By Olu Akeredolu
All over the world, the rich and conservative people are the same. It does not matter whether they are in Europe or in the United States or in the poorest nation on earth. They think alike and behave alike. Everywhere you go, you find them in the minority yet very powerful and too controlling. In developed societies like Europe and United States where there is freedom of expression, the loud voices of the people usually keep them in their place.
American masses especially during elections usually use their freedom to choose to checkmate them. That opportunity is the deep gorge that separates those societies from the developing nations of Africa especially a country like Nigeria where this tiny clique of kleptocrats dictates to and oppresses the poor masses with impunity. Most of the rich and conservative in Nigeria are the political elites. They control all apparatuses of coercion which they use at all times without mercy. They are so greedy and selfish because they want their wealth and empire absolutely protected. This is because they are only concerned about themselves, their family members and those within their clique. They want to preserve their empire for more than even the 10th generation coming behind them in their family line. Outside that is not their business.
If not so, the committee at the national conference charged with the responsibility of charting a course for restructuring the geographical expression called Nigeria in the best way that can engender rapid development should not have come out with a resolution of retaining the 36 states as they presently are. One of the committee members told the press that they have to return the 36 states because they will find it difficult to tell their people back home any reason to justify doing otherwise.
He belongs to the clique that has held Nigeria in the jugular for a long time which brought the nation to its present sorry state. He had been a governor and minister at different times and he is in a vantage position where he and his family members cannot feel the pain of poverty ravaging our land at the moment. Another committee member from the north even said that the agitation for restructuring from the present 36 mushroom states to a strong 6 regional model is a Yoruba agenda. The northern fellow went on to say that such an arrangement lacks common sense.
I know that the resolution of the committee is not final and would still be subjected to debate on the floor of the conference. My fear is that the same way they ignorantly arrived at this resolution may play itself again at the conference hall whenever it is tabled there for discussion. These people knew that recurrent expenditure yearly consumes more than 80% of federal and states budget to satisfy the elites who are less than 2% of the Nigerian population. These committee members knew that that is the reason why the governments at all level are always short of money for capital projects and development.
For instance, the old Western region which Chief Obafemi Awolowo governed as Premier had been balkanized into the present seven states: Edo, Delta, Ogun, Ondo, Oyo, Osun, and Ekiti. The late sage governed the region successfully with only 14 ministers who also doubled as members of the House of Assembly for the region. Alhaji Ahmadu Bello ruled as Premier of Northern region which constitutes about 19 states presently while Dr. Nnamdi Azikiwe and later Dr. Michael Okpara ruled the Eastern region as Premier. Western region was noted for producing cocoa while the North was noted for its groundnut pyramids and the Eastern region for palm produce and coffee. That arrangement saw each of the regions develop at theirown pace. There was massive capital development at the time in each of the regions because their recurrent expenditure was each sizable and reasonable.
We even hear that some of the committees pass resolutions through a yes vote to arrive at a pre-determined agenda. The whole thing looks like a conspiracy by the Igbo working hand in hand with the Hausa against the Yoruba who came to the conference with a prepared and detailed developmental agenda for Nigeria. The memorandum which the Yoruba delegates are working on at the conference is not a selfish one. It is for the unity, peace and progress of Nigeria because it will give the greatest good to the greatest number.
Olusina Akeredolu is the Executive Director of Detainees & Indigent Help Centre.