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Perception On Reputation Of Nigeria’s Political Elite

Open Letter To Eminent Elders Forum

A quick read of your alleged Press Release, leaves me as a citizen of Nigeria with only one comment: how can we say that a man who is sick of gastro- enteritis ( ie stomach upset of sorts ) will be cured by moving him from his new house to his old house?

Respectfully, your position in the document claims to carry the authority of Senator Ibrahim Nasiru Mantu, Dr Akin Fapohunda, Prof Chukwuemeka Eye Onukaogu, Elder Muyiwa Ayo-Vaughan, Elder Smolette Adetoyese Shittu-Alamu , Chief Anayo Arinze and Professor Echefuna R.G. Onyebeadi.

It is dripping with 25 carat signature spread. But forgive me to say, it portrays inadequate or poor analysis of Nigeria’s present public perception challenges and the impact on reputation of our political elite at State and National levels . There is also an additional problem.  I wonder if it is designed to fly a kite, to gauge reactions. In which case it is pregnant with an attempt to mislead in other to rearrange group advantages.

I submit below two major planks to facilitate a coherent and historical rebuttal of the publication attributed to the Eminent Elders Forum.The first is that your diagnosis of Nigeria’s system is superficial and not objectively fundamental. The second is that you ignored the devastating pattern of Master -Slave  relationship imposed on citizens at State level and by national establishments. To pretend that the relationship problem in Nigeria is only one between tiers of government, is totally ridiculous.

In fact Nigeria would work better than it has been since 1999, if the Federal Government today is able to lift just 3 sectors. Let us fund our universities and health facilities with matching  performance goal, to achieve minimum international benchmark. In addition let us also plant industries in every state to create more career and productive economic opportunities for citizens.

I swear by your ancestors, that not many Nigerians will worry how President Buhari and State Governors greet each other in the morning! 1). Now let’s attempt to engage the objective and historical character of Nigeria’s system. (a) In my view the tragedy of Nigeria’s Presidential system is in its fundamental flaw.

The feudal system that runs the politics and economy of Nigeria is historical. As the product of peripheral Capitalism which emerged from colonial rule and military dictatorship that gave advantage by the fiat of political power, Nigeria’s economy was not designed to be competitive against Western industrial interests. Rather it was to cater for the appetite for wealth of a few citizens in power and those well connected to them.

The 1999 Constitution and Presidential system it created, tried very hard to concretise that objective. 20 years after, we can see that it has achieved the purpose of making Nigeria and Nigerians poorer with each successive administration, while those in power get even Bank Managers to serve napkins at their dinner tables.

A unique Feudal System was the machinery that welded both the economy and political advantage into a simple dictatorship in a democracy.The system enthrones a few persons in each state as the Governor and his cronies,  to rule as the “Emperor’s men”, with power of life and death over helpless citizens. All institutions are brought under the control of each Governor by hook or crook. The Legislature, Judiciary, Press and  even the Traditional Rulers insitution, are forced into the Governor’s “loyalty” queue, sooner or later.

b) The Feudal System does not prioritize productivity as a premier goal of governance at national, State or LGA level. The bonanza of a Crude Oil economy which allows NNPC to serve as the warehouse of wealth for those who have political power, has injected the political elite with a virus. It is the stampede for political power as the only business worth investing in. While the state continues to invest more money in massive amounts in undemocratic and unproductive elections, every other sector of life is diminishing because it is underfunded or rendered uncompetitive. Education, health and Security are good examples.

Therefore the Feudal System is able to create a primary condition for systemic transfer of wealth into a few hands and simultaneous increase in mass impoverishment, as a political tool of control. No level is an exception.

(c) The Feudal System is not capable to enthrone a “competence and performance driven” framework, at the State or Federal government level. The system actually incapacitates structures and institutions ( both Private and Public Sectors)  by systemic incompetence that is undermining the transaction and competitive capacity of our business environment. For instance businesses are not encouraged by deliberate government policies that are designed to build sectors to strengthen local economies and indigenes of a state as bona fide citizens.

This situation tends to weaken local business and allows foreign capital to dominate every sector of choice.

The systems demand for personal “loyalty” shuts out those who are able to feed themselves and maintain any modicum of self worth. This hunger for loyalty is reflected in deceptive  “tribalization” of establishment positions and hand picked allocations of opportunities in each state and in the federal government . The system creates the false impression that  government policies or programmes tend to transform into investment in ethnic solidarity but it is actually the necessary perimeter fence to protect a system that is not competitive and which places group interest as the only priority.

(d) The system thrives on subordination of the majority, at the pleasure of those who hold political power and their cronies.They tend to take every possible gain away from the public and give to themselves and their families, even more of what they do not need.

2). The second plank of our analysis shows that the philosophy of our feudal system manifests in practical terms by creating a few “Masters” in each State. In most States we can hear the cry that “it is our own people that are oppressing us”.

(a) It does so by letting a few to monopolize revenue and opportunities. You cannot count up to 1000 persons in most states of Nigeria today who can spend N10m of their own money without negotiation of assets ( by they way they acquired such assets  with sudden alacrity). Can that situation be corrected by mere demand for restructuring?  It is the same at the Federal level too.

 I doubt that we can count up to 10,000 Nigerians who can spend N20m without serious asset negotiation.

(b) We have a system that allows a small percentage of our population at State or at national level, to lay siege and achieve  control of the wealth at each level of government.They do so at the expense of the entire population of their respective States or at the expense of 99.99% of whatever is Nigeria’s correct population. Industrialized western democracies talk about an “oligarchy of the 1%” who have more wealth than the 99% of their population.

In Nigeria it is far less than 1% who have turned millions of citizens into “Slaves” in their States and at national level. This is done without regard to their region or religion, as a result of the gross social injustice of the feudal system .

(c ) In terms of the exploitation of the population of each state, there is no Christian or Moslem Governor. They are united in their arbitrary use of power and resultant embarrassing privileges. By the same token the poor in each State are the same and subjected to oppression , no matter their region or religion!

3). So how come the Eminent Elders Forum missed all these realities and internal contradictions? It leaves them open to the valid suspicion that they are trying to protect an existing privilege system by merely turning the mat!

There is nothing eminent in the very illogical analysis and recommendations of this Eminent Elders Forum.For instance why do you take old Midwest out of the new equation of 6 zones?

 It is clearly to weaken the Niger Delta by ressurecting the 50 years ghost of a “Mid West Region” as a high value estate of the South West. 

Amaopusenibo Bobo Brown, veteran journalist, former National President of NIPR is the CEO of Grain Consulting, PH

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