“We have come to a clear realization of the fact that true individual freedom
cannot exist without economic security and independence. “Necessitous men are
not free men.” People who are hungry and out of a job are the stuff of which
dictatorships are made"– President Frederick Delano Roosevelt, USA.
The much awaited election to state and federal offices is over in Nigeria and one can only pray that discussion will shift to real governance in Nigeria. However, if history is any guide one should not expect much in terms of governance, policies and programs. If anything at all, the victors usually take all, no thoughts are given to forming a government of national unity. And of course, the vanquished heads to court, disputing every vote obtained by the opponents. As things goes, nothing gets done, the citizenry went back to their penury until the next election circle when politicians dole out gobs of stolen funds as campaign “settlement”.
As FDR rightly argues in the quote above, true individual freedom cannot exist without economic security and independence, as necessitous men are bound to remain in bondage. For there to be true democracy in Nigeria we first have to fight to create structure that will breed free and fair election. As long as the economic situation remains anemic politicians and political jobbers will always found a way to take advantage of the rot in the system.
This is why efforts by Lagos and Osun states government to create jobs through programs which encouraged private and public employment opportunities should be commended. A viable Nigerian state will remain a mirage until we restructure our country to reflect true federalism espoused in our constitution. No true federalism governs from the center with the hope of a trickle down democratic dividends. The government closest to the people of Nigeria remains the least funded in our polity. Strengthening Nigeria’s local government through adequate funding and oversight ensure accountability.
Recent bloodshed and violence following the presidential elections could be directly traceable to the Nigerian mindset that often wrongly believes that whichever region has his/her son or daughter at the center stands at a better advantage than others. As we found in the southwest, and as I am sure the people of south/south and southeast will soon found out, things are not often as they seem. If the protesters in the north had stop to ask themselves what economic benefits had accrued to them when Northern Nigerian sons had ruled at the center they would have been better served to focus their energy on voting out political jobbers at their respective state houses instead of unleashing their anger on defenseless National Youth Service Corps members.
We are a nation of deep passion and allegiance, which unfortunately often get deployed in the wrong direction. It is high time we start directing that energy and passion in restructuring our country so it could be better serve its citizens. Nigeria needs true federalism before it could deliver the true dividends of democracy to its citizens. There is a promise that with a sizable opposition in the federal parliament, we may begin to explore this direction but as V. O Key states: “There are two radically different kinds of politics: the politics of getting into office and the politics of governing”