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Wednesday, 23 July 2014

THE DESTABILIZED FEDERATION: LEAVING THE CENTRAL ISSUES UNRESOLVED


  The National Conference has more or less come to an end. Though the delegates will meet again early in August to adopt the report of the conference, it is clear that not much else will change from the recommendations they have made which have been fully reported in the media. Though the Conference has made a lot of recommendations in its 4- months sitting and after over 7 billion of our National income has been expended, it is a pity that the conference seems to have failed to resolve the key problem confronting the Nation.
   Yes, they have recommended additional States for the Country, autonomy for the local Governments, scrapping of the State Electoral commissions, adjustment of the immunity clause, the introduction of State Police and many others, yet these, as good as they are, and for which we commend them, are not the real issues bothering  our Nation and which necessitated the convening of the National conference. Since the political crisis of 1993, Nigerians have clamored for a National conference - sovereign or not; not just because they wanted more States or wanted the immunity clause expunged from the constitution. They have desired the reorganization of this destabilized Federation to restore its stability, period!
   A painstaking review of the political history of Nigeria will come up with the verdict that our trouble started with the destabilization of our Federation. Up till, January 15,1966, we had a fairly stable federation. There were originally three Federating units- Eastern Nigeria, Northern Nigeria and Western Nigeria. Later  Western Nigeria split into two, creating the Midwest Region. Nigeria stood on these four solid and robust legs. At that time, each region had a thriving economy dependent on agriculture and a growing manufacturing sector. Almost all the industrial Estates in Ikeja, Portharcourt, Ibadan, kaduna and Kano were built in the early sixties. Though oil had been discovered in commercial quantities in Oloibiri, in present day Bayelsa State, it had not become a political weapon.
   At this time, the Regions competed with each other in revenue generation and development projects, remitting 50% of their income from Natural resources to the Federation account. At this time, the schools had teachers and if you passed Cambridge, you were sure of a good and decent job. The hospitals and healthcentres were in good shape, they did not have CT scans but they were functional and we had no idea of what 'os' or 'out of stock' meant. We went to the dispensary and collected all the drugs prescribed by either the doctor or the health superintendent, we did not know the difference.
  Then,you could travel by road or train( local or express )from PH to Kano without hassle. Nigerians, no matter their tribe or creed lived freely and safely where ever they wished. They did not have to register or carry identity cards. They owned property and were treated equally, without apparent discrimination in every part of the federation. Many went to school on county council or Regional Government scholarships. Though politics, post independence became quite boisterous, the centre remained largely unattractive. That was why the late Alhaji Ahmadu Bello,the Sarduana of Sokoto who was the leader of the Northern Peoples Congress(NPC) declined to go to the centre to become Prime Minister, but rather asked his deputy, Alhaji Abubakar Tafawa Balewa to take up the position. He was content with remaining in the regional capital of Kaduna, because there was really no significant attraction in the centre.Though I might add that our political leaders at that time were more honorable, if you know what I mean.
  But on January 15th, 1966, things fell apart and the centre could no longer hold. The Military apparently came to 'save' Nigeria with their 'puritanical' fervor but ended up with a Nigeria 'disabled'. They abolished the Constitution, dissolved the federating units, centralized power under a unitary command system in sympathy with their operational structure and took over everything- schools, hospitals, hotels, news media and indeed the commanding heights of the economy. They did not only kill but thought ordinary Nigerians to hate and kill each other precipitating a civil war that led to the death of more than 1 million Nigerians. And then we ended up with an inverted Federation where the centre was now creating the Parts, from 4 to 12 States to 18 to 21 and to 36 and soon may be to 55 and we sincerely believe that this fractionalization  and 'brittilization' will create stability. No way! This 'brittilizatio' will only worsen the "sharing mentality" and intensify the struggle to control the centre. As the federating units become weaker, the centre becomes stronger, because that is the natural order of things. To deal with the intense centripetal forces caused by '55 Children' struggling for the food meant for' 4 Children',you need very strong muscles . This will result in multiplicity of agencies to keep gathering the children, some errant and some rebellious. Today, we complain that over 70% of the National budget is spent on Recurrent expenditure with less than 30% left for capital development. Who knows, then we may have 120% of the budget used to run our bureaucracy! Not with the kind of mentality that is driving the National Assembly to think of establishing another Electricity regulating body when the existing National Electricity Regulatory Commission (NERC) is yet to be fully utilized!
   Since 1966, Nigeria has rolled from one crisis to another. So much blood has been shed. So much resources have been wasted in either the efforts to quench the crises or to repair the damage or to appease the combatants; resources that could have been better used to develop the Nation and bring us out of embarrassing poverty.In the 2012 Federal Government's budget, about 1 trillion naira was allocated to security. In the 2014 budget, nearly 1 trillion naira is budgeted for the security forces. And this week, the President sent a request to the National Assembly to allow him borrow 1 billion dollars( approx 170 billion naira) to support the military in its 'war' against Boko Haram. How long shall we allow our Nation to go through this rigmarole and torture! Just because people want to control the centre and decide who gets what! or because some feel, they are not getting their due share,as we saw during the reign of Militancy in the Niger Delta. No one has been able to calculate the true cost of that reign and it's continuing cost to the Nation! After Boko haram who knows what more lethal variant will arise that will consume more blood, money and toil.
   My point is that central to all these seasonal hiccups and repeated maladies are the twin issues of the structure of the Federation and fiscal federalism. Those were the critical issues that the National conference was set up to resolve in my view. And these are the same issues that have destabilized our Federation for years and the same issues we needed to confront to restore stability.But it is so sad that on both scores they seem to have left me wondering. Instead of strengthening the Federating units, they prescribed a weakening and for fiscal Federalism, they postponed the evil day. So sad!
  Mazi Sam Ohuabunwa OFR
   ww.samohuabunwa.com

