Rivers State Governor Nyesom Wike could have been so critical of the Federal Government that his views not count for much.
But his contention that the Buhari administration should spearhead an amendment to the constitution that would enable states to develop their sources and pay a royalty to the center deserves some attention.
In receiving the Minister of Solid Minerals and Steel Development, Dr. Uchechukwu Ogah, in his office in Port Harcourt last week, Governor Wike mentioned the practice in a federation is for the federating units to manage their assets, to allow them to exploit and put them to optimal use.
The governor was not the primary individual to boost the issue. Political scientists and politicians have been pointing out the incongruity of investing all mineral assets within the Federal Authorities because the present structure got here into operation in 1999.
The setting got here into operation throughout the navy rule that’s by nature centrist since it runs a command system. This has stultified the states as against the situation in the First Republic when the areas had been challenged to run at their own pace.
In the First Republic when the unadulterated federal system was in operation, each area not solely managed its mineral resources, however targeting creating the agricultural potential appropriate for it.
Within the North, arable crops, cotton, groundnuts, amongst others, offered earnings for the folks in addition to the federal government, whereas, in the Western Area, money crops like kola nuts and cocoa were the sources of earnings, while the individuals discovered sustenance in subsistence farming.
The regional authorities also had farm settlements in the numerous components to supply employment for the teeming youths, while advertising boards assisted the farmers in modulating the prices of the products.
The area was affluent enough to institute the well-known free education program in addition to began a tv station, the first in Africa, among other laudable projects.
The Eastern Area below Chief Michael Okpara, too, launched into large cultivation of palm oil trees in all parts of the area. It was certainly a golden age.
The politically motivated creation of states without consideration to economic viability and the oil increase that turned the oil curse has mixed to rob the nation of the wanted vitality.
Nevertheless, the reality is instructed, the standard of management at all ranges has grown to be appalling. In contrast to the ‘membership’ of Ahmadu Bello within the Northern Area.
Chief Obafemi Awolowo, and Dr. Nnamdi Azikiwe within the West and East, respectively, the present set of leaders at the sub-national level seem bereaved of concepts.
They’ve exhibited the lack of initiative that would elevate their states economically and contribute to national prosperity. Virtually all the states, excluding Lagos and maybe Rivers, are depending on the federal distributable pool for survival.
Many economists have observed that this is shameful. Countries that were at the same stage of development as Nigeria in the past have since left us behind.
Countries like South Korea, Taiwan, Malaysia, and Indonesia are all far ahead of the supposed ‘large of Africa’ by all counts. This can’t be blamed on the Federal Authorities alone, though.
Unless the states sit up and assume that the hydrocarbon resources are losing property which is set to belong to the past soon, the majority of Nigerians will continue to wallow in squalor and abject poverty, living on less than a dollar per day.
The COVID-19 scourge ought to be seen as a chance by leaders at all ranges and all sectors to roll up their sleeves and promote the values of hard work and productivity, without which Nigeria will remain in the ranks of the least developed states.
Governor Wike has two years within which he should not solely rally his colleagues in the Nigerian Governors Forum to ensure restructuring of the fiscal system of the federation but also to boost internally generated revenue.