Written by Dr. E. O Eke
A nation that wishes to survive, does not pursue polices that divide the people along primordial fault lines. It does not emphasise indigenousness but rather citizenship.
A nation that wishes to survive, does not pursue polices that divide the people along primordial fault lines. It does not emphasise indigenousness but rather citizenship. In Nigeria, indigenousness has assumed more significance than citizenship. State governments in several parts of Nigeria are discriminating against Nigerian citizens because they are not indigenes of the area. For many years, states in the North only employ southerners in its civil and public services on contracts. Currently, some states have resorted to expelling non-indigenes from its public and civil services.
This retrogressive, undemocratic and discriminatory practice is assuming a sinister dimension. This is Apartheid practised on Nigerians by Nigerians, in a country that claims that it is serious about remaining one and united. People who have suffered from this discrimination leave with their faith in Nigeria shattered and very unlikely to believe in it as a country. They would be very vocal for understandable reasons, in the agitation for mono-ethnic states and break up of Nigeria. This is just one example of how government policies are aiding the break up Nigeria.
Great nations are built on the principles of equality, tolerance and respect for individual liberty, and not on corruption, mono- ethnic prejudices, discrimination and intolerance. The policy of expelling from states civil services, Nigerians who even though have lived all their lives in a state but not indigenous to the state, is one of the greatest threats to the continuing existence of Nigeria as a united nation. If President Jonathan is serious about the continuing existence of Nigeria as a united Country, he should bring this practice to an immediate end, and all the people dismissed from their jobs restored to their posts.
To survive as a Nation, Nigeria should be pursuing policies that enhance integration, abolish discriminations, enhance the devolution of power to the regions and empower its citizens through safeguarding their fundamental human rights. These are the policies that ensure the viability and survival of countries as multi ethnic states.
These policies would drastically reduce the cost of government, unite the people and ensure accountability. People who claim that they are federalists drive the current policies, but are actually people who believe in mono-ethnic nations of Nigeria and support the balkanisation of Nigeria. These people have benefited from Nigeria and are more interested only in policies that would enable them keep their acquired advantage and will support the break of Nigeria because it would preserve their own selfish interests. Underneath the agitation for further degree of autonomy to the different ethnic nations that make up Nigeria, is selfish individualism and insularity. They offer no plan of how they would contribute to the development of other parts of Nigeria from which they have benefited from. Many of them cite the Switzer- land model for Nigeria but fail to state that resources from a particular region do not support Switzerland.
They want to have their own nation within Nigeria, sustained with natural resources from another part of Nigeria, which bear the ecological consequences of the extraction of the resources. This is wrong, unfair and utterly selfish. Nigeria should either exist as one country or break up into as many nations as the people want. There cannot be a fair arrangement outside a single indivisible country founded on equality, tolerance, rule of law and liberty.
Therefore, I would argue that the Nigerian government change the direction of Nigeria’s development from state creation to regional governments’ development and integration. This would result in the establishment of between three and six regional houses of assemblies instead of thirty-six at the moment.
The monumental savings would bring development to the regions that would be dwarfed by anything that can be achieved through state creation. This is pure simple economics of scale and common sense devoid of prejudices. This will end one of the most stupid things Nigeria is doing which is fragmentation and duplication of government, which is why it spends about eighty per cent of its resources on government and has very little for real development.
This is one of the formulae that can ensure the survival of Nigeria as a united, viable and peaceful nation. No IMF or World Bank recommendations will bring down the cost of government in Nigeria to the point where real development and security would be possible, if we fail to seriously restructure the system of our government. We are the ones who will choose to make Nigeria viable or allow it to disintegrate.
Nigeria does not need thirty-six corrupt governors; state chief judges and millions of civil servants. We must learn to do more with less and stop doing less with more. Regional integration will safeguard the future of Nigeria, lay the foundation for her emergence as an African giant and even provide a conducive democratic plat- form should any region finally decides to go its own way as an independent nation.
The beauty of regional integration is that the states in a particular region can make a good economic argument for it and can find existing legal framework within the present constitution to go about it. What it requires is the will of the people and visionary leadership by incorrupt leaders.
Dr. Eke formerly Medical Director and senior medical officer of health in Nigeria is a specialist in child, adolescent and adult psychiatry. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org