Author Topic: What will you change about Nigeria?  (Read 30788 times)

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Offline Suleman

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What will you change about Nigeria?
« on: June 01, 2010, 04:34:06 PM »
I have got some spare time on my hands and I am going to attempt to start what I hope will be a healthy debate that could both be constructive and enlightening to all. As we are all aware, very soon, the big fire works will start and you will struggle to find advert space in even the least popular newspaper in Nigeria. The big event? well, Nigeria will be 50 as one Nation, maybe with more patch work than an accident victim, lots of stitches, but no part broken off ‘yet’.
I’d say most Nigerians alive today will fall into the under 50 category, age wise, and so a lot of “our” views and ideas would have been formed from written accounts rather than real life experience. This makes us more of theoretical ideologists rather than pragmatic thinkers, just my view. It is not uncommon for a gathering of Nigerian youths to attempt to solve the country’s problem in any 1 sitting. We seem to have these ideas, albeit untested, on to how to make this country great again. The big question to ask here is; how potent are these ideas of ours?
I might as well cast the first stone. A few days back, I was narrating to a friend, an idea that I thought will solve a lot of the problems currently facing us. My idea, to scrap states and just retain the local and federal government structures in the country. Each state is made up of local governments, and to have 2 separate allocations, one for each, in my view, is first of all duplication as well as an avenue for corruption, inefficiency and lack of order to say the least.

Offline Muhsin

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Re: What will you change about Nigeria?
« Reply #1 on: June 01, 2010, 05:15:52 PM »
Salam,

This is a very nice topic and for en erudite and matured discussion. I look forward to that.

I might as well cast the first stone. A few days back, I was narrating to a friend, an idea that I thought will solve a lot of the problems currently facing us. My idea, to scrap states and just retain the local and federal government structures in the country. Each state is made up of local governments, and to have 2 separate allocations, one for each, in my view, is first of all duplication as well as an avenue for corruption, inefficiency and lack of order to say the least.

It'll be very hard to find a single person who shares that view with you, Suleman, for it can hardly be practised. For a typical and nearest example: is there any country in this world that has no states? You may, well, find a nation without local governments, which is what some groups have been calling for to be done in Nigeria, especially considering the indisputable fact of the filthy activities going on in our local government councils.

From my view, what I'd like to change about Nigeria is nepotism and favouritism. If only qualified personnel be employed, every sector will be sanitized and repositioned. Secondly, I'll restructure our educational system by de-privatising it. Other sectors like health, too will be de-privatized.
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Offline gogannaka

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Re: What will you change about Nigeria?
« Reply #2 on: June 01, 2010, 05:53:49 PM »
A nice topic indeed.

Suleman,ideally, scrapping the states will help in bridging the gap between the government and populace.
When the federal allocation is divided among councils there is the hope that it can finally trickle down to the masses. When you know how much your local Councillor collected and what he did and u also know his house,you can easily tackle him.
I dare say that if what the state s collecting is shared among the various councils we have there will be much improvement in infrastructure.
However,that is just an ideal scenario. Its going to be a huge task changing the current state we're in.
The whole system has to change and as u said in the first post,its more theoretical than practical.

If i had my way i would forcefully induce discipline in the Nigerian.
Surely after suffering comes enjoyment

Offline Suleman

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Re: What will you change about Nigeria?
« Reply #3 on: June 01, 2010, 07:38:21 PM »
Very encouraging to see that interests have picked up. Muhsin, bless you. You have only revealed to me why the person I first shared the idea with, only smiled and said, "nice idea"  ;D, in other words NERD. But seriously, the UK is one such country that doesn't have states and governance could'nt be more effective, I tell you. The state structure, as entrenched in our constitution, I believe is borrowed from the American system, but even then, the American states have more independance than ours.
As GGNK pointed out, just imagine if Dala local government in Kano has an allocation of say =N=1BN monthly. You will have only the very best contesting for chairmanship, and it will be much easier for the, say 1 million indigenes of that local government, to demand good governance, than it will be for 9+ million of Kano to put heads together and challenge an inactive governor.

Offline lionger

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Re: What will you change about Nigeria?
« Reply #4 on: June 01, 2010, 07:42:38 PM »
What needs to change in Nigeria are its inhabitants.

We are a people bound to far too many deleterious cultural habits that cannot be tolerated in progressive societies. Corruption has already been mentioned and is an obvious example.

I see little wisdom in the elimination of the state level leaving only the the federal and LG level, as it only further compounds the present folly of state multiplicity. Perhaps there is more wisdom in drastically reducing the number of states and returning, in a sense, to the regional era of the First Republic - but then again, that didn't end so well either. In any case, no system will ever work as long as you have a people that do not have the basic disciplines and values that make any progressive societies tick. As long as public service is viewed as largely as a means of self-aggrandizement then nothing will ever work. Should it then be a surprise that the multiplicity of states and LGAs since 1967 have met with inadequate progress?