   samohuabunwa@gmail.com

Thursday, 17 July 2014

LIFE LESSONS FROM THE DEMYSTIFICATION OF THE BRAZILIAN FOOTBALL TEAM.


On Tuesday July 8, 2014, something monumental happened in the whole World, not just in the football World. Because on that date, billions of viewers all over the World( active and passive lovers of football) were shocked, some to their bone marrows, as Germany demolished and apparently humiliated, one of the greatest (some even say the greatest) footballing Nations in the World. Many were in utter disbelief and many people wept. My heart melted when I saw the young boy wearing glasses and decked in Brazilian colors burst into tears as he saw his beloved team crumble like a pack of cards. For years many had seen Brazil as invincible in football. Yes, they may never win the World cup all the time, but they are the country that has won the cup more times than any other in the World Cup history. They may lose a match, but never to be so humiliated, to concede seven goals, not at a practice session, not at the preliminary stage of the World Cup but at the semifinal of the 2014 FIFA World Cup. Unbelievable! Unthinkable!

Though I played football in my younger days and was popularly known as "Jimmy Pele" in my Secondary School,I can never claim nor pretend to be an expert in football strategy or tactics. I believe that the 7-1 drubbing of Brazil by the "German Machine" will enter into the Guinness book of World records and that tons of commentaries, analysis and reviews will be written perhaps by better qualified analysts on what happened on that fateful day. Indeed, I believe that several doctoral thesis will emerge from the 'Brazilian Debacle' in São Paulo. However as I was putting together some of the the lessons that I and many can learn from this historical, unprecedented and totally unpredicted event, my friend Eghe Emmanuel Eyieyien sent me a mail, outlining some of the life lessons that in his opinion must be drawn from the incident. His views substantially enriched mine and I will like to share them with you.

1. IN LIFE'S GAME, YOUR REPUTATION AND TRACK RECORD CAN BE ILLUSORY......

If we were to trust in reputation and track record, no prophet, no diviner, no pundit could ever predict this debacle. Yes, the possibility of Brazil losing the match was always there but to have lost with such goal difference and indeed to have crumpled within the first ten minutes of the game could not have been predicted, judging from the reputation and track record of Brazil. So in life's game, track record can become irrelevant. It may never be good enough for today. So in confronting your enemy never be overawed by his reputation and track record. There is always an underbelly weakness and everybody has his bad day!

