Nigeria’s political and economic leadership appears stuck in the mud. When you get stuck in the mud, often, you are not able to move freely. You will be lucky if the mud is not the quicksand type, otherwise you are likely to find yourself sinking. It is amazing how it is that the country has not sunk despite all the evil that its political and economic leaders have unleashed on it.
Many say it is because Nigeria is a peculiar country, that is why with all the stories you hear about the country, especially the one to do with corruption and how much has been stolen since independence, that we are still here and still have a country. It seems to us that there has never been any clarity as to where this country is headed at any point in time. That what we have in terms of political and economic leadership and governance are just routine behaviours, nothing particularly significant planned to make a big difference.
The country has been saddled at different times with leaders who, when they had ideas, had evil in their hearts and ended up not executing those ideas, rather used them to loot the country blind. And those who had no big ideas about moving the country forward, have shown their incompetence and have kept us back, in a world where the 4th Industrial Revolution has gained ground and is the subject of many discussions about how progress can be made.
We have had governments who considered themselves as thin gods that should be worshipped. During military rule, we thought we understood that the circumstances made us powerless and, therefore, could be treated with disdain without complaining. We have found that it appears to be in the character of our political leadership, 19 years after the return to an uninterrupted democratic rule, that the people who elected the officials do not matter. Electorates wait endlessly for progress to be made and for their government to do significantly big things that would touch the lives of many at a time. But they would seem to wait endlessly, until the stage is called for another to assume office.
Nigeria needs to significantly touch the lives of its people in a significant way; in ways that take sufferings away. We think that the shameless acceptance of a life of endless suffering as the lot of the people is borne out of wickedness. It cannot be anything less. In densely populated cities across the country, you will see suffering writ large on the faces of people. The current government will throw blames here and throw blames there, working hard to excuse itself. We know that has always been the routine behaviour of governments in Nigeria. So it is not new.
But we think that giving the huge catch up that we need to do, government should be thinking really big things, mega things that can affect the lives of many, not just the few. Across the country, at Federal, State and Local Governments, there is a huge need to shut our eyes to seeing differences and identifying real economic challenges faced by each and every part of the country and do great by the people to solve or reduce them.
One area that we think that there should be a federal-wide focus, would be in new cities development, for the purpose of economic growth and expansion. We are of the view that the routine nature of governance, of the going round in circle type, has not brought real development to the people. Here are our reasons.
City development for economic expansion and growth has not really been a pursuit of any government. The Federal Government, after deciding to move to Abuja, has focused its attention on developing the capital, which it has done in a never-ending manner. The significant other city developments that Nigeria has witnessed have happened only with the creation of new states, the consequence of which have followed new state capitals, left to the respective new states to develop. This pattern of city development, which has been the lot of Nigeria since independence, points to the collective failure of our leaders since independence.
Every state in Nigeria, besides its capital city, has more than two other places that ought to be fully developed like the capital city. In Lagos, Rivers, Cross River, Kano, Kaduna, Bornu, Jigawa, Delta, Edo, Kwara, and the other 26 states, we are of the view that elected governors, when they come into office, should have a mandate to work to develop alternative cities, offering similar attributes like the state capitals and serving as alternative centres of complete living, without the need for everybody to concentrate on the capital of the state.
For instance, in Akwa-Ibom, Uyo should not be the only city of attraction. Eket, should be a city like Uyo. We think that governors owe the citizens a duty to use this concept of building new cities as a basis for economic expansion and development that offers inclusiveness and the opportunity for alternative city living. It is what would help stop the rot that is political leadership, where nobody leaves a legacy, and nobody is remembered for much else after leaving office, because what they actually do is the basic routine of governance.