The Forgotten Conversations

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Simon Kolawolelive!, Email: simon.kolawoe@thisdaylive.com. SMS: 0805 500 1961

A keen follower of the perennial debate on the state of the Nigerian union would have noticed some patterns by now: your diagnosis of the problem inevitably determines your prescription. If you think the problem with Nigeria is the 1914 amalgamation, your prescriptions will most likely be built around “de-amalgamation” or creating a loose union — what they call “open relationship” in the Western world. If you think the problem is federalism, you will vigorously push for “true federalism” and such like. If you think the problem is revenue allocation, you will fight for the Nigerian definition of “fiscal federalism” — by which is meant “higher derivation payment”.

If you are sold on the argument that the problem is the presidential system of government, your prescriptions will naturally focus on that. If you are convinced, like me, that the root cause of our underdevelopment is the absence of good governance, you will inevitably spend your time campaigning for quality leadership that will build strong institutions, design good systems and inspire patriotic followership. I have seen countries develop under various conditions and systems — unitary, federal, quasi-federal, presidential, parliamentary, democratic, dictatorial, homogeneous, heterogeneous, etc — but I am yet to see a country develop under poor leadership.

Your diagnosis logically determines your prescription. My bias is always evident in my writings. I always blame leadership. But I am not demanding that Nigeria should become like Japan by Christmas. I am a little realistic. All I seek is a leadership that is determined to deliver the basic things of life: potable water for the poor, hospitable hospitals for the lowly, good education for underprivileged, regular power supply and motorable roads. Pardon my naivety, but I do not think we need Sharia to end meningitis and cholera in Gusau, or balkanisation to build roads in Aba, or 1963 constitution to run good primary schools in Ibadan. But that’s me.

In any case, while we await the manifestation of the Nigeria of our dream — either the “balkanised” Nigeria, or the “1963 Nigeria”, or the “good governance” Nigeria — there are other critical issues we can devote a fraction of our energies to along the line. We just can’t fold our arms and do nothing simply because the Nigeria of our dream is yet to materialise. In the meantime, we can revive some critical conversations that focus on our common challenges, irrespective of “tribe and tongue”. I have chosen three of such today: one, the Armageddon in the education sector; two, the doom among the youth population; and three, the calamity awaiting the federation revenue.

Some statistics need to sink in properly. There are about 13 million Nigerian children who will never attend primary school — that is the highest number of any country in the world today. That is more than the entire population of the Republic of Benin. Among the lucky ones who attend primary schools, millions do not attend class regularly and the poorest don’t make it to secondary school. They terminate at Primary 4, 5 or 6. Where are they now? And about 70% of those who manage to write WAEC fail. Where do those who fail go? About 1.6 million candidates write UME every year, and only 450,000 places are available in the universities. Where do the rest go?

These statistics need as much attention as the clamour for state police and regionalism. In the year 2017, nearly 180 years after missionaries introduced Western education to Nigeria, there are still over 13 million children who will never see the four walls of a school. They will never learn to read and write. Over 13 million of them! If this does not tug at your conscience, nothing else will. What is the future of these illiterate generations? What will they become tomorrow? Are they among those we call leaders of tomorrow? Sadly, most of our leaders are busy accumulating obscene wealth while a horrible future unfolds before their very eyes.

And, I want to ask, even for those who attend school, what is the quality of instruction? How many teachers know what they are teaching? What is the quality of classroom infrastructure? Are there desks? Are there books? Do the poor pupils eat the basic proteins — meat, fish and milk — which are necessary for brain development? We are teaching Chemistry without chemicals. We have libraries without books. As Beautiful Nubia sang, “Why do we lie to the children about their future when we are not building good schools?” And we have many leaders — Muslim, Christian, north and south, Igbo, Yoruba, Hausa — who are looting the treasury while our education system rots.
Our today is like this because of what we failed to do yesterday. But what are we doing today to prevent a more tragic tomorrow? We are already reaping the fruits of the wickedness in high places. The doomsday is no longer a prediction. Some 91 million Nigerians are under the age of 30. That is more than the combined populations of Ghana, Côte d’Ivoire, Republic of Niger and Burkina Faso. How many of our U-30s have the basic skills to make anything meaningful out of their lives? And among those who manage to pull through all the way to the university, where are the jobs? It is one thing to be unemployable; it is another for there to be vacancies.

Do we ever make a link between these horrifying statistics and the growth of Boko Haram, IPOB, Badoo, Niger Delta militants, kidnappers, internet fraudsters, political thugs and armed robbers in the country? The jobless youth are getting employed somewhere! Do these statistics mean anything to us at all as we continue to focus our energies on “tribe and tongue”? Are these statistics significant enough to engage the energies of the political elite who are busy bickering over the distribution of plum jobs in government? How many of their children attend public schools? How many of their children are enrolled in Nigerian public schools with no desks and no teachers?

I have just highlighted the Armageddon in the education sector and the doom among the youth population, but we seem to have forgotten our conversation on the imminent calamity in the oil-based federation revenue. We had a foretaste in 2015 and 2016 when crude oil prices hit the floor and we could not pay salaries and the exchange rate went haywire and the stock market caught fire and the country fell on its knees. The message was very clear: without oil revenue, we cannot breathe. Only Lagos state could pay its workers without bleeding; the rest 35 states fainted. The federal government went into more debts. We were badly exposed as petro-parasites.

But that is just introduction to trouble. The real trouble is that the future of oil — which we have been talking about without really talking about it — is doomed. Many more countries are discovering hydrocarbon and reducing their dependence on imports while many are developing alternatives that are cheaper and more environment-friendly. To add insult to injury, some of the biggest energy consumers have set deadlines to phase out vehicles that use our oil. But you know what we are busy doing in Nigeria? We are looking for oil in Borno and Sokoto states. Who is going to buy it? We are still sleeping. We are not ready to wake up yet. It’s called the sleep of death.
If we are wise in this country, we should be worried that our future is under serious attack and begin to act immediately and collectively. Most of our public schools, from primary to tertiary, are a disgrace. We have an exploding youth population that is mostly unskilled, underemployed, unemployable and unemployed. We should be concentrating our energies on building the human resources that will take us a better future. We are still building our hopes on natural resources. We do not appear to care about tomorrow. Most of our conversations are contrived to heat up Nigeria. Those who should give us direction are leading us astray.

Most of the people who direct public discourse are hardly interested in these issues. They are more excited about ethnic and religious issues — that is where they get their adrenaline from. When you raise issues about potable water, maternal mortality, infant mortality, sanitation, roads, malnutrition, unemployment and police brutality, they say you are living in denial or trying to be politically correct. Their real interest is the elite struggle for political power and personal share of the national cake. Who cares about the tens of millions of unschooled children and unemployable youth all over the federation? Yet, these are the conversations we should be having.
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AND FOUR OTHER THINGS

UNILAG MESS
My alma mater, the University of Lagos, represents everything that is wrong with Nigeria. After postponing its post-UME test, it still emerged that the school was not ready. Hundreds of teenagers were subjected to traumatic conditions on Wednesday at the test centres. After arriving at the school as early as 7am, many of the candidates did not write the test until 7pm. And to think some came from outside Lagos! Some of these youngsters, denied food and water, fainted. Many computers set up for the test did not work. Some candidates were beaten by soldiers for being “unruly”. And now we would be told the candidates failed. Is this a human society? Rubbish.

