“…Folks like me have not spared or connived at any nonperforming political leaders in-charge of my jurisdiction. What Nasir el Rufai has to say now shall not affect my firmly entrenched position one way or the other. Asking the likes of me to focus mainly on panel-beating the executive leaders of impoverished states of the NEEC while, at the same time, accept the unjust policies of federal authorities as mere happenstance constitute an unwarranted torment to one’s psyche. Until we adopt the habit of laying blames squarely at the feet of those who initiated and help to perpetuate the problems at hand, all we end up doing is paying lip service in lieu of facilitating desired change for the better. Okenwa R. Nwosu, M.D.
Mr. El Rufai started a fire and is now being stoked by Messrs Okenwa Nwosu and Joseph Igietseme. It is burning and I like it. Mr. Nwosu is insisting that we lay the blame at the feet of those who initiated and perpetuated the problems at hand and Mr. Igietseme wants to lay the blame at the feet of those who are perpetuating the problems. What are they disputing? Actually nothing is in dispute here except that each has partial vision. Mr. Igietseme sees what is happening forgetting how it started. Mr. Nwosu sees how it started neglecting that other forces have entered into the game. How about separating those who started the problems and laying the blame at their feet and identifying the new sources and laying the blames for perpetuating the problems at their feet?
AND THEN DESIGNING A SOLUTION.
We can do this by recognizing that in order to execute the Nigerian/Biafran war the Federal Government found it necessary to blockade the Eastern half of the country but failed to see that the blockade is still in place 40 years after the war thus imposing underdevelopment on the Eastern half. Mr. Nwosu is correct to make this assertion and Mr. Igietseme should recognize it. He even alluded to it when he wrote about how the entire country ignored the cries of Delta people for 40 years.
They were ignored because even though they were Biafrans for just about two years, helping them would filter into “enemy territory.”
Mr. Igietseme in support of Mr. El Rufai’s thesis posits that Anambra along with other SE states had misplaced priorities in the 2012 budget. He denies any conspiracy theory the NEEC was not marginalized by intention and he explains the under development as a result of visionless leadership.
Mr. Nwosu should recognize the fact there has been misplaced priorities even as he tries to prove that there was indeed a conspiracy even if not by the current people in FG.
One of the factors limiting any meaningful discussion about Nigeria is the perception of the people in each zone by others outside the zone. Each public policy is viewed with the lens of who is gaining and who is losing. It is as if the only choice is winners or losers. If we begin each discussion with a view to designing a win/win situation we would do much better. When Mr. Nwosu talks of NEEC he does not mean the SE. His definition is significantly wider. In fact SE would be a minority in the region the NEEC, he has in mind. The region would include the region bounded by River Benue to the north, and Atlantic Ocean to the south. It would be what we know as SS, SE, and NC. But Mr. Nwosu defines this region clumsily and with total lack of vigor. Were he to do this well he would find the buy in he is looking for.
If I were designing the new Nigerian Economic Structure I will vision a country divided into three zones: The Western Corridor (NWEC), the Eastern Corridor (NEEC), and the Northern Corridor (NNEC). The northern corridor would stretch from Sokoto to Maiduguri, and bounded by both rivers Niger and Benue. Each infrastructural plan would sight something in each corridor. It is mistake to start the western Railway line and build it to completion without counter balancing it with comparable investment in the other corridors. Such behaviors are what are fueling the conspiracy charge that Mr. Nwosu is leveling. A railway system that starts from Lagos to Sokoto would have had a railway line from Calabar or PH to Maiduguri started at the same time and another from Jebba to Markurdi also at the same time.
Progress on one line would be matched by progress on the other lines.
Deepening of the Niger to the confluence of Niger and Benue would a project for the three zones. Expansion of Lagos port would be comparable to the expansion of Warri, PH and Calabar etc. Road developments would follow the same pattern as the sighting of Federal Universities, etc.
These developments are not happening this way and hence the entrenched belief that a there is a conspiracy.
If the draft design I proposed above were followed Nigeria would have a win/win situation and the unhealthy rivalry currently tearing the country down would turn into a healthy rivalry which would spur development. Residents of NEEC would be trying to outperform those in the NWEC or NNEC instead of fighting for who would get item a or b. Fairness would be transparent. But because of the current structure we have this situation where an accused is vigorously defended by the people in his corridor by noting that others from SE have done it and gotten away with it, instead of realizing that the thief had stolen from all of us.
Although this discussion has gotten slightly farther away from Mr. El Rufai’s presentation of 2012 Anambra state government budget, I think it is time that more people join in this debate for this is a truly national dialogue. Mr. El Rufai ought to have a say so. Mr. Seyi Awofeso and Mr. Emeka Ugwuonye could take a little break from their acrimony and offer some insight before returning to finish off the other guy. Mr. Aluko who finds time from his “killing job” at Otuoke to say a word here and there could find time to join a real debate of intellectuals.
Let us join this debate, with thanks to Mr. El Rufai for opening a can of worms.
Benjamin Obiajulu Aduba
June 12, 2012