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Growing Nigeria’s economy, improving governance



There’s no doubt that we are facing serious challenges as a nation, including building an economy that creates vast opportunities for our citizens and giving each of our diverse people a sense of fairness in the distribution of opportunities across the country and creating in them a sense of unity and oneness. Over the years political and civic leaders have stressed the inviolability of Nigeria as one united country and called on our citizens to show a sense of unity and patriotism. Unfortunately, as leaders, we have not done enough to encourage the behaviour and values we expect of our citizens. We have not always matched our rhetoric with our actual behaviour.

Thus it has been difficult for us to achieve national integration and development. I will identify objective or structural and subjective or non-structural factors responsible for this: Objective/Structural Factors: These include our multi-ethnic/multi-religious nature, with regional differences and imbalances with respect to population, natural resource endowment, land mass, topography, etc. Our governments are also dependent on revenues from oil derived from a small patch of the country, mainly three states.

We are also characterized by differential location of economic and political power or dominance, among our groups/regions. This diversity is in itself not a problem. Indeed, it can be a source of strength if we are organised in a way that each section or group contributes its special endowments to the whole. The issue is our subjective responses to our diversity. Those responses have profound impact on nation-building processes, especially our perception of our relationships with one another.

I also have to point out that while our dependence on oil is now a structural fact, it is not natural; it resulted from conscious government policies and practices which can be reversed. And we have excessive centralization and concentration of power and resources at the federal level relative to the states. Non-Structural/Subjective: These are what we do, can do or fail to do to improve our society and realise our national goals.

These include quality of governance: what the government does or fails to do as well as the practices and pronouncements of political and civic leaders, which profoundly shape political discourse and the relationships among citizens. Let’s take a closer look. We are a diverse, multi-ethnic and multi-religious society with three dominant groups in three geographic regions each with many minority groups. None of the three major groups and neither of the two main religions has overall dominance in the country. Another dimension of our diversity is that the government’s revenue base (oil) is located within a minority section of the country while political power is broadly located elsewhere – with the majority group(s). Although these two features can make for a harmonious relationship among the component groups, by locating different forms of power in different groups/ regions, they have largely been a recipe for conflict in Nigeria. Another aspect of our diversity, which contributes to conflicts, is the uneven development among the regions/zones, which had been there since our political independence.

There is also what I regard as the excessive centralization of power and concentration of resources in the Federal Government relative to the federating states. Our leaders at independence, after vigorous debates and negotiations, decided, rightly in my view, that a federal system is better suited for our situation. A federal system allows for shared national goals and policies, but also allows federating states the autonomy to pursue peculiar priorities. A federal system is also best suited for the protection of the interests of minorities, especially with the creation of states that allowed many numerically large minorities to have more political influence.

At independence we had three (later four) regions with adequate autonomy and powers to develop at their own paces. When the regional leaders tried to extend their influence outside their region of dominance, especially in ways that were less than democratic, it created a political crisis that helped precipitate the military’s seizure of power.

Military command and control structure and the crisis and civil war led to centralization and concentration of power and resources in the centre at the expense of the federating states, which had then been carved out of the regions. Oil revenues underwrote the process, ensuring little resistance. That’s how we came to have “unitary federalism.”

Our “unitary federalism” has also been characterized by too much government involvement in economic and other activities. We now have federal roads, schools, and hospitals, in addition to business investments that the Federal Government embarked upon. With unprecedented inflow of oil revenues the expansion of government didn’t seem to be a problem.

The state became the means to wealth. Politics became a zero sum game. But soon government overreached itself and when oil prices collapsed, the folly of our ways became very obvious. The collapse of our infrastructure and the fiscal crises across the country are pointers to this. It is now so bad that all but a handful of states cannot pay their workers unless they collect monthly revenue allocations from Abuja. And people have come to depend on the governments just as the governments are dependent on oil revenues. Consequently, there has been a crowding out of the private sector, with excessive dependence of people on the government for jobs and other opportunities in addition to social services. The result, therefore, is huge unmet expectations. The government’s inability to meet these expectations heightens inter-group tensions, which contribute to political instability and insecurity, and scare investors.

