Adebanjo, Clark, Amaechi, Yakasai at their sunset | Dailytrust

Adebanjo, Clark, Amaechi, Yakasai at their sunset

By Eric Teniola


The other day, Alhaji Salihu Abubakar Tanko-Yakasai (95) lamented that no nation spending 80 percent revenue of its revenue on governance would ever develop. He said “at the moment in Nigeria, 80 percent of Nigeria’s revenue is expended on bureaucracy, spent on running the administration. The bottom line is you cannot develop with 20 percent of the total revenue, where you commit 80 percent for recurrent expenditure. This is what is happening at the federal and state levels. With this situation, no country can develop.” 

Imagine what we are spending on the National Assembly amidst poverty in Nigeria? Imagine how much INEC will spend on elections this year and next year too? Imagine what the governors are taking home every month all in the name of security votes? The issue now is beyond the percentage in the cost of governance as lamented by Alhaji Yakasai. It looks as if the soul of this country is on trial. We are at crossroads as a people. We have the problem of a huge debt, insecurity, over-spending especially on the National Assembly, unemployment, high rate of inflation, banditry, bad roads, ill-equipped hospitals, and many other problems that we are now faced with. It is good that Alhaji Yakasai and his three other colleagues at the sunset of their lives are crying out now that things are not well with us as a country. We need to hear more from them. They represent perhaps, our last hope now. Their silence will be worse. Honestly, this is not the time to keep quiet at all. Our situation is getting worse daily.

The big four I have in mind represent the four regions before the 1967 era. They are Chief Ayo Adebanjo(93) from the old Western Region, Chief Mbazulike Amaechi(91) from the old Eastern Region, Chief Edwin Kiagbodo Clark (94) from the old Mid-Western Region, and Alhaji Tanko Yakasai from the old Northern Region. It is commendable that these octogenarians still speak out on issues concerning this country. I must commend them for voicing their opinions on issues, though such opinions may not be listened to. They should be appreciated for speaking out often for hardly a week passes without any of them expressing their opinions. One may disagree with their opinions but they should not be ignored. At the sundown of their lives, they should be more encouraged to speak out.

In the last few weeks, I have come to know Chief Clark better through Ambassador Godknows Igali and Barrister Kayode Ajulo. On May 25, Chief Clark will be 95 years old. Chief Clark is the Ebi-Ebekekere, Owei of Western Ijaw in Delta State. He is the senior brother of Professor Johnson Pepper Clark (April 6, 1935- October 13, 2020) and Ambassador Akporide Blessing Clark (91), the former Nigeria Representative at the United Nation. 

Chief Amaechi is the Dara Akunwafor of Ukpor, Ichie (the headquarters of Nnewi South Local Government Area in Anambra State). He lost his wife, Priscilla Chinelo Okoye, whom he married in 1960, recently. 

Chief Adebanjo from Isanya-Ogbo near Ijebu Ode, is presently the leader of the Afenifere, a socio-cultural organization for the Yoruba people of Nigeria. The Afenifere was formed in 1998 with Chief Abraham Adesanya as the leader and the late Chief Bola Ige as the deputy leader.

Alhaji Tanko Yakasai is the fourth among those I regard as the last link with the present generation. I have known Alhaji Yakasai since 1976. He was very close to Alhaji Mamoud Waziri, Alhaji Gidado Idris, Alhaji Gambo Jimeta, Alhai Uba Ahmed and Dr. Abubakar Olusola Saraki. Always at alert, he reads constantly. Years ago we usually meet at the Roman Garden House, Victoria Island, Lagos, office of Alhaji Mahmoud Waziri. 

Between 1994 and 1995, he was a member of the Nigerian Constitutional Conference; a delegate to the Nigerian National Conference in 2014, and also a member National Conference Consensus Building Group in 2014. 

It is good even at the age of 95; a man like Alhaji Tanko Yakasai is still talking about national issues. For if my observation is correct, only a few people now talk or advise this Central Government. Most people have realized that it is useless and a waste of time to talk to a government that does not listen. As far as this government is concerned, there is no dialogue. So I must commend Alhaji Tanko Yakasai and his colleagues, Chief Adebanjo, Chief Amaechi, and Chief Clark who are still concerned about the future of this country. 

Nigeria seems to be in a dilemma now. The Nigeria train is moving at a fast speed to a kaput destination. 

The question now is, is Nigeria now a failed state or a fragile state? According to a recent analysis by World Bank, “a fragile state or weak state is a country characterized by weak state capacity or weak state legitimacy leaving citizens vulnerable to a range of shocks. While many countries are making progress toward achieving the Sustainable Development Goals, a group of 35 to 50 countries (depending on the measure used) are falling behind. It is estimated that out of the world’s seven billion people, 26 percent live in fragile states, and this is where one-third of all people surviving on less than US$1.25 per day live, half of the world’s children who die before the age of five, and one-third of maternal deaths occur.

A fragile state is significantly susceptible to a crisis in one or more of its sub-systems. It is a state that is particularly vulnerable to internal and external shocks and domestic and international conflicts. Fragile states are not only evaluated by the degree of fragility but also types of state fragility and the threat they pose to help policymakers to appropriate responses. In a fragile state, institutional arrangements embody` and perhaps preserve the conditions of crisis: in economic terms, this could be institutions (importantly, property rights) that reinforce stagnation or low growth rates, or embody extreme inequality (in wealth, in access to the property and land ownership, in access to the means to make a living); in social terms, institutions may embody extreme inequality or lack of access altogether to health or education; in political terms, institutions may entrench exclusionary coalitions in power (in ethnic, religious, or perhaps regional terms), or extreme factionalism or significantly fragmented security organisations. In fragile states, statutory institutional arrangements are vulnerable to challenges by rival institutional systems be they derived from traditional authorities, devised by communities under conditions of stress that see little of the state (in terms of security, development, or welfare), or be they derived from warlords, or other non-state power brokers. Fragile states might also offer citizens multiple, overlapping institutions from highly variant power sources that are competing for legitimacy. While, as opposed to a weak state, these different institutions might not be in direct conflict, they do offer strong competing narratives that hamper the progress of good governance.

The fragile state is an analytical category that gained prominence from the mid-1990s onwards and gained further traction after the 9/11 terrorist attacks. The background is the belief held by many policy-makers and academics alike that the potential for contemporary conflict is harboured within, not between, states. Low capacity and low-income states of the Global South are thought to pose direct threats not only to their populations but by extension also to their neighboring Western countries. Following this logic, fragile states need development to be able to provide security and basic services to their citizens, decreasing vulnerability and increasing resilience to internal and external shocks. In this way, fragile states exhibit a series of similar threats as failed states, but at a markedly lower magnitude. Their failures are an effective omen of what is to come if their administrative course remains unaltered.”

For sure Nigeria is in the category of countries listed above either as failed or fragile.

Eric Teniola, a former director at the Presidency, writes from Lagos

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