By Franklin Nnaemeka Ngwu
WITH the appointment of new service chiefs, many people feel relieved and think that President Muhammadu Buhari is finally listening to the pulse of the nation.
Some have even argued that the appointment is a clear indication and a proactive way of addressing many insecurity issues in the country such as the Sunday Igboho’s eviction order, Governor Akeredolu’s riot act against criminal herders in Ondo forests and the ongoing clashes between the military and Eastern Security Network in Imo State.
There is no doubt that it was expedient to change the service chiefs given their long stay in office and escalating insecurity issues in the country, but the question is if the change will bring the needed solution to our increasing insecurity challenges. I do not think so! Like other major problems we have in Nigeria, the insecurity situation we have is far beyond change of service chiefs.
Moreover, the way the service chiefs and other appointments are made with clear preference and domination of a section of the country in comparison to the unquestionable exclusion and marginalisation of another section of the country contributes to the insecurity challenges and the Nigerian question?
Let it be known that the continuous use of policy of preference and marginalisation in the appointments and governance of the country, particularly by the current government, will never create a stable and prosperous Nigeria. It is a natural law that what is bad is bad and will never sustainably grow and what is good is good and will sustainably grow.
Nigeria’s governance is structurally deeply flawed and unless and until we address the flawed structure, we will never experience sustainable stability and progress. It is the consequences, or the vacuum created by our flawed structure that has led to the emergence of non-state actors and powers such as Sunday Igboho, Nnamdi Kanu, Yerima Shettima and others.
Anybody or section that is excited that his/her section (or tribe) is dominating the government and as such the flawed structure should remain is short-sighted and unpatriotic even to himself, his family and tribe.
In about two years, Buhari will be referred to as a former president and as it has happened before most of the major beneficiaries of this government will be excluded in the next government. If this is the case given the transitory nature of power, is it not in the interest of the current major beneficiaries of this government to support and push for a sustainable structure of governance that will better serve their interests and that of others in and out government.
Let me reiterate that while changing of the service chiefs is important, it will not solve the insecurity problems we have. Focusing on change as a solution to the insecurity challenges is like focusing on symptoms without attending to the causes. As earlier stated, the main cause of most of our problems such as insecurity, limited diversification of the economy, poor revenue generation, poverty, unemployment and deep-seated corruption is the structure of governance we have.
It is a structure that enervates patriotism and encourages nepotism; it is a structure that promotes laziness and decimates interests in hard work and innovative thinking. It is a structure that lacks trust worsened by its moderation by a legal system that is not understood, not accepted, not internalised resulting in a high inclination for non-compliance. It is a structure of unproductive engagement and buccaneering.
It is a structure focused on competition for power rather than competition for inclusive growth and development. It is a structure destined to fail and that is currently and glaringly failing in our presence! Denial of this abundantly evident fact can only be described as lack of patriotism and postponement of the possible disintegration of the country.
Irrespective of the disposition of the president, our governors and the All Progressives Congress, APC, Nigeria is already heading into an irreversible crisis if urgent steps are not taken. This is not about blaming the elite or the unending suspicion and lack of trusts of some sections of the country. It is about the glaring and existential threats to Nigeria’s continued existence as one country! There is an immediate need to rethink and adopt a better structure of governance in Nigeria.
As the president will like to leave a legacy, the crisis we have in Nigeria is a kind of serendipity for Mr. President. No achievement or legacy will be greater than for the president to be remembered as the leader that bequeathed Nigeria with a governance structure that is inclusive and pro-growth.
A starting point will be for the president to quickly engage with relevant arms of government such as the National Assembly, the Nigerian Governors Forum, the National Council of States, the Civil Society, traditional rulers and others with a message and advocacy of hope and conviction on the need for a better structure of governance through some form of power devolution from the centre to the states.
While it might not be possible to address all the issues at the same time, an encouraging and impactful way to start will be to select some items from the exclusive list widely perceived to be better handled by the states and move them to the concurrent list.
These will include roads and railways, police, judiciary and mineral deposits. While there are so many other items, starting with the above five items which are central to the current crisis we are having in many parts of the country will signify that we are headed in the right direction.
When added with a constitutional provision for the presidency to be rotated among the current six geo-political regions of North-central, North East, North West, South East, South-South and South West, a deep sense of inclusiveness and oneness would have been created. The Giant of Africa will be reborn given the immense potentials and opportunities that will be liberated and utilised. We pray that PMB will heed to the prayers of majority of Nigerians!
Dr. Ngwu, an Economist/Associate Professor of Strategy, Risk Management & Corporate Governance, Lagos Business School and a Member, Expert Network, World Economic Forum, wrote via [email protected]