Our governments over the years, in response to some of the crisis thrown up by these objective structures have tried a number of policies and measures. These include state creation, federal character, NYSC, and changes to revenue allocation formula, which moved more resources to the centre at the expense of the federating states and later moved a little bit more back to the states.

Contradictorily the government has also encouraged the distinction between indigenes and settlers, emphasizing place of origin rather than place of residence in the allocation of opportunities such as jobs and school admissions. This is clearly the wrong type of value to impart in our young people.

What needs to be done? So we need to step back, agree on what the centre must do and what can and should be devolved to the lower tiers of government. We must devolve powers and responsibilities to the federating states. Much of what is currently in the Exclusive Legislative List need to be moved to the Concurrent List. We don’t need federal roads, federal hospitals, and federal schools.

They should be transferred to the states along with the funds expended on them. At best the federal government may establish regional centres of excellence in medicine and research in each of the geopolitical zones, which can act as models for state governments. The federal government should handsoff the administration of local governments.

States should have the power to create as many local governments as they wish or to not create any. With the devolution of powers to state governments, people in each state would know who to hold responsible if their roads are not fixed and if their hospitals have no medication. And the devolution of powers to states must extend to political parties. Our political parties should not behave in a unitary manner and expect a robust democratic federal system for Nigeria. Having the party headquarters in Abuja dictate to state (and even local government) branches even on purely local matters is not healthy for democracy and federalism. Such highhandedness promotes corruption and impedes attention to minority interests and local peculiarities.

•We need to also follow the letter and spirit of such existing mechanisms as federal character and other affirmative action policies to help manage distributive conflicts until such a time when we do enough to enhance production in order to reduce the scarcity that drives our conflicts over distribution. Inevitably in federal systems, component units will bicker over the distribution of resources, including revenues, location of investments and other opportunities. We need to acknowledge that much of our conflicts over distribution are driven by scarcity. That is why I strongly believe that our efforts at redistributive justice must be accompanied by efforts and reforms to improve the productive capacity of our country.

We need to remove all impediments to and provide all necessary incentives for the emergence of a truly productive economy. We must invest in infrastructure, education and innovation, and health care. And these will be more difficult if we maintain the current “unitarized federal” structure and the overblown government bureaucracy.

Rather than relying on revenues from oil we should create a really private-sector led thriving economy that creates enormous jobs, reduces poverty, and creates wealth commensurate with our potentials. When our economy starts creating so many jobs that we will have a hard time filling them, employers will pay less attention to the place of origin of the applicant.

The willingness and ability to do the job will become paramount. When we have enough university spaces that our universities compete for students to fill those spaces, they will pay little attention to place of origin of the prospective students. Transparency in policy making and implementation are also critical. Our distributive system needs to be fairer and seen to be so by the vast majority of our people.

If we promote merit even in the context of federal character (best from each area) conflicts will reduce. In determining access to public resources and services, our emphasis should be on place of residence rather than place of origin. The cause of national unity and integration will be better served when we encourage mobility of persons across the country as opposed to encouraging people to stay in their places of “origin.” Obviously the use of place of residence rather than place of origin will be easier to sell under a very productive and growing economy rather than one characterized by low productivity and contraction. It will also help if we improve governance.

A well-governed people tend to worry less about where their leaders come from. While citizens may maintain their identities, these do not define their attitude to the state or leaders per se. And the most sustainable way to ensure good governance is by improving our democracy and electoral system so that the people’s choices are usually elected.

Thus we must ensure internal party democracy, reduce the role of money and godfathers in our elections, reduce the use of state resources for electoral advantage by incumbents, and strengthen the independence of our electoral umpire. If we restructure our federation, make compromises, and govern better, we will have a greater chance of transforming our diversity into a national asset. And enduring changes to our structure and redistributive systems can only come about through negotiations and compromises by leaders of our diverse groups and zones. With a spirit of give and take, the capacity to empathise, to walk in the other’s shoes, compromises will be easier.


