- Hausa/Fulani's rejection of federalism is a demand for dismemberment
- Northern leaders list terms for restructuring, want Marshall Plan
- We must restructure Nigeria now, Southern, Middle Belt leaders insist
- THE DANGER OF RESTRUCTURING WITHOUT A REFERENDUM-APPROVED CONSTITUTION
- What restructuring means in practical terms by ABC Nwosu
- It's time to restructure Nigeria, says Babangida
- Beyond restructuring or secession: My fear for Nigeria
- 'Why north is uncomfortable with restructuring'
- How Nigeria was de-structured
- TRUE FEDERALISM THROUGH RESTRUCTURING IS THE ONLY OPTION FOR NIGERIA NOW
- Road to recovery: A case for restructuring Nigeria
- Restructuring and its benefits for all
- Restructuring: Let's go our ways in peace -Rufai Hanga
- IT IS TIME TO RESTRUCTURE NIGERIA
- RESTRUCTURING AND THE YORUBA AGENDA
- Restructuring: Who lopsided Nigeria in the first place?
- The clamour to restructure Nigeria
- Why Nigeria must be restructured
- Who's afraid of restructuring?
- The restructuring rhetoric
- Nigeria: Formed by negotiation, will forge by negotiation
- Osinbajo commits political apostasy
Hausa/Fulani's rejection of federalism is a demand for dismemberment
Written by Rotimi Fasan
~vanguard Nigeria. Wednesday, December 20, 2017.
IT'Simportant to enter a caveat from the beginning in the light of the title of this week's piece. Nigeria's greatness lies in its remaining one country that is made up of diverse ethnicities. That is one lesson to be learned from the present arrangement of the world. In spite of the tension of division and tribalism that has been created in Donald Trump's America, the fact remains that America's greatness lies in its diversity. It's the reason for the existence of many of the regional economic and political groupings around the world. It's the logic behind the decision of those European countries that have elected to remain part of the European Union despite differences. It's the reason they are unhappy with Britain and would quickly want to close the chapter on its breaking rank and choosing to exit the EU. Nigeria's situation cannot be different from the rest of the world. We can't be thinking of breaking up while others are finding ways to resolve their differences in a bid to remain or come together. It's not too likely that any of the component parts that make up Nigeria will do better alone than they would collectively as one country.
This is the reason we must be clear-eyed about the way we relate with one another and be determined to correct the injustices of the past rather than insisting on keeping them. Yet, it would appear that some self-deceived Nigerians cannot separate their self-interest from the interest of the whole. They fail to see the wisdom in relating to others on the basis of fairness and equity. This is where we have found ourselves as a country with the debate over the skewed nature of our federalism and how to correct it. The Yoruba have a saying that there are boundaries even in farmlands jointly owned by a father and his children. No matter how close we are, we still need some personal space for self-actualization, some room within which to operate and be able to function as individuals. It does not mean we are no longer one or have become enemies by such recognition.
While it's great to keep Nigeria one, we must do so on the basis of fairness not at the expense of others. The struggle to make Nigeria a truly federal state has taken different forms under different names which some claim now makes the whole issue confusing to them. But really there is nothing confusing or mystifying about the matter except we want to be deceptive. The whole issue boils down to the same old debate about whether Nigeria is truly being managed according to the tenets of the federalised state it claims to be. Otherwise, why is everything run in the fashion of a unitary state? Why should the centre interfere in the life of the states that are the basis of its existence? Why should politicians from the north, actually the Hausa-Fulani elite that controls the region, insist Nigeria must remain the way it is as a twisted federation that is managed along unitary lines?
In identifying opponents of federalism one has to be sure not to lump every section of the country above the River Niger and River Benue together as one and the same even when some people from the said parts for personal gains pretend there are no differences. Not even all the peoples to the east of the far north can be lumped together as one with the Fulani any more. Thus, when senators from the north under the aegis of the Northern Senators Forum rose from a recent retreat with the advice to President Muhammadu Buhari not to accept reports of the 2014 conference commissioned by President Goodluck Jonathan, they were in effect saying they reject any talks about addressing the grievances of the other units in the country. Those grievances addressed by the confab border mostly on the nature of our federalism. The various demands by the delegates from the south are about ensuring fairness in the sharing of resources which is best done under a properly run federal structure. This is at the core of the ongoing debate about 'restructuring' the country. That some people will arrogantly dismiss the outcome of such an initiative is unacceptable. And what are their grounds for this? Simply because President Buhari did not initiate the conference!
