GLOBALIZATION, INEQUALITY, INSECURITY AND THE PARLIAMENT: BALANCING THE EXPECTATION AND REALITY
BEING A LECTURE DELIVERED BY HON. (PROF.) STEVE SINIKIEM AZAIKI, OON AT THE FINAL BURIAL RITES OF LATE ALHAJI (CHIEF) ABDUL-LATEEF AKINREMII ADISA AND CELEBRATION OF HIS LEGACIES, HELD AT EMERITUS PROFESSOR THEOPHILOUS OGUNLESHI HALL, OPPOSITE UCH MAIN GATE,
IBADAN, OYO STATE, FRIDAY 20TH MARCH, 2020
Introductory, Conceptual and Theoretical Perspectives
The world, and in fact, human race is in constant flux. It is moving and advancing day by day, to where only God knows. From the primordial to modern and postmodern times, man has always tried to make life more meaningful for himself and society. And that simply put is “technology” which is the application of man’s knowledge: natural or scientific knowledge, so to speak, in improving the way things are done in various spheres of life. With the developments going on in the world, persons, organizations or countries not ready to move along with the trends, will be left behind. Many are indeed already lagging behind and are perpetually depending on those ahead of them to survive. Where Nigeria belongs, might best be imagined by you.
Remarkable phases of developments that have taken place in the world since after the Paleolithic Age to the agricultural and the industrial revolutions, especially that of the 19th Century which revolutionized the world. The most remarkable invention is the computer, an era which Toffler (1950) describes as the “Third Wave” or the Third Revolution” in his famous book, The Third Wave. Computer technology has advanced to the stage that nearly every activity, and everything is aided by the use of computers, in the form of Information Communication Technologies (ICTs) that are able to enhance processing of information, communication and interactions at unimaginable access, speed, quantity and quality. And this is even made more effective and useful with the invention of the internet by the Advanced Research Projects Agency Net (APANET) of America in 1969; World Wide Web by Berners Lee in 1989 and his later addition of search engine (web browser) in 1990; mobile telecommunication technologies (Sawyer and Williams, 2005). Artificial intelligence devises such as robots and drones are also serving useful purposes in all sectors. The internet is expected to revolutionize human and organizational activities even the more, as the Internet of Things (IoT) is designed to connect every electronic, mechanical and all other things to the internet, for a possible full virtual life, close to reality, and to be managed by real artificial intelligence system not controlled by man, or easily avoided by people who do not want to be connected (Cyril, 2018). This is predicted as the next most wonderful revolution in the world.
These technologies, used together under convergence model, and in addition to new media technologies, for instance, the social media, which are also now integrated with the conventional mass media of radio, television and print media, have even enhanced information processing, communication, management of organizations, far better than before. Thus, we are in a period which was since envisioned as Post-industrial society, also known as Information Age or Information Society (Bell, 1973; Toffler, 1950). It is an era in which information or knowledge is power, and must be acquired and shared if people, organizations or countries are to grow and catch up with their counterparts in a knowledge-based economy, without depending solely on agricultural or manufacturing activities.
All these take us to the concept of globalization, an outcome of the ICTs and media advancements in the world, as well as a propeller of the developments in ICTs and new media technologies, given the world’s need for greater need for virtual interdependence and interactions. Though taken less seriously at the early stage of its emergence as a concept pioneered by Marshal McLuhan, the Canadian literary and media scholar since 1964, when he predicted “a Global Village”, the idea of globalization has come to stay. It is more or less a revolutionary phase of its own. Though connected to many other variables, Globalization will however remain as a permanent feature in human life. But there will be more innovations in CTs and the knowledge economy until consumed by the expected rapture, as in the Christian doctrine.
Since after its emergence as a concept and driving force in human race, more thinkers, have influenced its use for direction of activities in different fields. For instance, Eric Elinder, followed by Theodore Levitt in 1983, influenced the application of globalization theory/strategies in the expansion of companies and exporting of standardized or homogenized (same home) products to foreign markets, after which the need arose to differentiate or adapt products to the needs of the foreign users (De Mooij, 1994). Today, globalization as observed by Appadorai (cited in Thussu, 2000), has become a force to reckon with in social, cultural, economic, political, diplomatic, technological, media, educational, military, religious, health, environmental sectors and interactions among peoples, societies, organizations and countries of the world. And these interactions are taking place without much hindrances from artificial and natural barriers, as it was in the past.
