….fears it’s already too late for govt to rearrange itself
…gives reason NGF wanted a change of political leadership in 2019
…says Nigerians need to sit down, talk
… writes off NASS in giving people-oriented restructuring
By Levinus Nwabughiogu-Abuja
Convener, Northern Elders Forum, NGF, Professor Ango Abdullahi has said that the incompetence of government was largely responsible for the escalated state of insecurity holding Nigeria on the jugular.
He said that any system that elevates loyalty over competence was not likely to function very effectively to meet the expectations of the people.
Speaking exclusively in an interview with Vanguard on Sunday, Abdullahi who was a former Vice-Chancellor of Ahmadu Bello University, Zaria, Kaduna State picked holes with the President Muhammadu Buhari led government, saying that insecurity has festered beyond Boko Haram which was what the government met on the ground in 2015.
Confronted with an impression that he has been very critical of the present government, Abdullahi said that democracy needed persistent constructive criticisms to function optimally.
He said that the government has “missed road” for a long time, fearing that it was already too late for it to “rearrange itself”.
Abdullahi also recalled that the Northern Elders Forum had craved for a change of leadership in 2019 to correct the anomalies in the political leadership of the country.
But according to him, Nigerians chose to remain with the present government.
He said: “The incompetence in government and the dissatisfaction in the population are the main reasons breeding insecurity in the country. The incompetence of any government including the present one in the circumstances it is is largely responsible for the failure of agencies of government to discharge their duties including security, just any agency of government. The people are supposed to be served.
“How can Nigeria with 200 million people have less than 4000 megawatts of electricity? How do you want to believe this? How do you want other parts of the world or other countries to believe that the Nigeria of independence in 1960; 200 million today cannot generate electricity beyond 400 megawatts? We should be talking about 100, 000 megawatts to say the very least. South Africa 40 to 50, 000 megawatts. But Nigeria 4000 megawatts with 200 million? You are not serious.
“The government missed road a long time ago because no person however brilliant or competent can run a government alone. This government was not friendly with people who were prepared to help it in terms of advice, serious participation in places where competence is required. They didn’t go for competence.
They only went for loyalty and loyalty is not enough to run a country. You need competence, accountability, you need all sorts of things that make a country function. But they don’t exist now. And this one, for me, I believe it’s too late for this government to rearrange itself to go to where the key problems are.
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“But people are witnesses. From day one we started talking about insecurity. Has insecurity gone? And we were talking about insecurity when there was only Boko Haram on the ground. But today, there is insecurity even in your village.
So, you see, this screwed mind that everybody is an enemy, rather than giving everybody the right to make a contribution by way of constructive criticism, this is what we have been doing from day one. We have been online for constructive criticism. Where we criticised and nothing is done, we repeat the criticism. And this what is taken as hostility by some of us as individuals or groups.
“We held an Elders meeting in Abuja where we made a declaration that the country is not doing well and in 2019, we wanted to change the leadership in the country but Nigerians didn’t care. So, we left them with what they wanted and they are still complaining now.”
Asked to proffer solutions to extricate the country out of its many quagmires, Abdullahi said that Nigerians needed to come together to deliberate on which system of government would best suit them.
He said that the country has been on the line of wrong experiments.
He asked Nigerians to stop playing the ostrich and accept that the country has made many mistakes which needed to be corrected to achieve rapid and even growth and development.
He also posited that the National Assembly would not give the country the needed succour as its members would be too inebriated in self pursuits.
“From all the indicators, we have all been going in the wrong direction and it looks like we have refused to accept that we are going in the wrong direction. And until Nigerians accept they have gone in the wrong direction and are prepared to accept they were wrong, they will not be able to accept they will correct it.
“We need to sit down and honestly talk to ourselves. Those people who tell you we have people in the national assembly, ministers from the States, it’s all rubbish. Obviously, things have not gone in the right direction. We need to correct them but do we need to correct them in the partisan way that we have created, let’s say in the last 20 years since we became the so-called democracy? I haven’t seen it.
“I served Obasanjo’s regime for 3 years before I left but we are totally in the wrong direction now. Until we agree that first and foremost, we want a country, then we move on to a state and then we ask ourselves the honest question, have we done the right things that make up a good country and a good nation? And if we want to be honest about it, the answer is no. I attended 3 or 4 constitutional conferences. Each time, I remember what we went through, the country is as divided today as it was perhaps, in 1966. So, who are those people to come and say, look, we have been wrong and let’s correct it? We are deceiving ourselves that we are doing well.
“How can this government and people say this country is doing well? What is the voltage of electricity in the country today? Less than 4000 megawatts. This is not enough for a village in Europe, not even in Europe but in some parts of Africa. Cairo consumes 18,000 megawatts of electricity every day. Nigeria of 200 million people cannot generate 4000 megawatts of electricity and I want to go and tell someone that I am a Nigerian?
“The national assembly is not serious. It is not going in the direction of a serious correction.
“In 1966, we had a good federal system of government with semi-autonomous regions and we killed it and introduced a unitary system of government and from there, the military took that trend and this is what we have today. We had 4 regions in 1960 and today, you have 36 States that are totally useless in terms of the functions of a state. We had functions of regions. They had their police, prisons, judiciary, etc.
“The National Assembly members are thinking about seats and privileges and so on. If you ask 90 per cent of the members of the national assembly, they will not be able to define a federal system of government as we saw it in 1960 when we got independence.
They don’t understand it. They only want to believe that they are representing somewhere and they have privileges they don’t want to lose. Therefore, they are not ready to listen to me who is saying that if I have power today, I will disband the 36 States and merge them into perhaps 7 or 8 regions, functional regions. How many of the States now can pay salaries.
None except Lagos. None of them can pay the salaries of people who are working for their States. So, that’s why I believe that we are just deceiving ourselves”, he said.
Abdullahi added that until power was returned to the people and their expectations met, the country would continue to witness a pocket of challenges.
“Go back to a government of the people by the people and for the people. At the moment we don’t have a government of the people, by the people and for the people. And once we don’t have it, the people will eventually rise and do what they are doing now and you can’t stop it. I am doing about a situation where people believe they are participants in managing their affairs.
They should be able to bring people to account in terms of their responsibilities to the people which we don’t have now. People just do what they want because they have power. The power does not belong to the people but a few people who run it the way they want”, Abdullahi said.