GOD BLESS ZAHRA
My star of the week is Zahra Buhari, daughter of the president. A few hours after she posted a message on social media criticising the sickening state of the state house clinic, there was a response from the appropriate quarters! Newspapers have been doing the story for a while, but the state house permanent secretary, Mr. Jalal Arabi, could not be bothered. Now he’s bothered! Can Zahra please drive on a few federal roads across the country and help us post the pictures? Can Zahra please help us comment on the state of other hospitals in Nigeria? A visit to ABUTH, LUTH and UNTH (yes, federal character) will help. Keep posting, Zahra, we love you. Impact.

KACHIFO, KACHIKWU?
Is Dr. Ibe Kachikwu, minister of state for petroleum resources, on his way out? His weighty letter to President Muhammadu Buhari on the conduct of Mr. Maikanti Baru, NNPC GMD, paints the picture of someone who is frustrated and ready to call it a day. Truth be told: Buhari’s government is in disarray — there are too many cases of insubordination, power play and unpunished impropriety. As the chaotic APC government continues to mess up, I’m further amused that the pathetic PDP is equating the award of contracts by NNPC with the diversion of security funds to 2015 electioneering. But, then, what is the difference between APC and PDP? #OneChance.

EDO ANARCHY
What is happening in Edo state? It is one tale of woe after the other as criminal gangs unleash horror on the state. A professor was killed last week. Kidnapping is becoming rampant. It is believed that all hell has been let loose since Mr. Godwin Obaseki, the governor, began to dislodge touts and extortionist gangs from the streets. Meanwhile, the police commissioner, Mr. Haliru Gwandu, has a lot of question marks on him. He has been transferred out of the state since July but Mr. Ibrahim Idris, the inspector general of police, has chosen to retain him there for reasons we can only speculate, in the light of the weighty allegations against Idris himself. Bemusing.

  • “Korede

    I am with you on this and I will continue to be. Responsible leadership is the major problem.

  • Tolu Olujinmi

    Regardless of what anybody says or writes, you are very much on course, Simon Kolawole, with this powerful epistle. The narratives of the peculiar Nigeria’s problem is so well broken down in your story that one would see the extent you have gone in your research work for this project. Thank you.
    For me, the real issue is that about 40 out of Nigeria’s 57 years independence have been perpetrated by the unwelcomed, administratively untrained and ambitious military blokes called Nigerian army and other arms of the armed forces, mostly by the so-called Hausa/Caliphate descent .
    Part of the reason we are clamoring for regionalized government nowadays is because if Papa Obafemi Awolowo could run the Western region so perfectly well without oil money and created better life for all those Cocoa and all other cash crop farmers, and the general citizenry and non citizens in the old Western region, then, we should go back to that kind of system of government and create a healthy competition within the regions, leaving the center to oversee few other important Federal government projects funding with the little percentage of tax revenue money paid by regions as per their overall income.
    You will then see how LEADRESHIP will develop in each region, while this “monster” called corruption will start to fade away due to close monitoring of one another in a more manageable and sizeable regions.

  • Odide Mardeh

    I read your piece and was stunned, not by the points you were making – We have all discussed them at various times. It is the clarity and articulation of the challenges. While I agree with you on the dearth of good leadership, you must agree that the leadership is a reflection of the society; you can’t sow onions and reap vegetables.

  • RumuPHC

    Dear Simon Kolawole,

    You ought to know by now that such high important discussion will attract no audience. Who exactly is out there to discuss the urgent need to address the decay in the education sector with?

    Is it the dysfunctional government of the ruling APC or rudderless presidency of PMB ? Perhaps you think it is possible to raise such concern with members of the Senate or House of Representatives or their counterparts at state levels? What of the the lively public analysts mostly found online ; you suppose they will be interested in anything that is not about the ” dullard” , 1963 Constitution or Nnamdi Kanu’s IPOB?

    It is becoming more glaring that the only thing that matters in Nigeria is power and who wields it . What use power should serve and the public good power ought to deliver appear to be fast becoming irrelevant in the country today. Our national affliction is over the game of power: for individuals; ethnic , religious and sectional interest . There is no consideration for capable leadership for public good irrespective of religion or tribe.

    This phenomenon is however not so new to Nigeria and it will be necessary to investigate more to unearth the the root cause(s). Unfortunately such enquiry cannot be popular today since it isn’t related to the immediate quest to get an upper hand in the power matrix.

    At the beginning Nigerians fought against colonial rule but failed to discuss critical requirements of self rule thereby igniting a political maelstrom. The chaos of the ’60s gave some army officers the chance to promote their own grab for power and they were equally promptly consumed by the “ring” of power simply because they to failed to discuss what to do with power before acquiring the elixir. Later down the path, another generation of Nigerians rebelled against military rule but declined to address the details of democratic governance prior and are now embroiled in a broth of confusion in the name of democratic governance .

    Today, many are promoting break-up or break-away having lost in a recent contest for power . But are yet to vision the pros and cons of regional government or independent ethnic self rule . There only wish is to see their kith presiding over there affairs and not a ” king of the north” . For Nigeria, it has alway been about power for “my” people. The fear of a ruling stranger is the cause they rebel against.

    It is rather sad that while developed countries are resolving their local local issues and promoting solutions to problems of mankind, the mankind in underdeveloped nations in Africa like Nigeria are more interested in religion/ ethnic power to preserve their kind at the exclusion of others.

    How is it that 11 million children of Nigeria out of school will ignite a discussion on Thisdaylive when 70% of those poor children are Muslim almajiris in the north and 90% of readers and online contributors of the news media are christians from the south?

    Sadly , the definition of humanity in many public spaces in Nigeria today is “my ” people , “our “region or space . There is progressive deterioration in tolerance and empathy for those not of our tribes. What becomes of 11 million children is exactly not our concern since they are ” bubu’s” children.

    • William Norris

      Sadly , the definition of humanity in many public spaces in Nigeria today is “my ” people , “our “region or space . There is progressive deterioration in tolerance and empathy for those not of our tribes.
      ———————————————————————————————————–

      1. Is it wrong to be more concerned about the welfare of your own people than those not related to you?

      2. Is there ANY time or place where this has not been the case?

      3. Is there some way to FORCE people to love “others” and make it stick in the long run?

      Serious questions. Because I thought “humanity” refers to HUMAN BEINGS and the behaviors you seem to condemn are very human. It’s as if you’re trying to make Nigerians into NON-HUMANS.

      • RumuPHC

        It’s a shallow mindset that will naturally assume that the welfare of your own people is not contingent upon the well-being of your neighbors.

