NIGERIA: DEARTH OF CONSTRUCTIVE POLITICS
For those curious Nigerians conversant with the nation's capital of Abuja in the last one and half decade, have you ever wondered why Abuja is now so choked up that vehicular and human movements have constituted incredible logistical nightmares necessitating the introduction of the tough new transportation policy to decongest the town of archaic and environmentally hazardous minibuses?
Again, has anyone ever wondered why majority of the self-appointed spokespersons of the various amorphous ethnic, religious and regional groups often generate much noise promoting their self –centered cleavages from the comfort of their palatial homes in Abuja or Lagos rather than reside in their country homes in the geo-political zones?
Pardon my further line of interrogation but it is necessary to ask if anyone has taken time off their busy schedules to travel to the country- sides and see for themselves the extent of rot of most public infrastructure and indeed the total absence of good governance in much of the states that make up the Nigerian federation?
These questions are necessary given the fact that while politicians from both divides were busy the whole of last week bickering over irrelevances and other mundane issues associated with the year 2015 general elections, a frightening alarm was raised in the local media by the National Population Commission (NPC) concerning the phenomenon of rural-urban migration of most Nigerians in search of the elusive greener pastures.
Upon extensive contemplation, I came up with the conclusion that the far-reaching import of that landmark report from the National Population Commission [NPC] is that Nigeria is suffering from debilitating lack of constructive politics and dearth of good governance.
As is already a notorious fact, the consequences of lack of good governance and constructive politics in any nation is that the people will inevitably suffer from problems associated with mass poverty; mass illiteracy; corruption; and near-situation of anarchy.
From the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization [UNESCO] came another frightening report that Nigeria tops the infamous list of nations with the largest percentage of her children of school age who are out of school. The report which was widely covered by a respected online newspaper PREMIUM TIMES stated that with approximately 10.05 million children out of former schooling, Nigeria holds the record of having the highest number of its young people out of school.
I will return to the burning issue of high rural to urban migration in Nigeria as captured by the National Population Commission, but first, let me repeat here that Nigerian politicians of all classes don't give a damn about all these so long as they have their own ways of funneling public fund in the treasury of the states they control into their private pockets. These politicians who behave like over spoilt school children are often seen quarreling in the media among themselves as was the recent public spats between the Presidential Media Adviser Reuben Abati and former anti-graft chief Mr. Nuhu Ribadu over some partisan matters.
Having established the preliminary aspects, to now let you into the aspects of that shocking but realistic report of the National Population Commission before dwelling on the adjunct fact of dearth of constructive and quality governance, has become imperative at this juncture.
Specifically, The Guardian, Sunday, June 2nd, 2013 on page 3 carried a story with the title; “Population Commission warns government on rural – urban Migration".
The warning by the population panel was contained in the internal migration survey of Nigeria for year 2010, even as the agency of the federal government sounded a note of warning that the different levels of government at the national, sub-national and local government segment must implement urgent development-based measures to discourage rural dwellers from embarking on urban migration.
The report stressed the need to develop essential strategies for job creation in rural areas, a move that would, in the long run, also address youth restiveness arising from unemployment.
The survey, which was randomly conducted among 101,939 respondents in the six geopolitical zones, revealed that 11,257 were migrants, 11,209 non-migrants, and 1801 were return migrants.
At the official presentation of the report in Abuja, Chairman of the Commission, Mr. Festus Odimegwu, stressed the need for government to adopt best practices of managing migration, so as to promote balanced growth, reduce incidences of violence and better human resource utilization.
He said: “Government should adopt some of the best practices of managing migration. Such practices include deliberate policies of discouraging over-urbanization, assimilation of migrants and proper integration of return migrants, among others”.
The survey, according to him, revealed that the highest percentages of migrants were persons with no education, followed by those with primary education, and the least were persons with post graduate qualification.
Odimegwu mentioned that the survey highlighted employment opportunity as a critical push factor that encourages migration in Nigeria, especially among youths, hence the need for a proper articulation of policies to address issues of employment and rural-urban drift for better socio-economic planning.
Dr. Aworemi Joshua Remi; Abdul-Azeez Ibrahim Adegoke and Opoola Nurain, who had earlier in June 2011 carried out a scholarly study of the factors influencing rural-urban Migration with Lagos State as the case study, were said to have adduced profound sociological reasons why this ugly trend persist.