The concept has been looked at in various ways. In general perspective, the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) cited in Guth and Marsh (2003), defines globalization as “growing interdependence of the world’s people through shrinking space and time, and the killing [of] of the distance.” What this simply means is that the physical distance and time spent for interactions, communication and other kinds of transactions have been reduced by technologies, especially ICTs and media technologies. The reductions in physical distance, time and other artificial barriers are however psychic. What this means is that, they are felt only in our minds, as they still exist physically, but the need for smoother relationships have only made them to be relaxed for better cooperation among countries and continents in various aspects.
Three schools of thought exist in the subject of globalization, in terms of value. One assumes mutual benefits for the whole world, irrespective of class of nations and continents. Another school of thought says globalization is not devoid of class system in international relationships of any sort because the developed countries who are at the helm of technological and media advancements are after their own benefits, thus it is neo-imperialism or soft way of re-colonizing the developing or lesser countries. The third school of thought advocates a middle ground the good and the bad aspects, and urges adopting the good aspects, for instance, technology or culture, and adapting same to ones’ home country.
The third perspective, takes us to the concepts and strategies of think global, act local; act local, think global. These have been summed up by Robertson (cited in Thussu, 2000) as glocalization, which entails the global and the local meeting mutually. Thus the concept of globalization has been re-coined to down play the perceived imperial motive to outdo the lesser nations.
In this paper, I will adopt the third school of thought for analysis. It is captured by hybrid theory, as the theoretical framework of this paper. Hybrid theory advocates that there is no need to be debating about the merits and demerits of globalization or that globalization is a new imperialism weapon, but that instead the good aspects of foreign cultures, technology, economics, politics, education and ideas should be fused with the indigenous (O’Shaughnessy and Stradler, 2005; Ekeanyanwu, 2013; Croteau and Hoynes, 2003).
In my analysis in the main part, the paper will relate the arguments to Nigeria, first on the premise of whether the country is matching along with the trends of globalization in terms of development, and then anchor the discussions on two variables, equality and insecurity, which are vital indices for progress. Thereafter, I will highlight legislative panaceas for the advancement of Nigeria in the global village. In doing all these, the paper will take cognizance of the role of centripetal (a federal-based) and centrifugal (state-based) forces as models formulated for discussing and propelling the advancement of Nigeria and its components, using legislative panaceas. I will also recommend executive-based solutions as well since the two arms might not be easily separated in the quest for good governance and development.
The next section is the major part of this paper. The discussion will follow the above outline. But arguments will be drawn from both international and local perspectives. The points of view will be for and against globalization. Accordingly, the paper will adjust the riders in the tittle a bit, by considering globalization as an equalizer and dis-equalizer as well as security enabler and cause of insecurity, with foreign and local insights.
Equality and Inequality
These two concepts or situations, exists side by side. They are therefore, two sides the same coin. Equality is a state of equal rights over all aspects of life; balance, fairness, equity, justice; self-determination and absence of domination in human relationships. Inequality is the reverse of these principles. However, there can be no absolute state of equality in human relations.
As ancient philosophers theorized, man is naturally selfish and wicked, thus would prefer to live in a state of nature, where society will be a jungle and only the strongest will survive and dominate the others. Therefore, the formation of State, that is government, became necessary to control the excesses of man.
Yet, even the formation of the Polity or State in which man is to submit himself to the authority in charge, and where laws and penalties exist as systems of control, the domineering and brutish nature of man has not been totally put under control. Hence the Marxian thinking that the struggle to acquire power and dominate those who do not have economic and political privileges, underlies every human relationships and the resultant conflicts in society.
However, society ideally desires a situation in which there is equality in all spheres of life, even if not absolute, but to a good extent. This, many advanced societies have attained, even though some got to that stage after many problems too. Instances are France where equality and justice are the hallmark of good human relations and governance, and America where the right to self-determination, pursuance of individual aspirations and loyalty to the nation are the basic guiding principles of life and governance. These in addition to respect for diversity are also the secrets of stability and development in those countries, which have passed through worst times than many countries, yet are leading in global politics and global economy because they value ideologies and frontally confront national problems.
On the contrary, here we have Nigeria and some other developing African countries which are yet to address the basic principles of human relations such as equality, protection of human rights, including lives and property as well as provision of basic needs of the people, even before aspiring to be reckoned with in the global village as a developed and powerful nation. Our graffiti as Giant of Africa, rather leaves much to be desired, haven being unpatriotically stereotyped even by ourselves as the sleeping and snoring Giant, who has refused to wake up from slumber to catch up with the contemporary developments in the world.
