Former Governor of Old Kaduna State, Alhaji Balarabe Musa (left)
Speaking with John Shiklam, former governor of old Kaduna State, Alhaji Balarabe Musa, assess the nation’s political and economic journey since independence 52 years ago and scores her low in human and capital development. Excerpts:
Do you think after 52 years of independence, Nigeria has lived the dreams of her founding fathers?
No, we have not lived up to the aspirations of the founding fathers of this country whoever they may be since in 1960. The achievements as a nation have been so marginal that you can even ignore it when you take into account the enormous human and material resources that became available to us in the past 52 years. If we had utilised these enormous human and material resources, by now, Nigeria would have been at higher level on the scale of human development than it is today. But as it is today, after 52 year, we have not even reached the take off level of human and national development.
We are still bogged down by a primitive and disabling level of corruption, stealing and criminal waste. We are still bogged down with high level of insecurity, high level of unemployment; we are still bogged down with a high level of organised violence resulting in massive loss of lives and destruction of property. We have virtually achieved nothing, so to speak. I think the only thing is that Nigeria has remained one country in spite of the bad political leadership. This is a favour from God. If God has not favoured us because of what we are, Nigeria would have disintegrated since.
Has the opposition effectively played their role in all of this?
No, and the opposition cannot because the system does not allow the opposition to do so. Legitimate opposition is based on social conscience. Let’s talk in terms of opposition political parties; how you can have a strong opposition from the parties when they have become so marginalised and they are even not better than the government in power. Where is the opposition to the PDP government in Nigeria? In terms of opposition parties that are in control of a state government, are they doing anything better than what the PDP is doing? So the system has systematically destroyed opposition.
What remains is attempt to produce a credible opposition but it is not possible. Let me give an example to show that the opposition in Nigeria is almost irrelevant. We have two political parties now that are dominant; the PDP that controls everything in terms of political power and the Action Congress of Nigeria (ACN) which is the largest opposition in the country. The PDP controls about 23 states, the ACN controls 6 states, All Nigeria Peoples Party (ANPP) controls 3 states, All Progressive Grand Alliance (APGA) controls 2 states, Labour Party (LP) controls one state, Congress for Progressive Change (CPC) controls one state. So, the clear opposition is CAN, however marginal. It has more states than any of the four other political parties put together. Yet all the political parties want to see PDP off their back.
This should be easy, because the PDP lacks moral base. It should be easy to replace PDP if there is an alliance, particularly a democratic electoral alliance among the opposition parties. The most realistic thing is that all these political parties that control government at state level and those that don’t even control a ward should rally the one that is in true opposition and a true alternative in any democracy, which is the ACN. Is this happening? We now have two and a half years left to the 2015 elections and yet there is nothing concrete to contain the PDP. We are making the same mistake we have been making since 1960, so, where is the relevance of the opposition?
What are your views on true federalism?
In the first place, what is the meaning of true federalism? The only sensible meaning is that the federating units should have sufficient power to be able to conduct their affairs without the over bearing burden of the centre. That is the simplest definition of true federalism. Obviously, you cannot expect this in this system of self interest as opposed to public interest.
Maybe we can do it better by returning to the old regional arrangement by transferring, for instance, the present 6 traditional zones, transforming them into 6 regions and making the regions the federating units so that the allocation from the federation account would be to the 6 regions and each region is allowed to establish as many states and local governments as they can cope with within the allocation and resources available to them. We should have an arrangement whereby out of the federation account, the federal government gets 30 percent and the six federating units get 65 percent. This arrangement will still give the Federal Government the power to coordinate, not to control the federating units.