Ademola Babalola in Ibadan
The Obi of Onitsha, Igwe Nnemeka Achebe, Saturday said the solution to the myriad problems besetting the nation lie within the Nigerian people themselves, and urged President Muhammadu Buhari to listen to the people.
Recalling President Buhari’s recent statement that he has confined the various recommendations of the 2014 national political conference under the Goodluck Jonathan administration to the archive, the monarch said such posture may not be in the best interest of the nation and greater good of Nigerians in the long run.
Obi spoke to reporters after a reception organised in his honour by Ibadan School of Government and Public Policy (ISGPP) in Ibadan, Oyo State. The ceremony was attended by the Chairman of the group, Prof. Akin Mabogunje; the Executive Vice Chairman, Dr. Tunji Olaopa, members of the academic community and a host of others.
The monarch said Nigeria had for so long ignored problems militating against its nationhood, saying that solutions proffered against them had always been swept under the carpet, in veiled reference to former President Olusegun Obasanjo’s confab report and the Jonathan administration’s 2014 conference.
He said although mistakes were bound to happen, Nigeria had always pretended that the nationhood was a perfect arrangement because “we don’t want to admit our mistakes.”
According to him, “One point that we must not ignore is that in any organisation, in the lives of individuals, mistakes are bound to happen. The purpose of mistakes is for us to learn from them, correct them and move forward.
“But in our institutional setting in Nigeria, there is the tendency to pretend and ignore our mistakes because we don’t want to admit. We live in the mistakes and they get worse. And then, it takes a long time to bring about change in our ways and in looking for alternatives.”
The monarch said a commission set up by past government had proffered solution to some of the economic problems of Nigeria but the recommendations were ignored.
“About a month ago, the government announced that the price of petrol had been partially deregulated. Thirteen years ago, I was the chairman of a commission of enquiry appointed by the then president Olusegun Obasanjo to look into the same issue. We made a series of recommendations. One of them was to deregulate the price of petrol and save the country a lot of money.
“Money saved would have been used to address problems in education, health and other sectors. It took 13 years to adopt the recommendation. There is a challenge for the traditional institution and educational institutions like the ISGPP to be more active in order to solve our past mistakes. We must live as role model to our society.”
The EVC of the group, Dr. Olaopa, had in his opening address said there was a glaring absence of governance framework viable enough to ground democratic governance in Nigeria.
He said, “Under the terrible weight of poverty and corruption, the policy architecture in Nigeria has been so decimated that it has consistently become too wobbly to carry the burden of good governance. Critical link between traditional institutions and democratic governance has eluded critical attention since local government reform of 1976.”
Prof. Mabogunje also lent his voice to the recent clamour for restructuring of the nation with a caveat that “for any restructuring to be successful and sustainable, in the long run, must begin by rectifying the manner in which the present local government system has largely disempowered our people.”
Mabogunje said the ISGPP intends as one of its many research projects to see in what ways the present architecture of the local government system can be amended or improved upon to elicit effective democratic and developmental responses from citizens starting from grassroots.