Nigeria’s problem, be it distrust, disunity, lack of patriotism, ethnic chauvinism and rivalries, underdevelopment or insecurity can indeed be summed up in the word “inequality”. The inequality could be mainly traced to colonization by the British colonialist which instituted its imperial administration in the Niger Area, after revoking the Charter of the Royal Niger Company in 1900; merged Lagos and the Southern Protectorates in 1906, and Fredrick Lord Luggard merged diverse and independent ancient kingdoms from the North and South into one entity in 1914, to form Nigeria, without their consents. Though, considered as a good for bringing about a big and plural country, it is also the fundamental prelude to inequality in the post-independent Nigeria.
Events after independence, have also affirmed this problem of inequality in post-colonial Nigeria in the past military coups, elections and census crises as well as the civil war. Till date, events in the country, have continued to attract blames to the former colonialist who did the amalgamation. The furry goes to them mostly from the vexed sections of the country.
One can recall from history, that Late Chief Obafemi Awolowo never considered the Nigerian Federation as a true federal union that can guarantee equality, unity and the much needed balanced development, instead, that it is a mere geographical expression with suzerainty, as he put it. He cautioned against problems that would arise from disunity, if the right system was not put in place, an advocacy seen as right by the then Sarduana of Sokoto, late Sir Ahmadu Bello (Oloyede, 1988). Although some of his colleagues did not understood nor trusted his permutations about the Nigerian Federation, the falsity of the system banqueted by the colonialist became apparent.
And that perverted federalism, which though would have been good for a diverse artificial State like Nigeria in terms of large population and army as well as common wealth, has been the cause of the structural cause of inequality and conflict. This is because the federation is an imposed one, and its current constitution of 1999 is not a consensus, yet is fraudulently introduced as “We the people of Nigeria”, and also imposed on the diverse former independent ethnic nationalities of over 250 with languages far more than that.
The antiques of the federal system in practice and the politics of elections, military regimes, census and revenue allocations, as well as the aforesaid constitution, have created a lopsided polity, thus perpetually putting some sections of the country in disadvantaged positions, and created sentiments and polarities. The number of states in a part of the country is one third of the entire 36 states, same way it has more local government areas, senatorial districts and federal constituencies, more than the rest sections of the country.
These are in addition to the quota system which has discouraged competition and merit in admission into federal schools and employment into federal establishments, thereby promoting mediocrity and ineffectiveness in our systems.
Leadership slots for apex positons of governance and in various institutions, besides lopsidedness in the number of ministers and heads of important departments and agencies, when viewed from the point of zonal imbalance in the number of local governments and states, is another form of inequality and obstacle to even development.
These ugly arrangements as I said earlier is structural, and meant to condition and subjugate some sections of the country. The rest parts of the country could hardly speak in one voice or put all their votes together to win debates in the parliament or a general election like presidential. Even the structural arrangements of derivation allocation and development commissions created as palliatives for the oil-rich but impoverished Niger Delta region, for instance cannot erase the imbalances, let alone commensurately develop or mitigate the environmental disasters in the region, compared to the quantum of monies taken from its soil for over a decade now.
The revenues from Lagos, next to Niger Delta’s, cannot also equate the supposed benefits of the skewed federal system, especially as also does not get equitable attention for its contributions to the central coffers. Imagine that revenues from alcohol, derived mostly from Lagos are freely accepted by zones that forbade the product. All these, are retarding development of the whole country, which ought to be a leader in a real continental and global leader in politics, economics and technology.
But it wasn’t so from the Sir Littelton Constitution of 1954 to 1959 shortly before the military incursions which truncated true fiscal federalism and resource control by the regions whose economies were powered by cash crops, and they paid taxes to the Federal Government. That however changed in somehow due to the discovery of oil in commercial quantities at Oloibiri-Ogbia in present Bayelsa State, until date.
And that is where Nigeria missed its steps on the economic ladder, and has not been able to climb up again till date. And we are pretending as if the problem is not known. Due to sectional interest, we have not mustered the political will to do frontally address the problem to let the country move on. Instead, the politics of state and local government creation and cat and mouse game over revenue allocation from the federal level, took centre stage. The economy has since then remained a mono-product dependent economy and revenues from just one or a few parts have been servicing the country, and led to the death of non-oil investments by the Federal Government and states.
