Elder statesman, Chief Emeka Anyaoku, is worried by the spate of killings in the country, and he wants an immediate end to the trend.
The former Secretary General of the Commonwealth says incessant reports of killings in parts of the country seem to suggest that “we are gradually losing consciousness of the sanctity of human life.”
“I must confess that I am very sad about the general insecurity in the country. We seem, as a society, to be getting inured to loss of human lives,” he told The Nation in an exclusive interview during the week.
Chief Anyaoku, who will turn 85 on Thursday, said: “In the Nigerian society, it seems we are gradually losing consciousness of the sanctity of human life, because every day, we read in the newspapers about so many people killed either by Boko Haram or by marauding herdsmen or by kidnappers or by cultists.
“There is general insecurity and the value placed on human life seems to be going down and down. It saddens me because most of my working life was in societies where if one human being dies under questionable circumstances, the government, the law enforcement agencies will rise to action.”
He does not believe that the law enforcement agencies are doing enough about the situation.
“That is why and for many other reasons I have been advocating for the now commonly used word ‘restructuring’. Because when this country was a true federation of four regions, the country was doing better. There was greater security, greater development and less corruption.
“But the structure we now have that obliges us to spend as much as 80 per cent of our revenue on just administration, because we have 36 states with governmental structure replicated in all the states.
“It has got to the state where most of these states cannot pay their civil servants, with many being owed their salaries for many months.
“Instead of focusing on producing, we now go to share allocations from the federal government. I believe that in this country, given its character of multi-ethnicity, multi-religion and multi-cultures, we need a true federation where the federating units should be more viable than what we have now.
“We should have no more than eight federating units. These will be better able to plan their development, benefiting from healthy rivalry and competition between them, and check corruption which has been one of the greatest drawbacks we have had in the country.”
He also spoke on how Nigeria can get it right: “I was one of those who greatly looked forward to the unity and greatness of this country at independence. Then we had high hopes.
“Nigeria at the time of independence was at par with countries like South Korea. We were even a notch better than Malaysia. Then, we were very proud of our country which had a very productive economy. Nigeria was then the highest palm producer in the world.
“We had the great Northern groundnut pyramid. We had massive production of cocoa. Nigeria at the time was vying with Ivory Coast as to who was the largest producer of cocoa.
In the Plateau area, there was tin production. Nigerians were generally more satisfied with the economy than they are now.
“Today, Nigeria has become dependent on one source of revenue, which is crude oil. Besides, Nigeria is one of the very few major crude oil producing countries that is at the same time a major importer of refined oil products.
“Now the countries that were at par with us at independence are way ahead of us. South Korea is more than one generation ahead of us. Malaysia is very much ahead of us. If you look around in virtually all sectors of our national life, we are under-performing.
“My hope is that the upcoming generation will help to restore the country to where it was, and to develop better.”