Does Nigeria need restructuring to move forward? First, there is some contention as to what restructuring mean as thrown up in the recent spat between Vice President, Osinbajo and former Vice President, Atiku Abubakar.
Irrespective of the how the term is defined and by whom, the point is that, at the moment, it all amounts to a dog chasing its tail. At best, what may be widely accepted and achievable would be the devolution of power from the centre to the federating states. That may simply mean moving certain items from the exclusive list to the concurrent list and tweaking the revenue allocation formula in favour of the states. This will be a mere redistribution of existing revenue. It will not change the way those in power do government business. It will not stop the problems the country has been dealing with since Independence.
Nigeria’s biggest problem at the moment is the massive leakage of budgetary allocations. From the local government to the state and federal levels, the loss of revenue is mind blowing. Recent estimate says about $80b dollars are fritted away from the continent annually. A huge chunk of that illegal transfer is from Nigeria.
What then should be the focus of anyone running for public office in the 2019 election? Plugging that frightful leakage. Doing will not need any constitutional amendments. It does not also need much pontificating. It simply requires some creative thinking and doing it when elected.
Before, the introduction of Treasury Single Account (TSA), Permanent Secretaries, their Directors and the banks used to play a lot of games with funds available in the accounts of MDAs. That era ended with the introduction of the TSA.
Nevertheless, the leakage continues in various other ways. Therefore, anyone who wants to rescue this country needs to think critically about how we should plug the drainage pipe first.
Fighting corrupt people in court is a time wasting and very expensive way to tackle corruption as have been clearly demonstrated since Independence. The best way to fight corruption is to make stealing of public funds extremely difficult. However, that needs some Technological and social solutions. But it can be done and should be done urgently. INEC for instance has made it difficult for anyone to snatch ballot papers and ballot boxes for use in locations other than where they are meant for by customizing those items.
In 2015, card readers were introduced. However, rogue INEC officials by passed guidelines provided by the electoral body to do the biddings of politicians. Now, there are efforts to make electronic registration officially part of the Electoral Act.That will automatically eliminate some part of the sabotage experienced in 2015.
The fact that politicians resorted to vote buying as alleged in the Ekiti and Osun elections is a testimony to the fact that the noose on the regular rigging method is tightening. The fact that election results are now closer than ever, despite all the hues and cries about INEC, proves that having a will to effect changes in any aspect of the society is the key to moving forward and not cheap political talk.
Serious countries around the world are coming up with smart solutions to tackle existing economic and development challenges. Nigeria should not be left behind.