Heightened awareness about the negative effects of the skewed federal system and uneven development, led to a clamour for sovereign national conference by the Yoruba elites, and demand for resource control from the Niger Delta political leaders and freedom fighters. The essence was to dialogue on how best to live together mutually and also allow various states or zones manage their natural endowments. In place of sovereign national conference, the Goodluck Jonathan Administration convoked a national conference in 2014, which resolutions were not implemented before the tenure ended.
Since then, there have been renewed agitations for restructuring of the political and administrative structures of the country to create balance or promote self-determination at the state, local or zonal levels. The renewed clamours have been fueled by the rising waves of nepotism; ethno-religious conflicts, a collapsing economy, poverty, hunger, crime and social vices.
Yet, Nigeria luckily exists in a global village with vista of opportunities in a liberal world politics and world economy where there is freer, faster and easier movement of goods, capital, funds, personnel, outsourcing and franchising of services; access to media and information, ideas, cultures, technologies, especially boom in ICTs hardware and software development; foreign direct investments; education; tourism; new markets; military cooperation; joint global fight against terrorism, pandemics and other cross-border crimes; joint-management of natural disasters; greater per-capita income, GNP and GDP; online transactions among other benefits. These are some of the benefits of globalization as counted by some scholars (for instance, O’Shaughenessy and Sadler, 2005; Burton, 2005; Thussu, 2000; Crouteau and Hoynes, 2003; UNESCO, 1997, cited in Thussu, 2000).
Globalization is criticized as enabling the developed countries to pursue new imperial motives of acquiring cheap foreign raw materials and labour to produce and massively sell their goods to developing countries and repatriating huge profits to develop their home countries; spreading their economic and political ideologies to the whole world and dominating cultures of other countries (Thussu, 2000; De Mooij, 1994).
But, Nigeria should rather take advantage of globalization to boost its own progress, considering the advantages stated earlier. She could do so through political will, well-purposed policies; adequate investments in education and research to encourage its own inventions and discoveries; provide right atmosphere for foreign direct investments; diversify the economy, especially to ICTs, tourism and entertainment, as well as adopt foreign ideas or technologies and adapt to her situation and needs. These have worked in emergent economies like those of China, United Arab Emirate, Malaysia and others. Right here in Africa, Rwanda is getting it right, better than many African countries including ours, using global ideas and strategies, besides leadership will, to bolster up her economy, despite the destructive genocide it once faced.
Lack of pragmatic leadership, political will, corruption, ethno-religious considerations and pretentions about the problems of the country, especially to retool its lopsided, inauspicious and retrogressive federal system and the skewed constitutional provisions are however preventing Nigeria from getting to where it should have been, in the comity of nations in the global village. These also account for the festering conflicts and insecurities of all kinds in Nigeria.
Security and Insecurity
Insecurity is a state of not being safe. It is a state of uncertainty in which human life, property, organizations, communities, ethnic nationalities and countries are not sure of safety or protection by government. It could be a feeling arising from experience of actual unpleasant happenings or the actual experience itself. There could be insecurity in all facets of life. Thus, there are insecurity of lives and property; food insecurity; political, ethnic, economic, religious, social, cultural, military, educational and environmental insecurities, among others. Security or safety is the exact opposite of insecurity.
Nearly all the forms of insecurity stated above are in Nigeria. The insecurities in our country, as I hinted earlier are the consequences of the imposed merger of different ethnic nationalities by the Britain, the skewed constitutional and statutory provisions, self-centred leadership and corruption, irresponsive and irresponsible governance to realize the peoples’ aspirations and basic needs of food, shelter, clothing, health, education, justice and employment; ethno-religious distrust and conflicts, hate speech and fake news; lack of sincerity in abrogating the perverted federal system to give various groups the right to resource control and self-determination, and so on.
The insecurities in Nigeria, manifest in many ways such as electoral malpractice-induced violence; social vices, drug abuse; immoralities; educational/examination malpractices; criminalities such as looting of the commonwealth, conflict arising from expropriation of the natural resources of a people, robbery, cultism, kidnapping, ritual killings and other forms of murder by depraved and blood thirsty persons; online fraud (Yahoo Yahoo); rape; large scale and festering terrorism; intra and inter communal and ethno-religious conflicts; the pervasive and unending herders’ onslaughts spreading to various parts of the country and the inability of government to protect citizens from all these acts.