        Please build a multi million Naira mansion in the midst of a slum and watch what becomes of you and “your people”.

        Decent human beings have since moved beyond the concept of “me my people”. Smart civilizations understand that security and prosperity of a people extend across sovereign boundaries.

        Although most of you with this mindset are an insignificant lot, it is however very disturbing to note that people that are educated can really promote an ethnic based political agenda in this age where borders are fading away in developed countries and globalization is the buzz word.

        And it is rather sad to think that this notion and noisy agitation is the fallout of a democratic contest where your preferred candidate lost.

        • William Norris

          Wow, that was a strong rebuke. Based on a very false premise though it was.

          1. I thought we were discussing “my people” in terms of TRIBE? Or at least very large groups or political collectives. Definitely not families.

          2. In which case your reply is really wrong. If the Yoruba have their own autonomous state I and expect them to ensure they used their revenues on their own people NOT the Igbo and Igala or anyone else. Every Yoruba person would be happy to pay taxes to ensure all “their people” didn’t live in slums.

          3. The world is getting MORE TRIBAL, not less. I’m pretty sure you know this. Human beings simply prefer to be under the political power of their own tribal kind, the closer the kinship the better. There’s NOTHING you or anyone can do to change that. People like me are the insignificant only in the sense that we SAY what we mean. When it comes to ACTION. The vast majority only SAY they want togetherness but THEIR ACTIONS indicate otherwise.

          4. Back to the personal…If this is about that level of togetherness, how many non-related orphans have you adopted onto your own home?

          5. Yes, my preferred candidate lost. I preferred his POLICIES, not his TRIBE. And I think those of you who wanted Buhari know by now you made the wrong choice.

          6. I don’t get you people. Your detribalized utopia will NEVER materialize and as for the mythical GOOD LEADERSHIP, don’t worry….Jesus is coming soon. Or Mohammed…can’t be accused of religious bigotry.

          • RumuPHC

            Sure ..reference to.family is metaphoric.

            You are welcome to your abstract dream of tribal state. We choose to remain realistic and pursue good leadership .

  • FrNinja

    “The night before the meeting [Commonwealth conference], Sir Abubakar Tafawa Balewa, whom I had visited two years before, gave us a banquet in the hotel. Raja and I were seated opposite a hefty Nigerian, Chief Festus, their finance minister. The conversation is still fresh in my mind. He was going to retire soon, he said. He had done enough for his country and now had to look after his business, a shoe factory. As finance minister, he had imposed a tax on imported shoes so that Nigeria could make shoes. Raja and I were incredulous. Chief Festus had a good appetite that showed in his rotund figure, elegantly camouflaged in colorful Nigerian robes with gold ornamentation and a splendid cap. I went to bed that night convinced that they were a different people playing by a different set of rules. I was not optimistic about Africa. In less than 10 years after independence in 1957, Nigeria had had a coup and Ghana a failed coup. I thought their tribal loyalties were stronger than their sense of common nationhood. This was especially so in Nigeria, where there was a deep cleavage between the Muslim Hausa northerners and the Christian and pagan southerners” — Lee Kwan Yew (1966)

    Everything Lee Kwan Yew observed about Nigeria 51 years ago is still true today. Corruption, abuse of office and religious and tribal divides.

  • Country man

    Mr Simon,

    How do you propose that good governance will come about? What EXACTLY is the blueprint that can be used to get your good leadership? If you don’t have concrete answers to the above questions then you obviously have no solution to the problems bedevilling this country.

    A lot of those who have called for restructuring of the nation have marshaled out their blueprint and how this will help engender real development.
    That is a step better than just calling for good leadership without telling us how to get it.

    Simon and others in the fourth estate, continue to compound the problem by confusing the people with these kind of write ups that proffers no real solutions to the problems.
    I just wish the Nigerian people can rise up and DEMAND the right thing………..but then looking at majority of the populace, I may be daydreaming.

  • Mystic mallam

    This man Simon Kolawole and the paralysis of his analysis!! He wants to be neither hot nor cold, neither dove nor eagle, you’d think he wants to be nothing if you didn’t know he was seeking for something. How else to explain his defence of the defiant praetorian guards of 1966 who built and still run a federal union of the absurd – in which very few, if any, feel united, comfortable or secure. Simon deliberately distorts meaning to convey a false message – to him,” fiscal federalism is higher derivation payment”, it’s never about letting the dog wag its tail, rather than compelling the tail to be wagging the dog. He promotes common trite, mere superficial knowledge – such as all the states except Lagos being ”petro-parasites” without addressing what made them so, which is the same false federal unity he strongly defends. And let’s face it, what really makes Lagos any different – nothing – because Lagos also depends on oil – as its considerable tax revenue is derivative of oil revenue [DERIVED OIL INCOME], no more and no less. Simon should attempt to work out the close relationship between oil revenue and the import/consumption taxes that make Lagos thick. Above all else I ask myself, how is it remotely possible that an apparently smart journalist like Simon cannot make the connection between his passion for provision of portable water, health, education, police, employment, etc, and the very structure of governance that is driving the lack thereof!! The structure of governance is as important to the ”GOOD LEADER” as the condition of the car is to the ”GOOD DRIVER”.

    • Gary

      As a side-note and on the question of Lagos, I hope Akin Ambode and like-minds are not oblivious to the little of designating Kaduna as an Inland Port.
      What that means is that goods shipped to Nigeria but destined for the North will not inspected nor subjected to Customs duties (and its attendant revenues) at the Lagos port. But transported by Rail or Road for the Customs formalities and revenues paid to Kaduna.

      While we argue about Restructuring and Federalism, our brethren North of Lokoja are furiously working on Plan B in the event they canno linger keep the union together by force or for their own vision.
      Crying wolf? Add the current shenanigans at NNPC and the paranoid quest for oil from Chad to Sokoto; Maikantu Baru committing the oil corporation into contracts that will span decades (but no money still to build or refurbish the refineries in the Niger Delta they still want to share but can’t trust Ibe Kachikwu to betray his own people).
      That’s it folks, you don’t need to be a CIA agent/analyst to learn how to connect the dots.
      You can thank me later, if you didn’t figure it out before now.
      Our Mumu don Do.

      • FrNinja

        The North will always be dependent on the South. After oil the South has the country’s richest cities. So all the efforts to find oil in the North or to replicate Apapa in Kaduna will come to naught. The best post-oil strategy for the North is agriculture and everything related. The Ivorians turned their North into a massive Cashew growing region. They produce more than 5 times more than what Nigeria produces and earn over 1 billion dollars. Northern Nigeria needs to do cashew, approach cattle ranching like the Botswana who export beef to the EU, approach tomato farming like the Dutch, and explore other produce with maniacal dedication. Even just Nigeria where there are at least 80 million Nigerians south of Lokoja who spend at least 50,000 Naira on food every year. That is a market of 4 trillion for food. But the lazy Hausa-Fulani elite who think like Arabian Sheikhs are drunk on oil money.

