One of the best gifts Diamond Bank gave me in the training school was a book titled “The Richest Man in Babylon” by George Clason. I had read Napoleon Hill’s “Think and Grow Rich” and the “Power of Positive Thinking” by Norman Peale while in college. And in secondary school, I read Pita Nwana’s “Omenuko”. Later while in the bank, I read “Acres of Diamonds” by Russell Conwell.
In all these books, I noticed one thing: police, guns and tough talks do not provide internal security in nations but ideas by the best who can find economic opportunities, and unlock them, for the wealth of nations. Take it to Nigeria, as the nation lies in ruins, with absolute breakdown of law and order, even the police have noticed that they cannot do anything.
This is how Premium Times summed it: “The hoodlums, who carried out attacks in different parts of [Lagos], in the days following the #EndSARS protests seemed undisturbed by security agents, as they carried out arson, destruction of properties, and looting of valuables in the state. Within 48 hours, Tuesday and Wednesday, no fewer than 27 buildings, including police stations, media houses, government secretariats, and the court were attacked and left in ruins.”
The office of the Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA) in Lagos was also set ablaze by hoodlums on Wednesday. The dockyard at Apapa was attacked, valuable items were stolen by the hoodlums, and vehicles and other properties set ablaze. […]
Popular malls and supermarkets in Lagos were also vandalised and looted by the hoodlums in operations which lasted till Thursday. Several shops were also broken into in many areas and goods carted away by the hoodlums.
Yes, the police were in siddon-look state because ideally the security from police is tangential, and we saw it in the last few days across Nigeria. You can secure against tens, but when thousands, the police fail. For the permanent security for that wealth in nations which Adam Smith postulated many decades ago, Nigeria needs to get back to build an economy that works for everyone.
The weakest ones among us define the strength of our nation. If we do not strengthen them, they will weaken any strength we think we have. Ask some senators how far? Those who used to bow to them, chased them into internal exiles from their homes!
Our leaders have work to do. We have tried many things, and I think it is time to examine if changing our economic architecture could advance the nation. Nigeria grew fairly well during the regional government structure when regions held power and were accountable to their people. But with the concentration of power in Abuja, regional comparative advantages froze and we became lazy. Is it time to return back to that old format which actually worked? Some have called it restructuring. For me, it is beyond that though!
Financially restructure Nigeria into 6 regional governments with only 6 governors: South South, South East, South West, North East, North Central, North West and the Federal Capital Territory. That means the South East will have one governor. All the present 5 states will collapse into one. From the SE State, there will be 5 senators representing it in Abuja. The House of Representatives will be 15, three from each of the present five states.
At the state level, for each of the present five states, the state house of assembly will present only nine representations in the state capital. In total, we will have 45 state house members. Phase out the political arm of the local government administration and move it into a ministry within the state. Through this, South East will save more than 40% on the present administrative costs. That money will go into developing the region. Those in other new states will do the same.
Our goal is to make sure that more resources translate into more development. That correlation can only happen if we have the right people in power. So, I want to see the states focus on manpower development and supreme accountability. By investing in attracting and retaining top minds in government, the states will make more progress.
How do we do that? We will begin from election. The regional state government under their own electoral umpire, different from INEC, must stipulate the maximum amount any politician can spend on primaries. At the main election, the state will also cap the spending. By making over-exceeding that limit a felony, money politics will dissolve to politics of ideas. We are already in the age of electronic banking; the state will track and ask the politicians to file paperwork.
And finally, no politician will give a gift to any voter that is more than N50. That will remove the bags of rice, vegetable oil, etc. Once we run these processes for two election cycles, you will see higher improvements in the quality of governance.
But without those core elements, restructuring will simply move corruption from Abuja to state capitals. Believe in Nigeria.
Uyo for Nigeria’s Texas on gas. Jos for Florida on tourism. Lagos for New York on banking. Yobe for Iowa on farming. Aba for Shenzhen on makers. And so forth.
But today, what we have is Uyo, Jos, Lagos, Yobe, Aba, etc for Abuja. That has to change for Nigeria to rise. Yes, we need a new beat on how we do business in Nigeria if we want to unlock more opportunities across the nation, to get young people busy with productive endeavours.