PROFLIGATE DEMOCRACY AND STATES BANKRUPTCY
In 1999, they promised enhancement of value, to make better whatever they met on ground. Regrettably, they despoiled and depleted the stock of public wealth handed over to them. They promised creation of wealth, instead they plundered, quaffed it and sold the national patrimony at rock bottom prices to friends, family members and cronies. As if they are soldiers of fortune and locust, government for profit became their modus operandi. They abhors government for the people, though they mouth it.
How much was a barrel of oil in 1999 before Chief Olusegun Obasanjo took oath of office? About 17 dollars. He became the president and the price of crude oil started rising beyond expectation. It hit $100 mark before he left office. The excess fund that accrued to the national coffer in those eight years because of international frictions in the Middle East and the attendant instability in supply that spurred prices of the crude oil to rise created enough capital to turn the Nigeria's economy around and move it to the next level.
What happened to the excess fund from crude oil? It was intermittently shared and squandered in what is akin to provocative and senseless prodigality. As if to add salt to the nation's injury, they stole billions of Naira, courtesy of corruption, eat without cleaning their mouths and took a large chunk of the money cornered abroad for safe-keeping. The white man's banks were thus empowered with unsolicited capital to create jobs and boost their economies.
Now, the dirty lucres are saying that only a few states, fewer than seven out of 36 can sustain themselves. They spend (steal) public funds (black gold money) as if the price of the commodity is not subject to the ebb and flow of demand and supply at the international market. Besides, it has never occurred to them that the deposit of the crude oil under Nigeria's soil is not infinite.
As a proof of their bankruptcy of ideas, the only solution that suggested itself to them is merger of states. Reduction in number of states. Maybe a return to three or four regions or they wish to make the six geo-political zones centres of governance. If they have forgotten, they should be reminded that the First Republic collapsed because the regions were more powerful than the centre, hence the abortive Republic of Biafra.
The present political leadership has proved unqualified to proffer progressive and constructive ideas on revenue generation. There are many unexplored areas of the economy that can generate billions of naira per year for the government. Increase in personal income tax and oil subsidy are definitely not among. The three tiers of government close their eyes to all these. They are contented and complacent. They don't care. The oil money is there, free money from nature. The government adds nothing.
The kite of merger of states could be a means of dampen the enthusiastic verve fueling the call for creation of more states. They do not even spare a thought for equity and balance in a multi-ethnic federation in which some people feel cheated. There is a need for Ibadan State. The advocates of (merger) the regressive system of governance feigned ignorance of man's dynamism. If there is will, there is a way. Nigeria is multi-ethnic contraption by Britain and there are still areas and people who are far removed from centre of governance and are craving â€ it. If a country that started out in 1960 with a three-region structure could today sustain a 36-state structure, optimism says it can sustain more centres of governance if the leaders are innovative about revenue generation.
Now, there are many areas of waste that could be removed and channelled to providing the necessary funds for the running of the new states. The chaperons of the present democracy are rabid hater of innovation. They are contented with the sharing of oil money without creating new wealth. They are wise and good at sharing national cake without caring a hoot about the its baking. They run a prohibitive democracy.
Their reckless extravagance started with emolument and allowances for political office holders in 1999. The monthly pay and perquisites were generously given. The commission charged with disbursement of pay for political office holders, …, working under the influence of an imperial president, who was literally begged to occupy the Aso Rock, made elective office and even appointment the most juicy, sumptuous engagement in Nigeria. The award of jumbo salary to political office holders was unprecedented in the annal of Nigerian history.
Adigun writes from Lagos.