Corruption is a base instinct of all peoples, and all the advanced societies of the world have had to work hard against it. We in Nigeria have not worked nearly hard enough in the fight against corruption and other societal evils. Until we do that, there will be no relief for us.

Offline Suleman

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Re: What will you change about Nigeria?
« Reply #5 on: June 01, 2010, 09:17:59 PM »
Lionger, we are viewing the same point but from different angles. Its a bit like the chicken and egg question. I am of the view that our structure is fundamental to the progress we will make. We are a country of many Nationalities. I believe, and I stand to be corrected on this one, that the states were created to bring government closer to the people, but most importantly, to suppress any more urge for seccession ala Biafra. Having more states, in my view, has been a very binding factor on us as a Nation, as it is more difficult for say, 6 Ibo states to put heads together and talk about seccession; during Biafra it was only the Eastern region governed by one man. If I am right on this one, then surely having 400 LGs will even be more binding cause then, even amongst the same tribes, every one shall answer his Papa name as they say. I would like to think our problem is more to do with how much power is concentrated in an office rather than the number of offices.

Offline Dave_McEwan_Hill

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Re: What will you change about Nigeria?
« Reply #6 on: June 02, 2010, 12:17:29 AM »
Suleman
I would say you need states for the economies of scale. Can you imagine local governments all building roads differently? You would say that under your plan national government would build the roads and supply the services. I would say you need powerful groupings in each area to make sure the allocation of resources from the centre is fair to all areas - which is what the states do.
I would say that perhaps some people might argue that Nigeria would be happier as three or four or even five different countries.
After all Nigeria was invented as a colonial convenience.

But I would mainly say that Nigeria can never go forward as long as corruption is a way of life for many Nigerians. This is a subject that seems to embarrass some on Kano Online. Why should that be? How many on KanoOnline can put their hand on their hearts and say I have never profitted from a corrupt deal or corrupt circumstance?
Corruption and the hypocrisy that accompanies it is destroying Nigeria. Yet Nigeria should be leading Africa.   
maigemu

Offline Suleman

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Re: What will you change about Nigeria?
« Reply #7 on: June 02, 2010, 11:40:31 AM »
Dave,
Corruption is a way of life for "many Nigerians" because the ordinary citizens accept it. This is so because the people don't feel represented or should I say don't feel the stollen wealth belongs to them. An average Nigerian seems to view public funds like the westerners view lottery wins; only for the lucky. A good example is the punishment meeted out to ordinary thieves in the market or burglars when caught. Because they stole "somebody's" property, they are dealt with properly, but a public servant, in many Nigerian's view is not stealing anyone's property.

As an aside, I read today that =N=10BN has been budgeted for 50th anniversary celebrations. Am I missing something here? Should'nt the theme be "reflection" rather than celebration?

Offline lionger

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Re: What will you change about Nigeria?
« Reply #8 on: June 02, 2010, 11:49:40 AM »
Quote
Lionger, we are viewing the same point but from different angles. Its a bit like the chicken and egg question. I am of the view that our structure is fundamental to the progress we will make. We are a country of many Nationalities. I believe, and I stand to be corrected on this one, that the states were created to bring government closer to the people, but most importantly, to suppress any more urge for seccession ala Biafra. Having more states, in my view, has been a very binding factor on us as a Nation, as it is more difficult for say, 6 Ibo states to put heads together and talk about seccession; during Biafra it was only the Eastern region governed by one man. If I am right on this one, then surely having 400 LGs will even be more binding cause then, even amongst the same tribes, every one shall answer his Papa name as they say. I would like to think our problem is more to do with how much power is concentrated in an office rather than the number of offices.

Suleiman,
Yes, perhaps it can be argued that the creation of states have made us more 'unified' - well it is probably more accurate to say as you did initially that it had made secession more difficult, because it is clear that many still want out of Nigeria - but lets humour you on this one. Unification at what cost, however? Has this 'unification' led to an improved standard of living for our people? It should be possible to have the basic social amenities available even in a country that ultimately fails as a political unit. Why is this not the case in Nigeria, where a fraction of the oil revenues would have achieved the said goal?

To be sure, political structure is fundamental to our progress. However, we need to think carefully about this, because it is not all about political setup or even economic policies; among other things, culture and values also count big time. If we go about radically restructuring our government without giving heed to other attenuating factors, we may end up with diminishing returns, as some have discovered.