•Abubakar is a former Vice President (1999-2007)

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General Danjuma and the right to self defence (2)





Last week, we started this exasperated issue, though, not new, yet welcoming, in which ex-Chief of Staff and Minister of Defence Gen T.Y Danjuma, charged all Nigerians to defend themselves from any sort of attacks, including that from the herdsmen. Today, we shall continue our discourse, bearing in mind some of its legal restrictions.


From time immemorial, the right to self defence of oneself or another person against unjustifiable attack has been recognized. It is ancient. Russell on Crime states the rule as follows: “A man is justified in resisting by force anyone who manifestly intends and endeavours by violence or surprise to commit a known felony against either his person, habitation or property. In these cases, he is not obliged to retreat, and may not merely resist the attack where he stands but may indeed pursue his adversary until the danger is ended and if in a conflict between them he happens to kill his attacker such killing is justifiable.”


The right to self defence has been given statutory imprimatur in Nigeria, and has been codified in section 32 (3) of the Criminal Code applicable in the southern states of Nigeria and section 59 of the penal code applicable in the northern states of Nigeria.


Section 32 (3) of the Criminal Code provides that, “a person is not criminally liable for an act, when the act is reasonably necessary in order to resist actual and unlawful violence threatened to him or to another person in his presence.”


Section 59 of the Penal Code on the other hand provides: “Nothing is an offence of which is done in the lawful exercise of the right of private defence”.


Under section 60 of the Penal Code, it is provided that “subject to restrictions contained in the code, every person has a right to defend his own body, and the body of another person against any offence affecting the human body”.


One of the restrictions is that “the right of private defence in no case extends to the infliction of more harm than is necessary to inflict for the purpose of defence”. Under Section 65 of the Nigerian Penal Code, private self defence may, in certain circumstances, extends to killing another where the act being repelled falls in one of the following categories: (a) an attack which causes reasonable apprehension of death or causing grievous hurt; or (b) rape or assault with intent to gratify unnatural lust, or (c) abduction or kidnapping. These situations afford a person the right to kill another.


More significantly, the right to self defence is given constitutional imprimature by the provisions of section 33 (2) (a) of the 1999 Constitution. It provides that “a person shall not be regarded as having been deprived of his life in contravention of this section, if he dies as a result of the use, to such extent in such circumstances as are permitted by law, of such force as is reasonably necessary, for the defence of any person from unlawful violence or for defence of property.”


Section 286 (1) of the Nigerian Criminal Code provides: “if the nature of the assault is such as to cause reasonable apprehension of death or grievous harm and the person using force by way of defence believes on reasonable grounds that he cannot otherwise preserve the person defended from death or grievous harm, it is lawful for him to use any such force to the assailant as is necessary for defence, even though such force may cause death or grievous harm.”


In Akpan V. State (1994) 9 NWLR (part 368) at p.347, Adio (Justice, Supreme Court as he then was), in interpreting section 286 of the Nigerian Criminal Code, held as follows: “When a person is unlawfully assaulted, and has not provoked the assault, it is lawful for him to use such force on the assailant as is reasonably necessary to make effectual defence against the assault. The force which may be used in such circumstances must not be intended, and should not be such as is likely to cause death or grievous harm. If the nature of the assault is such as to cause reasonable apprehension of death or grievous harm, and the person using force by way of defence believes on reasonable grounds that he cannot otherwise preserve the person defended from death or grievous harm, it is lawful for him to use any such force to the assailant as is necessary for defence even though such force may cause death or grievous harm”. This means that anyone attacked by an herdsman has the legal right to defend himself and repel the attack, even if such leads to killing that herdsman.



Section 60 of the Penal Code, provides that “subject to restrictions contained in the code, every person has a right to defend his own body, and the body of another person against any offence affecting the human body”. One of the restrictions however, is that “the right of private defence in no case extends to the infliction of more harm than is necessary to inflict for the purpose of defence”.



