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Published On: Wed, Apr 30th, 2014

Purposeful leadership, not resource control

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LeadershipBy Anthony Sani

Resource Control runs across the concept of nationhood which presupposes that the people of a nation are brought together and helped to unlock their synergistic potential for both individual and common good. And so when some people insist that people of different constituent parts of a country should develop at their own pace, one begins to wonder whether such people should live as if they are in different continents, and in blithe disregard

for the truism often expressed by the World Bank and World Economic Forum that narrowing of disparity in incomes among groups is not only good politics but also good economics.

I heard the other day that it was the bridges over land in Abuja that inspired agitations for Resource Control by Niger Delta region. But we have also heard oil producing communities hankering that their share of derivation be given to them directly, since they are being short changed by state governments which divert it to building airports, flyovers and also five stars hotels in state capitals. That is how far down the agitations for Resource Control can go.

It may be true that cheap oil money has driven productive money away, and that is why agriculture has died in the country as symbolized by disappearance of groundnut pyramid and textiles in the North and inability of the South to compete with Malaysia in production and export of palm oil despite the fact that Malaysia collected the seedlings in Nigeria. And that is why only Lagos state can pay salaries of its work force without allocation from the federation. But the reason is not lack of resource control but due to cheap oil money that makes oil producing countries trust fund states obeying Gresham’s Law.

For example, only Norway of oil producing nations has succeeded in using the money to develop its economy. The argument that lack of resource control makes the center attractive for cut throat competition is neither here nor there. Take, for example, how state legislators make laws that enable state governors to retire with personal houses built by government at not less than N500n and sometimes up to N1.3b and all the salaries and privileges of a governor for life. What business can give such a return in four years?

And that is why there is also politics of survival at state level. And if states can make such laws without interference from the strong centre, why not make such laws for development?

Resource Control can also engender a confederal arrangement leading to a weak centre with dire consequences for the unity of a country. That is why America started with confederation only to discover the centre was too weak to hold the U S A together, and so had to change it.

Like Lee Kuan Yew of Singapore has submitted, security, harmony and development are not natural order of things, but they are result of purposeful leadership which the people must elect .And one way to make people to make judicious use of their democratic rights and ensure the votes counts so that the ensuing leaders must be accountable is for people to pay tax. But our leaders would not agree for people to pay tax out of fear that the people will ask them to account. Our problem is therefore not resource control but purposeful leadership and the best in every one.

Anthony N Z Sani, spokesman, Northern Delegates Forum

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