Understanding Nigeria’s Problem (2)


Hafsat Abiola-Costello

Uba Group

While students of African history may find the judgement that development was never really on the agenda a little harsh (after all, what else were the likes of Awolowo in Sout West Nigeria, Sankara of Burkina Faso and Cabral of Cape Verde about?), his basic point is valid.

Many an attempt to put in place a pro-development agenda has floundered on the faultlines of the political conditions inherited during the colonial rule. It is a near miracle, it seems, to build a nation out of the tower of babel that is the majority of countries in Africa, much less one where the differing groups would be willing to generate and sustain consensus around a development agenda.

Result being that resources now simply get directed at maintaining power for whatever group has the good luck to control the state, by any means, fair or foul. If the goal in Nigeria is development, then the political conditions must be transformed.

As Chido Onumah reminds us in his 2014 publication, Nigeria is Negotiable, Bola Ige set out the simple challenge facing Nigeria: “There are two basic questions that must be answered by all of us Nigerians. One, do we want to continue as one country? And two, if the answer is yes, under what conditions?” Along with putting in place conditions acceptable to the different groups in Nigeria, our leaders will need to transform our political institutions to ones capable of directing resources toward areas that will yield the highest returns in terms of productivity.

However, rebuilding institutions is dependent on putting in place a credible political arrangement. In 2014, we marked 100 years since the amalgamation of the northern and southern protectorates of Nigeria and in October we clocked 55 years since independence.

This is a good time to bury a system that isn’t meant to work on behalf of the people within Nigeria and fashion a practical arrangement that can foster stable negotiations between constituting ethnic nationalities. This is the only

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