“In any country that prospers, there must be some unum as well as a healthy pluribus” H. Billington
“…what ails Nigeria fundamentally is that neither the government nor the people have a vague, not to talk of clear, concept of Nigeria…” – Idowu Akinlotan
THE IDEA OF NIGERIA: Two Challenges – Unity in Diversity and Prosperity
Text of a Convocation Lecture delivered at Lead City University, Ibadan, Oyo State, Nigeria on Wednesday, November 9th 2016 by Professor Ladipọ Adamọlẹkun.
I consider outsourcing the problem to God without playing our part as a non-solution. “Only God can unite Nigeria – Buhari” – headline in Daily Trust, November 8th 2016 – “In a country of 450 ethnic groups, it is not easy to come together, only God can do it,” As correctly observed in ancient Greece, “God helps those who help themselves.”
From an Unhealthy to a Healthy Diversity
… Perhaps the supreme illustration of our unhealthy diversity is the fear of understanding its full dimensions. How many Nigerians are Christians and how many are Muslims? (The balance would belong to any of our traditional religions or they could be agnostics/atheists). How many are Fulani, Hausa, Igbo, Ijaw, Kanuri, Tiv, Yoruba and others? How many speak the three main languages (Hausa, Igbo, and Yoruba) or Pidgin English? What are the other languages spoken by a significant number of Nigerians who do not speak/understand any of the main languages? If indeed a well-defined problem is half-way to being solved, we cannot make progress towards achieving a healthy diversity without committing to an understanding of its full dimensions[i]. Therefore, we must have answers to the above specific questions relating to ethnic, linguistic and religious diversity in the country. Consequently, I would strongly recommend that the next census in the country must include appropriate questions that will help provide the answers. (In this connection, it is regrettable that in 2013, when Festus Odimegwu, chairman of the National Population Council, proposed the inclusion of religion and ethnicity in the forthcoming census he was removed or was forced to resign).
The argument for strong civil service institutions is evident from the contrasting good and bad performances highlighted above. Successive governments from President Obasanjo’s second term to President Jonathan (up to May 2015) have committed to enhancing the quality of public service in the country – to achieve a world-class public service as stated in a National Strategy for Public Service Reform (NSPSR) – only modest improvement measures have been recorded and only a few uncoordinated parts of the NSPSR (prepared for the government in January 2009) are being implemented. Incumbent President Muhammadu Buhari (PMB) administration is yet to address the subject except for a recent announcement that the president will issue an executive order on transparency in the management of government business that could enable economic operators as well as citizens to demand more accountable government. Regarding the judiciary, a key measure for enhancing improved performance is increased transparency in the appointments to the bench, especially the Appeal Court and the Supreme Court that should be based on merit, competence and integrity.
Regaining academic excellence in the universities that are at the apex of the education sector is the route to improved education outcomes throughout the sector: just as the fish gets rotten from the head, it would be correct to assert that the rot in the Nigerian education sector is most severe at the apex. As soon as tangible improvements are recorded at that level, they are very likely to cascade down to polytechnics, secondary schools and primary schools. I would argue that enhancing university autonomy is the key to regaining academic excellence in the universities and two key measures are required: first, overhauling the NUC to reduce its extensive powers and, in particular, end its centralized, domineering, and unified approach that prevents universities from determining their curricula, subject to oversight through accreditation; and second, to restore the right of universities to admit their students by abolishing centralised admission through the Joint Admission and Matriculation Board (JAMB).
Selected print media stories on CORRUPTION in Nigeria in a one-week period last month (October 21 to 27, 2016):
– Sagay Panel: 55 Nigerians stole N1.3trn under Jonathan
– EFCC re-arrests Fani-Kayode as N4.9bn laundering trial begins
– N22.8bn Fraud: Skye Bank official testify against Air Force Chiefs
– $15m Corruption Scandal: Former First Lady Patience Jonathan moves to cage SERAP
– Bayelsa Youth Group accuses Gov. Dickson of diverting N12bn loan
– Alleged N7bn Jonathan largesse: CAN leaders paid me to keep quiet – cleric
– Nigeria’s economic problems are rooted in corruption – Justice Minister
– INEC denies $1m bribery allegation by Jimoh Ibrahim
– N22.8bn fraud: Court admits witness passport in [General] Amosu’s trial
– Justice Ofili-Ajumogobia wired $900,000 to foreign bank account in two years [2014-2016] – EFCC sources
– Alleged N100bn fraud: EFCC keeps ex-gov. Odili under surveillance
– Ex-FCT minister arrested for alleged fraud, N1trn land deal.
– Ex-NIMASA boss seeks plea bargain in N304 million fraud.
– Jonathan: Dasuki didn’t steal $2.2bn weapons cash
– $2.2bn arms cash: Military rejects Jonathan’s claim
– Witness tells court how Fayose’s Aide supervised the disbursement of N4.7bn
– Corrupt Judiciary: EFCC grill (sic) senior lawyers for bribing judges.
THE LECTURE –
Adamolekun, educated at Ibadan, Ife & Oxford Universities, is a Nigerian public administration scholar, former dean of the Faculty of Administration at Obafemi Awolowo University and was a lead public sector management specialist at The World Bank who had retired from the University of Ife before joining The Bank in the 1980s.
MONDAY, NOVEMBER 14, 2016. 2:58 a.m. [GMT]