A Yoruba socio-cultural group, the Afenifere Renewal Group, ARG, has observed nepotism and ethnocentrism in the sharing of key economic portfolios under the current administration. The economic positions occupied by Nigerians of Igbo extraction to the exclusion of other ethnic groupings, the ARG said, are the Central Bank of Nigeria, CBN, Securities and Exchange Commission, SEC, Debt Management Office, DMO, Assets Management Company of Nigeria, AMCON, Nigerian Stock Exchange, NSE, Sovereign Wealth Fund, SWF, and the Finance Ministry. The statement was contained in a four-year (2000-2004) review report by the ARG on the state of the nation during the period.
Presenting the report, titled ‘Nigeria Democratic Governance Report: Curbing Political Instability and Extravagance,’ ARG National Chairman, Wale Oshun, blamed the country’s presidential politics for the drift towards ethnocentrism, while noting that the economy had been on decline, since democracy returned to the country in 1999.
The group also expressed fears that the 2015 general elections might be doomed by political instability.
Oshun said that basic indicators ahead of 2015 tend to put Nigeria on “red alert.”
“We are now faced with a depressing economic outlook because of dwindling revenues, corruption, and heavily flawed and extravagant budget,” Oshun said.
He added that “Worse still, divisive politics is now so pervasive that the concept of a free and fair election in 2015 is looking more like a mirage, especially with the way INEC’s rating has plummeted in recent times.
“How we navigate 2015 elections in the reality of this context will determine the country’s survival.
“Nigerians should be concerned because the 2015 General Elections will not replenish the country’s depleted tank of political stability if certain reforms are not pursued as urgently as possible.”
The group recommended that the country return to the First Republic’s regional structure or adoption of the six geo-political zones as federating units.
“The uncontrollable wastage and rapacious corruption in Federal Government necessitates the reduction of Federal Government’s share in Revenue Allocation Formula to 35 percent, with maximum devolution of powers to the federating units,” the group stated.
The ARG frowned at the decision of the National Assembly to grant autonomy to local governments, stating that it “is counter-productive in a federal state.” The group rather advocated that local governments be removed “from revenue sharing and let each federating unit manage as many LGA as it could.”
The ARG picked holes in the implementation of the nation’s budget, which it said should show accountability and transparency.
The ARG said the Excess Crude Account, ECA, and other “special” accounts be abolished.
On proper monitoring of contract awards, the group noted that, “There is no public-compliant mechanism to monitor execution of contracts, which has become a ‘legal’ avenue for corruption because the NASS, in addition to proving inept in its oversight function, is also a willing collaborator.”
A way out for the nation’s fluid currency, according to the ARG, is “by reducing useless imports” and “a review of the current import and waiver policies,” which poses the singular biggest threat to local SMEs.
On oil, the ARG urged incoming government to ensure “that refineries operate at a level that meets local needs.”
ARG said: “Once again, this report is the voice of reason, a cry from the wilderness. Will Nigeria listen and be saved? Political stability indicators are almost at zero levels and 2015 General Elections, especially the presidential election, is already laden with potential threats of violence that may be unprecedented in Nigeria’s history.
“Our advice is for the presidency, NASS, and all political parties to meet and agree to an exit strategy that embodies peace and upholds democracy.
“However, whether this advice is heeded or not, the ARG is conscious of the need to initiatives geared towards protecting the Yoruba people and their interest, as other nationality groups in the country are presently doing. Yoruba political and business leaders must now realise that they are more endangered than their counterparts in other nationalities, if the present trend continues.”