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After over half a century, Nigeria’s quest for statehood continues

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•As debate rages on 

Bishop C. Johnson 

As the debate rages on as to the best ways to deal with the myriad of challenges threatening the very foundation of our existence as a united nation, Nigerians of all class, creed, ethnicity, religion  and background have been voicing their views on how best to put our feet on our national brake pedal, hold the brake and save our nation from impending slide to the abyss.

Some have argued and suggested that a conference of various stakeholders and interests in the country be summoned by our president and Commander-in-Chief, Gen Mohammadu Buhari (Rtd) to analyze and articulate solutions to all these challenges.

I welcome these patriotic suggestions and commend these eminent, patriotic and concerned Nigerians for their courage and patriotic sense of duty to our country and reject the notion that these courageous and patriotic Nigerians are making these calls for selfish and political reasons. 

In some quarters in this country, there have even been insinuations that these patriotic and courageous Nigerians are beating the drum of war for daring to suggest that we take broad and decisive actions to prevent our country from sliding into oblivion. Such insinuations are idiotic, preposterous, ludicrous and disingenuous.

The suggestions made by these men and women are no different from the call made by the Nigerian Senate, that a security summit be organized by the executive branch of our government to address the challenges of insecurity in the land, rejig our security architecture and restore law and order in the land. The National Assembly, a legitimate institution of our democracy and the most representative branch of our government, can’t be beating the drum of war when it made such suggestions. These suggestions are borne out of love of country  and made out of concern, patriotism and desire to finding lasting solutions that will keep our country peaceful, united, stable and prosperous.
That our country, Nigeria is facing some serious existential threats is not a Hollywood fiction. The challenges are not isolated incidences, these challenges are real and serious. The notion that the killings that have been going on in this country for far too long are isolated incidences is idiotic, stupid,  disingenuous, deceitful and delusional. We can’t continue to live in denial. Living in denial and going about business as usual is an admission that all is well. All is not well. Things are falling apart and making the center difficult to hold.

That these are difficult times in our country ought not to be debated. Instead, our debate ought to be what actions should we take to deal with our challenges, isolated or not. It is based on this premise that I submit that action is required to deal with these threats before this country is ripped apart. 

I however do not agree that another national or constitutional conference is the way forward. We have  had enough conferences,  so I am convinced  and must subscribe to the proposition made by two eminent Nigerians whom I have enormous respect for, Mr Femi Falana (SAN), a legal luminary and Malam Balarabe Musa, an elder statesman and former governor of the great state of Kaduna.

These two great Nigerians have argued that a new national conference by whatsever name called may not be necessary in Nigeria at this time considering that this country in it’s short existence as a nation has had more national and constitutional conferences than any other nation on earth. The problem of this country therefore is not more conferences, instead its greatest undoing is failure to implement the outcomes of its past conferences.

The problems of Nigeria have already been identified, solutions profferred and documented by very eminent people in this country. However, our leadership have for decades lacked the political will to implement the resolutions of our past conferences which is why we are where are today.

We have made fighting corruption the cornerstone of every administration in this country yet corruption persist and even get worse by the day, which in my view is indicative of wrong approach. 

Our first step to fighting corruption in this country is to restructure Nigeria.There can’t be any effective war against corruption so long as the current structure remains in place, over 600 federal agencies, all conduit pipes for abuse, waste and outright corruption.

Let’s start fighting corruption by reducing the size of the central government, giving more autonomy to the component units, strengthening our local governments, while the central government provides supervisory and oversight roles. By so doing,  each federating unit is better placed to understand its unique challenges and priorities and will be held to account when something goes wrong. This one size-fits-all approach has for long absolved these federating units of  their responsibilities while putting those responsibilities squarely on the feet of the federal government. This structure has not worked and can’t work.

To begin restructuring this country we don’t need to reinvent the wheel. We can begin restructuring this country today by implementing the outcomes of our previous conferences.

 Johnson is a former United States Army captain, a  Military and Intelligence Analyst, and a National Commentator.

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