22nd June, 2011
Just back from Rwanda, members of the Lagos State House of Assembly were almost moved to tears during a sitting on Monday, while comparing the level of development between the country and Nigeria.
The lawmakers went to the Central African country for a conference which they claimed opened their eyes to many issues regarding the business of legislature.
Beyond this, however, they have continued to wonder how the country, which is just waking up from a war that lasted several years, could be developed and organised while Nigeria has remained stagnant.
According to some of the lawmakers who spoke at the floor of the House, Rwanda is a perfect example of how a country could grow steadily from nowhere.
They said throughout their stay in the country, electricity was not disrupted, while they advised President Goodluck Jonathan to visit the country and learn what good governance is all about.
They maintained that throughout their stay, they did not come across any child who went to town bare-footed.
“Even commercial motorcycle riders and their passengers were heavily guarded against accidents by wearing good helmets and protective jackets,” the lawmakers observed.
Also speaking on the country, Speaker of the Assembly, Adeyemi Ikuforiji, said that what he first noticed was that it did not take him and his colleagues time to clear them and their luggages at the airport.
He said that they visited the army headquarters in the country and were shocked to realise that soldiers also engaged in farming which covered a large expanse of land.
“The General who received us told us that the army resolved to be useful to the country’s development by engaging in farming after the war,” he said, adding that the environment was clean and that the country’s parliament believed in gender equality because it was made up of 52 per cent of women.
“They also told me security is not an issue in the country and that we were free to visit anywhere at any time of the day. These were people who came out from a terrible situation less than two decades ago.
“The Nigerian civil war ended in 1970 and the security situation is now moving from bad to worse. They are now on the path of fast progress while we are still battling with the basics.
“They have no petrol or any extra-ordinary resource, but they are organised and disciplined,” he said, while expressing joy that Lagos State was doing its best in spite of the country’s situation.
But the Deputy Speaker, who differed in his view, said the country which had only 10 million people could not be compared with Nigeria with 150 million people.
He said the problem with Nigeria was that the country has refused to decentralise.
“Even security should not be over-centralised. We should have county and state police and that would bring area commands closer to the people and lead to effectiveness.
“Secondly, we have a very voluminous constitution which gives more to the exclusive list instead of the concurrent list of items so that the law would be closer to the people,” he said adding, “that was why the federal ministries and agencies are not effective.”
For Nigeria to progress, he said, the country must decentralise and remove a lot of items from the exclusive list. He also said the country needed re-orientation, vision and enlightenment.