      • Mystic mallam

        Certainly, you have your points. If every import destined for each state/zone is custom-charged and value-added taxed at inland ports in the state/zone concerned, of course Lagos state revenue will still be great, but not so great after all. But that’s beside the point. The point is for the likes of Simon Kolawole to understand how deeply dependent on crude oil all of Nigeria is, including Lagos state – directly or indirectly.

    • obinnna77

      He ‘knows’. It’s just playing to the Aso rock gallery. He doesn’t even do it very well. He should take lessons from Abbati, or Otti.

  • American Abroad

    Here we go again.

    Channeling Galen, doyen of 2nd century Greek Medicine: Restructuring will cure all of our ills as a nation, except the incurable ones, which are all of our ills as a nation.

    All the Commentators as well as Mr Adeniyi, are, without any doubt, perfectly correct once again. But they are like the Blind Men of Hindustan described in the children’s allegorical poem by JG Saxe, who all traveled to see an elephant; those that could see/touch the elephant’s flank believed an elephant was like a wall, those that only saw/touched the limbs swore it was a tree, whilst those that could only grope the ears described the elephant as a fan. Just like those denouncing Structure, Hate Speech, the rise of the Sai-Babarians, Nepotism, wild-fire Corruption, and other symptoms of a Failed State, they are all equally misled.

    Nigeria’s existential problem is Nigerians. Those “golden” 1960s of Regionalism, which were anything but, had an important distinction: it was aspirational, education meant everything, a middle-class based on patriotic instincts and commonsense was being deliberately nurtured. Then, if I had returned home from Lagos- or Kaduna, Ibadan, anywhere- with government swag purloined from state coffers, I would be immediately ostracized, both by parents and society. One of Nigeria’s most promising 1960s-era politicians, Mr Mbonu Ojike, allegedly committed seppuku in order to salvage his threatened family name. Parents were universally less interested in storing riches for a life of idle dilettantism for their children (and perhaps, considering the billions at stake, great-grandchildren) than providing them with the skills to navigate a fast-changing “White Man’s World” structured on a solid educational system. In those days, Nnamdi Kanu would never have found listless young men to serve as cannon fodder for his megalomania: what would they have told their parents or kinsmen they went to do at Umuahia? Similarly, did you ever see crowds of Almajiri aggregated around the Sarduana, as would now form a virtual Praetorian guard around Mr Buhari?

    Killing the concept of education in Nigeria was the greatest sin of the Military. The key to recovery from our present malaise is still Education, real education, not the sorry facsimile that is presently masquerading as the real thing. We need a better class of Nigerians, present company, of course, excepted.

    • Daniel Obior

      One cannot agree more on the importance of education. Indeed it so happened that we had our best period as a country with respect to education, when we ran a proper federal system in the ’60s. with the regions providing good education to their citizens. It does not seem to matter how this whole issue is sliced, it brings us back to the same proximity of good governance based on a good system.

    • William Norris

      1. Could you illustrate HOW the Nigerian military damaged education? One or two policies that contributed to the damage?

      2. Any solutions? Any suggested policy that might stem the rot?

      3. Any CURRENT initiatives or frameworks that illustrate what to do and what to avoid?

      I want to listen and learn.

      • FrNinja

        How about funding. Every year Nigeria spends at least $1 billion on its army for around 160,000 personnel. Who are they fighting? Meanwhile it spends less than that on its universities that have over 1 million students enrolled. Talk about priorities.

        • William Norris

          The Nigerian budget in 2013 was $31 billion or ₦5 trillion naira. Not one single kobo of that money went to ABTI, Covenant or other private universities. Yet those institutions still function very well.

          Sometimes one can use extremes to make projections about possibilities.

          Let’s say the FG and every state allocated $10 billion to EDUCATION alone in 2013 and every year since. I don’t think it would have made any SUSTAINABLE improvement in outcomes.

          First thing, what would be the OBJECTIVE or desirable outcome of such an increase in spending? That’s VERY IMPORTANT.

          The usual benchmark for Nigerians is UK or US universities. Let’s take Alabama, one of the poorest states in the USA. Their State government owns 8 universities and spends an average of $13,000 per student. Of those universities, the least spending per student is $9,000.

          Now let’s see, how many students are present in the 104 Federal Universities in Nigeria at any time…..each year about 200,000 students are admitted, so taking 5 years time to graduate, that will be 1 million students so yeah you’re right. Good. Now spending the entire budget on the 104 Universities alone will give an average spending per student of $10,000. That brings you to the spending level of a poor State in the USA.

          I bet if you did that, Nigerian Universities will still NOT get any better.

          1. My guess is that one outcome of such a huge budget will be a surge of JOB CREATION at the universities and politicians will immediately start sending their relatives and friends to get jobs using their “connections” and “influence”.

          Right now, TODAY, you can go to the Budget Office website and see that Nigerian Universities spend over 95% of their budget on SALARIES.

          2. About 1.2 million students take JAMB every year and only about 200,000 are admitted. My guess is that a large budget increase for universities spark a strong political push to admit as many as possible – NOTE the new lower JAMB cut-off mark. The number of students could easily swell to 600,000 in a decade and your spending per student will go DOWN to what, $3,000 and there will be an outcry about FALLING SPENDING on education. This is ACTUALLY WHAT HAS HAPPENED IN THE PAST 30 years.

          3. If you put 30% of the budget into education, what about OTHER THINGS that Nigerians want their government to do? Roads, airports, seaports, police, army, fuel subsidy, propping up the naira, housing for all, subsidized electricity, healthcare….where do you get money for those? OK, how about…..20% each to education, healthcare, police, roads, electricity….and ZERO to everything else I suppose.

          I don’t think money is the problem. I think the problem is WHO gets to control and spend the money, are there INCENTIVES that will promote PRUDENT SPENDING and uphold high standards that will serve the public well.

          And the actual bottom line is this – NIGERIA HAS NEVER HAD ENOUGH MONEY, Nigeria has ALWAYS been broke, Nigeria has NEVER had enough financial means OR credibility to provide and SUSTAIN high quality services to its citizens.

          Just my 2 cents.

          • vicar ubosi

            Now I can’t even remember why we quarrel a times…very incisive analysis!

          • Iskacountryman

            you hit the nail right on the head…now all you have to figure out is convince me to take the job…of course you know i would not…i would rather be minister of state for petroleum…

      • BB

        I see that the focus is wrongly (IMO) on tertiary education. I have met with high school diploma holders from developed nations who could hold their own in a debate with university graduates. I believe we need to revamp the foundation of education- The primary and secondary education of Nigeria. As AA rightly pointed out, the ‘golden’ 60s had men of integrity. Moral values (the bane of integrity) are best indoctrinated into a child in his formative years

        • William Norris

          I focused on tertiary for simplicity. I agree that all levels of education are important.

          The 60’s was an era in which the vast majority of Nigerian men and women sold out their various tribes to the Colonial Masters in return for crumbs and scraps. The zenith of this self abnegation was the Jan 66 coup which was staged to PRESERVE the Colonial Prison, not to open the gates.