On this note, lets look at your proposed solution again. While it is questionable that increasing the number of LGAs will 'unify' us more, it should be altogether obvious that it will not improve the socio-economic lot of the people. Why? Because that is precisely what has happened! Nigeria has grown from 19 states and 300 LGAs in 1979 to 36 states and over 700 LGAs at present.With all the conflagrations that have flared up in that period of time it is difficult to say that we are any more 'unified' now than we were 30-40 years ago - and some of these conflagrations have been over LGA creation/edition. It is even more impossible to say that we have improved in terms of public services, because we clearly haven't. Infact, if anything, we have regressed. And yet in the same period of time, Nigeria has actually gotten richer! Worse, part of the rationale behind state/LGA proliferation as you also identified is the creation of more ethnically homogenous mini-entities, which is supposed to mitigate our apparently disavantageous ethnic heterogeneity. So why then are we still in the gutter? How come 'Papa' still dey 'chop and quench', even when it concerns his kinsman?

The reason why I've zeroed in on our poor code of public ethical behaviour is that I have come to believe that it is deeply ingrained in our culture, and predates contact with the imperial Western powers. So while colonization brought its own share of problems, it alone does not explain our present predicament.(And lets be honest folks, we would be much worse off without colonization, but that's another argument). Other countries like South Korea, Malaysia, Singapore, Brazil and India were also colonized, but they are not the basket cases that Nigeria is today. Ironically some of these nations were in worse conditions than Nigeria 50 years ago. A common denominator with some of these nations is that they have fought a hard fight against corruption. In Nigeria, we have done NOTHING.
« Last Edit: June 02, 2010, 01:11:46 PM by lionger »

Offline Muhsin

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Re: What will you change about Nigeria?
« Reply #9 on: June 02, 2010, 01:45:11 PM »
As an aside, I read today that =N=10BN has been budgeted for 50th anniversary celebrations. Am I missing something here? Should'nt the theme be "reflection" rather than celebration?

It's a very flabbergasting story; I read it on Daily Trust today. Only in Nigeria such a thing could be done, notwithstanding the indisputable fact, which is known to all, that nothing like this (call it celebration, reflection or whatsoever) could consume that huge amount of money. It does not at all rhyme with common sense. That remind me of Isah Aremu's words: Common sense is not common in (Nigerian) politics.

@Lionger,

Well said. I am 90% with you there. I too see no reason and no point in scrapping states. Leave states as they are but, to me, local governments should be did away with. Why? They are the roots of corruption, nepotism, favourism, embezzlement and all other filthy acts.
« Last Edit: June 02, 2010, 02:14:05 PM by Muhsin »
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Offline Dan-Borno

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Re: What will you change about Nigeria?
« Reply #10 on: June 02, 2010, 02:58:33 PM »
lionger has initially highlighted our major problem(s) that if
we can be able to deal with, all other things will be fine.

What needs to change in Nigeria are its inhabitants.
and
Corruption has already been mentioned and is an obvious example.
there is nothing wrong with the present system if corruption
and unpatriotism can be reduced to its minimum level.

another interesting issue is, does the unity of this country ever
helped matters?

"My mama always used to tell me: 'If you can't find somethin' to live for, you best find somethin' to die for" - Tupak

Offline lionger

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Re: What will you change about Nigeria?
« Reply #11 on: June 02, 2010, 04:11:19 PM »
@Lionger,

Well said. I am 90% with you there. I too see no reason and no point in scrapping states. Leave states as they are but, to me, local governments should be did away with. Why? They are the roots of corruption, nepotism, favourism, embezzlement and all other filthy acts.
Muhsin, eliminating the LGAs will solve next to nothing in a country where corruption is pervasive at ALL levels of government and society. How exactly will eliminating LGAs stop federal and state goverment officials from enriching themselves off the treasury, or 'big men' at all levels sitting on other peoples' salaries, or policemen manning 'checkpoints' to extort bribes from people off the streets, or secretaries and clerks who won't pass on your file or allow you to see oga until they get their cut, or lecturers who won't pass you unless you grant sexual favors, or other petty officials and 'middlemen' all over Nigeria who won't perform their obligatry services without extorting bribes? My friend, we need to think harder. This disease runs far deeper than the present dispensation into pre-colonial times, and that much is obvious from examing the records of the first Europeans that made contact with us.

lionger has initially highlighted our major problem(s) that if
we can be able to deal with, all other things will be fine.

What needs to change in Nigeria are its inhabitants.
and
Corruption has already been mentioned and is an obvious example.
there is nothing wrong with the present system if corruption
and unpatriotism can be reduced to its minimum level.

another interesting issue is, does the unity of this country ever
helped matters?


Dan Borno there is plenty wrong with the present system. Among other things, goverment structure since the 60s has grown into a bloated and awfully wasteful enterprise, with the dubious 'benefit' that more people than before can now take their 'cut' from the national cake. Personally I think it might be better to drastically cut the number of states and LGAs back to the 1976 levels. Of course, this is totally against the current trend of thinking, as the National Assembly recently announced the impending creation of ten new states by next year. No doubt most of these new states will be anything but economically viable, hanging on to the Federal government for dear life. Yet a nation like India, far larger in population and geographic size and with twice as many linguistic groups has only 26 states. Is there any evidence that we know something about this that they don't know? My fellow Nigerians, I say it again: we need to THINK HARDER.