Indeed the reason proffered by the senators shows not just the emptiness in the thought processes of our so-called leaders but also why this country has failed to move beyond a certain level of development-why we continue to move without making progress- 'perambulating' as Fela would say. What the northern senators are saying in effect is that every leader that comes into office must set about re-inventing the wheel, doing all over again what others before them have done and concluded. By this thinking whatever policy or decision Buhari initiates today can be flung into the waste bin of history as soon as the next occupant gets into Aso Rock without thoughts for the merits or lack of merit of such policy/initiative. The matter is that simple for our distinguished honourables in the NSF. We can see how such simple-minded take on grave issues are operationalised in the different policy somersaults perpetrated by various regimes in Nigeria, past and present.
We see it in the management of our education policies where the country has shuffled forwards and backwards with the so-called '6-3-3-4' and '6-5-4' systems and where one administration reaches an agreement with academic and non-academic unions of tertiary institutions and another administration takes over and says it knows nothing about it. One state governor leaves office owing workers many months of salaries and another is elected who washes their hands off any talk of backlog of unpaid salaries or pension- as if government is not a continuum. We see it in the management of toll gates across the country: one moment the gates are removed and the next they are being returned with the fervor with which they were removed only to be returned again. How can a country move forward in this situation?
Those who, like these northern senators, reject talks about running this country along truly federal lines are beneficiaries of an unfair and unjust system. Let the north remember that what it enjoys today by way of majority of states and decision makers were made possible by years of northern domination of the military. Nigeria like the rest of the world has moved beyond that era of domination by might and those who insist on keeping an unjust system in place are being foolish. They cannot see where their interest lies: they are making the break-up of this great country a matter of time.
Northern leaders list terms for restructuring, want Marshall Plan
~The Guardian Nigeria. Thursday, December 14, 2017.
|The Sultan urged politicians to improve the lives of Nigerians, |
berating those who merely use the electorate to win votes.
He also called on government at all levels to implement
programmes that could move the country forward.
• South East, South West insist on regional govt
• Middle Belt Youth Council vows shift in 2019 vote
The North is not intimidated by calls for restructuring of the nation and is ready to discuss the issue if the right cards are put on the table.
This was part of submissions following a two-day retreat by the Northern Senators Forum (NSF) in Katsina State yesterday.
According to the Forum, the region was not afraid of any "sensible and meaningful arrangement, provided it guarantees justice, equity, fairness and the unity of all Nigerians".
It described the matter as ambiguous, even to "proponents, without clear terms and directions on how to go about it", adding, the North would, at a later date, take a "well articulated, firm and common position" on restructuring, in collaboration with other northern members of the National Assembly.
The Forum also resolved to map out a Marshall Plan for development of the region, saying the proposition would be carried out in partnership with critical stakeholders, its House of Representatives counterpart and the Northern Governors Forum.
A communiqué signed by NSF chairman, Senator Abdullahi Adamu, said the Plan would be all embracing.
The retreat discussed "the huge infrastructural deficit" in the North, noting that this challenge has weigh down socio-economic advancement, hence "the need to design an all embracing Marshall Plan for the development of the region".
The NSF said: "The insecurity of lives and property and the lack of capacity of the state to adequately guarantee the most fundamental of rights are the most critical challenges facing the region in particular and the country in general.
"The prevalent ethno-religious crises in the region are politically motivated and have little or nothing to do with religion. The alarming statistics of out-of-school children and the number of learning institutions in the region explains why it is educationally and economically backward, in addition to poor budgetary funding and bad governance."
Senate President Abubakar Bukola Saraki had declared the retreat open on Tuesday, with the governors of Katsina, Kebbi, Borno and Sokoto in attendance, alongside Sultan of Sokoto Alhaji Sa'ad Abubakar, former Inspector-General of Police Ibrahim Coomasie, Prof. Ango Abdullahi, Dr. Usman Bugaje and others.