          Virtually every Nigerian till today concurs with the stated intent of that coup, which is to fight corruption. And of course nobody cares about the CAUSE of corruption. Any wonder they elected Buhari?

      • American Abroad

        As you know, I never respond to trolls. But this is a bit different as it borders on a treatable national implosion. I’ll therefore make a brief response, primarily in the interest of the reading public, and against my own natural inclination.

        Small pox has not been seen anywhere in this world since 1977, and has been officially eradicated since 1980, so it is incomprehensible to me (and I suspect, the WHO) who GEJ or his government had been vaccinating.

        The oft-cited contribution of Nigeria to a widespread popular use of telephones has very little to do with Nigeria’s leadership as much as technology: the invention of the microchip, and ultimately, availability of cell phones. The poor in India as well as the displaced in Haiti and other hell holes all have cell phones, just as the poor are able to watch CNN even in remote Ekiti villages.

        The military decapitated education, an issue which is being currently serialized in the Orbit Sunday Column in Vanguard by a Dr Nwakanma. By assuming ownership of schools, including universities and middle schools, run by the unqualified and dissolute, then proceeding to hire-and-fire without rhyme or reason, subverting the intellectual culture, defunding all meaningful scholarship especially those perceived as being critical of government, before- horror of horrors- appointing General Mamman Kontagora who never attended any University known to man or beast as vice-chancellor (politely termed “administrator” in deference to whom?) of ABU, it was clear the end of scholarship in Nigeria was nigh. To provide perspective, my uncle who only had a primary school education, and indeed actually flunked his first school leaving certificate exams in the early 50s, can hold his own against any university graduate student in today’s Nigeria, of course present company excepted. Also fully appreciate that quality is not synonymous with funding (but aptitude and dedication), though a minimum amount of income is, of course, necessary.

        My solutions: first, this being Nigeria, declare a “state of emergency in education” to get everyone’s attention; federal government should act as inspectorate not necessarily school administrators, thus hands-off all schools (perhaps, retaining only a few, purely to establish universal standards, the rest should be organized by those who truly understand education, including parochial organizations and state/local governments); legally prohibit any family member(s) of anyone serving in government from studying outside the country (if, say, the “delectable Zahra”- and here, I’m only quoting Jon West- was schooling at UniAbuja, trust me, there would be no cult activity there, and if she can get a craven Permanent Secretary to do the right thing by a single tweet, I’d wager she could get the Vice Chancellor to sit up too); dedicate a fixed percentage of the annual budget to education (my preference would be 15% at least); stop the mindless replication of poor quality mass-education (Nigeria is hemorrhaging approximately $50 million yearly to Ghana alone in tertiary education fees!) and focus on quality starting from primary school; re-introduce A-levels; make teaching salaries competitive, and pay bonuses based on measurable outcomes; above all, stop the distortion of values occasioned by rampant corruption. In that context, I now believe that until a few folks are actually tied to the stakes and shot, Nigeria will never kiss corruption a final adieu, both for our sakes and the sakes of our innocent children.
        There are several other workable suggestions I could proffer, but those above are the irreducible starting points. Its not the level of education that matters, but the quality: I’d take a good BA (or A-level) any day to a Nigerian PhD. Quote me.

        • William Norris

          legally prohibit any family member(s) of anyone serving in government from studying outside the country
          ———————————————————————————

          Buhari – all his children study abroad in the UK.

          Jonathan – all his children study in Nigeria

          And you urged Nigerians to vote for Buhari and urged them to keep up the faith even as his faux toga of incorruptibility unravelled.

          That’s the Nigerian – so many “degrees” of insight, lots of “education” and no common sense.

          You’re an IDIOT and that’s the end of the matter.

          • American Abroad

            Sir: take your medications and hopefully, for your own sake, a kind family member will finally ensure that you receive the psychiatric help you so desperately need, and save the wider world from your trolling menace.

          • Iskacountryman

            holy cow…take it easy…you cannot kill a man for being ignorant…

        • Iskacountryman

          polio….and consider making me minister for education….

        • Le Sapeur

          Well said! Raw but basic steps to improving the system

      • Iskacountryman

        1. the takeover f school and the crazy but insistent running of one nation policy for all schools in nigeria…
        2. if you make me a federal minister for education, i would make things work…

    • BB

      Beautifully articulated. Spot on

    • Iskacountryman

      meanwhile …whie waiting for that key…can we at least have subsidised fura de nono?

  • Fidelis Arumala

    Everytime I read Simon Kolawole of late, I become dispirited. Just take a look at his submission on Dr. Ibe Kachikwu? Simon the Holy scriptures you and I subscribed to, says in Revelation 3:15, “I know thy works, you are neither cold nor hot, how I wish thou were cold or hot”.
    Simon, time for you to come down from your high horse and call out this government, you and I both supported its emergence. They are FAILING this country, I have longed atoned for my support. How can you say that the Buhari administration is in “disarray” without you making a humble submission about the STARK REALITY Nigeria now face for a government that is in “disarray”? I supported this government because I couldn’t forgive Goodluck Jonathan for his disgraceful outright retainership of Abba Moro after the Immigration TRAGEDY simply because he wanted to please David Mark and other disgraceful conduct by him because he was ALOOF. For over fourteen years I have been reading you Simon, but this administration you and I supported is embarrassingly removing the little measure of esteem some of us have for you. PLEASE Simon, get over yourself. This is not the FUTURE that I SEEK when I gave my lot for this HYPOCRITICAL CHANGE.

    • Thompson Iyeye

      I recall we were at the opposite sides of the exchanges leading to the last election. I truly admire your honesty and courage in seeing what this government really is. Unfortunately Simon Kolawole’s overwhelming desire to be “politically correct”, makes it difficult to demonstrate similar honesty and courage. It probably is best to take him for what he is, which is rather sad.

    • Fowad

      We have not even given Buhari any chance to implement his change programme. My suspicion is that the man will come back to ask us to return him in 1999 To finish his good work

      • Tony Ezeifedi

        Who is holding him from fulfilling his bogus promises? What are holding him are: one, old age and his health problems, two, his mental and intellectual deficiencies, and three: the type human beings surrounding him. Buhari is not a politician. He is not a leader. He is not an administrator. He should have remained a garrison commander.

        • Adeyemi Owolabi

          Tony, your diagnosis is very correct. Our collective mistake was that the seemingly advertised integrity of a man is enough a magic wand that could cure his inadequacies but events and time have exposed our jaundiced judgement and collective bewilderment.

