Efficient institutions bequeathed by British colonialists at independence were later weakened by strong Nigerian leaders for self-serving reasons, former Head of State, General Muhammadu Buhari, has said.
General Buhari who spoke at the public presentation of the book, “The Accidental Public Servant” authored by former minister of the Federal Capital Territory, Mallam Nasir El-Rufai, in Abuja yesterday said the British colonialists left behind very strong civil service, police, judiciary, the military and other institutions which were later weakened by influence of some “strong individuals.”
The former Head of State said the essence of having strong institutions is demonstrated in Italy, where the average life span of their administrations at a time was only nine months, but that the country was able to withstand the changes and develop because it had strong institutions.
He said the only way for Nigeria to return to the ideal situation where institutions would be strengthened above individuals is to invest in education, adding that the current situation where the investment in education is low cannot guarantee that. General Buhari recalled that in the days of the late Premier of Northern region, Sir Ahmadu Bello, about 46 percent of the budget of the region was devoted to education while the Western region under Chief Obafemi Awolowo invested over 55 percent of its resources on education.
He said the current situation where a minimal percentage of the budget is spent on education while the rest is spent on security is a misplaced priority that needs to be addressed.
General Buhari berated those saying Nigeria should be split, saying they were talking out of ignorance because the people are so intertwined that it would be difficult to split the country along the lines being suggested. He said the country needs people like El-Rufai to prick its conscience so that it can reorganize and get things right. He commended the author describing the work as a courageous effort.
Buhari recalled that he escaped the fury of El-Rufai while the former was FCT minster because he did not develop his plot early enough.
“I escaped the fury of El-Rufai, when I failed to develop my plot early enough, because if I had, I would have got a local contractor, and El-Rufai would have demolished it,” he stated.