By Donu Kogbara
LAST week, I extensively quoted Pastor Ituah Ighodalo’s comments about government “gatekeepers” who are holding the nation to ransom. He said we should name them and tell them to stop it!…
“…We must ask them: ‘What are you looking for power for? Just to put the people in bondage? It is enough! We all have more than enough to eat and to survive, if we all are honest with each other.”
Vanguard reader Jonas Odocha (firstname.lastname@example.org), a consultant, former Nigerian National Petroleum Corportion executive and graduate of Imperial College, responded with these wise words:
Dear D, this piece like many others before it, on the dire and worrisome challenges in Nigeria on SECURITY and the ECONOMY, are indeed a wakeup call to all well-meaning Nigerians. But the issue remains that ideas for solutions may be proffered without the willpower to bring them to fruition. Yet conventional wisdom dictates that one cannot conquer a challenge that one cannot confront.
This is exactly why I am persuaded to respond to the crux of the message the pastor has raised in his writeup. He talks of GATEKEEPERS that “we know who are holding unto the resources of this country and not doing the things they need to do.”
Again he proffers that we should approach and talk to each of them, since they number fewer than a thousand. I wish to inform Pastor Ighodalo that no known Nigerian will ever accept that they are holding Nigeria on the jugular, as he put it. Our problem emanates from the fact that we have collectively tolerated WEAK INSTITUTIONS and STRONG INDIVIDUALS.
It is what we have sowed over the years that we are now reaping.
On the weak economy manifested by our current borrowing culture we need to ask ourselves a few questions to know where we got things wrong. During the colonial era the then three main regions of North, East and West (before the creation of the 4th Midwest) contributed immensely to make agriculture the mainstay of the Nigerian economy.
Groundnut pyramids of the North, cocoa of the West and palm produce of the East, all these were hallmarks of a flourishing economy. WHERE ARE THEY TODAY? In addition there was the thriving SOLID MINERALS SECTOR as Nigeria was known globally for its BITUMINOUS COAL and TIN MINING, all enriching the economy via export earnings.
The discovery of oil in the very late ’50s and the post-Independence political crisis, military intervention and civil war, spanning from circa1962 through 1970 eroded internal generation of revenue as every attention was diverted to royalties and taxes and earnings from crude oil produced by International Oil Companies, IOCs. This was the genesis of the abandonment of agriculture and solid minerals as revenue generators.
Pastor Ighodalo then wondered why our other resources underground, outside oil, were not being tapped by states and governments where they occur, in particular reference to solid minerals.
Why have our lawmakers not found it expedient to pass laws to enrich states and minimise the independence on the centre for monthly allocations? Nigerians must come to the realisation that the crisis in Zamfara State with banditry and kidnappings has its roots in illegal mining of gold.
This is the issue in our country: CONSPIRACY OF SILENCE.
The Nigerian economy cannot grow with the unprecedented level of INSECURITY currently being experienced in virtually every corner of this country. Investors are never attracted to unsafe regions and they equally monitor government approach to dealing with insurgency.
Over the years since 2009 when Boko Haram established its stronghold in the North-East of the country, Islamic State of West Africa, ISWA, has planted its roots and all these have metamorphosed to various groups in the form of foot soldiers of bandits, kidnappers and armed hoodlums.
These groups combine to generate funds for sustenance of the BIG PLAYERS in their purchase of arms and food. Nigeria must watch what these groups are doing in other countries like Burkina Faso, Mali, Libya, Somalia and the Central African Republic. They must not be treated with kid gloves.
With the reported granting of amnesty to some of them and their reneging and return to banditry and insurgency of these characters, Nigeria must come to accept that purported repentance by fundamentalists and religious extremists is nothing but a SMOKESCREEN.
Hard resolves must be undertaken because INSECURITY and ECONOMIC GROWTH can never co-exist, and Nigeria will not be an exception. My take on the matter.
Regards as always, Uncle J.
Chief OTKD Amachree (email@example.com) also contacted me to make some interesting points about Ighodalo’s comments, as follows:
Greetings Lady D.
I am a private legal practitioner based in Port Harcourt and a past Chairman of the Nigerian Bar Association, Port Harcourt branch.
Pastor Ighodalo’s remarks were indeed a case of “Well Said”.
But to whom said?
Surely, Pastor Ighodalo represents the Church. But church leaders have failed generally, except for the few who voice the sore points in the society.
Churches do not query their members who steal government money by diverse means and end up paying fantabulous tithes.
We know the Nigerians who pad budgets and contracts for their selfish ends. Can we name and shame them? If we do away with the present crop of politicians, are we going to get the next from Heaven? Much depends on the citizenry.
We must be able to say with one voice: enough is enough. If a contractor underperforms in our community projects or abandons site, we should raise alarm.
We must be responsible for our tomorrow. Enough of complaints. Our children have joined the wagon of complaints and unless we put a stop to it now, the relay shall be a lengthy one indeed.
Pastor Ighodalo has spoken well. He has aroused my thoughts once again. Let’s arise.