Aregbesola identifies reasons for Nigeria’s underdevelopment

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Minister of Interior, Rauf Aregbesola, has blamed the poor state of development in the country on the huge population of unemployed people in the land. He equally called for a review of the nation’s model of federalism to enable the federating units to unlock their various potentials for the benefit of the country and its people.

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Aregbesola stated this at a one-day dialogue on tracking campaign promises for good governance, organised by the online tabloid, NPO Reports in Abuja.

The former Governor of Osun State dismissed the perception in some quarters that once elected, politicians do not care about fulfilling the electioneering promises they made, noting that as a governor of Osun State, he regularly monitored his performance based on set targets.

“Why is Nigeria having challenges? It is simple! We have no revenue. A country of 200 million with less than 10 per cent working and productive population and you think there will be development? No! Development is impossible. There is no revenue. Even our per capital income from oil, assuming nothing is even taken out of it, is nothing.

“There is a knowledge gap, and I don’t want to sound self-righteous. There is a lot of confusion but there should be no confusion. Nigeria is not the only federation in the world. Australia is a federation.

“India is a federation; America is a federation as well as Brazil. How are other federations run? There is no third tier of government in a federation. There are only two tiers of government in a federation. We need to educate ourselves on what a federation is.

“How are federations run and why should our own be different? Why are the local governments not working in Nigeria? Why are local governments working in India? Why are they working in Germany and America? They are not working here because they are not self-sustaining. Counties and City councils which are the equivalent of local governments fund themselves.

“They only live on handouts here and that is where the challenge comes from. What is wrong is not what the media is looking at. No recipient of the handout can be responsible.

“Whoever depends on the handout, cannot be responsible. He will be answerable for where the money comes from. If you ask him to run, he will run. There is no dignity in charity. This is where Nigeria is having challenges,” Aregbesola said.

On the importance of tracking project execution based on electioneering campaign promises, the Minister said, “As a governor, I had the Bureau of Social Services which was an overall institutional body that ensured that every programme of the government was measured. Its acronym was BOSS, and its job was to serve as boss. Its job was to ensure that everything we set out to do was evaluated and reported.

“In my office, I had a body called Policy and Economic Team. The body was to ensure that everything the governor set out to do was done. On my own, bi-annually, I engaged consultants to do an open assessment of our administration, to evaluate the perception of government as to how the people expected us to perform,” he added.

On his part, the immediate past governor of Kwara State, Abdulfatai Ahmed enjoined Nigerians to look out for those who have what it takes mentally and intellectually to deliver on their campaign promises.

While not mentioning any names, the former governor added that those with a genuine desire to serve the people must be willing to engage with them to speak on the ‘how’ of their strategies to address the challenges of governance, if elected.

“What is the quality of those who are making the campaign promises? Do we bother to check their capacities to carry out the jobs? Do we check their suitability? Do we check their mental alertness? These are areas that are also relevant in making our choices.

“This is 2023 and we are faced with another great task of choosing new leaders that will shape this country. How well are we involved in looking at those who are going to run? Have we checked if they have the mental alertness to drive those campaign promises encapsulated in the budget?

“Have they been able to engage with us about how they are going to do it? Anybody can say anything. How have they demonstrated knowledge of the issues they are making promises on? If they have not been able to tell us how through one-on-one engagement, then they are not ready,” he stressed.