By Innocent Okon
Even the select few that have had the privilege of benefiting from the dysfunctional Federalism which the Military foisted on us, would concede that Nigeria, to survive as a nation state, needs a strategic retreat to her component units within the larger geographical expression. It’s a critical moment for national survival which patriotism and nationalism must be circumscribed and defined within the democratic lexicon of the Federating units as expressed in ethnic homogeneity, culture and even religion!
Since we started this democratic journey in 1999, the incontestable phenomenon is that waiting on successive national leadership to drive centrifugal holistic development is like waiting for Godot. The few states that have had tangible dividends of democracy to show since 1999 are arguably those ones that have had state Governors with vision-driven mission. The centre (Abuja) remains the sole custodian of resources that every constitutional political unit called states must kowtow at the end of every month to get a share.
Like a polygamous father, whatever is given to each wife should and must cater for each household. If your mother is a spendthrift, expect deplorable public infrastructure, unpaid contractors, salaries, pensions and gratuities!
So far, some states have done better than others. And the magic wand for the few succeeding ones is found within the matrix of well thought out development plans and rigorous implementation. The truth is that no state can deliver on any socio-economic goal with recycled banal programmes called manifesto.
It must go beyond mere promises which manifestos have ignoble reputation for in our clime! Each state that wants to make a difference must have a phased comprehensive development plan informed by identified needs of her people. This is no time to start counting from one to ten points development agenda! Since charity must begin at home, my home state, Akwa Ibom, must have a non-partisan rolling development agenda. Those jostling to be elected Governors in March this year, must spell out their strategies on how the sea port at Ibaka is going to be executed within timelines. We need to be told if free and compulsory education has achieved the envisaged results, if not, the preferred model to be adopted. We are in the agrarian belt, but we can’t delude ourselves that we can practise largescale mechanised farming.
Thinking out of the box on food security demands both short and long term(s) planning. It is not every road that must be a dual carriage way, and every junction sheltered with a fly over! A phased integrated intra and inter urban road network must be prepared. The present plan of Uyo Capital City must be reviewed. There’s no point demolishing houses and business infrastructure in the name of dualising inter urban roads anymore! There’s need for a Greater Uyo, beginning from the the Ikot Oku Ikono flyover, which should collapse part of Abak into the capital city!
The new leadership in Akwa Ibom to be elected in March must make unequivocal commitment to the people on transparency and accountability in governance. This should include but not limited to monthly publication of state funds received and internally generated, cost of contracts awarded as well as quarterly performance of every annual budget.
The era of runnning public affairs with narcissistic mental construct must be waved goodbye come May 2023.
Am incurably optimistic that the coming forum this month sponsored by the State Council of the Nigeria Union of Journalists for all gubernatorial candidates in the March election would be seized by them to address these issues. We have reached the trajectory for critical thinking for common good. And the traditional promises of good roads, potable water and human capital empowerment are too infantile and hackneyed to douse the anger and hunger on the streets!
Okon, a journalist and lawyer, lives in Uyo.