The study carried out by these scholars, revealed that unemployment, education, family reasons, inadequate social amenities in the rural communities, avoidance of boredom in agriculture and health reasons are the major factors influencing rural-urban migration in Nigeria.
The scholars gave a far-reaching recommendation thus; “It was however recommended that to stem down the rate of the migration, functional amenities such as pipe borne water, electricity, recreational facilities should be provided in the rural areas. Good educational facilities and qualified teachers should be made available in the rural areas. Agro-allied industries must be set-up in the rural areas in order to provide job opportunity for the rural dwellers”.
But the recommendations made by both the National population commission and the three university researchers aforementioned on how best to check the increasing trend of rural-urban migration in Nigeria, are not extra-constitutional since even the constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria of 1999 (as amended) has made several provisions on the necessity for the equitable development of all parts of Nigeria by the government.
For instance, section 16(1) of the constitution has clearly provided that the “State shall within the context of the ideas and objective for which provisions are made in this constitution, harness the resources of the nation and promote national prosperity and an efficient, a dynamic and self-reliant economy”.
But because of the dearth of constructive politics and good governance, most Nigerians are left at the mercy of poverty, corruption and lawlessness.
Responding to the question of what role government must play to bring about development and economic happiness to the greater number of the people, Daron Acemoglu and James A. Robinson in their scholarly book titled “WHY NATIONS FAIL”, said responsibility lies squarely with government.
In their words: “To function well, society also needs other public services: roads and a transport network so that goods can be transported; a public infrastructure so that economic activity can flourish; and some type of basic regulation to prevent fraud and malfeasance”.
There is no doubt that the Nigerian government at all levels have substantially failed to address the challenges confronting the nation's economy to stop it from failing but worst still, officials of government have often engaged in corruption and ostentatious life style even when millions of Nigerians starve to their death for want and better jobs. The anti-graft agencies are long on media drama and short on actual prosecution of serial fraudsters in government offices.
The absence of constructive and quality governance is felt more in the states and local government areas whereby majority of rural dwellers are deprived of the basic necessities of life thereby necessitating the dangerous rural-urban drift.
Only few days back, report of massive fraud that happened in the Zamfara state Universal Basic Education Board (ZUBEB) emerged whereby the chairman Alhaji Murtala Adamu Jengebe was asked by the state House of Assembly to refund the allegedly stolen sum of N1.061 Billion back to the treasury.
Media report from the News Agency of Nigeria said following a recent report submitted by the Special Committee on investigations into Zamfara Universal Basic Education Board's (ZUBEB) operations and financial activities, the Zamfara State House of Assembly has unanimously resolved that the embattled Chairman of the Board, Alhaji Murtala Adamu Jangebe, should no longer serve in any capacity in Zamfara state government again.
In its 184th resolutions which was also copied to all security agencies in the state, the state house of Assembly resolved that the ZUBEB Chairman and anybody found to be a party to the excessive misappropriations of public funds should be arrested with immediate effect through the office of the Attorney-general and the Commissioner for Justice of the state for prosecution.
The statement, which was signed by the House Acting Clerk, Isah Abdullahi Bayero, noted that the State House of Assembly has unanimously resolved that the Chairman of ZUBEB must return the sum of N1.061 billion against the initial figure 797.2 million naira earlier discovered to be misappropriated from the seven accounts operated by the Board.
The House reportedly stated that going by the discoveries made by the house, it was satisfied that it no longer has trust in Jangebe to administer the affairs of the Board and he therefore should with immediate effect vacate the office.
The Zamfara show of shame as stated above is only but a drop in the ocean because massive corruption go – on in much of the state capital across the country and to a large extent, one will begin to wonder why only one state government official could gain access to such huge fund belonging to the state primary universal education board as was the case in Zamfara. What makes this particular case annoying is that Zamfara state is among the Northern states said to be educationally disadvantaged and here is a man saddled with the duty of bringing quality primary education to the teeming youth who has deviated from his duty and resorted to alleged open stealing of public fund. What a big shame?
The lack of constructive governance is responsible and the outcome is that the rural people who cannot find opportunity for good education will migrate to the urban areas thereby overstretching the capacity of the infrastructure in the urban areas.
* Emmanuel Onwubiko; Head; Human Rights Writers' Association of Nigeria; blogs @ www.huriwa.blogspot.com; www.huriwa.org.