As Nigeria pushes for economic development, it is important for the federal government to renegotiate the structure of government in the country.
The present system that spoon-feeds states and local governments with monthly allocations is not only unsustainable, but promotes corruption, just as keeping so much money with the central government that has very little direct responsibility to citizens and communities encourages corrupt behavior on the part of morally weak individuals in public service and compromised public institutions.
A federal system in which the constituent parts live almost solely (except Lagos State) on transfers from the central government is a product of an indolent military that governed to dominate.
The military’s dominant philosophy of government was over centralization and subordination of federating units and at a time when those in power believed in the omnipresence and omnipotence of revenue from petroleum.
During a period of oil boom, one military Head of State even boasted that Nigeria has so much money that it’s wondering how to spend the money.
This military policy also directly or indirectly encouraged corruption and lack of accountability at the subnational level, just as it did at the central level. Massive corrupt practices by military officers were swept under the carpet for fear of embarrassing the military.
Checks in governance were compromised and institutions rubbished by officers who had ‘captured’ the nation and held its citizens ‘captives’. Federalism was practised in a unitary style.
The result of funding governance from rent collection breeds a lazy and corrupt establishment that is bereft of ideas on what development is. Returning the culture of self-reliance and accountability to every level of government is one way of discouraging corruption.
The current system of sustaining states and local governments with funds from non-renewable minerals– whether liquid or solid– needs to be reviewed as President Muhammadu Buhari gets to his promise to “entrench true federalism and the federalist spirit in the constitution”.
By Ezra Ndubuisi Ijioma…
Mr. Ijioma died recently in Sussex, UK, soon after a medical operation for cancer, and will be buried on Sept. 24,
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