By Oluwole Sholanke
The amalgamation of the Northern and the Southern Protectorates by Lord Frederic Lugard in 1914 should not be seen as a mistake but the adoption of Britons system of government (Democracy) should be blame for our economy woes. Lugard then wants to foster unity and strength among Nigerians. He believes that; with unity, we can speak with one voice and get whatever we want to get as a great nation.
In my own opinion, it is our politicians that must be seen as the most corrupt that feed-fat on the national treasury through their various political parties. Again, borrowing a system of governance that is strange to our culture is a mistake. It is clear that Britons and Nigerians has a different culture, I wonder why we could not form a democratic system of government that befits our culture. If you look at the House of Lords in Britain, it was formed by the elite from whom the Lords are appointed in order to rule Britain. This has become their culture. And the House of Common that is being choosing by the poor men on the street.
The truth of the matter is that the current democratic system of governance being practice today is the adopted one from our colonial masters, Britain. Going by the definition of democracy, the 16th President of the United States of America, Abraham Lincoln, who served his country from March 1861 until his assassination in April 1865, democracy is the ‘Government of the people, by the people, for the people’. If you examine this definition, there is no where Abraham Lincoln turned the definition around as ‘Government of the people by the party or the cabal for the people’ which Nigerian politicians now practice.
It must be stated here that political party system was devised in Britain over a century ago. Britain, like the other western nations, is a capitalist country. Capitalism is a system of government whereby a single party rules and controls the affairs of government.
Britain introduced the political party system to Nigeria at independence when Nigerians were largely illiterate and the system was extremely strange to them. Nigerians, being very intelligent people, saw the loopholes in the system, and these loopholes enabled them to adopt corrupt practices. These corrupt practices, observed prior to independence in 1960, developed in many ways. Now corruption is Nigeria’s albatross with our treasury being the major victim and the people the end sufferers.
The House of Lords was created with an ulterior motive to provide a segregated number of permanent seats for the Lords and for the purpose of continuing with the grand design to enable the House of Lords throw out or review the resolutions or decisions of the House of Commons unless it befits the Lords and the Elite. All these are possible in Britain because it befits their culture. Why do we borrow a culture that did not befits Nigerians as a whole?
Considering the enormous resources expended on our legislators i.e House Representatives or Senate is to me a colossal waste. Senate are duplication of House of Representatives. I therefore suggest to the National Conference to eradicate senate and keep House of Representatives because they are more closer to the commoners than the senate that a doing the bid of the Lords.
It is a general believe that politicians are corrupt and that they use political parties to loot the nation’s treasury. It is lamentable that this kind of situation is having negative impact on the nation’s economy. The so-called representatives of the masses that were voted for by the masses to cater for their needs could not do so but care for themselves and their political godfathers with only the crumbs reaching the people where possible.
To hit the nail on the head, the House of Representatives, whilst appearing to represent the people should be allow to stay while I am suggesting that the Senate should be scrapped.
It must be mentioned here that the cabal lives like the kings in the palace, always making it impossible for the National Assembly to reach a common ground on issues that affect the citizens of the country. Example of this is the rehabilitation of Lagos-Ibadan Expressway.
Early last year, the Governor of Central Bank of Nigeria, CBN, Mallam Sanusi Lamido Samusi, condemned the amount being spent by Nigeria to finance the federal legislators putting it at about 25 percent of federal government overhead.
He drew the ire of the legislators for exposing them to the public. In truth, it works out simply thus: if the overhead of the federal government of Nigeria stands at N536.2 billion and the National Assembly gets N136, 259, 768, 102 (N136.2 billion), what does it constitute? Is it 25.41% or 3.5%?
Thank God today, our president, Goodluck Ebele Jonathan has agreed to a National Conference where Nigerians will sit and debate on how to live together. Although this idea has been commended by some, others like our politicians that a feeding fat in the system of government we are operating has gone as far as writing it off as “sheer waste of money”, “mere jamboree,” and a ploy by a particular political party to perpetrate themselves in office. Some even seen it as a mere waste of time that the report of the National Conference may not be used and will end up in the dust bin. Some even criticize the modalities or mode of operandi of the National Conference. The selection of delegates and so on.
In my own opinion, Nigeria should not see this National Conference in that perspectives, we must see it as a way of moving together. As a London-trained lawyer, the British government will always sit and call for memorandum on any national issues. Britons are doing this to move their country forward. It is by our makings if Nigeria is great today. We should see this National Conference as an opportunity to express our grievances and move forward.
Getting to the National Conference, delegates must see themselves as the midwives of the destiny of this nation, present and future, rather than selling themselves out to the politicians. I will suggest the abrogation of the Senate and House of representatives turned to part time basis where legislators collect allowances alone.
The emolument of a legislators should not be higher than that of a Professor. What is happening now in Abuja should call for public inquiry. It is highly exploitative, perhaps criminal, inhuman and insensitive to the plight of the ordinary citizen of Nigeria. Minimum wage should not be less than N20,000 in the state and N30,000 in mega cities.
The unemployed should be registered throughout the country and be paid at least N15,000 per month to reduce armed robbery, kidnapping etc I believe certainly that this country can afford it with good management.
It is ironical and constitutionally wrong to provide that the President shall be ranked higher than our 1st class obas, emirs and obis i.e. the premuse inter paris, and they should have a role well spelt out in the constitution. Of course, the Prime Minister of Britain is not ranked higher than the Queen of England. I believe it will not be difficult for our technocrat to correct, if approved at the National Conference.
•Sholanke, lawyer wrote from Yaba, Lagos