The recent massive corruption exposures in Nigeria and the continuous citizen’s seemingly ignorance on those that are actually responsible and accountable to them based on the system practiced in the country, prompted me to write this article.
It is unfortunate that in spite of the fact that some states in Nigeria collect in excess of 17 billion naira every month from statutory allocations, which excludes several billions of naira and millions of dollars more in taxes, rents, fees, 13% derivation revenue, royalties, ecological funds, domestic and foreign grants as well as billions of naira and dollars secured from domestic and foreign loans, the citizens of these states and even some of their governors, still blame the President and Federal government for their problems, which many have described as willfully diverting attention from their responsibilities and possibly ignorance.
On the other hand, some local governments in Nigeria collect as much as 160 million naira every month from statutory allocations in the average, while some rich ones in industrial zones rake in additional more than 300 million naira every month from internally generated revenues IGRs, but despite all that as well, the citizens of these LGAs and even some of their Chairmen, still blame the President and Federal government for their problems
Take for instance; a great majority of Nigerians on social media shouting and directing their anger to the president and the federal authorities cannot even mention the name of any of their state deputy governors or local government chairmen since 1999, not even one, nor have they seen or heard from them before even on radio or television, but all of them forming objective critics, would conveniently tell the world how they witness the way Buhari is slapping his Vice, Osinbajo every day. They can swear with the holy books that Buhari is maltreating Osinbajo and his family, have stripped him of all powers, portfolio and have chased him out of Aso Rock. Even when Osinbajo is busy and seen everyday holding one form of meeting or the other. The more ignorant ones even go as far as telling the world that Buhari has killed and buried him, while they saw Osinbajo’s wife crying for her husband to be returned to her.
As a matter of fact and to the amazement of many reasonable ones in our midst, this same set of people do not know, have not heard nor have seen their state deputy governor or local government chairman before, neither do they know how much comes into their states or local governments every month and where the money is or went into. But they know how much Buhari paid for his son’s power bike, how Buhari is not wearing shoes to address the nation and how much is his wife’s hand bag and wrist watch. They know how much Buhari has borrowed, but do not know how their state governors & LG chairmen which is supposed to be the nearest to them have managed or mismanaged their states & LGs resources. They may not even know that a huge percentage of the total debt portfolio they ascribe to Buhari and the federal government is actually owed by their states & LGs.
A good example was when several huge bailout and Paris club funds were given to the states in the country by the Federal administration. In spite of the reported mismanagement of these funds by the various governments, how many of these people cared to ask questions of where their money went to.
The funny aspect of it is that many don’t tend to realize that what is being practiced in Nigeria is the federal system of government, where the percentage of responsibility of the government at the center to the people at various states is about 20 percent while the rest is shared between the states and the local government. That is why in every state in Nigeria, the federal government has few infrastructures such as Schools, Roads, Hospitals etc. Even in the number of workers, States have more.
But if the people insist by their behaviors that the federal government should be directly responsible for all the national problems as they seem to project now, then let’s start pushing for a unitary system of government, which is the most common type of administration in the world today.
In fact of the 193 United Nations member countries, 166 have a unitary system of government, while only about 25 are practicing federal system which Nigeria is one of them and in Africa for instance, only three countries: Nigeria, Ethiopia and the Comoros have federal system of government
One major advantage of a unitary system is that the responsibilities and powers of government tend to be fairly clear-cut. It Sets uniform policies that direct the entire nation, the regional or state administrators are usually appointed by the head of state who can easily fire them when they don’t perform. For instance, when the federal government gave bailouts to the states to settle huge salaries, many of them misused it even after the president pleaded with them to use the money for that purpose. Such cannot happen in a unitary system of government. It is also far cheaper than the federal system where billions are wasted every year on numerous appointees and elected officers, with little or nothing left for actual development. For instance, it has a single and decisive legislature, a simple management of the economy and the government are smaller.
A unitary system as it is in a place like Ghana and most countries including United Kingdom, Algeria, China, France, South Africa, Japan, Morocco, Netherlands, Spain, Sweden, Portugal, Poland, Kenya, Egypt, Finland and many more, allows for quick decision-making. The central government is directly responsible for the entire development of the country, which makes development more likely to be even and uniform, the same standard of federal roads, hospitals, schools etc are built everywhere as all part of the federation belong to the federal government, nothing like infrastructures belonging to state or local government, which have always remained dormant as the local government is practically not existing and funds meant for them are usually diverted.
What many Nigerians do not know is that in a federal system as it is in Nigeria, the states are almost completely independent, the states do virtually everything for the people, that is why a country like the US which Nigeria copied their federal system, the states are so independent to the extent that if a state like California is made a country today, it should be about the third richest country in the world. A state like Texas produces over 120,000MW of electricity. Dubai which many people have thought is a country of its own belongs to the UAE federal system and through its Dubai investment corporation even owns the biggest airline in the middle east and among the best in the world, known as the Emirates Airlines.
In such countries, the people usually refer to the government nearest to them for most of their needs. But in Nigeria’s federal system, out of what some people have described as unawareness or ignorance many citizens target Abuja for everything without holding their governors or local government chairmen responsible for anything.
Okay see the amount of corruption being unearthed from the Niger Delta Development Commission NDDC now, the same region that has cried and made trouble for many years due to what they described as neglect and marginalization. I just came about the following report which indicated that; from 2001, Six years and $12bn turned Dubai to what it is today, while NDDC started in 2000, $40bn (15Trn) and 20 years later they have nothing. Could you imagine that, still many citizens of that region go to the internet, social media and other places to attack the federal government for not doing anything for them.
Until the people understand how the system operates and hold those responsible for their funds, the country will continue to go round and round with no end.
Unfortunately, it seems Nigeria is the only country the federal authority is attacked by the citizens, even more than those that are operating a unitary system where their government at the center is fully responsible to them up to the grassroots. In most federal systems, the populace hardly make any reference to their central government for their needs, because they know quite well where their money is domiciled and controlled.
There is nothing wrong in holding the federal government responsible, especially when it comes to the specific things they are supposed to do for the people, but it is wrong when those who are supposed to account to the majority of the people are allowed to continue in their business as usual way, while all attentions, attacks, criticism and complaints are ignorantly directed to a complete different angle. Because if the people remain naive and allow them to continue to mismanage their funds, there can never be any meaningful development or positive change in their lives, even if the best performing federal authority is in place. This is due to the fact that the system of government practiced in Nigeria made it that way.