There was an error in this gadget

Tuesday, October 7, 2014

Changing the way you look- the World is always falling around

If you asked people in the 1950's, the Africans specific, the World was falling around. The colonialists were supposed to go and the self-governing philosophy would entail development. It would mean deciding what Africans wanted, self-rule and quicker development. 50 years down the line, countries that championed such arguments, like Ghana, Zambia, Malawi and even Zimbabwe, there are almost worse off than they were.
Today, the same World is falling again. There are conspiracy theories, either the Western World is blocking development, or pettiness and pure tribalism is affecting our development. The arguments now range like in Malawi from Federation to Succession, while in other countries like Sudan, the newly created South Sudan is already into civil war, less than a year it moved out of Sudan.
Again the World is falling around, just as it was during liberation struggle, some poisoned minds wants people to move into second liberation fronts, without proper analysis or thinking, to jump and make them power shakers and movers.
Looking at development data over the past 50 years, the poorest of the poor are now heading towards more poverty and very few have hope of moving out of the trap. Investments, or larger investments are only heading to "big" countries that can offer markets and very few small states on the international arena are able to attract investments.
In debating the future of any country, especially development, making an economic argument should be the major priority, than arguing on sharing of positions and seats in parliament. Unfortunately it is the opposite in most of the debates that are now taking place in Africa, that have resulted in a few starting mob debates, without proper research and splitting the countries further.
Abdul Raufu Mustapha paper "Ethnic structure, inequality and governance of the Public Sector in Nigeria" examines some of the core issues that many of the African states are still grappling with and why models that split people on tribal or regional lines do not work.
He states on Nigeria "Nigeria has about 374 ethnic groups that are broadly divided into ethnic “majorities” and ethnic “minorities”. The major ethnic groups are the Hausa-Fulani of the north, the Yoruba of the southwest, and the Igbo of the southeast. These three “hegemonic” ethnic groups constituted 57.8 per cent of the national population in the 1963 census. All the other ethnicities constitute different degrees of “minority” status. The dominance of the national population by the three majority groups was further accentuated by the tripodal regional administrative structure of the 1950s, which gave each majority ethnic group a region. From this demographic and historical starting point, Nigeria has evolved a tripolar ethnic structure, which forms the main context for ethnic mobilization and contestation. This paper investigates the consequences of the demo­graphic and historical legacies for the management of inter-ethnic relations, particularly within the public sector. The paper is divided into three parts. 

The history and geography of the ethno-regional cleavages in Nigeria, and suggests reasons for their endurance. Early colonial rule in Nigeria was based on the implicit concept of one country, many peoples, and very little was done to create unifying institutions and processes for these peoples. The internal geography of colonialism expressed itself as a cultural geography, which emphasized the distinctiveness of peoples, and the indissoluble connection between the “tribesmen”, their territories and their chiefs. Colonial administrative regionalism consolidated the link between ethnic distinctiveness and administrative boundaries: Hausa-Fulani in the north; Igbo in the east and the Yoruba in the west. The ethnic minorities in each region were forced to accommodate themselves the best they could in each region. Four factors that guided the evolution of the Nigerian state from 1900 are examined: the policies and practices of colonial administrations; the attitudes and prejudices of colonial administrators; and the colonial economy. From the 1940s, these three factors were joined by the politics of the emergent regional elites who had the incentive to mobilize along regional and ethnic lines, and in the process further entrenched the cleavages developed under colonial rule.

The long-drawn politico-historical process of regionalism, statism and localism has led to a concentric pattern of seven ethnic and political cleavages in Nigeria: (i) between the North and the South; (ii) between the three majority ethnic groups; (iii) between these wazobia groups on the one hand, and the minority groups on the other; (iv) rivalry between states, sometimes within and sometimes between ethnic groups; (v) interethnic rivalry in a mixed state composed of minority groups of different strengths, or a segment of a majority ethnicity surrounded by minority groups; (vi) intraethnic or subethnic rivalry within each majority ethnic group, sometimes also corresponding to state boundaries and sometimes within a single state; (vii) and finally, interclan and intraclan rivalries, particularly in the southeast and the north-central parts of the country. The most politically significant cleavages on which this report concentrates are the first three.

