Published On: Mon, Aug 20th, 2018

Only Restructuring can save Nigeria—Anyaoku

From PETER OKORE, Umuahia

The 2018 Chief Emeka Anyaoku  Annual Lecture series has been held in Umuahia, the Abia state capital and was attended by dignitaries drawn across Abia state and beyond. It was chaired by an elder statesman and former President-General of Ohaneze Ndigbo, Professor Joe Irukwu.

Chief Emeka Anyaoku

This brings to seven the number of the Lecture series so far held to honour of the renowned diplomat for distinguishing himself creditably as the Secretary-General of the Commonwealth of Nations and for being  a true ambassador of the Federal Republic of Nigeria.

The Topic of this Year’s Lecture was: “Leadership and Good Governance in Nigeria” and was delivered by the former Chief Executive of the Niger Delta Development Commission, NDDC, Chief Onyema Ugochukwu.

The Lecture series, which was first hosted by the Lagos state government during the military era, have since been held in Anyoku’s home- state, Anambra and is hence being rotated among states of the federation. The other States that have also hosted the Lectures are Delta, Ogun, Rivers and Ebonyi states.

In his remarks at this year’s Lecture, Chief Anyaoku observed that the existing 36 states in the country and Federal Capital Territory, FCT. Abuja are not working as expected of them because of the diversities in Nigeria, stressing that such have made  good governance  impossible.

He said the attendant high cost of running  government and corruption among officials as well as lack of adequate infrastructure are some basic factors militating against good governance in Nigeria.

To make good governance possible, Anyaoku rather called on the Nigerian leadership to return the country to Eight (8) Regions with enough powers to generate and spend    their funds as well as develop along the areas of their comparative advantages. If this is implemented, under the re-structuring arrangements being proposed, it would    overcome the numerous challenges Nigeria is facing today.

The new creation should toe the line of the defunct Three (3) Regions in the country, which made significant impacts in the governance and development of Nigeria. He named the proposed Regions  to include the already existing six geo-political zones plus the Old Mid-West and  Middle-Belt Regions, respectively.

According to Anyaoku, most of the existing states of the federation are very poor and only parasites to the federal government; depending and relying on federal allocations (FAAC) for everything. He wondered how the Nigerian nation can work with a strong centre, in spite of differences in tribes, religion, cultures, etc, saying that America is able to bring her numerous federating states together because of its principles and believe in unity in diversity.

”As long as we have the present structure in Nigeria, it cannot work as a nation. The character of the common-man on the streets; his peculiarities, potentials etc, are factors to be considered for nationhood: and Nationhood has to do with good governance.

At the moment, Nigeria is the largest concentration of poor people earning two dollars per- day. Proper attention must be paid to the diversities in Nigeria. The 1960 and 1963 Nigerian Constitutions will serve this country better.

“A structure of governance should be designed by the leadership of Nigeria to address the problems of the zones. The challenges of Nigeria in areas of Roads, Education, Health, insecurity, and all, will be solved if Nigeria returns to eight (8) viable regions with powers to develop themselves. At present, some of these 36 states are mere liabilities”, he said.

The former Chairman of the NDDC, Chief Onyema Ugochukwu in the lecture noted that leadership failure and bad policies lead to bad governance. He traced the problems of Nigeria to have started as far back as 1999, when the leadership of this country adopted a constitution (crafted by the military to suit their purposes, with in-built high costs) for a democratic rule.

In the paper, Ugochukwu asserted that the effect of the present structure of government in Nigeria on the search for good governance is quite negative. He noted that the Nigerian Constitutions of the 60’s made the Regions Development Centres, which saw themselves to be in healthy competitions with each other; and no-one (region) wanted to be left behind.

He said that based on what happened in the 60’s, good governance is still far from Nigeria. He observed that good governance is being hampered by lack of focus(by the political class), high level of corruption, high cost of running government, inability of present leadership to amend the 1999 military Constitution in line with democratic principles, insecurity, low  productivity, wide gap between the have’s and have not’s in Nigeria, etc.

He said “we cannot achieve comprehensive restructuring in one fell swoop, arguing that the beneficiaries of the existing dysfunctional system would not allow that to happen”. He, therefore, advocated incremental basis of implementations. Firstly, that Nigeria should tackle restructuring beginning with devolution of powers.

Secondly, re-structure the allocation of federally collected revenues in line with new responsibilities, including appropriate percentage for the Derivation Principle. On the sharing formula, Ugochukwu suggested that Derivation should take not less than 25 percent, while the Federal Government should get not more than 40 percent of the Distributable pool, leaving 60 percent for the states, including the Local Governments.

In the words of the veteran Journalist:”Here, I believe we can say, without fear of contradiction, that there is an overwhelming sense that our country has failed to achieve its potential. There is a deep and growing frustration with consistently under-performing governance; a situation where sometimes, Nigerians look back to the past and wish that their country had remained there.

“I believe that if we can make improvements on the structure of government, which I believe is the main source of bad policies we have, we would make progress towards the achievement of good governance in Nigeria”.

In his brief remark, Abia state governor, Dr.Okezie Ikpeazu, who was represented by his Deputy, Sir Ude Oko Chukwu commended the achievements of Chief Emeka Anyaoku  and the Lecturer for their presentations and recommendations to achieve good governance in Nigeria. He noted that the economy of Nigeria is at cross roads and called for all hands to be on deck to revive the economy, both at state and national levels.

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