that has not been the case. Instead, it is quite noticeable that very little has changed. The SW is still being short-changed in many ways.
Permit me at this point to use my state – Lagos – to illustrate what we mean by restructuring. The easiest and closest idea to it was provided by Obong Victor Attah, former Governor of Akwa Ibom State in his book RESOURCE CONTROL. My mentor, brother friend etc, etc had invited me to write the Foreword to that book. I was deeply touched and humbled.
But, back then in 2004, I wrote that if the oil in the Niger Delta had been found in the Southwest, the Yorubas would have insisted on and received 50 per cent of the revenue derivation and not 13 per cent. Otherwise there would have been a secession. I still stand by it till today and I thank Obong Attah for opening my eyes to the injustice done to the Niger Delta till today. Restructuring starts from there.
The document which our founding fathers signed to gain independence for Nigeria was bottomed on true federalism in which each region managed its own economy, collected revenue, kept half for itself and remitted fifty per cent to the Federal Government. It will again benefit from the half sent forward later.
The nation’s most successful armed robbers took over government in 1966 and abolished all that. They centralized revenue collection and proceeded to plunder the nation at will. Abacha was not alone. They even restructured our brains such that even today civilians presumed to be intelligent and sane still idolize the men in uniform who ruined our nation till today. Permit me to provide an example of how the current political structure has robbed Lagos State of trillions over the years.
The Value Added Tax, VAT, was introduced by Dr Kalu Idika Kalu during the Babangida regime. It was hotly opposed by a lot of ignorant elements especially Labor and Nigeria’s socialists still clinging to a failed ideology. I was one of the few supporters of my senior KIK in that battle. Now, in one month VAT contributes up to N132 billion to the revenue to be shared – with Lagos contributing sixty per cent or N80 billion.
Under the 1963 constitution, Lagos would have kept N40 billion for reasons to be disclosed later. But, today, Lagos receives less than three per cent of the VAT allocation. Lagos consumes the alcohol which some states prohibit, but, they nevertheless collect their share of beer VAT. All the industrial and environmental pollution arising from economic activities are suffered exclusively by Lagos, but we are compelled to surrender the benefits for sharing with others.
The injustice become most glaring at the Local Government level. Lagos with the largest population has only twenty (20) LGs; Kano which is next has forty-four (44) and its LGs collect more than twice what Lagos receives.
I have gone to this length because when selfish beneficiaries of armed forces restructuring like Obasanjo object to restructuring fellow Southerners can politely ask Baba Iyabo to go and rest. Or in the words of Elphiston we can tell them “You have had [more than] your share of food and drinks; it’s time to quit the stage.” APC would listen to Obasanjo at its own peril.
TO NNAMDI KANU: BEFORE IT IS TOO LATE
“Martyrs do not build churches; they are the alibi or the mortar.”Albert Camus, 1903-1960.
“The army is a nation within a nation; it’s one of the vices of our age.”Alfred De Vigny, 1797-1863.
I woke up this morning Saturday, September 16, 2017 to read in the newspapers that the Indigenous People of Biafra, IPOB, which you lead, had been declared a terrorist organization by the Military and has also been proscribed by all the five state governors of the South East. Frankly speaking, that makes you and your small band of die-hard followers, dead ducks. Notwithstanding the statements credited to Senior Advocates of Nigeria, you are alive now only because one soldier has not caught you in the sight of his gun. Read the statement by De Vigny again. It was true of the French army; it is more true of the Nigerian army – especially with Buhari in Aso Rock.
Granted, the Terrorism Prevention Act of 2011, as amended in 2013, has spelt out the procedures to be followed before such a proclamation can be made and has even pointed out who should do, and it is not the Military, you will be taking the last risk in your life if you should be found within shooting distance of any soldier with a gun in hand. You should remember that soldiers are trained to obey the last order which does not come from the Minister of Justice.
Furthermore, you once proclaimed that you are ready to die for Biafra. That was noble of you; it was also foolish. Millions already died for Biafra between 1967 and 1970. None is remembered today. Ojukwu who led them to war bolted for safety when death came near him. He lived long enough to marry a beauty queen. Remember that.
Also be reminded that a soldier is engaged to kill for his country; not to die for her. He is failure if he dies; a hero if he kills. There are thousands of them now who will be too happy to grant you your wish and be regarded as heroes. Fellow Biafrans will remember you for a few months and move on with their lives.
“The first thing we do, lets kill all the lawyers” was what William Shakespeare, 1564-1616, advised; he probably meant it too. He had a reason and let me provide you with a recent example of how lawyers can be deadly. When the June 12, 1993 Presidential Election was annulled and Chief Abiola, while insisting on his mandate, ran away. He was advised by activists and especially lawyers to return and claim his mandate. I wrote that he should stay away because if caught by Abacha’s goons he would never set his eyes on his bedroom again. The lawyers won; I lost the argument, MKO came and lost his life. Don’t be caught. Just run away. You have done enough. God be with you”.
WHERE IS THE FOOD FOR KIDS MR VP?
Politicians’ promises are like meat-pie crusts always made to be broken. FG promised to feed 5 million kids in 2016; FG budgeted N500bn for Social Intervention Programme, SIP, and pronounced it the most revolutionary programme in Nigerian history. Last year, only N6.2bn was spent on food for “2.8 million” kids. That means N2200 spent per child or N110 per day in twenty days. Then, the money was exhausted. Was that the promise? N500bn was again allocated in the 2017 budget. Where is the food now Mr. Vice President? Even if for only one month. So far, not a grain of rice has landed on a kid’s plate.
It is very important to keep the records straight before Minister for Propaganda and spokesman for the VP make one month’s feeding appear as if they fed the kids all year when campaigns start next year.
On the other hand, may be the campaigns have started; on this page….