The Nigerian Penal Code’s approach is different from that of the Criminal Code. Under the Penal Code, killing occasioned by the use of excessive force in private defence is manslaughter only, not murder. Section 222 (2) of the Penal Code provides: “…culpable homicide is not punishable with death if the offender in the exercise (in good faith) of the right of private defence exceeds the powers given to him and causes death…”



However, under section 287 of the Criminal Code provides in part as follows: “When a person has unlawfully assaulted another or has provoked an assault from another, and that other assaults him with such violence as to cause reasonable apprehension of death of grievous harm, and to induce him to believe, on reasonable grounds, that it is necessary for his preservation from death or grievous harm to use force in self defence, he is not criminally responsible for using any such force as is reasonably necessary for such preservation, although such force may cause death or grievous harm. This protection does not extend to a case in which the person using force, which causes death or grievous harm, first began the assault with intent to kill or to do grievous harm to some person; nor to a case in which the person using force which causes death or grievous harm endeavoured to kill or to do grievous harm to some person before the necessity of so preserving himself arose, nor in either case, unless, before such necessity arose, the person using such force declined further conflict, and quitted it or retreated from it as far as was practicable”. (To be continued).






“I am never proud to participate in violence, yet I know that each of us must care enough for ourselves that we can be ready and able to come to our own defense when and wherever needed.” (Maya Angelou).




Hope Nigerians are reading, digesting and awaiting the next exploring discourse of Sunday Sermon on the Mount of the Nigerian Project by Chief Mike Ozekhome, SAN, OFR, FCIArb., PhD, LL.D.

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Allegri, Sarri in managerial bat tle



…as Juve, Napoli t ango in Serie A decider


Tomorrow’s top-of-the-table clash between Juventus and Napoli at Allianz Stadium is expected to draw attention of football fans worldwide as Maximiliano Allegri and Maurizio Sarri – two of the best managers in Italy and, by extension, world football go head-to-head. While the global followership of the Italian Serie A has dwindled over the years owing to the slump of aristocratic clubs like AC Milan and Inter Milan, the global interest is being reawakened by the likelihood of Napoli ending the overwhelming dominance of Juventus who are on course to clinch a seventh straight scudetto. For the neutrals, it’s not just about the push to end the Old Lady dominance of Italian football but it’s about Napoli on the threshold of history to land their first title since 1989 when the great Diego Maradona steered the team from Naples, against the odds, to league glory.

Napoli, for the larger part of the season, led the table but a recent slump in form now means they are the one doing the catch-up. Second-placed Napoli are on 81 points while Turin-based league leaders Juventus are four points better after 33 round of matches. The Bianconeri are a side that have the experience when it comes to winning titles but Napoli have shown that they are as hungry to taste success as well.

Allgerri, 50, has enjoyed tremendous success in Italy and he seems to be bracing himself for another challenge as he stated a few weeks ago that he is ready to work outside Italy. However, the former AC Milan boss knows how damaging it would be if he concedes the title to Sarri, a 59-year-old chain-smoking maverick. Like Allegri, Sarri has also been strongly linked with a number of clubs including Chelsea and a resume which contains a Serie A title would enhance his growing profile.

Both managers showed how good they are in the Champions League and Europa Cup where Juventus reached the quarterfinal losing narrowly to defending champions Real Madrid and Napoli crashed to RB Leipzig in the round of 32. Allegri almost made what looked insurmountable possible as he led his side to a 3-0 lead over Real Madrid at the latter ’s Santiago Barnebeu stadium and was on the verge of forcing an extra-time before a last-gasp penalty by Cristiano Ronaldo shattered their hope.

It was an identical experience for Sarri, who steered Napoli to a 2-0 away win at Leipzig after the German side had recorded a 3-1 first-leg win in Naples. And as pundits conclude, a win for Napoli will put life back into the season while, a reverse fortune means Juventus stranglehold will continue – at least for one more season.