  • Fowad

    Transparency in government will deal with all the problems we have. Good that president’s daughter is intervening. I wish she could weigh in the same way to persuade Daddy to restructure the polity

  • Don Franco

    Dear Simon,

    Even in your mumuness, you write well; your challenge is in forever being unable to differentiate between the Interesting and the Important. I don’t doubt that you do it deliberately.
    The bad leaders that you complain about are the same very ones that you strongly endorsed in 2015; and whose anti -restructuring position you disingenuously defend in your op-eds. Like the biblical Nichodemus; you’d rather go in the night, and circumlocute around the serious issues, without ever hitting the nail in the head.
    For example, you wanted to know what Sharia has to do with Meningitis and Cholera in the North, and what the bad roads in Aba has to do with the IPOB; as if you’re unaware that the Islamic practice of incarceration of woman and young girls in Purdah isn’t alive and well in Gusau, didn’t you even hear Governor Yari waxing Islamic by blaming adultery and fornication for the last outbreak of a disease that is almost eradicated from the face of the earth, except in Northern Nigeria and rural Pakistan. I’m sure you’ll ask me what is the nexus between these two places, Simon?
    I haven’t read any backpage op-ed from you enquiring from your “leader” what happened to the $1.8 billion that was paid out for procurement of vaccines against the Meningitis and Cholera miasma. Governor Yari resides in Abuja permanently, only goes to Zamfara to pay salaries once a month.

    Balkanization will fix not only the roads of Aba; but all the other infrastructure that was destroyed during the Civil War that the federal government has intentionally failed to repair; lest the Igbo become great again. Failure of leadership wasn’t responsible for the non-passage of the Southeast Rehabilitation Bill that was killed in NASS in July; even though good and proactive leadership was responsible for its introduction. Thats what balkanization has to do with the bad roads of Aba, Simon.

    Simon, when those like yourself who should give us direction are is the very one leading us astray, where will similarly situated and comparatively inclined marginalized youth find the fortitude and wherewithal to want to remain part of this Zoo?
    Why didn’t you call out the corrupt Certificateless One and his sidekick, Maikanti Baru for having turned the NNPC into their personal treasury; instead you’re worried that Ibe Kachikwu might be on his way out of the NNPC? WHY, Simon, are you not blaming the President for this egregious failure in leadership? I’m sure it’s because you know he installed his Chief of Staff, Abba Kyari on the NNPC board to execute his Arewa Agenda, and bypass Kachikwu as much as possible.

    Let me tell you something for nothing, Simon, your Greco-Roman concept of leadership isn’t compatible with the Arewa Caliphate”s definition of it; hence you have the Almajiri culture, that’s fast spreading across Nigeria. I observe 3,4,5, and 6 year olds begginng for alms on Ozumba Mbadiwe; note that there’s 2 primary schools around the corner within half a kilometer radius. It is not leadership, Simon, it is a mindset, it’s part of a culture.

    All in all, Simon, your kind of Sai Babarity is responsible for why greatness will continue to elude Nigeria; even though you’d blame it on “Leadership”.

    • FrNinja

      Don’t mind the undercover tribal hypocrite. An honest journalist would have been more concerned with NNPC corruption. Instead with less than disguised glee he announces “Kachifo, Kachikwu”.

    • AA

      Classic!

  • Orphic

    In my experience countries that fail share a common denominator. In their discourse, they have an obsession with politics. While countries that succeed have an obsession with economics. There is a crucial separating difference between these two fields of study.

    Politics is about power in particular state power, while economics is about wealth generation. Countries that over emphasise politics always end up in political crisis and civil war, because politics is more often used as a tool for personal material gain. Countries that focus on economics tend to be countries that are ready to address their economic problems and in such countries the discourse is always focussed on the economic implications of any political decision.

    For example, the UK used to be a country that focussed on economics, the minute it changed its focus to politics (ignoring economic implications) – with Brexit, it descended into political rivalry, chaos and rancour, like many African countries. Similarly Spain.

    Does a country have to be fair, egalitarian and politically competitive to economically succeed? Evidence (China, S. Korea etc ) suggests not – at least not as a starting point, but it must strive towards these goals. So the political objectives enumerated by John West below are not a necessary condition for economic well being but are an advantage and objective.

    Everything Nigerians do is pervaded with politics. What it means is that we are destructively competing with each other – as opposed to working with each other, not to grow available resources but to access limited resources. Every week some persona or the other engages in some ego driven battle against some rival, not because of any ideas for national well being but for petty, selfish and egotistical objectives. Today it is Kachikwu vs Baru, yesterday it was Senate vs Custom Chief – over of all things dress code, tomorrow it’ll be someone else.

    • Olisa

      Well, in my own experience, an obsession with politics is often symptomatic of a serious fundamental problem of governance or the adoption of a political system that is inimical to the nature of a society.

      • MDG2020

        Hmmm a six short paragraphed commentary, yet when fully digested can make a whole full book.
        You have truly added to my base of knowledge and desire for more research. God bless you. Some of us are open to knowledge, because knowledge is infinite.
        I am really scared for the 97 percenters, who have totally shot down their thinking faculty to further knowledge, except it boarders on kwarrapson, “wan nijeria” and mob mentality!

    • Country man

      Dear Orphic,
      NOBODY will be obsessed with economics as long as ALL the money is in govt. Pray why would anyone focus on wealth creation while there is a lot of money in politics.
      You seem not to realize how the present structure supports the Nigerian mindset.

      Until our structure as a nation is changed the Nigerian mindset of loot as much as you can, while you can, will remain with us irrespective of who gets into leadership.
      Our gains as a society will be negligible at best

      • William Norris

        LOL, you’re one of the few that get it. I tell you, I don’t understand WHY supposedly educated Nigerians can’t grasp this simple thing.

        If you’re an intelligent person with say, $400,000 to your name and a good family background and upper class connections and a degree in Agriculture, which would you rather do:

        1. Take the risk of setting up an Agricultural business and deal with all the obstacles of doing business

        2. Tap your elite connections and get a plum post at the CBN where you might be put in charge of dispensing the Agric Credit Guarantee Funds or whatever they’re called?

        Government is KNOWN to be inefficient in the utilization of capital, resources and factors of production, but BY LAW, government controls most of those things in Nigeria. So HOW exactly do you expect the economy to develop?

        LOL….I guess it’s futile and really natural. Darwin, here’s to you – if only you could see these people.

        • Country man

          Mr Norris,
          Thanks for the illustration.
          Your illustration is very apt. Its not difficult to see what the average Nigerian will do in the above scenario.
          That educated Nigerians argue against the obvious is really exasperating, but then when the fourth estate is made up of people who think and write like SK, how informed can the people get?

          • William Norris

            I suppose that’s what the revolutionary nature of the internet is all about. The info is there.

            Three things have me critical insight into Nigeria –

            1. A book by Wole Soyinka….”Open Sore of a Continent”.

            2. An online documentary from the Abacha years called the “Drilling Fields”

            3. An academic paper on the different structures of the cocoa sector in Ivory Coast and Ghana.

            2 out of 3. From there it was a matter of follow up and constant critical analysis. In the course of such reading, I found out the pivotal role Ibrahim Babangida has played in saving the Nigerian ECONOMY from ruin. That IBB gets no credit for this is attributable to the same journalists you’ve indicted. Mostly the Yoruba dominated Lagos-Ibadan press embittered by the Abiola saga. They could at least separate the ecoonomic from the political given that the VERY FIRST beneficiary of IBB SAP reforms was the cocoa sector, a Yoruba dominated sector.

