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In a fair world

Published by The Nation on Sun, 09 Aug 2020

Much of what the federal government is holding onto now, like a baby toits toy, should rather go to regional governments, unless it is having something more awful in mind.By Oyinkan MedubiThe days are coming on me something thick now they make me feel like one beleaguered nation, and I am thinking this is not fair. When the IBEDC-enforced darkness is not enveloping me in one cold, dark embrace, the government is conspiring to assassinate me by sending the sniffles through the weather. So, everyone I know is going around now sniffling and coughing and sneezing into one handkerchief or the other. Luckily, the government has not got me yet.To add to my embarrassment, I find that the price of the dollar is now rising like some bread dough filled with yeast so that I can no longer buy a bunch of plantain for the old expensive price. More, the price of fuel is taking a climbing hike into the mountains until I am almost using my mouth to suck the last drop out of the pump to get value for my puny money.More worrisome though, I find that everyone I know is no longer also going around complaining about the country. And thats a bad sign. Previously, where two or three were gathered together, the countrys deeds and misdeeds were sure to be in their midst. Now, it is either that people are past talking about the country or they dont know where the talk should begin. Now, I find that when they do talk they always start from this angle: We dont know where to turn now. PDP ate the country dry; but APC is adding insecurity. And the people suffer on. Hmm.Under the circumstances, though, it is difficult to cut anyone or government any slack when news reports keep telling us things like people are now stealing pots of amala off stoves,families are stealing pots of amala only to eat it with palm oil, people are stealing bags of semovita off other peoples stalls to feed their families with, families are now going three days without getting a single meal to eat, bomb kills fifty, herdsmen kill family of six, bandits rape and killI think we all know the country has become ungainly, tottering on its unstable legs and undulating like a drunken cow. However, its our failure to do something about this clumsy giant of a country before now is what has brought us to this sorry pass. I have always been a firm believer in the axiom that what a people wants, a people gets. The citizens of this country have not been fair to themselves and the rest of the world in not making up their minds early enough just what to do with the strange baby the colonial power handed over to them. Should they smother it quickly before it embarrassed itself and the rest of the world like you would like to do to some of your relatives' Or, should they adjust and settle down to negotiate for more space from the world'They did neither. They, instead, waited and watched to see how it would grow or die a natural death. Unfortunately, it has done neither too; it has just been running round and round in circles, like a dog chasing its own tail. So, one way or the other, Nigeria is embarrassing itself. What do you mean how'Well, first, there was corruption, then there was the Niger Delta (ND) problem, then there was Boko haram, and then there was corruption again, then the ND militants again, then unpaid salaries, then father-son politician-thieves, then ever-shrinking housekeeping funds, then corruption! Me, I have taken a look at all these, thrown up my hands and have exclaimed, Im getting off this country as soon as I finish my dinner. Who needs all these aggravations' Not soother people; they are thinking something can still be done. I would envy them if I didnt think they were such optimists.And what are they thinking' Some are thinking of restructuring. They say, and we all know and have said, that the centre is too strong, inept, inefficient and ineffective and selfish and tilted. Actually, one is enough to kill it, but we need all six adjectives. So, they also say that because of the powerful centre, assets end up being unfairly distributed. The ND region, they say, is a veritable source of weeping and gnashing of teeth for its awfulness. Naturally, that kind of neglect and others leave the others aggrieved and discontented. This discontent, they say, is what erupts mostly into militancy.Restructuring, people say, would involve redefining the way this country is run. Mostly, running everything from the centre does not pay, just like crime. It does not allow individual components to grow at their own pace. Incredible amounts of talents are allowed to go to waste because of the present clumsy arrangement. States are financially hampered and not allowed to do so many things, including have their own police or even sing, and that is why many of them are nigh comatose now and cant carry a tune in a bucket.Well, that sort of leaves me wondering, how come then that so many of them are able to purchase private jets' In fact, someone told me that in the heydays of the Jonathan era, subvention collection time of the month was also a private jet convention time as state governors flaunted and compared notes on their private flying toys in Abuja. So, if they were that hampered, how did they manage to purchase those toys'Dont get me wrong; I am for restructuring if this entity is not to be dissolved altogether since it is clear we cannot go on reeling left, then right, then left, forever. However, devolving power from the centre to the states would simply be moving the poor masses from the gripping arms of one drunk to another brute. There would be too many emergency dictators.This I guess is why some people feel that the problem of the country has been poor leadership. The country has been rather unlucky in her choice of leaders, rather like one being unlucky in love. Since her birth, she has been blessed mostly with a succession of the poorest materials as head, with the occasional exception along the way. For this rudderlessness, lawlessness has been allowed to reign, sacred cows have been allowed to roam, literally. Now,you and I have to sleep with two eyes open.In a fair world, many of the people Nigeria parades as heads should never have smelt power. I would list them now but for the fact that they have not struck any deals with me yet, unlike the federal governments never-coming list of alleged looters. When we talk, I assure you, you will hear.So, in a fair world, the head of the country will always be a man of vision who will know that every region needs development, not palliatives. As someone said, negotiate with criminals today and tomorrow, another group will come up.In a fair world, I tell you, I would be the Queen of the richest country on earth, and a small dispensable item like a handkerchief would not have twelve letters while the all indispensable dress would have five letters only. Its not a fair world, period.Clearly, restructuring is the answer. Much of what the federal government is holding onto now, like a baby to its toy, should rather go to regional governments, unless it is having something more awful in mind. An efficient region is a lot more effective governmentally than an efficient state. It would keep these mini dictators in check. It would also be a way of bringing the centre closer to the people and the country can stop chasing her own tail.This updated article was first published in June 2016.
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