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Nuisances of daughters-in-law



While reactions to the penultimate week’s article: “Coping with Strict In- Laws” are still streaming in, I will anchor today’s topic on some of the questions that callers, especially men, asked about women whose attitudes provoked the reactions they get from the in-laws. Like I stated in the previous edition, ‘there are situations where the daughters-in-law do not help matters.

Some, if not many of them, are so daring, disrespectful and inconsiderate.’ The wife is a daughter-in-law in a family setting. She is a new adult entrant into her matrimonial family. As demanded by the convention, she will drop her father’s name for her husband’s. She becomes a ‘daughter’ or ‘sister’ or both to her in-laws provided she is a well-groomed, courteous woman. In the ages past, the relationship between families often lead to matchmaking their mature children for marriage. Parental involvement usually steady their children’s homes. Parents usually respond swiftly to their children’s needs in times of crisis.

If the couple has a problem with having children early in time, their parents often go through the waiting period with them. If they have festering disagreement, the parents will wade in. If they have financial or job challenges, parents will put resources together to assist and also leverage on their nexus to get job placements for them. In a well-todo family, they may decide to send the couple overseas for a new lease of life. Many well-cultured wives are the pride of her in-laws and their own families. Such a virtuous, adorable woman would add more laurels to the good name of her own parents as well as that of her in-laws. In applying native wisdom, she will choose to be closer to strategic members of the family while she is accommodating to all. She wouldn’t gossip. She would not be cantankerous, arrogant or saucy. She’s humble, calm and sagacious. She warms her way to the heart of her mother-in-law and eventually becomes the confidant of her sisters-in-law.

If anyone should ask, how many wives in today’s homes are so steeped in good manners? I will say a few! The reasons are not far-fetched: many of the so-called ‘bad wives’ or daughtersin- law are wrongly indoctrinated about their in-laws! They chose wrong mentors and bad friends within their in-laws’ families who taint their perceptions with negativity. There are those who, in trying to avoid falling cheap preys to the antics of selfish and imposing in-laws, overstepped their limits and consequently earned themselves more antagonists among their in-laws. Listening to bewildering and scary tales about the shenanigans of in-laws with verifiable evidences from aunts, neighbours, friends and on social media have injected perplexed pictures and combative mindset in the psyche of our young brides.

A 41-year-old woman is now at the verge of losing her home, no thanks to her ‘hostile’ in-laws who insist she must quit. According to the narrative, she’s actually responsible for her ordeal. For instance, whenever her mother-in-law comes visiting, she won’t allow her children to eat anything the grandma gave or bought for them. To cap it all, she won’t feed the grandma from the same pot her family is eating from. She will cook another soup of lesser quality for her mother-in-law and treat her like a total stranger. Her husband took note of all her attitudes towards his mother but feigned indifference. Early last month, one of her sisters-in-law came to announce that “very shortly, a more responsible, well-mannered woman” will be welcomed as second wife.

And if she’s not satisfied with the new arrangement, she is free to quit the marriage. To her surprise, her husband is involved in the plot. Whenever her own mother, siblings or relations come around, she will be at her best. Cooking delicious meals, renewing cable television subscription, allowing her children to go out with her people. Sometimes, her children do spend some weekends at her parents’ place.

The woman’s younger sister had warned that her husband would repay her with a shocking measure. Rather than take to correction, she accused her sister of trying to incite her husband against her. Now that the crisis has erupted, there is nobody to help or plead on her behalf. As you are reading this article, she had lost weight, always appearing in a remorseful mode, pleading for forgiveness and promising to change. Unfortunately, nobody seems to be interested in listening to her, not even her own mother who had warned her severally. At some point, her mother stopped visiting her place. She is a typical wife with prejudices against her in-laws.

The sour doctrine of hostility which she imbibed from her neighbours and friends have become her albatross. There are many daughters-in-law out there that have successfully ostracized their in-laws, alienated their spouses from their people and keep them in limbo of fantasy. In a matter of time, their cups of shenanigans will be full and their homes will be in crisis. The Word says a wise woman builds her own home; are you wise? Send your responses/private issues to: or 08035304268 (SMS/WhatsApp)

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