Critics of globalization might be quick to state that global trends are also negatively impacting on security in various ways such as importation of goods harmful to humans and the ecosystem; exporting of bad cultures for instance indecent dressing, gay, lesbianism and same-sex-marriage; bad foreign films influencing youths into vicious and criminal acts, cyber-crimes, cross-border crimes, illegal migration, drug and human trafficking as well as terrorism. But then, globalization has rather also helped countries to exchange good behaviours and cultures; joint security management platforms; joint disaster mitigation efforts, cooperative fraud and money laundering efforts, among others.
Despite the opportunities afforded by globalization, Nigeria is yet to take full advantage, in the aforesaid good aspects and others not stated. Thus, the state of insecurity has continued unabated. And this is despite some laudable efforts to provide security to restore confidence and to keep the country as one entity. The inadequate protection of the peoples’ fundamental human rights, especially rights to dignity and self-determination, ownership of lives and property, has caused more discontent among the citizenry. The hopeless trend has also caused more disaffection among components and ethnic groups in the country, thus causing an upsurge of demands for self-determination and safety.
These renewed consciousness, and the Federal Government’s inadequate commitment to frankly restructure the country’s polity, have led to a new approach in which states and zones are midwifing ways to get out of the quagmire of inequality, insecurity, underdevelopment and uneven development. The Amotekun security outfit, for example is one of such regional-based attempts by the Yorubas to secure the people of the zone and their property, as the cry for security and the demand for community policing were rebuffed. The Amotekun has sent serious signals to the Federal Government and other regions which also want to come up with theirs.
Apart from state-based security efforts, there are economic measures being applied by some states, to get their local economies repositioned for progress. This and more will be treated subsequently in details, along with the legislative panaceas to tackle inequality and insecurity, hence underdevelopment in Nigeria.
THE LEGISLATIVE WAY FORWARD
A Centripetal Model or Federal-Based Model for Change
Ideally, the legislature exists for the people. This is because it is the organ that has the largest number of persons representing the people. It is also because of its vantage position as the engine room of public policies, influenced through motions, resolutions, bills and oversight functions.
Therefore, the legislature ordinarily, is supposed to help the people realize their individual and collective aspirations. It also ought to be the catalyst for overall development of a country. But exactly how these are true of Nigeria, in reality, appears not to have a straight affirmation, especially, as some Nigerians have reservations about the essence of, and whose interest the parliament actually serves.
The Nigerian legislature cannot however be assessed as haven not done anything at all, to the advancement the country. Indeed, from the recommencement of democracy since 1999, the National Assembly has made some laudable input to governance, and the continues existence of the country.
In terms of regigging the nation’s political and administrative system, it has tried to reposition the electoral processes through amendment of previous Acts. For instance, the 2015 Electoral Act, amendment passed by the 8th Assembly, which has some good provisions, though not accented to before the 2019 elections, is a credit to the legislature. Different sets of the National Assembly, notably the 8th set and the present 9th Assembly, all tried to amend sections of the 1999 Constitution, considered the cause of many problems in the country.
It is also recently amending the immunity clause in Section 308 of the 1999 Constitution to allow prosecution of chief executives at the federal and state levels, in criminal matters. Also currently being promulgated is the bill to criminalize estimated electricity consumption billings by the Distribution Companies, alias Discos.
Despite its efforts, it is often criticized as haven not done enough to make new laws or amend old ones that will address the fundamental issues that are causing inequality, injustice, ethnic and inter-governmental conflicts, insecurity and imbalanced development. It is also criticized for not making laws to the conflicts arising from the hijacking of resources from certain parts, to the centre and sharing the revenues on the bases of spurious formulas, to all parts of the country without commensurate compensation for the sources producing the wealth.
In fact, Nigerians hold a perception that the lawmakers are in the parliament for their own interest and those of their cliques, thus do not use their powers to address major problems affecting the country. One area picked up against them is the aspect of making electoral laws that will promote theirs or their party’s political interests. The lying of the Petroleum Industry Bill (PIB) in the National Assembly, a bill considered as the oldest, besides how its original contents were politically tampered with, and then cut into versions, is often used to buttress the unpatriotic stance of the legislature, given the value of that bill to the revamping of the oil and gas industry, the Niger Delta and the national economy.
Indeed, since the National Assembly began constitutional amendments, it has not for instance tackled the aspects that will reduce remunerations for political office holders as clamoured for by the people. It has also not really reduced powers of the centre to empower states, except the recent autonomy granted to local government councils. The Exclusive List in the 1999 Constitution, still gives more powers to the centre. The issue of resource control has also been treated with levity, even during constitutional amendment processes, same as that of state police which are in the exclusive list of powers.
