By Comrade Henry O. Nwaigwe
Preamble: There is a saying that “The beauty of democracy is in the ability of democratic functionaries to build a decentralized and un-monopolistic economic, Political and social structures that will stand the test of time”. This is why Abia State especially Aba was exclusively designed for industrial and commercial greatness. Apart from quantum deposit of crude oil found in some parts of Abia State coupled with few minerals meant to complement the industrial revenue profile of the state, the self sufficiency of the state was already programmed to accommodate any infrastructural deficit likely to occur in a forseeable future. I do not know why it is difficult to convince people especially our perceived leaders that wealth creation capable of evolving from conducive or enabling environment can extensively be achieved by a well articulated technology which simply means “An act or method of putting things that are not in existence into existence and those in existence could be modified and make best use of them”
Technology here as underlying factor, was adopted by the early scientists to guarantee the sustenance of infrastructure. Technology and politics inter-marries to provide the continued process of development of infrastructure for economic wellbeing of the people. Now, politics simply means; “the activities involved in using or taking powers in the public life and being able to influence decisions that affects the society or country”. By the definition of politics provided above, it is opined that the opportunity of leadership places some persons above others in the contemporary society thereby, empowers them to take superior decisions capable of subjecting people to societal obedience. It is under this arrangement that the process of elections become very useful as it produces a sole individual to head institutions where segmental number of people is put under control.
Conjunctionally, the way politics gives humans the frontline opportunity to display human leadership capabilities so technology gives the opportunity for infrastructure availability and sustainable advancement thereby, continue to make the environment much desirable for ecological habitation. Technology and politics becomes one of the veritable factors that drive human and environmental development. Countries that understands the practical meaning of these two factors, have never allowed one to work over the advantage of another. It is in this premise that critical political observers like us have continued to fault Nigeria Political Leaders who perhaps, ought to have used the political privileges to enthrone an attractive administrative culture capable of building world class economy. A tour around the various state capitals will give one an obvious reason to question the administrative Technicalities of State Governors. The capital cities that ought to provide examples of infrastructure placements where various types of superstructures are expected to be found remain lacking in this aspect. There is no city in Nigeria that one can find: Monorail, Underground rail, flyover traversing up to 10-20 kilometers, Modern car park, and adjourning bridges, industrial drainage system, ring roads, well planed designated commercial centers, uninterrupted power supply, Zero pothole, National park, national game village, and so on. At this technological age, Nigeria is still talking of patching or rehabilitation of roads, rehabilitation of locomotive railway track when countries that are pushing for a decentralized economy are building road infrastructure with more than a century guarantee, railway with electronically powered devices. At this age, Nigeria is still using estimated bill and climbing of electric pole with ladder to disconnect unpaid customer whereas small countries like Ghana has superseded prepaid meter with carding system.
We live in a country where the perceived political leaders travels out of the country with tax payers money for sight-seeing and come back with nothing to show for it. Why is our economy so much dependant on oil? This is because Nigeria parades low profile administrators who ought to have limited their political opportunities to their families rather than larger society where high profile administrators are needed. We live in a country where revenue is not plough back to environmental maintenance but into individual purse. A country that impoverishes her masses at the expense of corruption. We live in a country where incompetent leaders are rated high by sycophants, we live in a country where dwindling oil price in international market easily affects economic policies and execution of government programs. We live in a country where political leaders hold the destiny of economic progression of a country. We live in a country where economy cannot be separated from politics. We live in a country where when it is election period, the circulation of money suffers noticeable reduction owing to a common believe that politicians are hoarding it. We live in a country where the economy cannot determine the foreign exchange rate of naira. About five years ago, a dollar was put at one hundred and eleven naira (111:00). Today it has gone up to Two hundred and six naira (206:00). We live in a country where wastages exceed income due to lack of maintenance culture. We live in a country where leaders that have no performance record are given the opportunity to continue or chose a successor on grounds of consolidation. We live in a country where corruption is celebrated as political achievement, where Governors for obvious reason who ought not to have been conferred with a National award but become recipients because of their support or loyalty and not on merit. We live in a country where economic growth is demonstrated on paper and not on practical reality. We live in a country where politicians use exchange of verbal words rather than political achievements or issues to drive their political popularity. We live in a country where rather than economic achievements or the electorate to determine reelection, political party’s leadership or governors decides who gets what. Country that has failed to recognize the value population as the driving force for economic growth. How can a country with high population rate and large land mass afford to run an economy with proceeds from crude oil alone? How can a country survive economic expenditure with exportation of crude oil in exchange of importation of refined products? How can a country with huge hydrocarbon deposit deny its citizen the access to refine petroleum products? A country that so much depends on imported refined products leaving the existing refinery complex to remain without maintenance or optimal function. How can a country with natural, human and material resources continue to depend on foreign aid for economic survival and security solutions? The one billion dollar loan recently approved by the national assembly for purchase of arms was a clear indication that Nigeria runs a deficit economy otherwise, why would a country with so many claims about foreign reserves and crude oil sales depend on foreign loans for purchase of arms to fight insignificance insurgents?