            Who remembers that cocoa used to be regulated just like petrol? Before IBB dereegulated the sector in 1986, cocoa farmers were forced by LAW to sell their product to the Federal Government ONLY at a price dictated by that same Federal Government. It was illegal to sell to anyokne else. The government would buy from them at 50 and then export it abroad at 300.

            Farmers had to pay BRIBES for government officials to accept their beans. Yoruba farmers were imprisoned in their hundreds for smuggling their produce abroad just like Ijaw crude oil bunkerers are hunted today by the JTF.

            The deregulation of cocoa kickstarted a sustained rise in production. The Yoruba in that business generally became wealthier and more productive as a result. Right now Nigeria is one of the top 10….I think number 5 or 6…exporters of cocoa. There’s more value addition coming into the sector. No controversy or tales of corruption and vanishing dollars.

            This is real history, anyone can check the internet and READ this up. Why the obsession with government when government IS the problem? Nigerians should be engaging in mass protest to reduce the power of government….instead their most recent and most credible mass actions have been to support laws and institutions that give MORE power to government.

            It’s all good I guess.

          • FrNinja

            The Nigerian government accounts for less than 8% of the Nigerian economy because they do little other than steal. The US government on the other hand accounts for well over 20% of US GDP. The UK accounts for close to 40% of their GDP.

          • Michael Kadiri SocioPolitical

            Group hug?

        • Iskacountryman

          i will do #2, and find an eboe man to give the loan to…eboes are industrious when it comes to eating trickle down awoof money…

      • okbaba

        They do not live in Nigeria!

    • obinnna77

      How trite. Seek ye first the political kingdom; first, then other things follow. It’s not called a political economy for nothing. Our tragedy is that our structuration causes a fixation on the political alone. We have no second, or third. To paraphrase Nzeribe, ‘ the political game is the only game in town’.

    • Pappy

      Well said!

  • Efeturi Ojakaminor

    There is nothing wrong if you demand that Nigeria should become like Japan by Christmas.

  • power

    The problem with Nigeria is lack of unity and co-operation. We do not love ourselves, yet we pretend that we do. For almost 50 years we have not attained sustainable development and peace because ethnic and religious lines genuinely separate us. Simon Kolawole has failed to acknowledge the obvious. If Mr. Ibe Kachikwu was a Fulani man won’t he see the president any time he wants to? Why was he denied access to see him for almost a year? Why was he relegated to the limbo of non-recognition when Mr. Baru became the GMD of NNPC?

    Why did Buhari Tagg IPOB as a terrorist group, yet failed to acknowledge Fulani Herdsmen ( who have killed thousands of innocent people after Boko-Haram) as one.
    Why is it that each time a president in Nigeria governs, he favors his tribe with appointments, contracts, and a host of other juicy incentives more than others?
    Is it possible for a Yoruba man to be the Governor of Katsina State? Is it possible for an Urhobo man to be the Governor of Anambra State? Is it possible for an Itsekiri man to be the Governor of Cross River State? Can a Christian ever think of becoming the governor of Sokoto State? Why do most countries push for secession after years of living together? Please, Mr. Simon Kolawole, We are tired of your rhetorics of “One Nigeria.”

  • okbaba

    Simon, if your conclusions in the paragraph Kachifo, Kachikwu hold water, why then are my compelled to discuss the pertinent issues of developmemt in the main that you raised. Is it not pure waste of time and energy since the vehicles (APC/PDP) to attain leadership positions are all rickety?

    I can only make a meaningful contribution only when your own party is formed and populated by the so called good leaders you crave for.

    For now, the amassed failiures have come to roost. Education failed, boko haram underscored it. Federal character failed and IPOB surfaced. Environmental degradation, militancy. Unemployment then kidnappings. Our mumu don do, the elite said hypocrisy.

    Keep dreaming and praying. Good leadership will be our manna soon.

  • Jon West

    There is a direct relationship between a political system and the nature of Governance. Good governance, whatever it means, springs from a fair, just, competitive political and economic system. You cannot make any progress in the modern sense, if you run a theocracy or are obsessed with power without responsibility. Simon Kolawole, please do not put the cart before the horse. Let’s have an open, fair, just an and competitive political system, and then good governance and all the other goodies will be added unto us, including a functioning Sate House Clinic(after a budgetary allocation higher than all the University Teaching Hospitals combined) for the delectable Zahra and her permanently indisposed Daddy.

    • Michael Kadiri SocioPolitical

      Thank you
      However good the driver is, he cannot drive a bus faster than a Ferrari!!

      • Olisa

        Hilariously true, that is why I believe a country made up of autonomous regions with semi-autonomous sub-units is better for us: The “regional vehicles” will move at their own pace, and the motivation for speedy development will be driven by healthy rivalry among the regions to outdo each other. The reality of comparative advantages will also necessitate the need for mutual cooperation.

        • Pappy

          This is an idealistic vision of what will be chaos, developing countries don’t have a capacity to run a confederacy. There won’t be any healthy rivalry among the regions but infighting within and outside the regions, which will cause tension. Nigeria practiced something similar in the 1960s and it didn’t take long for us to tear ourselves apart.

          Developing countries require a strong central government that puts economic development as a priority. A political system designed to lift as much people out of poverty as possible, a social system that values meritocracy and intellectual ability, and a theme built around modernization. If Nigeria can’t function with a strong central government it’s better of cutting itself up and balkanizing.

      • FrNinja

        In the Nigerian case, we have dullards building wheelbarrows to compete in a race against Ferraris.

      • Intrepid

        Nice one MKSP. Can I borrow those witty lines?

      • Country man

        If most Nigerians can understand this simple analogy, and apply it to the Nigerian situation; people like SK, who deliberately write to confuse would be irrelevant as the people will unite to DEMAND the right thing.

        • BB

          Dear (fellow) Country man. SK’s piece was quite clear and simple. He says it very simply thus -“I have seen countries develop under various conditions and systems — unitary, federal, quasi-federal, presidential, parliamentary, democratic, dictatorial, homogeneous, heterogeneous, etc — but I am yet to see a country develop under poor leadership.” We need to rethink our focus. Forget about SK being anti- or pro- balkanisation, he is speaking to the heart of the matter, leadership

          • Country man

            Dear BB,
            If you have been reading SK, you will know by now that at times he refuses to speak truth to power.
            Just like he disingenuously mentioned Norway last week without explaining that they are a homogenous people, he obfuscates details to mislead the reading public.
            He should have mentioned specific nations so we can analyze them individually instead of making a bogus claim of nations developing under different systems without proof.

            YOU have to realize one thing:- no nation develops without the right structures or economic policies.
            Just like MSKP’s analogy captured, no matter who is driving, the type of car matters more than the driver. In the same vein the system matters more than the leader.

