Former Senate Majority Leader Victor Ndoma-Egba has blamed Nigeria’s underdevelopment on breaking down the nation’s former three regions into 36 states.
He said other nations that got independence with Nigeria in 1960 were ahead of the country because they kept their recurrent expenditures at minimal rates and had consequently developed.
The former chairman of the Niger-Delta Development Commission (NDDC) stated this while featuring on Arise TV’s ‘The Morning Show’ on Thursday.
He said Nigeria could not keep its development pace with Singapore, Malaysia, Indonesia, Brazil and other nations it was at par with at independence because of state creation and allocation of available resources to paying salaries and servicing leaders.
“We experienced several episodes of military rule. Brazil had the same experience, Indonesia had the same experience. We cannot totally implicate military rule as the reason for our lack of progress. What is it that we did that they did not do well?
“Singapore is a city-state. It still remains a city-state. If you go to Malaysia, the federating units have remained the same since 1960. If you go to Brazil, I think since 1960, they have probably have created just one new state.
“India, the provinces are still the same. Indonesia, the federating units have remained the same. We had three regions in 1960. By 1963, we had four regions. By 1967, we had 12 states. By 1996, that is 36 years later, we had 36 states. That means that we were creating an average of one state every year.
“Why is this important? It is important when you relate it to the ratio of our capital budget and recurrent budget. In 1960, it (recurrent) was a single-digit. By 1967, it was 60 for capital, 40 for recurrent. Today, we have 27 per cent for capital and the rest of over 70 per cent for recurrent.”
He said the solution to the problem was for Nigeria to understand that its current structure was not sustainable.
The chieftain of the All Progressives Congress in Cross River State said until recently, Vietnam and Thailand were poor.
He said a few years later, both countries, including South Korea and Dubai, had prospered much more than Nigeria.
According to him, Abu Dhabi built its first primary school in 1969, and the first graduate from his village (in Cross River) finished school in 1953.
He said everyone could see the difference between Abu Dhabi and Nigeria in terms of development today.
“There must be a national conversation. Our politics must be directly tied to development. Let us downplay this issue of religion and ethnicity that have never taken anybody anywhere,” Ndoma-Egba said of what Nigeria needed to progress.
He said no one dared raise religiously sensitive issues in Abu Dhabi because the focus of governance was on general development and inclusiveness.
But in Nigeria, the elite used ethnicity and religion to divide citizens, he noted.
While admitting that politicians fanned the embers of crisis and were architects of socio-economic misfortunes in Nigeria, he said except citizens decided on the nation’s direction, the country would keep revolving in its current woes.
Speaking on the attack and looting of his house by hoodlums during the #EndSARS protest in 2020, Ndoma-Egba said he was out of the country, but watched the attacks on his house and the carnage unleashed on other places in the country .
He said he started his house in 1991 and moved into it in 2009.
He said the house contained all his valuables, including those he inherited from his grandparents.
“Everything was completely looted. The only thing they left was the floor. Even the toilet seats were carted away.”
“It was well-coordinated. It was premeditated. The water pump was removed from the borehole. The overhead tanks were drained and got burnt.”
He said the attack on his house and other places might not be part of the intention of #EndSARS promoters but was hijacked by hoodlums
Among the valuables he said were carted away from his home were drinks from his maternal grandmother’s marriage, which he said were procured 108 years ago.
He also said he lost law books left for him by his father – a federal judge.
He said though Police brutality started the protest, ensuing scenes showed the failure of leadership and attendant socio-economic crises in the nation.
According to him, the Police had also been victims of mis-governance in the country.
Recollecting how poor the Police barracks in the state where he had his National Youth Service Corps programme decades back were, he said the state of things in the country called for a national dialogue on the direction the nation needed to go.