From State Failure to the Reconstruction of the State ,By Jibrin Ibrahim

Finally, the week when a new administration would be established has arrived and Nigerians are waiting with excitement, but also concerns that a failed State would be handed over. President Goodluck Jonathan has done everything humanly possible to produce a failed State in Nigeria. He did not do it to spite the new administration. All indicators showed that he fully intended to win or rig the elections to continue in power. Were he the one to be sworn in, the same failed State syndrome would have been on offer this Friday. William Zartman defines state failure as “a situation where the structure, authority (legitimacy), law and political order have fallen apart and must be reconstituted in some form, old or new.” It is a general phenomenon affecting many countries in contemporary Africa but Nigeria with her resources and skills should not have found itself in this situation.

President Jonathan needed a competent technocracy to induce State collapse. He had it in the form of two highly skilled ladies and a wily man. First, the Coordinating Minister of the Economy Ngozi Okonjo Iweala used her vast knowledge and international connections to bankrupt the economy and undo all the good work she had done earlier under the Obasanjo Administration. She ensured that the debt burden under Obasanjo was significantly reduced and that under Jonathan, Nigeria should build up an unsustainable debt burden. She destroyed the economy with the type of vengeance and commitment that had not been seen previously in Nigerian history. Secondly, the Minister of Petroleum, Madam Dizeani Madueke turned the goose that lays Nigeria’s golden egg, the NNPC into a vault that emptied directly into the pockets of the Ijaw looters of the national wealth that surrounded the Jonathan Administration. The Minister of Justice, Mohammed Adoke then provided the legal edifice to cover up and justify the process of destroying the Nigerian State.

As State destruction progressed, President Jonathan was convinced he was the founder of modern Nigeria transforming the country into one of the most developed countries in the world. It was for this reason that Nigerians quite correctly labelled him the “Clueless one”; he did not have a clue about what his regime was doing to the State. Last week, the APC policy directorate had dialogue on how to implement their vision for change. In the session on security sector governance, Gen. Dambazau expressed his astonishment at seeing President Jonathan on television glibly explaining that the country does not need a minister of defence. It was a sign of the most extreme incompetence for a President in war not to have a defence minister for two years he explained. The end result is now known, Boko Haram got stronger and military commanders were given millions of dollars in cash to go and buy arms and of course most of the money was pocketed. Following the seizure of millions of dollars in cash by the South African authorities, Nigeria became the joke of the world seeking to explain that the cash found in the pastor’s plane were for arms procurement. How can a State with requisite institutions find itself flying from country to country with cash looking for arms to buy? What are we to expect when the same regime handed over the provision of security for our most vital asset, oil pipelines to militants whose only experience was in destroying the same pipelines. The armed forces were told to stay in their barracks while militants would provide security. Recovering the State will require a return to its basic function, the production of necessary public goods. Out State is in crisis because it has been confiscated as an object for the public good. A series of basically criminal gangs have taken over the State and run it for their own purpose. States assets in the oil industry, telecommunications, electricity have been have been taken and handed over to these gangs and the first step in reconstructing the State is to recover our stolen money and assets and start using them for the common good.

In his presentation on the session on improving delivery of the public service, Nasir El Rufai stressed that the first important step we need to take is to know Nigerians and be able to punish them for their crimes. The process of the biometric registration of all adult Nigerians should be accelerated so that we can put a stop to top public officials engaging in criminal activities and claiming they are not the ones. Our judicial system should also be empowered to deal with perjury as criminal public officials continue to hire top lawyers how defend them by lying to the courts. Currently, 100% of this year’s revenue will be used to pay for the emoluments and enjoyment of the public service. The totality of what is required for the small window provided for capital projects would be borrowed. This means that the public service exists to serve itself and not the public. The culture of public service must therefore be reinvented.

One of the most interesting sessions in the policy review conference was on the crisis in the education sector. According to Bolaji Abdullahi, the education sector has become an arena in which barely literate teachers produce illiterate graduates. We the elite send our children to good private schools where they get a reasonably good education while the children of the poor are forced to go to public schools where no learning occurs. As madam Nguyen Fesse explained however, education specialists know what to do to improve the quality of education but the Nigerian State has been unwilling to invest to turn the tide of decay. It was the retired veteran Permanent Secretary Ahmed Joda who last year wrote about the broken promise of the Nigerian State to the younger generations of Nigerians. He explained that at the end of the civil war, the Nigerian Government decided that to prevent another war in future, we must ensure that all Nigerians born from 1970 must have access to education. That was the reason Universal Primary Education was initiated in 1976 to take in all the children born in 1970 and all others born after them were supposed to be guaranteed access to basic education. Successive governments failed in that regard. The result is that we have Boko Haram, rural banditry and cattle rustling, kidnapping and armed robbery as major preoccupations of our youth today. Fixing the Nigerian State would therefore require educating and preparing our youth for productive work.

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