Resource control,hereby defined as the control and management of resources by state or local governments from whose jurisdictions the resources are extracted,is key to the emergence of a modern federal Nigeria.The states or local governments would manage the resources from their territories under federal guidelines(especially,environmental ones) , and then remit taxes to the federal centre.For me, a truly federal Nigeria would have a centre which is almost fully dependent on taxation for it’s running.With it’s income much reduced,it would be far less attractive to political entreprenuers,thus reducing competition for it’s control and the attendant problems.
Make no mistake about it,Nigeria as presently run is a trustfund state:Like most countries in Africa,the central government commandeers the process of extracting it’s natural resources,and then having this pot of money,dispenses patronage as it pleases(apart from allocations to the states or local governments,think of the numerous white elephant projects,primarily designed to siphon public funds).Having unlimited income as a result of it’s total control of the extraction process,the federal government has no great need to look towards taxation as a source of income.My theory here is that no government can be accountable unless the people demand it,and the people will not demand accountability and probity unless their taxes almost solely pay for the running of the government.In other words,no representation without taxation.
Resource control will also help curb corruption at every level of government.At the centre,with greatly reduced income,profligacy is bound to fall.At the state and local levels,once people come to realise that the shots are been called from their local capitals, which are accessible,rather than Abuja which is not,they are bound to impose themselves, eventually.
Resource control will also accelerate the process of development,by forcing the states and local governments,with allocations from the centre greatly reduced or non-existent,to develop the resources within their jurisdiction in other to survive.Every state has something.They just have not been given the motivation to explore their riches.The need to survive,in the face of limited or zero allocation,would prove ample incentive.
The argument that these communities cannot manage their resources, because of the performance of certain elected officials, is spurious.Extremely so.First,the period of time in question is too short.Second,the shots are still be called from Abuja,so the people do not feel moving against the guys in Port-harcourt or Yenagoa would change anything.Finally,can anyone say,with a straight face,that the guys in Abuja,over the years,have been better stewards of public funds than the guys in Port-harcourt or Yenagoa?I think not.