The General Election has come and gone and the Buhari government is well over a year old. However, it appears it is the same old story with the government struggling to grapple with the problems besetting Nigeria.

The celebrations that met the election victory of Ret. Gen. Mohammadu Buhari as the new President of Nigeria have given way to the reality of the fact that this is just a step towards achieving the goal of a better Nigeria. As a matter of fact, in many quarters, hope has started to give way to despair. The road to the goal of achieving a better Nigeria appears long with many unwinding turns, obstacles and difficulties. Or so it seems.

Nigeria may seem an unsolvable knot but if we only step back and realise that there is nothing unique or exceptional with the problems faced by the country but that which are common to developing countries and requires solutions which are not farfetched.

The problem with Nigeria is simple and straightforward – SYSTEM FAILURE and as such requires solutions that addresses the issues that prevents the system from functioning if we are to heal the illness within the polity. However, what the present government is doing is similar to the efforts applied by previous governments who had attempted but failed to solve the Nigeria problem.

The current set up in Nigeria is decentralised on paper but in practice there is more centralisation. Take for instance the machinery of government at the federal level. It relies solely on the goodwill of the president. Nothing gets done without the nod from the president. The agency tasked with investigating and prosecuting crimes looks to the president before making any major move or decision. Who the police arrest when it comes to crime committed by important people and top politicians depends on who the president wants to be prosecuted. The President has no power of arrest but you will often here Presidents saying that he will order the arrest of erring officials. Power is so concentrated that it inhibits the proper functioning of the machineries of government. The consequence of this is the ease at which mistakes are made and the system failed.

What Nigeria needs is an environment where the machinery of government is allowed to function as it is meant to. Police for instance should be able to carry out its work in accordance with the role assigned to it under the law and the Judiciary must be able to function independently of executive influence. Nigeria is blessed with resources both manpower and materials but garnering these to achieve improvement in the country has been the biggest problem.

The problem in Nigeria is not difficult to address. It is what is common to developing countries whose rulers held the mistaken belief that being in power means exercising all authority but forgetting that it is to the detriment of the government and the country as a whole. The irony of it all is that the constitution as it is written does not give all powers to one person or one body but powers and responsibilities are shared out among the various organs of government.

Therefore, in order to address the problems in Nigeria, new laws have to be brought in to strengthen the institutions of government. These laws will be geared towards enhancing the independence of government institutions and embolden government officials to carry out their constitutionally assigned tasks without fear or favour. An official who is task with investigating crime will be bold enough to carry out his/her responsibilities if he/she knows that he/she could count on the backing of the law against any attack regardless of the source of the attack. However, an official who has the fear that he/she could be reprimanded or even lose his job for doing the right thing with no redress or cannot rely on the law in support will be afraid to carry out his/her responsibilities even if it is in accordance to what the stipulates or in accordance with his/her defined role. The effect of this is seen all around us. Nothing works as it should. The whole system is corrupt.

 

FOCUS ON ELECTRICITY SUPPLY

The failure to maintain constant supply of electricity in the country is a prime example of the failure of the Nigeria system. When you hear of power failure in most countries in this day and age, it is either because there has been a natural disaster or there is war but in Nigeria it is the norm. The National Electric Power Authority (NEPA) - the state owned corporation that was in charge of electricity generation was dissolved and its operations privatised. For a country whose large proportion of its populace lives in abject poverty with many rural areas still untouched by electrification, it is very shocking to the point of madness that privatisation was prescribed as the best solution to the electricity problem. Even for the government to accept such suggestion and implement it requires a national enquiry. Private investors are only in it for the profit they can make and when this is not forthcoming or might take longer to materialise, investment will be slow in coming if any. To privatise what is basically an essential commodity without any competition is tantamount to issuing a licence to print money to the private companies that won the franchise in the power generating and supply industry. It is no wonder that complaints by consumers have shoot up since privatisation and improvement in power supply is yet to be seen. If one considers that the power supply in the city has deteriorated to such a very poor state since privatisation, the situation wiould be much worse in the villages and countryside where electrification is still required. No one will expect any private undertaking to engage in rural electrification since the investment required is enormous but the returns are not attractive to justify the amount of investment required.

In order to improve power supply in the country, what should have been done is to break up NEPA and divide its operations into power generation and power distribution. Individual state should have been allowed to assume control of NEPA installations in their states while NEPA would be charged only with power generation. Individual states will then become purchaser and distributors of electricity within their respective states. Each individual state would be allowed to generate their own power if so wish. In this way, power generation and supply will still be state owned but decentralised. This will encourage each state to invest in power generation and improve supply in the country.

There is no doubt the problem facing Nigeria today is enormous but it is not insurmountable. It requires targeted actions but most importantly it requires system re-evaluation and overhaul if we are to effectively addressed Nigeria problem.

Folorunso Makinde

President NFR

www.nigeriansforreferendum.co.uk

Email: nigeriansforreferendum@mail.com

Tel. + 44 - 07574342640