            Ask yourself—- since the military incursion, we have had leaders from east, west, north and south.
            How come NONE OF THEM is a good leader?
            SK supported Buhari. If Buhari is a good leader why is Nigeria still heading downhill? If he is bad why did SK who believes leadership is our problem support him then?
            Or is there NO YARDSTICK with which to get the leadership he so much craves.

            Western civilization was built on a principle which we have not incorporated:-
            RESPECT OF PROPERTY RIGHTS OF INDIVIDUALS.
            This principle has worked for developed nations and there is no reason why Nigeria should not apply it because it empowers the people to create wealth and development.

            Hiding behind one finger in the name of looking for good leadership simply means that 20 years from now we will be complaining about the same things because the elusive messiah has not come

          • AA

            “SK supported Buhari. If Buhari is a good leader why is Nigeria still heading downhill? If he is bad why did SK who believes leadership is our problem support him then?”

            Too much!

            The truth is that those who support Buhari invariably disagree with ANY notion of overhauling the current dysfunctional political system. They are bubulectuals – intellectual frauds. Simple.

      • BB

        Sir, the race is not always to the swift….
        Mr Kolawole is simply choosing to focus on the driver and not the vehicle, because a rickety bus as you so put it , provides motion. A Ferrari in the hands of a lunatic is however destined to crash.

    • RumuPHC

      ” However, It became crystal clear that we needed to fight this new enemy with everything at our disposal . Most important, Nigeria needed to identify the RIGHT LEADER with the right kind of character, education, and background. Someone who would understand what was at stake- where Africa had been, and where it needed to go. ”

      Chinua Achebe

      • Jon West

        I am quite glad that you brought Achebe into the discussion. Read his books, especially his last work “There was a Country” and also the story of the snake and the horse and you will realise why we are where we are.

        His theory on good leadership ,as the panacea to Nigerias problems ,becomes untenable when juxtaposed with the inherent contradictions with the reality of the mentioned works. Bottom line, we need some seperation in this forced union, in order to get the best of the parts to create a greater whole. It is the nature and substance of the seperation that we should l be discussing, but this we must, for the sake of the Black man ,our children and their own children.

        • RumuPHC

          Perhaps Chinua Achebe was a fool and Jon West a sage….

          ” After waiting a while and determining that no messiah was about to come down and save the day, some of us joined the political process. I joined the left-of-center Peoples Redemption Party and was appointed its deputy national president.”

          Chinua Achebe .

          • AA

            Achebe actually changed this thesis on leadership being the be all and end all of the Nigerian problem. If you read Anthills of the Savannah, which he wrote over a decade after making the earlier claim about leadership, u will see that his view changed.

          • RumuPHC

            The book There Was A Country was the last of the literary giant . The quote is from the tail end of the book.

            Apparently it was the passing shot of a distinguished old man that had seen it all , to the next generation. Unfortunately some youths nowadays don’t ” hear word” .

          • Jon West

            The distinguished old man wanted to out Nigeria as a fraud. He told me that during the Achebe Week at Stanford University , California, USA in August 2011. His contempt for Nigeria, its leaders and people was shown repeatedly, when he refused the National Honours bestowed on him. He had no respect for what the country had become post 1970.

          • RumuPHC

            No sir, Achebe did not want out. According to him he joined politics for …..

            ” The goal of being an active participant in Nigeria politics would be to elevate the national discourse to a level that stirred up the pot, if you like, and got Nigerians to begin to ask critical questions about the future, such as : How can the country conduct free and fair elections? How can we elect the RIGHT KIND OF LEADERSHIP and ensure that our leaders don’t double their tenure, or even change it into a dynasty to hand over to their sons?”

            Achebe is long departed but these very significant questions remain unanswered. I suppose the quest to solve these riddles should be our driving force today and not certain nonsensical arguments on ethnicity or break away. Both options are defeatist – Nigeria is our country and nobody should be given the honour of restricting us to our ethnic localities or forcing us out.

            A Hausa Fulani man does not have two balls !

    • Iskacountryman

      we have a competitive political system…you need lots of money to win an election…we have inec that guarantees-open, fair just and competitive milieu…what we lack is patience…but we have too many quacks like you prescribing the wrong medicine…

    • Curious One

      Simon is blindly taking a northern agenda without looking at the depth of that position. The present system allows a birgort to promote sectional interest at the expense of developmental interest; it forces a person from minority groups to spend his tenure pandering to the wishes of majority groups; it forces a man from majority groups to spend his time fighting those who feel marginalized; it keeps a nation perceptually waiting for a benevolent leader. Laws are meant to stop the evil minded, not intended to make a society wait for imaginary visionary leaders.

    • “Korede

      I just pray that you all have the type of government you are all crying for or the type of restructuring that you are yearning. I pray that we all have long lives to witness how that will bring about good governance and solve all the problems highlighted by Simon Kolawole above.

      One thing that I know is that with with the set of politicians we have without conscious change of attitude to governance, we are not going to make any progress.

      May almighty God answer these prayers so that we can come back here again to discuss after the restructuring.

  • Political Affey

    We often forget that Nigeria is a post colonial state as many states in Africa, Asia and Latin America. However Nigeria enjoys a privilege which many don’t have. It has the largest population in Africa. This places Nigeria in a prime position of practically touching everything and turn them to gold. It is very unfortunate that the reverse is the case. We have ruined everything. It is Nigerians themselves who prioritised education as the way out of our underdevelopment. Sad to say we face a situation of double whammy in which both our population, democracy and education have been weaponised for all the wrong reasons. Only the children of the rich have access to qualitative education now. Don’t even go near the neglected children of the poor, who are rendered useless by lack of state funding of education. This is the real crisis staring us in the face. But we are busy focussing on irrelevant issues. Democracy has brought little reward to us. When it came to us it became a weapon we use to castigate our enemies. Democracy is meant to spread development. It is used in the established democracies to liberalise the economy. In our part of the world, it only serves to bring in square pegs into round holes.

    • Pappy

      Democracy isn’t meant to spread development, democracy is a product of development and not a tool that can be used to develop. Nigeria lacks proper leadership that can set the country on a straight path to development.

      • Iskacountryman

        but nigerians dont make good democrats…

        • Pappy

          I agree.

    • Iskacountryman

      not in hybrid societies…

  • Sarah

    Re “…God Bless Zahra…”
    This is symptomatic of our weak institutions as a country. That Jalal Arabi could not be bothered until the daughter of the President’s comment shows that some civil servants do not do their jobs until there is likelihood of sanctions from above.
    At the beginning of this administration we were told Buhari’s body language made the refineries to suddenly increase production capacity. Now Zahra Buhari’s body language appears to have made State House perm sec to sit up. We hope this flash in the pan will not go the same way as the so called increase in production capacity of our refineries.

    • obinnna77

      And to think that the irony of it is lost on Kolawale…he can’t see how symptomatic of the silliness of the system he strives to defend that statement is. Lord have mercy.