by Babatope Folade
The standard for governance worldwide is democracy since it guarantees to a large extent that people would get to choose their leaders and the tendency for authoritarian methods would be reduced to the barest minimum. But this begs the question, has Nigeria benefited adequately from democracy in terms of human and material welfare? Have we been living sustainably?
Nigeria ranks at a sorry 142nd position on the Human Development Index. Over 70% of Nigerians live on less than a dollar per day. There is so much inequality in the system and over 60 million people are unemployed. The ministry of labour and productivity has put the figure of unemployed graduates of the NYSC to be a little over 40%.
I bet you agree that this is a generous figure. The number of unemployed graduates would surpass this, bearing in mind the deplorable nature of industries, the saturation of the civil service, the little muscle of small businesses and a government drive for employment that is as fast as a snail.
In all of these shortcomings, someone must take the blame. The first call for many is the central government led by the president, Goodluck Jonathan. For me it’s not. In a system as large as ours, the principle of subsidiarity should be in operation. Since there are governors and local government chairmen who are closer to the people, they should drive development from the local levels. This is not so in Nigeria as we are not operating a proper and true federal system. Our system of governance is a unitary type in operation.
Nonetheless, I believe evolution occurs in systems like ours. Over time, governors have been gaining political weight and have been able to influence decisions at national assembly and executive levels. Governors have been able to determine who gets elected to the national assembly, thus giving them the political mileage to get some of the fundamental flaws in our constitution and policies of administration.
What have they done? Nothing but try to increase monthly allocation that comes to them. The Niger Delta governors have gotten the 13% derivation off resources gotten from their states, yet the level of development in their states is nothing to compare with the infrastructural development in their states. As a corps member in Delta state, Governor Uduaghan’s wife came on a visit to Isseluku camp and we estimated the convoy of the first lady, Roli Uduaghan to be worth over 360 million naira. D.S.P Alamieyeseigha was caught laundering money; Sylva is currently enjoying patronage from EFCC. Odili left many white elephant projects and lived in majestic splendour. In the end, he got an eternal injunction restraining probe from EFCC. I hear his wife is a lordship at the supreme court though.
The northern governors are worse probably because their states don’t have natural resources in the first place. It is therefore difficult for them to play the prodigal son like the Niger Delta governor’s. There is so much poverty despite the resources these governors are getting. Yet they ride around in huge convoys. The northern part of the country has become a breeding ground for terrorism because of this neglect.
In Lagos, the bride of the country in terms of development we have a governor who generates over 23billion of internal generated revenue and gets 13.8billion naira from monthly. That is about 41billion naira monthly, yet the developments have not matched these huge sums. Lekki-Epe Expressway that cost over 50billion has not been completed in over seven years. Many roads in Alimosho are in a gory state. The governor has one thing going for him; he knows how to deploy the mass media properly, because a lot has gone bad in Lagos State.
Where is all the money going? Some have built grand hotels and have posh estates all around. They even appropriate land to themselves at will.
The governors have also ensured that they stifle the local government structure. They treat the chairmen like little boys, yet they cry when little funds are withheld from them. The local government allocation for Nigeria is the budget of Rwanda, Togo, Benin, Burkina-Faso combined according to Nasir El-Rufai. The governors appropriate these monies and we can’t see anything tangible.
If you think Jonathan is the evil one, go to your state capital and beg for forgiveness, because although the man is not good enough, the governors are worse at leadership. They are not generating wealth like they should and they point accusing fingers to Abuja every time.
Fellow Nigerians, it’s time to occupy our state capitals. It’s easier and fast. It’s realistic and the results would be measurable. You can begin to count developments in your immediate environment and not expect a never to come manna from the heavens of Abuja. The governors are the culprits’ fellow Nigerians, let’s arrest them.