The Burden of Governance in Nigeria

By Adeola Aderounmu. 

I love Nigeria and I think Nigeria it the greatest country in the world. But I am still at a lose how Nigeria has refused to find her bearing more than 46 years after independence. I want Nigeria to excel and this is why I have always picked on the Politicians because they are very selfish and unpatriotic. Happy reading!  

Nigeria is a country of 36 states and a federal capital territory called Abuja. It is no longer news that Nigeria is a country lacking in quality leadership and progressive vision. In addition, the low standard of living and the desperate means of survival in Nigeria reveals much about the inefficiency of the federal, state and local government tiers of governance.

I am not an erudite scholar on the history and geography of Nigeria but I should be able to discuss a few points on the burden of governance in my dearest country, Nigeria. 

With a population of over 140million people spread over a substantial land mass, more than 500 000 square miles, one can quickly come to terms with the burden that will be associated with the effectiveness of governance in Nigeria. This country is not only large, it is also distinctively diverse in languages and culture that a curious mind may begin to question the existence of the geographical entity called Nigeria.  The size of a country is not a determinant for progress anyway.

One thing is sure, Nigeria should remain one country. In so doing, the diversity can be used as a “plus” strength in many ways. What has been lacking over the decades since independence is proper planning and selfless service. Greed and corruption has eaten deep into the system that it became difficult to see the beauty and glory of this country and the heights that it could have attained if the proper brains had been in power.  

Over the years, what we have seen at the federal level has been complete idiots running shameless shows and recyling themselves in a cyle of idiocy. What we have also failed to point out over the years is that we have governance that is actually closer to the people than the federal government. In Nigeria, we have state governments and local governments. What has been the overall impact of the local government especially as it is the closest to the people?

 

I remember when Obasanjo’s militarised uncivilian government started in 1999. Very early in the day, we could see with our eyes how local government councilors or other officials became rich overnight. They quickly bought or built houses in the choicest part of the town. In no time, some of them have stolen enough money that they began to target higher political posts in their homelands especially. Suddenly, some remembered for example, that they are not actually Lagosians! The integration in Nigeria is unfortunately incomplete.

This is true also for state level of governance; politicians became rich and important in the twinkle of an eye as soon as they got into government. But the people who voted for them (the votes were rigged in many instances) became poorer.

Over the years, attention has been focused on the government at the center because of the excess power concentrated at that point. Many of our parents and grandparents are still convinced that Nigeria did better when there were no states but regions. Many people from western Nigerian thought they fared better under the old western region. The civil war has been used as an excuse for the formation of states after states and then local government after local government. What do we have now? We have proliferations that cannot be supported by statistics and logic. They call it Nigerian Politics or Home Grown Democracy. 

Some other people can discuss about the influence of politics on the uneven proliferation of local councils. What bothers me is how to draw the lines between what to expect from the local governments, the state governments and the federal government when it comes to reaching the expectations of the citizens. 

For example, we have seen where roads become deteriorated and absolutely impassable while these tiers of government continue to wait for another to fix the road. In Nigeria today, the common people don’t know who is responsible for what road, all they know is that many road have become death traps. Trunk A, Trunk B and Trunk C road are all jargons in the ears of the helpless masses. Tell those slangs to the winds and let someone stop using cement to fix the roads in Festac Town! What kind of nonsense is that?

I am still wondering who should have taken care of the National stadium in Lagos. I am confused if the federal government left it in care of the Lagos State Government or if the Lagos state government left it in care of Surulere local government. What we know of this formerly glorious site is that it is now like a den of robbers. It is desolate and it lies in ruins. This type of thing shows the recklessness of our administrators. They are simply bad managers. Maintenance culture was deleted from the Nigerian dictionary 47 years ago.  

Another obvious thing with the local government especially is that it seems that many of them have been created, just like Nigeria herself, without the thought of how they can run themselves. Their economic viabilities were not a consideration when they were created. In how many ways can the thoughtlessness of our leaders be expressed? You can get sick before you finish counting that.   

Everything in Nigeria is politicized including the number of people that we are. No one knows exactly how many people live in Nigeria. Lagos state government has a different census figure for how many people that live in Lagos compared to the figures released by the federal government. Isn’t it logical that Kano cannot have more people than Lagos after a state was carved out of it? I thought the era of counting goats and cows as humans were over.

On a lighter note, I think there are more people at Oshodi at 6pm than all the people and cattle in Kano put together. Has anyone tried to stand on Oshodi Bridge and count the oceans of human heads from all corners? Omg! There is also a joke that humans and ghosts trade together at Oshodi market. Maybe that is why Lagos has less people than Kano. There are probably more ghosts and less people in Lagos!

  

But seriously, local governments are created in Nigeria, for example, because of reasons such as first lady living in that area, powerful godfather wanted it so, funny millionaires want to show off, influential politicians will have their ways, important thugs threatened actions, ex-military administrator desired it and other crazy reasons. There are no administrative plans or functional models to look up to. Just like all the states government, the local governments are also like beggars picking up the crump and pieces that stray from the almighty Aso Rock Table.

In very bad revenue generation approaches, the poor masses are unnecessarily levied for almost everything except the air they breathe. The state and local government see this as a survival strategy. It is good that the people should pay for the services that are rendered by the state and local governments but the manner and approaches should take into consideration the economic realities that stare the people in their faces. Indeed with the money that are been squeezed out of traders annually, they deserve better stalls or shopping malls rather than the ugly environments in which many businesses are transacted.  

I was shocked to my marrow on the recent generator charges in Lagos. I hope that was a joke to feel the pulse of the people. I think the state government should take its power generation mechanisms more seriously and end the blackout in Lagos first before tackling people who are using generators to generate power for their businesses? Why are the politicians so senseless and heartless because they want to loot money to build their own mansions? I will not be surprised that they have already decided how to share this “expected income”: thieves!  

Generators do pollute the environment for sure but why not take away the need to use it in the first place? Does the Lagos state government think that anyone likes to use generators? If they cannot provide electricity to the people, they should ask Obasanjo to refund all the money that he spent on NEPA for 8 years without any slight improvement. Obasanjo left NEPA  as PHCN and made it worse than he met it notwithstanding that he allocated more money to it perhaps more than anyone else in the history of Nigeria and Africa. If we get that money back, we can give it to people who have the brains to fix our electricity problem and then there will be no more generators. 

In Nigeria, the burden of governance is huge. We have spent too much time to blame the federal government but I think all the tiers of government are to be blame. Worse still, in the absence of a neutral regulatory body to monitor corruption and prevent it…nobody seems to care! I don’t like the EFCC because it selects those to nail. EFCC has not told anyone why past Head of states are still enjoying our loots! The legislative arm of government is also corrupt. They always cry for one allowance or the other and they think the governor, president or council chairman as the case may be is stingy when they don’t get a car each as presents. The Judiciary is one of our hopes but with such lukewarm attitude and indecisiveness sometimes, the stake for our hopes revealed by the burden of governance in Nigeria is not only hanging, it is swinging as well.

May the Glory of Nigeria come, soon!  

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