By Fabian Chukwuemeka Nworah
THERE is no doubt that the ENDSARS protests across Nigeria indicates the parlous state of affairs in the country. The wave of the protests and the gruesome revelations further indicate the volatility and weakness of the fabrics of the country and reasons for foreign investors disinterests in the Nigerian market. Where then can Nigeria go from here? Are there serious lessons to learn from the scenarios that played out vis-à-vis current and past events from other climes?
Are we going to sit down and think that normalcy has returned once there are no more protests, burning and looting? Or are we going to see events of the dark Tuesday in Lagos and across the country as a mere part of the debacle or are we going to seize these as a golden opportunity to attain greatness? Whatever Nigeria decides to do will determine the kind of change we clamour for in this country.
However, change can only come with change. According to President JFK Kennedy’s statement in 1963, “Change is the law of life. And those who look only to the past or present are certain to miss the future.” The government of the day has to realise that the internet era has given everyone freedom and opportunity for liberation from political bondage. The government must also realise that the era of impunity in governance is over and that people are ready for the optimum sacrifice to achieve their freedom and enjoy liberty.
Government must also be aware that no one occupies a position of authority in perpetuity and, therefore, those saddled with government responsibility today must also be aware that there must be a day of reckoning.
The ENDSARS protests is not all about police brutality so to say but about poor governance, economic and political decadence and abuse of social contract between Nigerian leaders and those governed. It is clear that the incidents of the last few weeks are just a tip of the iceberg of what could happen in the future if situations are not addressed properly.
The government now has the privileged opportunity, to deal with the problems faced by the Nigerian state, in a carefully monitored and structured manner without allowing impending implosion that would characterise further failures on the part of the government. The government has an opportunity now to put things right to avoid avoidable incidents in the future. The government and all stakeholders must seize this opportunity to put the country on the path of restructuring as a tool for stabilisation of the country.
Let the truth be told. Nigeria needs to be restructured urgently. Devolution of powers into six regions with a weak central government will help to bring sanity in the polity and government closer to the people. This will also enable the people to feel the benefits and positive impacts of government across the regions. In addition, devolution of powers will help to reduce the attraction to the central government while ensuring accountability in governance. Anything short of this is brewing anarchy and waiting for a day of reckoning.
There is no doubt that enormous sacrifices were made in the past to keep Nigeria as a country resulting to loss of lives and properties. However, we have all seen that it was all efforts in vain. Sacrifices for “project Nigeria” never worked in the past, is not working today and will not work in the future. We cannot continue to delude ourselves to live in vain without vision. Nigeria cannot continue with these present arrangements. The state and her citizens cannot continue to wallow in abject poverty and frustrations in the midst of plenty.
It is clear that the ENDSARS protest serves as a great opportunity for restructuring the country in a methodological, fair and equitable manner without leaving the exercise to be done via clandestine forces in our midst. Our team of experts and other like minds in Nigeria and across the world are willing and ready to proffer workable best solutions that would result to a win-win situation to all regions notwithstanding whether a particular region currently lays the golden eggs for Nigeria.
Some schools of thought had earlier believed that restructuring would put some regions in a disadvantaged position than others but this is far from the truth. All the six regions of Nigeria are unique and abundantly blessed with human and material resources including oil and gas, gold, diamond, tin and others. All that is required is the political will by each region to develop her resources. In the unlikely event that a region would need help, this must be part of the issues that must be put into consideration during the negotiation of the restructuring process.
In the modern world we live in today, fair competition is the father of creativity and innovation for the common good of all mankind. You cannot continue to drag everybody down because you feel you cannot swim well, rather with strategic planning you can create a conducive environment for everyone to swim along. This is the potential we see in a restructured Nigeria where everyone has the opportunity for growth and success.
A restructured Nigeria where the youths aspire with vigour, sense of responsibility and optimism for the future to attain the United Nations 17 Sustainable Development Goals and not a Nigeria where growth and success are deliberately stunted without any reasonable justification rather than myopic, primordial and ethnic jingoist considerations. We need to learn from the experiences of our colonial masters, the United Kingdom with a population of about 67 million people.
They realised the issues associated with diverse culture and need for peaceful co-existence. As a result, they decided that the best option for them lies in having four nations in the United Kingdom for peaceful coexistence and better economic development. As such, the UK is a devolved country made up of four nations with each having a separate government under a central government.
England has about 56.6 million people, Scotland about 5.4 million people, Northern Ireland about 1.8 million and Wales about 3.2 million. Can’t we see the wisdom and the progress of these nations in the United Kingdom? In the United States of America, they operate true federalism and not quasi federalism as observed in Nigeria. Today, the United Kingdom and America are among the greatest economies in the world.
What are we doing to ourselves? Can’t we see that we are now in a new era driven by science and technology? Can’t we see that the era of colonialist ideals is over? Is this how we are going to attain the 17 SDG goals? Are we satisfied in allowing our youths to continue to undertake unimaginable risk of stow- away by sea in search of non-existent greener pastures and drowning in the seas as a consequence?
Are we satisfied with our daughters living ignoble lives just as a way of mere survival when Nigeria is abundantly blessed with human and material resources? Are we satisfied with droves of our youths leaving the shores of Nigeria after education in search of non-existent greener pastures overseas with its attendant frustrations and unenviable life styles and dire consequences?
Are we satisfied with anarchy, joblessness, hopelessness and frustration in our land or are we now poised to restructure the country into six regions to attain self-sufficiency, global prominence and greatness for our citizens and for our unborn generations?
Time is now, Nigeria must wake up from her slumber or be awaken. Nigeria cannot afford to continue to celebrate maladministration, naivety and political emptiness. Nigeria needs to restructure in a way that is workable for all her citizens. A stitch in time saves nine!
Nworah (Odum), senior partner at Rockstone Law Solicitors in UK, wrote via [email protected]