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Conquest mentality

I AM both amused and worried by the disposition of the All Progressives Congress (APC) government of President Muhammadu Buhari. I am amused because there is a petty thinking around government circles that it has conquered an enemy and must, therefore, vanquish that enemy. But I am worried because the idle pastime will soon become a state policy if it is not seen for what it is – unconscionable revisionism.
The recent sack of a number of university Vice Chancel­lors, which was quickly followed by the mass removal of heads of parastatals, agencies and commissions exemplifies this tendency.
Hours after the action was taken, the national leadership of the APC met with the president at the Presidential Villa. When they emerged from the meeting, the National Chair­man of the party, John Odigie- Oyegun, told State House Corrrespondents that the party was happy with the action of the president. Oyegun described the sacked Directors Gen­eral and other heads of commissions and agencies as the last relic of the last administration. In other words, the present government does not want anything that concerns the last government to stand. This is not just petty, it is symptomatic of conquest mentality.
Of the 26 heads of government departments that have just be sacked, government cannot say that there are no com­petent ones among them. Their only sin is that they were appointed by an enemy government. That is why they have been denied the chance to serve out their tenure.
There is no need reminding the present administration that government is a continuum. They already know that. But they are not prepared to lead by this basic understand­ing. They must dismantle the old order completely in order to create jobs for their own men and women. No country makes progress with this kind of retrogressive disposition. But as in the case of the ministers, let us again wait for the super humans that will take over the government depart­ments.
Obiano, Fashola and
cooperative federalism
By Monica Atava-Tsav
DR. Amanze Obi’s BROKEN TONGUES of February 10, 2016, was interesting in a number of respects. But I took par­ticular interest in the aspect that touches on the road sector.
Ever since I worked in the office of the Federal Control­ler of Works in Awka in the late 1990s, I have developed a keen interest in road development in Nigeria but particularly in Anambra State. The state used to have about the worst network of developed roads in the country up to the time democratic governance was restored in Nigeria in 1999. So, it gladdens the heart that the state now has, perhaps, the best road network in the country, thanks to the revolution started by Dr. Chris Ngige for the three years he was governor, which began in 2003. His successors have upheld what is now generally considered the tradition of excellence in road development.
The news that the Federal Government is now owing the Anambra State Government some 30 billion naira, follow­ing the state’s rehabilitation of large portions of two criti­cal federal roads in Anambra has, at least, two important implications. According to news reports, Governor Obiano on Monday, December 14, 2015, announced that the debt had grown from N27 billion to N30 billion, following the rehabilitation of the portions of the Owerri – Onitsha high­way and the Onitsha – Enugu high way, which were heav­ily devoured by gully erosion. The governor, according to the reports, reopened the roads to the public because the contractor completed the assignments within the stipulated timeframe, which many people initially felt was not realistic enough in view of both the brevity of time and the fact that much of the work was going to be done during the rainy season, which was unusually heavy last year.
The second implication of the rehabilitations is profound for public policymaking and execution in a federal nexus like ours. It shows that Nigeria practises cooperative feder­alism, as opposed to adversarial federalism. It means both the centre, otherwise called the federal government, and the federating units, known as states or regions or provinces, as the case may be, work collaboratively in a lot of areas in the overriding public interest. This is despite the basic principle of the theory of federalism that the centre and the federating units are autonomous of one another; none can encroach on the rights and responsibilities of the other.
The Federal Government cannot dabble into the man­agement of, say, the state school board. And no state govern­ment, for instance, can encroach on foreign or defence issues because they are exclusive to the centre. Yet, the framers of our Constitution knew that the state governments and the federal government must cooperate with one another in a lot of areas, irrespective of the political parties to which the political heads of the two tiers of government may belong. After all, every federation is one nation, rather than a num­ber of nations. Even though the police and the secret police as well as the military are on the exclusive federal list, the 1999 Constitution makes the governor of every state the chief security officer of the state.
A lot of Nigerians may have forgotten that the police were so willing to be used for partisan purposes in the Sec­ond Republic that when Dr. Nnamdi Azikiwe, who led Ni­geria to independence in 1960, went to campaign in 1983 as the presidential candidate of the Nigerian Peoples Pary (NPP), a police officer pointed a gun at him in Borno State in an effort to stop him. What the present situation of less police partisanship shows is that our democracy is matur­ing. Yet, we should not gloss over how a vengeful person president like Chief Olusegun Obasanjo could try to use the police and the so-called federal might for dubious purposes. Obasanjo used Tafa Balogun, then the Inspector General of Police, against Dr. Ngige, even though they belonged to the same ruling Peoples Democratic Party. Obasanjo used the federal might to deny Lagos State allocations due to its local governments.
The media have quoted Governor Obiano as saying that officials of the state government have gone far in discussions with the Federal Ministry of Works over how to reimburse the state for the several federal roads it has been rehabili­tating. This is a remarkable departure from the days when the Obasanjo-led government bluntly refused to reimburse the state under Dr. Ngige for federal roads fixed in the state. Things can only get better for the Nigerian people as far as infrastructure is concerned because Babatunde Fashola, the trail-blazing former Lagos State governor, is now the Min­ister of Power, Works and Housing. Mr. Fashola has begun on a very bright note. He has announced that the Onitsha – Enugu and the Enugu – Port Harcourt highways as well as the Second Niger Bridge would get priority attention in the 2006 financial year.
Not only will he deliver on these priority projects, Mr. Fashola can be trusted to reimburse state governments like Anambra State. Fashola is so detribalised and urbane. He is brilliant and realistic enough to acknowledge that it was per­forming state governments that made Nigerians still have a modicum of faith in the Nigerian state. For all practical pur­poses, the Federal Government, especially the Federal Min­istry of Works, was brain dead for the 16 years the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) was in power. It was a playground for professional politicians like Chief Tony Anenih. It was state governments in places like Lagos and Anambra states that kept hope alive during this period. Despite belonging to two different parties, Mr. Fashola and Chief Obiano should actually be soul mates. They are high performers.
Mrs Atava-Tsav lives in Lagos.