Sanusi Lamido And Uncomfortable Truths

November 14, 2011
3 mins read

At a recent book launch to commemorate the 80th birthday anniversary of one of Northern Nigeria’s most illustrious intellectuals, Professor Adamu Baikie, CBN Governor, Sanusi Lamido, looked at Nigeria in the face, and told uncomfortable truths. Most of Nigeria’s states and local governments, he pointed out, are unviable; questioning the rationale for their creation, he called for the difficult step to overhaul the unwieldy structure, which ensured that 96% of their resources went into payment of salaries and allowances. The CBN Governor was not done; he also questioned Jonathan Goodluck’s harebrained decision to establish nine new federal universities, when existing ones are badly funded!


How best to reveal the ugly nakedness of the Nigerian condition than some of the statistics Sanusi presented? “I don’t know how many people know that 70% of the revenue of the federal government is spent paying salaries and overhead; leaving the rest 30% for 150 million Nigerians”? The development strategy must include a “well-designed educational policy”, but that is absent here, leading to a massive search for educational opportunities around the world, including nearby Ghana. Lamido said “recent data have shown that there are about 71,000 Nigerian students in Ghana paying about N155b annually as tuition fees as against the annual budget of N121b for all federal universities”. So Nigerian students pay more to better-organized Ghanaian universities, than the annual budgets of all federal universities!


The situation is akin to naked lunacy. There are indications that Nigerian states are in a critical condition. They are close to broke, having been laid to waste and over-looted by governors. So serious is the condition, that Senate’s Finance, Appropriation, National Planning and State/Local Government committees are to examine ‘the looming disaster’. There are three levels to the situation: Critical-15 states; Unhealthy-6 states; Tolerable-4states; and Healthy-4 states. Yet, efforts are still being by the same senate, to create new states, with claims they will bring governance closer to people, whatever such utter tosh translates to! And one of the greatest points of disinformation used to argue for new states, is embedded in the lie that the South East “geo-political zone” is ‘disadvantaged’ in the number of states it has. The argument conveniently ignores the fact that Nigerian states were not created on the basis of ethnic groups. The old Northern Region has 19 states; Western Region 6; Midwest Region 2; and Eastern Region, including South East, 9states! Those looking for new states to hang around their necks like confettis, must be cured of their delusions and told to stop blackmailing all of us! It makes no sense to create any new states in Nigeria.


The confusion engulfing the nation’s ruling elite is threatening to take the nation down completely; Nigeria’s debt profile has climbed up to $39.72b (N6.02trillion), with the external component reaching $5.398b, a few years after exiting from Paris Club debts in 2005-2006. What is lost in the discourse is how much was plainly stolen by those tasked to oversee the Nigerian barn! It is why revolution has become the most beloved word in the Nigerian social space in recent weeks! From conservative clergymen through to old legal experts and medical practitioners and sundry commentators, the cure for the Nigerian condition has narrowed to calls for revolution. This reflects the deep-seated disgust with the sorry pass the nation has been taken, by the criminal cabal which rules it. Our penchant for copycat actions or hallucinations for same, has also led to calls to ‘Occupy Nigeria’. It seems more likely, given the tendency here, that people will spend more time praying in mosques and churches or attending meetings of their hometown/ethnic associations, than organize to ‘Occupy Nigeria’ or work for revolution.


In the meantime, anarchic violence has become the counterpoise to the state’s diminished ability to secure the nation in the wake of a deepening loss of legitimacy and erosion of its capacity. People distrust organs of power so self-help is the order of the day; they do not obey laws because most are oppressive and unjust, while simple actions to make life tolerable breaks down in town and country. A Hobbesian state of nature, with life ‘nasty, brutish and short’, confronts us each passing day. Government officials arrive at road gridlocks and their accompanying security men use sirens, whips and butts of guns to force their way through angry and frustrated citizens and further down the road, policemen extort money from citizens.

The grand larceny takes place in high places, as an alliance of state officials and private sector mandarins share the nation amongst themselves, leaving little for development. This backdrops anarchic violence and the romanticism about revolution. Mao Zedong’s classic description of revolution, comes from his “Report on an investigation of the Peasant Movement in Hunan”: ‘A revolution is not a dinner party, or writing an essay, or painting a picture, or doing embroidery; it cannot be so refined, so leisurely and gentle, so temperate, kind, courteous, restrained and magnanimous. A revolution is an insurrection, an act of violence by which one class overthrows another”. So Nigerians be careful what you wish for; because you might just get it!


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