Instead of confronting these and other aspects, the National Assembly is seen as enmeshing itself in proposition of bills seen by some citizens as retrogressive, controversial and unnecessary in this new millennium. An instance is the water ways control bill which the extant one rather needed to be abolished so as to empower states.
Most recent examples are the generator-use-ban bill, instead a bill to first improve the epileptic public power system; hate speech bill and the social media bill to control fake news. These bills apart from being seen as anti-people are also lashed as unthinkable in the global trend of free access to media to constructively engage government and leaders to enhance good governance. These are however, not without the dangerous sides of hate speech and fake news that are constituting global menace, yet might not need to be gagged in this new millennium in which the new media are propelling development in all ramifications.
For the country and its components to rank among best developed nations in the global political economy, the Nigerian legislature needs to stand up to the occasion by making laws that will enhance right to resource control, competition, dignity, sectional and national development.
In that vein, the some of the areas that need to be tackled legislatively include:
Electoral laws should be made to carry stiffer penalties against perpetrators of malpractices and violence, to the extent of, for example, sanctioning offenders from participating in electoral processes, banning them from holding public offices and making them to pay back all benefits of a wrongly held office. These are important because a free, fair and credible election is the most relevant index for enthronement of good leadership and good governance/development.
Devolution of more powers to state and local levels would reduce interest in the centre where the major duty is to share allocations. The experiment of sharing monetary allocations to the states and local governments, have not boosted local participation and development at the states and grassroots. Therefore, some of the powers in the exclusive list in the 1999 Constitution should be transferred to the second and third tiers of government.
Section 44, Subsection 1 of the 1999 Constitution which grants rights over mineral resources to the owners, is rubbished by Subsection 3 which takes that right away from the natural owners to the Federal Government as having overriding powers over minerals in any part of the country. This should be amended to give full rights to mineral resource owners. This simple expungement will render other obnoxious minerals Acts powerless too, as the constitution is supreme.
The 1978 Land Use Act, as amended, should be abrogated or amended to vest full rights and control of lands on the real owners so as to empower them; make it easier for investors to acquire lands and mitigate land conflicts, and boost local and national economy and development. All other resource endowments, solid or liquid minerals in any place should as well be controlled by the owners, as a matter of law. The owners should either sell or be part of any investments, using their natural resources as their own contributions thus share of the benefits of the investments. The present arrangement in which crude oil bearing communities are prohibited and dealt with or illegally exploring and processing the crude while communities bearing solid minerals are conniving with expatriates to mine them and take the revenues, is like tortoise game, further fuels distrust.
If right to self-determination is the ultimate right, then the 1999 Constitution could consider referendum on burning national issues, debates or demands, as in the Canadian Federation which is a classic example of true fiscal federalism. In Canada, Quebec has voted twice, most recently in 2018, to leave the Canadian Federation. Scotland has been allowed to do same in United Kingdom. Even though these cited referendums did not work, the people had a sense of being accorded democratic right to try to have self-determination. Early this year, even in the most revered royal family and Monarchy in England, the Queen allowed the royal couple Prince Harry and Meghan the right to self-determination, by opting out of the Buckhingham Palace, and willingly dropped royal rights/privileges and compliments of prince-hood.
Laws that will influence policies and programmes on the side of the executive arm to establish industrial, agricultural, ICTs hardware and software, tourism and entertainment hubs across the country will put the country on the faster lane for development. These are areas we are naturally endowed with non-human and human resources. Our youths, are so gifted in these areas that most of are making waves locally and internationally in the ICTs, stand-up comedy, music, drama/Nollywood home video acts, investments in other areas, etcetera.
Yet back home, there are no aggressive efforts to properly provide enabling environment to tap their potential. This is despite the fact that, globalization, powered by ICTs and ICTs-based mass media have made it possible for Nigerians to export to talents to the global markets for reckoning. But, Nigeria is still speaking grammar in taking advantage of these viable areas and bringing out the full potential in our gifted youths, most of whom are graduates, but wasting away due to ignoble unemployment arising from a country’s lack of will to do the right things, and also do things right.
Laws that will accord better budgetary allocations to education/research; alternative sources of electricity power; health; roads/bridges, dams, disaster control, management of flooding, oceanification, desertification, gully erosion, coastal erosion and so on would enhance development and standard of living of the people. For example, my constituency, Yenagoa-Kolokuma/Opokuma, Bayelsa State and the entire Niger Delta are suffering gully erosion and oceanification which are sacking parts of or entire communities and so need urgent remedies.
Laws to compel diversification of the nation’s economy so as to phase out reliance on oil and gas revenues are also vital. Nigeria should toe the paths of former USSR, China, Malaysia, United Arab Emirate, etcetera by embarking on ideological and economic reforms to open up the viable country for global business activities, and translate its theoretical economic ratings into reality. This is one instance where glocolization: act global, think local, act local, think global or hybrid theory, comes to play in the quest to be a global player and meet the peoples’ expectations, instead of playing ethnic chauvinism and religious politics.
Laws to reposition and encourage local participation in the oil and gas sector, as well as refine products locally, will also help to reposition our economy nationally and globally. But such should be done in cognizance of the move towards alternative and renewable energy trends in which drones and Robots, Ozone Layer-friendly technologies would replace human efforts including driving of cars and aircrafts. In fact, these are already on, and will soon displace diesel and petrol-powered automobiles and aircrafts, and manpower. My brother, Senator Ben Bruce, had advocated this in the 8th Assembly, but he was not taken seriously, perhaps, because it was felt that it was too early for such law or policy or that it amounted to putting the cat before the horse. But the reality will stare at us very soon in the future.
There equally needs to be laws to prohibit foreign borrowings above certain upper limits, and tie such funds to realistic policies and projects as in some of the areas suggested in the foregoing panaceas, instead of a reckless approach to merely obtaining loans for political and populist motives, that would not address our fundamental underdevelopment problems. Existing laws in these regards, could be amended to reflect and discourage the current trend of inefficient borrowings.
Empowerment of traditional institutions and their kingdoms/communities with constitutional roles to maintain law and order in their domains and catalyze development, among other functions, has become necessary. The present pattern of using them as decorative accessories, and the executive arm of government denigrating such revered institutions at will, ought to end for good.
It is also important to have national legislations to allow state policing, by putting that function into the concurrent list of powers, so as to give state governors powers to be real security officers instead of the present arrangement of national police only, and the paradox of governors bearing only name as security chiefs. Already, the states support to fund and provide facilities for the national police, so why not give states right to own and manage police of their own.
The executive arm at the centre should muster political will to allow the aforesaid laws and policies be made, propose such bills, exercise political will to sincerely lead such fundamental reforms through laws and executive orders/prerogatives.
A Centrifugal Model or State-Based Model for Change
The federal government alone is not to be charged with the responsibility of addressing the huge problems facing the nation and its components. Therefore, the states, regions or zones and even local governments, should play their part through legislative and executive instruments.
Yes. The Federal level has enormous responsibilities to change the ugly status quo, but it has tarried for too long to tackle the fundamental issues head-on. Its dilly dallying approach to frontally tackle the problems have opened windows for the states and zones to look for lee ways to try to handle some of the issues by themselves. The states are thus in their own way, naturally implementing the restructuring demands which the centre has not made hay about. Indeed, it is normal and they need to look inwards the more, so as to improve the lives of their people, and by a trickle-up effect, the country at large will also benefit.
Therefore, in the face of the un-assailed vices, criminalities and all forms of insecurities, arising mostly from terrorism and annexing of land by non-indigenes for their own business in various parts of the country, states in zones, starting from the West, are gradually trying to take their destiny in their own hands. They have formed the Amotekun regional security outfit to checkmate the trend of oppression, intimidation and heinous acts regularly unleashed on their people.
The approach is being mooted and copied by other zones facing similar problems. And it tends to add weight to the already existing ethnic or regional agitating groups such as the Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB) and the Niger Delta freedom fighters, often considered as militants. Interestingly, the Western states have each enacted edicts to back the regional security outfit, a development that was before now unthinkable let alone doing it. Similarly, states, for instance, Benue and Ekiti had before now, enacted edicts to prohibit open-grazing of the forage on their lands by cattle. These developments were also influenced by the struggles among the regions, to have one sort of development commission or the other so as to assuage their feelings of imbalanced development attention from the centre.
States are also looking inwards to diversify their local economies instead of relying on federal allocations. For instance, Cross River State has diversified to tourism and creation of industries, the same way Akwa-Ibom and Ogun State are building industrial estates or factories. Borno State has established a solar panel factory to boost internal revenues, despite the insecurity arising from the Boko Haram bombings. Indeed, that is the way to go.
The various states and their regions need to do more of legislative and executive efforts to get away from the decades of resource or financial slavery of losing their endowments to the centre and paradoxically getting it back as revenues allocated to them. More states or regions would actually need to form new structures for maintenance of local security and back up same with edicts, though in cognizance of federal laws and national unity.
Local government councils could as well enact by-laws for community security or policing. Doing so, could naturally bring about the much-clamoured but rebuffed demand for state policing, and also protect live and property, to further promote development. They need to take advantage of the autonomy granted them, to take development to the grassroots.
As being mooted by the Niger Delta States governors, regions or zones should really adopt a joint-infrastructural and economic development approach in major sectors and giant projects. Such regional co-operations and projects must as well be backed by law.
There ought to be edicts and by-laws to enhance balance in the representation of all adult ages and gender, to encourage youths and women to occupy leadership positions and contribute their quota to development programmes, as it is in the global village. Imagine how our own Dr. Okonjo Iweala, the economist and international development expert, a woman, was given opportunity to lead, and has continued to soar higher globally. Even South Africa, has shelved xenophobic sentiment and has hired her onto its economic team, same way she is on the board of many global organizations. The current trend of appointing and electing women and youths onto high public offices in other countries, is a challenge to Nigeria, to give women and youths a chance. In fact, we need laws to compel adherence to the Beijing Affirmative Action for women’s inclusion in governance, without which, the female folk will continue to be sidelined.
The creative industry as I earlier hinted is beckoning. And in this ICTs/media-based globalization era, tourism and entertainment have become easier to develop, package and promote for export or local consumption. States, singularly or through regional cooperation, can take advantage through proper investments and funding of private initiatives in creative ventures.
Imagine what Lagos as an entertainment hub, alone could get from the creative tourism sector if it focuses more on providing more enablement for the bunch of talents, there to explore their ingenuities. Lagos, Ogun and Oyo States can indeed be transformed into full blown economies of their own, to rank with some of the emergent economies mentioned in this paper earlier. The same thing applies to Rivers State, Delta State and my own Bayelsa State and others.
Let us also imagine the economic boom that will occur if states and regions come up with more Nollywoods. Imagine also, how many more Davidos, Whizkids, Egberi Papas, Dakolos, Basket Mouths, AYs, Psquares, I Go Dies, RMDs and Genevieves will emerge as nationally and internationally recognized artists, if the creative sector is well tapped. Our per capita income and GDP will also rise.
The legislative and executive solutions to make states and local governments realize the peoples’ expectations abound. They can as well take ideas I have marshaled out under the centripetal or federal-based model.
The new millennium has provided ample opportunities for individuals, organizations and countries to grow unlimitedly, given the phenomenon of globalization and ICTs that have made it easier to process and share information, knowledge, technologies, goods and services as well as cooperation in various sectors. Agreed, there are demerits of these phenomena, no human, organization or country, can afford to be aloof and lose out, instead, take advantage and be a part of the gains.
To be part of the global world and its abundant opportunities, countries need to surpass internal problems of inequality, insecurity and lack of will to confront its identified problems, and make its citizens happy, before even talking of competing at the continental or global level. This brings to mind the case of Nigeria which the paper has portrayed, and has provided solutions to enable its citizens and components to realize personal and common aspirations, in the global village. This could be achieved by tackling its fundamental problems frontally. By so doing, it could occupy a prestigious position in the comity of developed countries. By achieving that, not only its citizens will be proud of the country, but Africa and the world as well, would like to look up to it for dealings.
Although, not rocket science solutions, it is hoped that the legislative and executive measures suggested under the centripetal and centrifugal models formulated in the paper, could help Nigeria and its components to get repositioned for progress in this post-industrial or knowledge-driven global polity and economy, to fulfil national and local aspirations.
In trying to achieve such heights, the paper is not unmindful of the likely impediments to the suggested legislative and executive panaceas. All arms of government and its officers have all sworn to protect the unity of the country, national interest and of course sovereignty. These facts, besides lack of political and leadership will as well as allegiance to sectional interests instead loyalty to the country, would continue to pose serious obstacles to drastic reforms needed to create equality, equity, justice, security; genuine competition and balanced development.
Notwithstanding, Nigeria should in reality, be fundamentally redesigned to realize its expectations and those of the component parts as well as the citizens, in today’s global village of unlimited opportunities for growth.
I thank the organizers for given me the privilege to speak on this big, complex and important topic. I also thank the audience for given me the needed attention.
Thanks and God bless you all.
Hon. (Prof. Steve Sinikiem Azaiki, OON,
MEMBER, HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES
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