Nigerians and the Call for Regional Integration and Restructuring: Matters Arising!!! – Ishola Adebayo

Aug. 22, 2016

Certainly, Nigeria’s problems did not start with the adoption of the Presidential System of Government. And neither has the Presidential System of Government solved our problems. In retrospect the Presidential System of Government has created more problems for us leaving only the executives, legislators and their aides to operate the system.

On May 27, 1967, by virtue of state creation and Transitional Provision Decree 14 of 1967, General Yakubu Gowon created 12 states in the country – six from the old Northern Region, three from the old Eastern Region and three from the old Western Region. By Decree 39 of June 24, 1967, he created the Interim Common Services Agency to take over the assets of the old Northern Region and the Eastern States Interim Assets and Liabilities Agencies to take over the assets of the three states of Rivers, East Central State and South Eastern State. There is another story elsewhere.

On Tuesday (January19, 2016), at the Cocoa House (Ibadan), the governors of the owner states of Oodua Investment Company met in Ibadan, the Oyo State capital. The current Chairman of the Oodua Investment Company, Dr. Olusegun Mimiko, the governor of Ondo State announced that the company had invited Lagos State to join the company as the sixth shareholder of the conglomerate. At present, the company is owned by the governments of Oyo, Osun, Ogun, Ekiti and Ondo. Twenty four hours after the announcement, the governor of Lagos State, Akinwunmi Ambode, accepted the invitation and declared his support for the growth of the company.

The company recorded a revenue growth of N4.2B last year as against N4.5B in 2013. The spokesman for Mimiko, Kayode Akinmade disclosed that the company targeted N20B asset base by 2019. He disclosed further that the proposed payment of gross dividend of N167M at its Annual General Meeting was approved and paid to all the owner states.

No doubt Oodua Investment Company has been a huge success and kudos must be given for those who have kept the flag flying for that company from 1976 till date, including premiers, sole administrators, governors (both civilian and military), in spite of their ideological and political differences.

Sadly, unlike the era of Awolowo, state governments of the old Western Region cannot pay salaries of workers now let alone establish industries and factories, a bad legacy of the present generation.

Nigeria is not structured to succeed. It is structured to perpetually continue to wobble and fumble (apologies to Mr. Fanny Amun, the football coach). Hope cannot help it. Good intentions cannot help it.

Many Nigerians have refused to come to this realisation and reality. No man – no matter how powerful and good-intentioned – has the capacity to get things working properly in all sections of Nigeria. It is like the biggest lion in the jungle trying to stop a cackle of hyenas from seizing its kill. As it charges at one hyena, other hyenas will swoop on the kill from another side. When the lion turns to that side to stop the hyenas, other hyenas will sneak in from another side and tear off some part of the kill. After exerting itself for a while, the lion will accept the fruitlessness in its action and abandon its kill for the hyenas and run away, to avoid getting hurt and becoming unable to hunt again. But it will be a different story if there are up to 10 lions feeding on the kill. The hyenas will only hang around, drooling and praying for some leftovers.

We either restructure this nation and move forward, or refuse to do so and remain with the age-long mediocrity and regression, comforting ourselves with the hope of a better tomorrow that a “good leader” will give us. It is our choice.