Iyobosa Uwugiaren in Nsukka
After taking view all-inclusive look at the unfolding socio-political and economic happenings in Nigeria, entrepreneur and political economist, Dr. Obiora Okonkwo, submitted that until the country is restructured in way that deliver the best services to the citizens, it will not make any meaningful progress.
He also blamed the nation’s woes on inability to manage its diversity, saying the Nigerian diversity is such a huge pool of talent waiting to be unleashed in an environment that recognises and rewards talent and know-how.
Okonkwo stated these while delivering the 2018 public lecture entitled: ‘The Value of Diversity: Restructuring to Save Nigeria’ at the Faculty of Social Sciences, University of Nigeria Nsukka (UNN).
He said in the past, some political parties promised restructuring and even had it in their manifesto stating that the fear of the unknown forced them to drop them.
According to the chieftain of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), “We cannot continue to live in fear of the unknown. Even the leviathan can, and should, be confronted. Nigerians must henceforth demand, and hold those they elect, accountable for the progress made, or not made, towards restructuring the country in a way that delivers the best services to them.
“My fears however, is that if we fail to do this, we shall still operate a system where leadership is for the fittest and mightiest. If we allow that to remain, we would gradually walk back into the Hobbesian state of nature where life is brutish, nasty and short.
“None of us want to bequeath such a country to our children. We look forward to handing over a country where, like Hegel said, citizens are happy even to sacrifice their lives for the state. This must be a state where their rights are respected and defended and where they fulfil their obligations because they have found love within the borders.’’
Okonkwo added that failure to restructure will mean annihilation, saying not restructuring will be akin to pressing down a spring, explaining further that the spring will remain down so long as you stay down with it.
“If you let your hands slip, it springs up with such a force that may even blind you. If we fail to restructure therefore, we may have inadvertently worked for the eclipse of Nigeria by the next millennium. Like they say, a stitch in time saves nine,’’ he added.
Stating that the Nigerian diversity is such a huge pool of talent waiting to be unleashed in an environment that recognises and rewards talent and know-how, he further explained that failure to do these fuels the call for restructuring behind, which is the veiled call for appreciation of talents and unbundling of the systems that operate to free Nigeria and make her grow.
He argued that when Nigerians call for restructuring, they are in essence telling themselves that they do not understand why their country is not developing at the speed at which others are developing.
He added: “The 1960s is not the 2018s. In the 60s, the number of Nigerians travelling abroad was limited to a privileged few. In fact, going abroad then was seen as a huge achievement. Today, Nigerians just hop into a plane and fly out to foreign lands. What they see when they travel challenge them to ask why their country is not catching up.
“They come back home to ask questions and get no answers. How would any one explain the fact that the Dubai we all know today was a desert in the 1980s? Yet, the Lagos which experienced developmental touch much earlier is nothing near it? How does anyone explain to Nigerians that the good things of life that they enjoy abroad are not yet possible in their country? How do you tell younger Nigerians that governmental systems elsewhere work but their own cant?’’
He further argued that until the country unbundle the governmental system and unleash the powers of its diversity on development, the nation might not really achieve its collective dreams, while it will continue to struggle until it agrees to unbundle the federation and allows the component units, whatever it is called, to tap into their local talents and endowments to grow.
He said the country should remain a third-world nation if it does not appreciate the value that its diversity adds to the development and growth.
The guest lecturer said as a businessman, restructuring is a process of rejigging a failing enterprise to bring it back to profitability.
Stressing that restructuring had become a national appeal whose time has come, he urged Nigerians to ensure that it is made a major campaign issue in the 2019 election.
He further submitted, “In this regard, our advance toward the next general elections must take into cognisance the need to restructure our polity and make it work effectively for the people. This is where the people, me and you, who desire to live as members of this State, should begin to demand from their political leaders, strong commitment towards restructuring.
“This should now be the battle the people must undertake to create the sort of society that they desire. We must now demand that from our politicians as condition for being voted.”
Also speaking at the event, the Vice Chancellor, Prof Chukwuma Ozumba, said the university had always intermarried social interactions with academics.
He thanked the Dean of the Faculty of Social Sciences for reminding them through the lecture series “the days of Profs Ikenna Nzimiro, Eteng, and Miriam Ikejiani-Clarke, when we used to abandon our lectures to go to listen to lectures delivered by outsiders here. At a point, they even brought Fela Anikulapo-Kuti.”
Represented by Vice Chancellor Administration, Prof Charles Igwe, he emphasised that in UNN they interface the town and gown to enhance everything about intellectualism.