Offline Suleman

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Re: What will you change about Nigeria?
« Reply #12 on: June 02, 2010, 04:38:37 PM »

@Lionger,

Well said. I am 90% with you there. I too see no reason and no point in scrapping states. Leave states as they are but, to me, local governments should be did away with. Why? They are the roots of corruption, nepotism, favourism, embezzlement and all other filthy acts.

I don't suppose the other 10% is disagreeing with his view that our culture supports bad conduct? I don't think that is the complete picture. I would like to ask if corruption was as bad 20 yrs ago as it is now? My answer is no, not at all. It got worse over the years because the perpetraitors got more and more bold, seeing that they get away with it each time. Infact they get rewarded. It has more to do with our "circumstance" rather than our culture. Our circumstance in this case being extreme poverty and lack of exposure/experience. Notice that I intentionally did not use the word "illiteracy" as many would have put it. Many of our people may not genuinely be aware that things can be done, and indeed are done differently elsewhere.
As for the part played by our culture (Hausa), one of the many flaws is that to us respect is demanded not earned. It is a commodity that is priced by the reciever and not the giver as found in other societies. It is so easy for anyone to change his status just by changing his outlook. Normally the people whose respect you command should decide if you deserve it or not by being influencial in their lives.

Offline bakangizo

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Re: What will you change about Nigeria?
« Reply #13 on: June 02, 2010, 05:31:26 PM »
Interesting topic, suleman.

However, I disagree with you on the issue of scrapping states. having only LGs won't solve our problems as I bet you the LG Chairmen would simply wear the toga of the present state governors. I fail to see how governance would be more effective in a state where you have, say, 40 "mini governors". It would simply be chaos. States are necessary for economies of scale. There are developmental matters/projects, critical to the economic and social development of the society that can't be broken down into communal interests. Who would establish the university? Each LG?  ;D The Specialist hospital, roads, modern markets, courts, etc. You can't trust the FG to do it, and it is simply impossible for each LG to build its own. So, okay, the UK operates the system succesfully. But then taking into account the social/cultural and demographic difference btw us, the present system suits us better.  Corruption is the main issue. I dare say the only issue. Remove corruption, and you've solved 99% of Nigeria's problems.

Offline lionger

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Re: What will you change about Nigeria?
« Reply #14 on: June 02, 2010, 07:07:06 PM »
Suleman,
Quote
I don't suppose the other 10% is disagreeing with his view that our culture supports bad conduct? I don't think that is the complete picture.
1. I never said cultural defects painted the entire picture of our predicament; it does not. But I am saying that it is a key factor that ought not to be ignored.

2. I am not merely trashing our culture for the sake of it. Remember what I said in my first post on this topic:
 
Quote
Corruption is a base instinct of all peoples, and all the advanced societies of the world have had to work hard against it. We in Nigeria have not worked nearly hard enough in the fight against corruption and other societal evils. Until we do that, there will be no relief for us.

There are countries like Singapore that, among other things, recognized the inherent corrupt aspect of Mandarin culture and took tough steps to curb it. It wasn't easy, but in the end they succeeded in turning Singapore from a third-world backwater in 1965 into a financial capital in the 90s. What did Nigeria achieve in that period of time?

Quote
I would like to ask if corruption was as bad 20 yrs ago as it is now? My answer is no, not at all.
Er, Sule, 20 years ago would be 1990, and by then Nigeria was already recognized as one of the world's leading corrupt nations. Moreover, it was in 1996, that Nigeria gained the inglorious distinction of being the world's most corrupt nation, courtesy of Transparency International.

Quote
It has more to do with our "circumstance" rather than our culture. Our circumstance in this case being extreme poverty and lack of exposure/experience.
Ok, but what is the cause of this our 'extreme poverty and lack of exposure/experience'? Isn't this what we're discussing here? It is not that straightforward to determine whether poverty leads to corruption or vice versa. And if we accept that poverty is a cause (fine to me), then it is still not enough in explaining our situation. Why then do we observe corruption among the wealthier upper classes? And why do we not see the same behaviour among the lower classes in the West? Norms and values count for much more than we think.

Quote
Notice that I intentionally did not use the word "illiteracy" as many would have put it. Many of our people may not genuinely be aware that things can be done, and indeed are done differently elsewhere.
Illiteracy should be mentioned, as it is undoubtedly a factor in our predicament. In today's world, an educated populace is critical to taking the next step forward. This was one of the ways by which South Korea lifted itself from the gutter. It is striking the we fared far better on this issue with regional governments of the precolonial and early independence days, who had far less resources than the Nigerian government had from the 70s onwards.

 


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