Nigeria’s future is uncertain without discussing issues-Nwodo
The President General of Ohaneze Ndigbo,Chief Nnai Nwodo has warned that unless Nigerians came to the table to discuss issues affecting the nation truthfully, the future of the Nigerian nation would remain bleak, posing a major challenge for the future.
Nwodo spoke just as as elder statesman, Prof. Anya O.Anya advocated for the restructuring of the current federal system which he said was too expensive for the country and revert to the old regional system.
Speaking at the 90th birthday lecture for Chief Edwin Clark in Abuja, Nwodo said that since the attainment of independence, the civilians have not been able to agree on a political structure for the country.
He noted that the present constitution and the previous 1979 constitution were impositions of the military – an unrepresentative and dictatorial corps whose decrees were seriously influenced by the lop-sidedness of their composition, while the economic and development data from Nigeria was unencouraging in many sectors.
Said he; “Our law and order system including the police, the court system and the penal system have been characterised by impunity, incompetence and indiscipline.
“On the global Terrorism Index Nigeria ranks 3rd after Iraq and Afghanistan and ahead of Pakistan and Syria. The World Economic Forum ranks Nigeria 127 out of 138 on the Global Competitiveness Index. The UNESCO ranks Nigeria with Chad, Pakistan and Ethiopia as the worst educational system in the world.”
“Nigeria, according to the report, has the highest number of children out of school and one of the world’s worst education systems due to a combination of corruption, conflict and lack of investment. In the Human Development Index of the United Nations Development Program, Nigeria ranks 152 out of 188 countries and is the lowest among OPEC countries. The data points to a bleak future as we march to post-oil world without a coherent plan to reduce conflict and build a new national consensus”.
“On the positive side, there is a global consensus that Nigeria is highly potentiated. With a population of about 182 million people, by current estimates; and with our vast mineral and material resources; a well-organized Nigeria should be a land of plenty that supports its people and a leader in the comity of nations. Sadly, this is not the case.” He observed.
“Almost every Nigerian is agreed that Nigeria is not working but there is no clear consensus on why; or on what to do about it. Some say that it is merely a problem of leadership and once that is fixed all other things will fall in place. Others say that it is a problem of corruption. Once you tackle that, everything will be fine.
“Others have said that our problem is one of law and order; some say it is more fundamental and has to do with control of resources, structure of the Federation and thus requires more equitable sharing of revenue and the devolution of powers.”
“Others say it can be fixed with power rotation and a more level playing field. It has been said that it could be a bit of all of the above; and that Nigeria cannot be fixed without a fundamental change of values and attitudes. Whatever the case, it will not profit us to pretend that we do not face existential challenges
“These challenges are worrisome; especially to our younger ones who must face the fact that the next 50 years could be even more challenging and there is a good chance that we could be left behind if we fail to take action today. For instance, it is estimated in some quarters, that by 2050 – that is in 33 years’ time – Nigeria could be the 4th most populous country in the world.
“That means that Nigeria, which is just twice the size of Texas; would be more populous than all the United States of America. Meanwhile, as of today, we have a GDP that is barely 2% of that of the United States.
“At the same time, in the years ahead, we could face very severe ecological challenges that will impact negatively on our economy. The desert is encroaching southwards at a speed of up to 6 km per annum. Thus within 33 years we could lose about 200 km of land to the desert – across the north. This can only exacerbate competition for arable land in the north and elsewhere – with dire political consequences.
“We must become more responsive to the world around us, or we and our children will be left behind. These are some of the fears and anxieties of our youths. We have for too long allowed the bitterness of the war and its lingering feelings to dictate our political relationships.
“The coalition that fought the war is still in control of Nigeria engaging in rhetoric that fuelled the war in managing renascent Nigeria. The young men and women who were not part of the war are frustrated by this impasse.”
Also speaking, Prof Anya said one of the experiences of the present democratic interlude that we have enjoyed since 1999 is the fact that the current 36 states, except for four states are financially unviable.
He said that “the present governance structure is too expensive to meet our needs for prudence and affordable management. In any case, the presidential system, in its current form has inherent centralizing tendencies consistent with the military ethos that gave birth to it in the first place; perhaps, we need to reconcile this with the democratic ethos which the parliamentary system promotes.
“In this regards, we may consider any additional states that the principle of self determination may suggest in the interest of equity and justice to all sections of Nigeria especially the minorities.
“The states will then constitute development areas while the geopolitical zones or regions will be the federating units. In this manner we can release local talents and initiative for development while conserving resources by reducing the cost of governance.”