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Mr. President, Corruption is not the Problem

We have been deceived as a nation. Corruption is not the number one problem facing any nation. This sentence presupposes that there is, in fact, a nation in existence. So, the first problem facing a group of people who come together to form a nation is for them to have a unity of purpose and a sense of belonging. Everyone that comes together to form any nation must feel that they receive an equal treatment. Everyone must be represented equally and power must be decentralized and lie in the hands of the constituent units.

For years, I have been angry at the founding father of Nigeria who represented my side of the nation-Dr. Nnamdi Azikiwe. I now realize that my anger was based more on selfishness on my part, than any other thing. In my thinking, and unlike his contemporaries, it looked to me that the man truly wanted Nigeria to be a federal government. People from all parts of the nation were to receive a fair share of the largesse. Power was not meant to remain at the center.

Nigeria, alas, all nations will suffer when the members of the constituting unit feel alienated, disenfranchised and subjugated from power. We cannot claim to be one when there is so much power at the center, and that center is headed by one member from the six geographical zones, and that member prefers to perpetuate the injustice of appointing authority and creating other sorts of imbalance by selecting to favor the ‘percentage’ that nominated him to power!

I see how Goodluck Jonathan got it right-he wanted everyone to feel represented at the center. The greatest corruption is the injustice of creating an imbalance in the delegation of powers from a biased center that holds all authority to heart. A fight against corruption is not the first way forward for any nation. There has to be a nation first, before we think of getting things right. I have had brainstorming sessions with my friend Claire Bell ( Claire bears two passports- that of her native Scotland, and that of South Africa. She has seen three referandums called by nations- the most recent one that led to the exit of the United Kingdom from the European Union being the most recent. We talked about why nations could disintegrate.

Since the Nigerian civil war, South-eastern Nigeria has been cheated, and suppressed by the centre. They have not received a fair share of the national cake, so to speak. The so-called problem when Mr. Goodluck Jonathan came to power was that he wanted to practice the faulty structure of federalism on the ground. It is to his credit that he called for a Sovereign National Conference during his tenure. He should have finished the good work by implementing the proposals from the conference before letting another power-hungry man take over authority. That was the disservice that Jonathan did to the nation.

A nation must first be created, must first exist, before the people unite in purpose to develop that nation. We must feel we matter. There is no such thing as a separate ‘5%’ in the polity. Nigeria must first apologize to Biafra for the injustices and unfair treatment from the years after the war to the present day. A reconciliatory committee must be set up to openly speak of the evils perpetuated the civil war that led to the death of millions of people. Then, and only then, should we sit to discuss the state of the union? Why don’t we have a referendum, like other nations have had? Why should the people not be given the power to question their participation in the union? A lack of unity of purpose is the greatest failure of any nation. The greatest problem with Nigeria is her practice of a flawed federalism.

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