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Resource Control Is Nigeria’s Problem, Not Corruption

By Sopuruchukwu B. Ehidonye

The effects of the top-bottom approach are that resources vanish before it gets to the hands of the people at the bottom, your everyday people I mean. This creates almost exclusive elitist beneficiaries in reality.

In my village, there is what we call IWU NKWU or IMASHI NKWU. Through this very simple agrarian method whereby we leave our palm fruits in our farms to produce uninterruptedly over a period of say 6 months without anyone touching them and then harvesting the same at the end of this 6 month period, we use the proceeds and profits made from the sales of palm oil that accrues to do community-based projects.

The author, Sopuruchukwu Ehidon

This is how wonderful and realizable it can be. All the bridges and minor infrastructures in my village were constructed using this very simple method.

Guess what? We have a Local Government Council that have not done anything seeable for my community since its inception. That my village is now connected to the national electricity grid is courtesy of this very simple application of common sense.

Well, we rarely get electric power because of the fact that it comes from the centre and the centre does not even have enough to go around.

My village can embark on its own power generating project but because of the fact that we will be forced to transmit the meagre Megawatts we will generate to Abuja first and probably get nothing out of it because Abuja will have to share our effort with everyone, naturally we will not even wanna embark on such projects.

Yes, Aham River runs through my village into the larger Imo River and a dam built on Aham will solve our power problem forever and also create commercial and irrigation based farming.

The steady power supply in my locality will naturally attract SMEs which will naturally translate to a fertile ground for obtaining cool tax money for building infrastructures like constructing our unmotorable village roads.

We will also bypass the wicked appropriation and tendering process that reeks of immense impunity. Because it will be community-based and because it will locality based, how would anyone inflate the prices of raw materials needed to build new infrastructure like is done with Abuja Unitary Feeding Bottle Money?

I mean, Buhari or Rochas will not even be involved, I don’t even have to mention their names because the guy likely to be in charge of the project will either be my local councilor or Town Union Chairperson and I will hold them very accountable if I suspect any dirty dealing because I will know how much my family and clan have contributed.

They can’t even turn around and start quoting unimaginable figures as the cost of production because I will simply walk into their houses with other villagers and call him/her out because they will most probably be my next door neighbour.

No Abuja or Owerri involved here. My LGA (Obowo) collects millions of Naira every month from the centre, well they actually collect left-over after the all-powerful State Government must have tampered with most of what my LGA is supposed to get from Abuja.

The LGA officials loot the left over. I look around me and see solutions that have been applied and that have actually worked. Makes me wonder; we can actually boycott these Abuja people all together and still survive. Well, we have been surviving without them anyways.

Why we must leave Abuja out of development plan

Yes, we can if resource control is allowed and managed based on my village-narrative above. Remember, there are very few States in Nigeria without an economically viable raw material that can be utilized to develop its localities.

The problem is that Abuja collects all with their EXCLUSIVE LIST thing and then share it again with greedy prebendals acting as middlemen. Because Abuja feeds everyone with free food, no one sees the need to explore local resources.

“Why worry if I can get it for free?” becomes the big question.

Now, there are men in my village who are beneficiaries of the skewed Abuja system who have made it a point to trample on any community-based projects just to remain relevant and force the people to believe that the only way funds can be raised is from Abuja.

These men have identified that if the people can find an alternative, elections will not even hold anymore and because of this, they will not even be sent to Abuja or Owerri in the first place.

This will actually cost them their source of livelihood which is mainly mismanagement and misappropriated funds they collect in our names. Well, what we conduct should not even be called elections guess why these big men do what they do?

Now, factor crude oil out of the equation. Factor Lagos Seaport proceeds out too. Factor Abuja-bound VATs out too and we will be left with my simple village-story above as the only option.

Resource course and over-centralization of the sharing formula of the proceeds of the resource is our number one problem and not corruption as some mischievous, dishonest or ignorant people would want you to believe because the centre dictates who gets what, the people who the money is meant for rarely see any tangible dividend of democracy equitable to the money that comes from Abuja.

Abuja sharing formula guarantees a very soulless structure whereby everyone in the middle is out to grab what gets to their desks.

This also creates a very wicked scenario that points to a political system where elected officials and government workers feel they have a right to a share of government revenues, and use them to benefit their supporters, co-religionists, and members of their ethnic group only.

How do we get out of this quagmire using the present governmental structures as our only route? I mean, these big men in Nigeria understand that if power is devolved, that their days of getting free everything are over.

These big men are too powerful, therefore, we cannot even walk over them. I have my own personal solution on how to deal with them but many don’t seem to buy into what I have in mind.

Again, we need to start watering down our high-sounding grammar and start breaking down these things into simple vernacular using empirics that even our uneducated grandmothers can understand.

When push comes to shove, it will still be one man and one vote. Degrees becomes irrelevant. Even the most uneducated Nigerians need to start understanding the kind of mess we are into.

Sounds impossible? Well, I think the same read my narrative well and you will see what I just did above. What I have done on this thread is the lay man’s description of true federalism.

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