RESETTING NIGERIA FROM THE STATES. – Segun Showunmi

As presently configured, states are the culprits in our national development challenge. Ordinarily, it should have been the local governments, but there is no point looking up to a tier of government to achieve any feat in an area where we know they are practically powerless, if not helpless, what with the over bearing influence of state governors on their affairs.

The states are mini gods that act like brutal dictators in all the spaces they occupy! One could have also said the Federal Government is a big culprit. But, really, does the Nigerian government know the nooks and crannies of this geographical space, let alone its people and their names? Can the Federal Government relate with the real needs of the people; what makes them happy, or what cultural jargon they hold close to heart? The truthful answer is no.

The central government is too far detached from where the people are, and I think we have spent far too much time expecting an absentee god in Abuja to understand, for instance, that the people, in Bagbon Village in Odeda Local Government of Ogun State, do not have water, or to know what is going on in Kumbotso Local Government Area of Kano, and the struggle the people have with their local peculiarities.

Can the Federal Government place a definite finger on what’s up with my people of Ugwalawo in the Ofu Local Government Area of Kogi, much less the people in remote villages around the borders of Katsina? No.

We have got to the point where, for our survival, the governors who are much closer to these people must be asked to deliver more for the benefit of all of us and, more importantly, for our peace and security.

What should be the utmost concern of a governor given our present circumstances with poverty, insecurity, national disharmony and all the issues that stir us in the face? The very first is that the governors cannot see their elections as investments, which must yield returns from the government purse. A situation where people get into the office of Governor with huge debts and little or no personal wealth only to finish as inheritors of the legendary King Solomon must no longer be tolerated.

As we know, public officials will continue to do the wrong thing over and over again, if the people look the other way. We must, therefore, be prepared to punish culprits to show that there will be consequences, and the consequences must be huge enough to discourage continuous looting of state resources. Governorship is no longer an ambition; no, it must move to a higher degree and become a call to service.

Checks should start with legislators at the state level, and women whose duty it is to make laws and carry out oversight functions for the stability, development and wellbeing of states. This business of them seeing themselves as appendages of the governors is unacceptable, and, for all our sakes, must stop.

The next group of gatekeepers must be the indigenous stakeholders who must snap out of their unproductive roles as cheerleaders of governors all in a bid to get patronage or just for the social benefit of being part of the executive mailing list for ‘owambe’. This makes them blind to their responsibilities in standing firm against a thieving state executive.

Traditional rulers are, perhaps, the most guilty here. Frankly, what exactly are they presently contributing to their domains beyond being the relics of the historical past of their people? Even with respect to that, they are failing. All around, we can observe with pity how completely mismanaged the culture and tradition of our people have become in the hands of these generations of successors. I think the earlier we give them a more useful role, the better for everybody.

While we are at that, we must also stress the point that giving traditional titles to government officials now need to come under scrutiny; these honours are meant for the deserving, they should not be rewards for widely acknowledged delinquents. It is sad that the custodians of the essence of who the people now aid and abet thieves.

The intellectuals and opinion shapers are not holding up, and in this category, the media must understand that not calling out these set of people is perhaps why a culture of impunity seems to have enveloped almost all the states of this nation.

We must give ourselves a fighting chance by holding our leaders to account and bravely doing so, for that, really, is the duty of the 4th realm of the leadership estate.

The people have been badly bartered to such a point that it is needless asking the victims to solve the problem. The lack of education, healthcare, basic amenities has converted the mass of the people into easy-to-manipulate rabble-rousers in their own destructions. In this peculiar case, I am afraid, we must build from the middle, dovetailing downwards to the local governments and pivoting upwards to a cohesive national
vision.

It is time to press the reset button, starting from the scions of the subnational space – the Governors.

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