He further examines the manifestations of the inequalities associated with the cleavages examined on the history, particularly in the political, bureaucratic and educational apparatuses of the state. It argues that the cleavages coincide with systematic patterns of horizontal inequalities. It was particularly in the sphere of education that regional differences were first manifested under colonialism. And this then had a knock-on effect on the regional formation of human capital, and general economic development. Persisting educational and socioeconomic inequalities between different regions and ethnicities form the context for the observable inequalities in the staffing of governmental institutions in Nigeria. The long-run patterns of overlapping inequalities have come to shape people’s life chances and their political perceptions. They have also had a tremendous impact on the electoral politics of the country and the composition of different cabinets and bureaucracies, giving rise to political conflicts centred on the nature of ethno-regional representation within the public sector. The patterns of ethno-regional representation in various cabinets, parliaments, military juntas, and different levels of the public sector bureaucracy are examined, showing patterns of systematic correspondence between cleavages and horizontal inequalities in these institutions.

He also looks at various efforts aimed at reforming the lopsided nature of representation within the institutions of the Nigerian federation. Particular attention is paid to an attempt to banish ethno-regional differences through the imposition of a unitary system of government, and the reasons for the failure of this policy. Other reform measures examined include the breaking up of the powerful regions into smaller states, the evolution of a quota system for elite recruitment into the educational system, the constitutional provision for affirmative action under the federal character principle, and the building of a federation with a strong centre and a powerful presidency as the antidote to ethno-regional separatism. There was also the reform of the party system and the introduction of majoritarian and consociational rules to moderate divisive tendencies within the political process.

These efforts at reforming ethno-regional representation and relations in Nigeria have had only limited success. While the reforms have fundamentally transformed the Nigerian state, they have yet to solve the problem of ethnic mobilization and conflict. As a consequence, there is still a plethora of grievances from various ethnic groups."

Such a detailed study is important for people that want to bring arguments that will bring fundamental changes to any state or country, not emotions that have little or scientific proof that will further the interests and development of the people they claim to represent.
Small states have the challenge already to rise up and be counted in economies and investment now built based on populations and very little on individual issues. 
For all arguments, the best possible way of debating and looking at issues is finding always the opposite side of what everyone is proposing, looking at the strength and weaknesses of the same, and reasons why we should adopt or not adopt particular system. Shouting for the sake of shouting does not help anybody, both in the short or long term.
In Malawi, institutions such as Public Affairs Committee, can only be taken serious if they commissioned a study on various models of political systems, encourage differences on opinion and propose a plan that will make sure that every Malawian is a winner and not only one particular end. The process requires thoughtful, careful and proper investment and not hurried approaches that the speed of some people suggests.
The World will always be falling apart, but it is the responsibility of all of us who professes to live and make a difference to find solutions to the challenges, than rush in make up solutions that will only reward our thinking and wishes.
Perhaps, it the way we have been looking at things that needs to change, or perhaps it is the system.
After 13 years without Local Councils, we just formed new councils elected on May 20, 2014. Instead of looking at what we invested in in terms of devolution and power, we are already starting new concepts without evaluation if what we put in place would work or not? Such phased rush of developing ideas would be counterproductive to the very same development that we cry for.
Perhaps, we look at the current structure, change the voting systems to 50 plus 1 and indeed, even nominations of leaders should be endorsed by no less than 1,000 registered voters per district for one to be eligible to be a President. Unfortunately the speed at which we are debating, seems everyone has made up his mind and we will only remember sober facts, when everything ends up in a crisis, leaving the poorest of the poor- very poor and victims of political football as usual!

No comments: