Our Economy Is Grounded & We’re Really Helpless – Laments Gov. Obaseki of Edo State Over Ruination of Federal Highway
The first question that one might want to ask is why should the governor fold his arms and watch the highway, which he describes as the “economic lifeline” of his state, slowly break up to the stage of absolute ruination? Governor Godwin Obaseki of Edo state said that his administration has “made pleas, begged and done everything possible to get the federal authorities to help with maintenance before the rains”. So, after all the supplication to Abuja and perhaps, to the almighty absentee resident of the Aso Rock Villa, the Edo state chief executive considered his job done, irrespective of the fact that the prayers to the “oga at the top” were never answered? All the governor can do now, it seems, is to bemoan the fact that his state’s economy has become grounded after the total ruination of the major arterial road that traverses the north-south axis of Edo state.
The story being told by Governor Obaseki is nothing new at all. Many of his predecessors in other states around the country, particularly in Southern Nigeria, have found themselves in similar predicaments. One unifying factor in all this saga is that the ordinary citizens, who require these irreversibly damaged road networks to enable them to eke out their daily bread, are the ones who suffer most. The national economy has been in serious decline since the Buhari administration ascended to power in May 2015. So, there is equal-opportunity economic hardship throughout Nigeria in past 2 years or more. On top of this misery, residents of Edo state who rely on the Benin-Auchi Road for their livelihood must now face the double whammy of dealing with the total collapse of the lone transportation route from which their daily meals are derived.
It is quite demoralizing to hear the Edo governor state that “we (Nigerians) don’t seem to care; no one is concerned about this country”. As if in total despair, Governor Obaseki said that “it is really sad. It is not about federal roads; it is about Nigeria”. The despondency in Edo state governor’s voice is paralyzing. But he continues to function in the capacity as chief executive officer of one of the 36 states of today’s Nigeria supposedly serving his constituents who he feels absolutely powerless to assist in their times of great need. What a governor …what a state ……..and what a country!
Unitary Nigeria, 68-item Federal Exclusive Legislative List & Infrastructure Development
What is left may be to see the Edo governor break down before the video camera to shed tears over the catastrophe that has stricken his own constituents about which he is obviously powerless to do anything about. Many might begin to ask why there are always long stories to tell why nothing tends to work in Nigeria as expected. Well, here are the answers. First and foremost is the fact that for the past 50 years, Nigeria has been run as a unitary command state that is administered from one single location at the citadel of power in Lagos and later, Abuja. The further away one is from the center, the less likely that the citizen’s pleas and supplications ever get heard, not to mention responded to. Before arrival of regimented centralized governance imposed over Nigeria in 1966, the Midwest Region government, which had administered Edo and Delta states, would never have allowed a strategically important highway like the Benin-Auchi highway to degrade to the stage of absolute ruination as we see today.
The Edo state governor also believes that his hands are tied and thus unable to intervene to save what is deemed to be a “federal road” because of the 68-item Exclusive Legislative List embedded in the 1999 Constitution. The constitution of unitary Nigeria identified 68 items that no other authority in Nigeria can make laws about except the National Assembly. Roads are in that list. Also in that list are electric power generation & distribution, registration of businesses, control of drugs and medications, insurance, railways, tourism etc. The state assemblies have been reduced to nothing more than rubber stamps for the state governors to wield as they deem fit since they don’t have much lawmaking to worry about in presence of the 68-item Exclusive Legislative List controlled from the center. The full Federal Exclusive Legislative List can be accessed at https://goo.gl/5mM7dQ.
Some who still don’t fully appreciate the stagnation in the country’s infrastructure development should look no further than the 1999 Constitution handed to Nigerians courtesy of Decree No 24 promulgated by the last of the military “Mohicans”, General Abdulsalami Abubakar, before he handed over to General Obasanjo. The misery and tales of despair portrayed in this YouTube video is nothing more than a tribute to the legacy of decades of autocratic military rule of Nigeria.
The September 7, 2017 Yoruba Ibadan Summit demanded that 25 items must be removed from the current Federal Exclusive Legislative List and devolved to the new regions that were recommended. As innocuous as the Yoruba Summit’s demands may seem to the uninitiated, the Arewa-controlled military establishment which had written and imposed the 1999 Constitution regard any tampering with items in the Federal Exclusive Legislative List as an affront that shall never be tolerated, no matter what.
Is there still anyone out there who fails to understand and appreciate the logic behind the just demand by indigenous ethnic nationalities of the Lower Niger to assert their unalienable right to determine their own fate by themselves, within the context of Nigeria or outside of it? Regional sovereignty is the best means to return respect and dignity to residents of Edo state who are now suffering incalculable pain being meted to them by minders of the status quo (One Unitary Nigeria) in faraway Abuja?