60 years after Nigeria’s independence, Nigerians have expressed divergent views on how the country has fared in all the spheres of life. In this interview, the Founder Spiritual Head and Grand Imam of Shafaudeen-in-Islam Worldwide, Prof. Sabitu Olagoke says that the only reason why Nigerian have to celebrate is for been alive. Excerpts :
Do you think there is any good reason for Nigerians to celebrate the country’s 60 years independence anniversary ?
Nigerians, no matter the grievances we may have against successive governments’ performances, for reasons of been alive we need to celebrate. The form of celebration will, however, determine the level of our seriousness and soberness. If at 60, Nigeria is know to be bedeviled with various problems of poverty and insecurity, there will be the need to compare notes, bot with our past and with other nations, on the issues of growth, progress and development for the present situation the areas of wastefulness in the management of government business must be analyzed critically and objectively for us to know the very weak areas that need correction.
For example, Nigeria was used to various constitutional process of law that supported federalism with concentrated wealth with the federating units with weal center.
The Parliamentary system of government upheld this for Nigeria to realize at the regional level, accelerated development that promoted healthy competition among the three regions then. Human development index was very high when you assumed that your socio-economic status was poor, but today, we are operating on the 1999 constitution that sourced its strength from the 1979 constitution, all of which were based on the concept of governance by the military.
The 1922 and 1946 constitutions supported a weak center and upon this, the 1954 constitution was drawn to promote and facilitate development.
This led to the strong 1963 constitution which was, however, truncated in January, 1966 by the first military coup in Nigeria and hence put an end to the strong regional government with a weak center that allowed rapid development that were directly felt with high impact even on the grassroots people.
Presently, the Federal and state Governments operate at 52 per cent federal hold and 48 per cent for the states and Local Governments to manage with. Under the present arrangement state Governors would have to go cap in hand to collect money from the Federal Government to be shared among the 36 states and 774 Local Governments to pursue the goal of development.
Worse still, under this arrangement, leakages in financial transactions, allow very many to be corrupt, this gives room for the abuse of public offices, which is now the order of the day.
Government in the process became a luxurious tantalizing mirage to the very large population that directly need selfless service or visionary leadership which has continued to be elusive.
Prof. Sabitu Olagoke
Founder, Spiritual Head and Grand Imam Shafaudeen-in-Islam Worldwide, Wakajaiye, Ibadan, Nigeria.