2. REHEARSALS AND PRACTICE EVENTS ARE HELPFUL BUT WHAT YOU EVENTUALLY DO ON THE D-DAY IS WHAT REALLY COUNTS.

No body who watched Brazil practice and rehearse their strategy for the match against Germany could predict the disaster. So preparing for events and encounter are important, but they must never lead us to complacency. The d-day is the day and we must recruit all the forces and resources to exceed our best shadow performance. The dynamics of real battle are never the same as for mock battle, because in real battle, we use real hard lead bullets and not rubber bullets.

3. THERE IS REALLY NO ONE BORN AS AN 'UNDER DOG' IN LIFE. EVERYONE HAS A CHANCE TO SUCCEED IN LIFE DESPITE ALL ODDS.

True life is a game of chance. Yes circumstances can conspire against us. Sometimes it looks like all the odds are against us and that it is pouring and not raining. There is no one guaranteed to succeed or to fail all the time. Times and chance happen to all. We all have the chance to succeed or to fail. Much of it depends on us and the strength of the opposing forces at the particular time , not dis counting Divine providence.

4. DO NOT UNDERESTIMATE YOUR OPPONENT

In life it is always a fatal mistake to underestimate your opponent. Goliath can bear witness to this. If you must win, overestimate your opponent but confront him from a superior position. Never be afraid of your opponent. Conventional wisdom is to respect your opponent, believing that he too has worked hard to win,but ensure you have a superior arsenal backed with superior skills.

5. DO NOT OVERRATE YOURSELF

That can be as dangerous as underestimating your opponent. Overrating yourself may bring complacency or pride. Of course pride comes before a fall. Don't always believe the hype. There was a top dog before you who is now referred as 'former' or 'ex'. If you want to remain in the limelight you must insist on improving your game from day to day and please measure!

6. A TREE OR TWO CAN SOMETIMES MAKE A FOREST

'Two heads are better than one' is conventional wisdom but now we know that 'one good head is better than ten coconut heads'. No one can deny that the absence of Neymar and that of the captain of the Brazilian team- Thiago Silva on the pitch that night, made so much difference. Indeed Argentina knows the value of 'Messi' in their success in the World camp. They won the silver and Messi was key. So guys, when you find good guys in your team or business do your best to keep and protect them. All heads are not equal, because some are more equal than others.

7. YOU SET YOUR OWN LIMIT

Is anything impossible with God?. Man can really do much better than his current attainments, no matter how high. Indeed if you can dream it, you can attain it. But if you say you can't, then you won't. You are the obstacle between you and your dream. Germany could easily have scored twelve goals that night but they chose to stop at Seven because they thought that was already 'too high'.

8. NO MATTER THE NUMBER OF SUPPORTERS, YOU ARE ALONE ON THE FIRING LINE

If supporters could win a match, the Brazilian team could have been saved from the humiliation on the 8th of July. Over 80% of the Spectators in the stands were either Brazilians or supporters of the Brazilian team. They sang, shouted and cried. But not much changed. Yes public opinion and public support is necessary but your first and most important focus must be on the hens that lay the eggs. When the chips are down,the crowds will move on,so do not count too much on their support. Infact those who shouted 'Hossana 'today, may be the same ones who will shout 'crucify him' tomorrow .

9. EVEN WHEN YOU FALL,YOU ARE NOT A FAILURE ....unless...

...You have chosen to be become a failure by staying down. Do like the Brazilian Coach, Luiz Felipe Scolari who held his head high, consoled his players and hugged the German Players. That's the stuff of men who will rise again. Men like Dr John Kayode FAYEMI, Governor of EKITI State who in defeat shone like a star.

10. IN EVERYTHING GIVE THANKS TO GOD.... It could be worse.

Do like the Brazilian players who knelt down publicly and worshipped God despite their monumental loss. There is Tomorrow and if you work harder and pray harder, you will ultimately win since the down fall of a man is not the end of his life. Nothing in life should lead us to feel it is over, because it is never over until it is over. We still have 2018 in Russia and I predict that Brazil will return with a vengeance that may stun the World, perhaps much more than the historic loss of 2014.

Mazi Sam Ohuabunwa OFR

ww.samohuabunwa.com

samohuabunwa@gmail.com