A country that wants to run an inclusive economy, will always devise a means of developing rural economy by providing link or access roads, good market, water supply, electricity, farm implements for rural farmers, skill acquisition centers to check the rate of rural and urban migration amongst the youth. In Nigeria, we have a situation where the capital cities are decorated with glorified economy structures without effective utilization owing to poor power supply. Can the situation in Nigeria actually improve? Well, if I may suggest, I am of the view that those leaders who by foul means or fairness gained political advantage, should shun dishonesty, bigotry, incoherent, aggression, attacks on persons, and so on. Let them embrace political cohesion irrespective of party difference. They should find a common ground to plan and execute policies capable of turning our nation around since everybody is pursing Nigeria interest.
The commercial centers such as: Aba-Abia State, Onitsha-Anambra State, Lagos State, Cross-river State, PortHarcout-River State, Kano State, and so on should be given special economic recognition. Each State of the federation must be noted for its natural or characteristics activity aimed at building strong ceaseless revenue generation base. A commercial city like Aba does not suppose to suffer neglect or humiliation. The condition of Aba today, still poses a serious question on whether the state or federal government has any plan of upgrading commercial cities for increase revenue to reduce over dependence on oil revenue. Recall that when the current President (Dr Goodluck Jonathan) came to Aba as part of his campaign tour in 2011, as the current governor of Abia State (Chief T.A Orji) stood to address the crowd in the midst of protest where the people wanted to pelt him with pure water sachet, the President quickly intervened knowing why Aba residents rejected the governor before him. He made a promise by soliciting their support to vote for PDP that in turn, he will partner with the governor to make Aba a mega city. Four years after the empty or deceptive promise, Aba has grown worse than they met it in 2011. As big as Aba, the city has no flyover, Pedestrian lane (walkways), street light, traffic light, round about, Central sewage system, industrial drainage system, dualized road, Flood control system, railway system, silos, waste recycling plant to check the indiscriminate dumping of refuse on major street/roads, expansion frame work, and so on.
The popular Ukwu mango that leads Faults road to Portharcourt-Aba-Enugu Express road has been closed with refuse dump thereby reoccupied by traders and truck pushers. Incidentally, this road provides easy access that link the popular Ariaria Market to major express way. All the access and link roads in Aba are in total collapse and impassable example of those roads are: Obohia road linking to Osusu-Ohuru-Obohia in Ugwunagbo and Ukwa east, Ohanku road linking to Akanu-Ukegbengwa-Ohanku-Azumini in Ugwunagbo and Ukwa east, Opobo road linking to Akirika- Azumini-Ukanafun in Ukwa east and Akwa-Ibom, Ogbor-hill linking to Ikot-Ekpene, Portharcout linking to Osisioma, Faulks road linking to Portharcout-Aba-Enugu express road, Umuahia-Ikwuano linking to Akwa-Ibom State, and so on. Still on roads, the post amnesty project policy introduced, approved and commenced implementation by Late President Umaru Musa Yar’dua which accorded the nine oil producing states the opportunity to dualize existing single lane roads across the nine states. Examples of such roads are: Obehie-Azumini-Ukanafun, Abia and Akwaibom States, Portharcourt-Owerri road, Rivers and Imo States, and so on. Six years after the death of President Umaru Musa Yar’dua, these projects are still below Twenty percent (20%) completion. The ministry of Niger Delta Affairs (MNDA) whose responsibility is to implement the policy is suffering under funding occasioned by corruption.
Still on Aba, before now, Aba had optimally functional manufacturing industries that produced different kinds of goods and services thereby kept reducing Unemployment rate today, this industries are stone dead owing to government poor environmental handling. The high unemployment rate was as a result of government failure to resuscitate moribund industries and build ones. Aba in her huge commercial activities suppose to be provided with Airport, Seaport, University of Commerce and Industry, Super road infrastructure, City rail, Stable electricity, and so on. Rather than this, the insensitive government has left Aba in abject environmental disaster. Aba is completely eroded thereby forced it to suffer in isolation. There is no difference between the situation in Aba and other local government areas of Abia State. Abia State should be declared state of environmental emergency.
