Nigeria @60: Sad, But There Is Hope – Ndoma-Egba

Recently, the former Senate Leader in the 7th National Assembly, Sentor Victor Ndoma-Egba(SAN)had an interactive session with Veteran journalists in his Calabar country home on Nigeria@60 and the way forward.As a committed and seasoned patriot, he expressed hope and joy that Nigeria  survived the civil war and had remained United, therefore has come of age and at the same time has achieved something as against so many school of thoughts. He spoke on other issues too. Below are the excerpts from the interview as recorded by our Correspondent, VITALIS UGOH, Calabar.

Question: Distinguished Leader Sir. Nigeria has just marked her 60th indpendence anniversary. Sir what is your take on Nigeria @60?  

Ndoma-Egba:  I am 64. Born four years before Nigeria. I have seen colonial rule, saw the fight for independence, saw the excitement of elections before independence especially when Awolowo came to Ikom on a helicopter with election materials. I saw elders discussing the future with so much hope. Then, 1966, gboaaah!!! Coup. We got to 1967, Civil war for three years.To have these cocktail experiences in one generation( colonial rule, independence, civil rule, oil boom and the rest), will you still be yourself?We actually have two achievements. Firstly, we survived the civil war and secondly we are still one country.

Now, to assess ourselves, we need to go back to our peers as at 1960, such as Brazil, Indonesia, Malaysia, Singapore, India. Brazil and Indonesia had worst forms of military rule than ,we ever experienced. When they were setting up defence industry in Kaduna (DICON) it was the same time they were setting up the Brazilian equivalent. Today, those ones have gone beyond producing arms to producing aeroplanes and rockets. Ours is still struggling. So it is not military rule that has placed its hook on our neck. In 1960, Nigeria had three regions. 1963 saw the creation of Midwest, we now had four regions. In 1967 we had 12 states and we went on to 19 states, from there to 21 and by 1996 we had 36 states. That is in 36 years, we were creating an average of one federating unit every year. India still has the same number of states or provinces as they call them. Brazil created one additional state. All other countries maintained the same number of federating units as they had in 1960.

The implication of this is multiplication of cost heads and increase in the ratio of recurrent Expenditure. Corruption is a consequence of inefficiency. This multiplication has created inefficiency and the consequence is corruption that we are crying about. In a nutshell, the structures where we moved from three regions to 36 states cannot deliver the progress that we can see. 
Secondly, is the political will and vision. My consolation is when we look at the new emerging states, it means that it can be done. Sad as our history is, there is still hope.

Question: How would you assess Buhari’s administration?

Ndoma-Egba! The President Muhammadu Buhari administration is however fighting hard to change the narrative. To assess the Buhari’s administration you will need to recall the depths we were in, that we need to get to the surface before we can build up. For the past five years, President Buhari administration has done much to take us to the top especially fighting hard to check corruption in the country because if corruption is reduced considerably Nigeria will go a long way. 

Question: Leader, Security has been a big challenge in recent time. What is your take on this sector?

Ndoma-Egba: Security is still a challenge but not at the level it was before with asubstantial portion of territory occupied by the terrorists, hosting flags and with their own government. Bombs dropped indiscriminatelyeverywhere then, The Police Headquarters, The United Nations building, Churches, Mosques, markets and elsewhere with rapidityand audacity. Schools were often invaded with children kidnapped. But the Buhari administration has put an end to all these and the battle to finally eliminate BOKO HARAM and bandits is high.

Question: The Nation had before now witnessed decay in our infrastructure. Is this administration done anything towards addressing this area?

Ndoma-Egba: There has been remarkable delivery on infrastructure. The Onitshaand lkom bridges, roads, rail, upgrade of airports etc. We however expect much more given our severe infrastructure deficit.

Question: What is the way forward now?

Ndoma-Egba: The infamous oil subsidy has been removed.The Treasury single Account is being effectively implemented. Corruption is still endemic but its infrastructure is being systematically degraded. What we require is patience. Certainly, the President Buhari government will deliver. 

Question: What do you have to say concerning the just concluded APC Primaries in the State as the Chairman of the Peace and Reconciliation Committee?

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