By EMMANUEL ADO
“This is my country, that is your country; these are the conceptions of narrow souls – to the liberal minded the whole world is a family.”
–Virchand Raghavji Gandhi
The real strength of mankind lies in unwavering commitment to unity.
For like Helen Keller wrote, “alone we can do so little , but together we can do so much”. Unity is undoubtedly strength and a very essential ingredient for development. That Nigeria hasn’t achieved meaningful development has been attributed to the lack of unity of purpose, of what we want as a people. The only time Nigerians are united is when the Super Eagles play, and it doesn’t matter if Coach Stephen Keshi fields an all Delta State indigenes team like Arsene Wenger once fielded an Arsenal team that had no English player. For certain the average Nigerian desires a united country such that when it suits their fancy, they express that desire, the problem is that it’s only mere declarations, no concrete action.
Chinua Achebe, in his seminal book “The Trouble with Nigeria” believes that the problem with Nigeria is squarely and simply that of leadership.” The trouble with Nigeria is simply and squarely a failure of leadership. There is nothing basically wrong with the Nigerian character. There is nothing wrong with the Nigerian land or climate or water or air or anything else. The Nigerian problem is the unwillingness or inability of its leaders to rise to the responsibility, to the challenge of personal example which are the hallmarks of true leadership”. The precise point Achebe made, which is still valid, is that a focused and determined leadership would have wielded the country together beyond mouthing that our unity is non-negotiable.
The fact that 58 years after independence, the unity of the country is still being vigorously questioned and subjected to raging debate indicates deep dissatisfaction by all the constituents parts that make up Nigeria with the situation if things. The point of departure is the solution to what everyone agrees is a huge problem. For the narrow minded bigot, the problem of Nigeria is the “other tribe”, and but for the “other tribe” the country would have sent astronauts to the moon, never asking why his/her own state which has at least in the last twenty (20) years been governed by an indigene not made significant development? If Kano State is the problem of Nigeria, why for instance will Bayelsa State,a state of just 1.7 million people that collects an average of N13.3 billion from the federation account be bankrupt and with zero infrastructure. While Kano State with about 20 million people, that collects a monthly average of N6.4 billion have better infrastructure? Like Achebe said, unity might not really be the challenge confronting Nigeria, but leadership, as the example of Kano and Bayelsa States has shown.
Last year, at the height of the agitation for independence by some elements of the old Eastern Region led by Nnamdi Kalu, some coalition of northern elements led by Shettima Yerima had in “retaliation” issued Ibos in the north, quit notice effective 1st October,2017.
But for the swift and decisive manner that Governor Nasir Ahmed El-Rufai, who clearly saw the danger the notice posed to a wobbling Nigeria handled the matter, the country would have been thrown into a deeper crisis,that would have been difficult for the leadership to handle.
Nasir El-Rufai showed great leadership, he didn’t fiddle nor was he ambivalent on the issue. It’s fitting that the Ibos recognized that leadership at that crucial time and conferred the title of “Ochu Udo Ndi Igbo” on him.
Which brings us to the problem Nasir El-Rufai has with some Kaduna State “stakeholders”. It’s obvious it has to do with his faith in Nigeria and trust in people from other parts of the country. Even though the opposition have made efforts to question the various reforms, like the urban renewal programmes, the civil service revitalization programme and the sales of the badly dilapidated government quarters, the truth remains that groups like the Kaduna Restoration Group, made up of enlightened people,well travelled,many of who in fact hold citizenship of countries like United States,were fiercely opposed to El- Rufai, for appointing non – indigenes into executive positions. How can Nigeria in 2018, be operating on the basis of indigenes and indigenes. How can a Nigerian be shut out from contributing his/her quota to a state where by birth he/she should comfortably lay claim to?
Which is why the Kaduna State Citizenship Programme of Governor Nasir El -Rufai by action and not by words is commendable. In practical terms the policy seeks to acknowledge everyone born or resident in Kaduna State as a citizen with same rights as an indigene. Clearly, the governor and groups like the Restoration group are miles apart in terms of their world views. In a warfare, all is said to be fair, but there is a limit to politics. It is deeply worrying that the opposition to Jimi Lawal and the other so called “non-indigenes” is based on their tribe, and definitely has dangerous implications for our dear country.
America has remained great, unlike other great countries like Great Britain that collapsed, because it has continued to renew itself by attracting the very best from all over the world. Arnold Schwarzenegger, an Austrian- American only migrated to America at the age of 21. That didn’t stop him from becoming a two term Governor of California, the fourth largest economy of the world. Schwarzenegger in fact is the second foreign born governor of California. Back home in Nigeria, Adams Oshiomhole, the former governor of Edo State literally hijacked the late Olaitan Oyerinde from the Nigerian Labour Congress to be his Principal Private Secretary.
What El -Rufai looks out for in these appointments are loyalty, trust,capacity and competency. So the three (3) Ibos in his cabinet are Nigerians who happen to be Igbos.
The problem Jimi and other appointees have was no doubt been worsened by the very “lean” government of the All Progressive Congress (APC) at
the State and federal levels. So, in the Sahara desert of appointments, the political elite believes that Jimi and the others have “short changed” Kaduna State indigenes, hence the loud noise.
Our elites are appointment driven, so Kaduna State or Nigeria is only okay depending on whether they are patronized or not.Thats not to say that they are not entitled to rewards for their efforts in getting El- Rufai, the snag is that the money is not just there anymore to support the retinue of Special Assistants, who in the true sense are only important as Party delegates.
In the United States of America, people back candidates who will initiate policies – lower taxes, or embark on healthcare reforms or other programmes that will further free enterprise, in Nigeria everyone wants lucrative appointments and not incentives for manufacturing, because they have never manufactured and have no plans
of manufacturing anything in their life. Not many people remember the famous K.O is not OK headline of the Daily Times newspaper. K. O. Mbadiwe,the flamboyant politician from present Imo State had been left out in the initial appointments by President Shehu Shagari, in spite of his “timber and caterpillar “ contributions to the success of the National Party of Nigeria at the polls. K. O only became OK, when he was eventually settled with an ambassadorial position.
Nasir El- Rufai has definitely given a credible account of himself – from the swift implementation of governance reforms, like the Treasury Single Account, zero-based budgeting, taxation, investments, a digital land registry and public procurement, government anchored on pro-people development to his policy of national unity. He has shown the way to national unity and cohesion. Like Anwar Sadat, the late Egyptian president said” There can be hope only for a society, which acts as one big family, not as many”