Let me state clearly here, that if the remodeling of Airport, claimed rehabilitation of railway, rehabilitation of road, Convocation of national conference, Rebuilding of amajiri Schools, fighting insurgents, celebrating Nigeria Centenary, Presidential foreign tours, hosting of world economic summit, citizen not run to exile and so on are performance indicators to drum support for second term, then Nigeria has no leadership problems. Let me remind those who drum support for non performing political leaders that South-Africa (SA) since independence in 1991, has built more than four world class cities viz: Johannesburg, Capetown, Preteoria, Portelizabeth, and so on. In terms of electricity supply, it remains one of the world acclaimed and Africa’s best country with power reliability as currently it generates one hundred thousand (100, 000) megawatts of electricity. South Africa along Kenya and Ethopia Parades the five best Airports in Africa respectively. Back home in Nigeria, rather than emulate South African Political and technological style, Nigerian Political Leaders are busy exchanging blows and verbal words to cover up incompetency. At 55 years of Independence we are still learning how to fix power, Judiciary, Education, Sports, Roads, Politics, Electoral Process, Housing, Cities, Transport, Aviation, Maritime, Agriculture, Force, Petroleum Industry, Security, Industry, Investment, Human Empowerment, and so on.
What we know best to do is how to parade low profile administrators to continue to ruin our economy thereby present us in a bad light before the international community.
SOLUTIONS: Can there ever be solutions to these daunting challenging situations facing Nigeria? Yes! I see great future for Nigeria if only the needful shall be done.
According to the biblical injunction “there is diversity of gift but operational in the same Spirit” This goes to remind us that National Interest is what plays a collective/Central role here. It therefore brings to mind that both the Leaders of various Political Parties, Ethnic Nationality, Various forms or arms of government, and so on are driving to achieve one specific goal which is Nigerian wellbeing. It will be a great disservice to this country if our political Leaders should continue to bicker over who controls power when the problem of Nigeria is not actually on who controls power but on who drives the process. Power gives one the ability to oversee the process while the driving of process brings the collection of diversified individuals to pursue a common agenda capable of placing the interest of a nation above individual interest no matter how highly placed. After elections, those who emerge victorious on various elective positions beginning from the President to Chairman of a Local government should supersede party interest with National Interest. The governors and houses of assembly should allow Local government councils to function according to the constitutional provisions. Where the Local government has the constitutional responsibility to provide governance for the grass root. The governors, House of assembly, Local government, and so on have their functions according to their constitution. In the principle of separation of power, everybody must play by the rule to respect and justify the constitutional provisions which was sworn to an oath to uphold. Some of our political leaders behave like dog that eats the bone hung on its neck. Constitutionally, the affairs of Local government was put under the supervision of state governors but the unconstitutional handling of local government by the governors due to joint account with the state, has put local government in a very tight corner thereby make it like a toothless dog that barks but cannot bite. The Nigerian political leaders should endeavor to drive the process of Nigeria Unity with the working document handed to us by our founding fathers. We should avoid sentiment, deceit, vested interest, self aggrandizement, propaganda, destructive criticism especially where a certain political leader is performing well. Until the constitution states otherwise, it is Improper to use the police Force against a law maker who defected from a political party to another when it is obvious that the law maker was elected by his constituency as a lawmaker as well as elected on the floor of the house by members of different political party as a speaker respectively. Political leaders should allow maturity and not self to drive democracy after all, tenure of office is not meant to last longer. In Ekiti State, a situation where seven lawmakers out of Twenty six impeaches the speaker in opposition party with the executive governor, is not a welcome development. To me, there is absolutely nothing wrong in having the majority of the lawmakers in opposition party with the governor. Where maturity and mutual understanding are allowed to play a leading role, the difference will not be noticed.
For democracy to have human face and entrench the culture of easy access, Nigeria political leaders have a major role to play in uniting the masses given that no people oriented leadership has been enthroned to galvanize the citizens into driving the process of placing Nigeria economy on the world perspective.
(Nwaigwe is Coordinator, Abia Rescue Movement (ARM). He writes from Ohuru-Ndoki Community, Ukwa East LGA Abia State. He can be reached via: 08062836738)