Speaking earlier, the Sultan urged politicians to improve the lives of Nigerians, berating those who merely use the electorate to win votes. He also called on government at all levels to implement programmes that could move the country forward.
Afenifere, a pan-Yoruba social-cultural organisation, however insisted Nigeria needs a devolved structure and return to a parliamentary system of government.
The group's national treasurer, Chief Supo Shonibare, warned that the country could not survive as a united entity amid monumental infrastructural challenge.
In a phone call with The Guardian, he said: "Afenifere welcomes urgent actual actions on our prescription that we need to not only conceptualise. We have been doing that for years, but also engage in practical actions on the discourse on the necessary structure able to resolve the agitation for devolution, and the need to increase our ability to reduce the costs of running government.
"It is good to want to increase the country's agricultural produce and explore the idle mineral deposits in the North, one however needs a structure able to allow those in the North make the necessary economic decisions without a 'quango' at the centre determining issues of licensing and legal framework (but) able to assure investors of speedy resolution of contact disagreements within the region where these activities will be carried out."
He described the Federal Government as an unwieldy wasteful entity, absorbing 70 per cent of the country's expenditure with very little to meet infrastructural deficit requirements and education.
Also, Second Republic politician, Chief Guy Ikokwu, said each state or zone should be given responsibility as it was during independence so that each state would take up the responsibility of its children, workers, education, agriculture, industry and infrastructure.
"If the country is restructured, the economy will rise. At the moment, the economy in the Northern and Southern states are only growing by one percent. That is why there is a lot of criminality in the country and lots of hunger such that people are now selling their children for a bag of rice. It is something that has never happened in before. With a restructured Nigeria, there will not be a do-or-die affair of who wants to become president."
The Middle Belt Youth Council meanwhile has said, "After extensive consultations among the youth and with our elders, (we) have come to the conclusion that it will be a disservice and disaster for Nigeria to elect either of these tired old men," referring to President Buhari and former Vice President Atiku Abubakar.
"We, the determined youth of the Middle Belt, hereby reject both Buhari and Atiku in the 2019 presidential elections. We shall identify and promote a more competent, compassionate and cosmopolitan leader who would rise above tribe and religion to foster unity, justice and equity across the country. Nigeria needs a new leadership free from the pride, prejudice and baggage of the past to take the nation to the next level," said president of the group, Comrade Emma Zopmal, in statement yesterday.
He added: "Both of them have nothing new to offer Nigeria to turn around our situation. Their desperation for power is a result of past personal frustrations and desires to settle scores. These men can only worsen the ethnic and religious conflicts bedeviling the North and the rest of Nigeria. We need to look beyond these two. The two men are experts in unkept promises. Atiku's false support for restructuring is just a vote catching bait. We must not allow ourselves to be deceived again."
The statement called on Nigerians, particularly the youth, to join hands with the Middle Belt body to rescue the nation.
We must restructure Nigeria now, Southern, Middle Belt leaders insist
Written by Taiwo Adisa - Abuja
Leaders from the Southern part of the country and their counterparts from the Middle Belt, on Saturday, in Abuja, insisted that Nigeria must be restructured now, just as they demanded the implementation of the recommendations of the 2014 National Conference.
Rising from a joint meeting, they declared that restructuring remained the only panacea for ending the rash of ethnic agitations in the land.
In a communiqué issued after the meeting convened by an elder statesman and leader of the Ijaw nation, Chief Edwin Clark, the leaders cautioned against the danger of allowing the agitations to persist.
The leaders, who came from all the three zones in the South: South-South, South-West and South-East, as well as Middle Belt, included Chief Olu Falae, Professor Jerry Gana, Idris Wada, retired Commodore Dan Suleiman, Mr Labaran Maku and Mr Yinka Odumakin, who read communiqué at a press conference.
According to him, the meeting was meant to find realistic solutions to the mounting agitations for a fair, just, equitable and balanced restructuring of the federal system.
He said the leaders affirmed their loyalty, love and support for the country as one entity, but that they believed that the existing federal structure was “unbalanced, unjust, unfair, over-centralised, unstable, anti-development and therefore unacceptable.”
He added: “Accordingly, we firmly our support for the demand to restructure the federation in line with the recommendations of the 2014 National Conference.
“Recommendations to restore the country to the principles of federalism enshrined in the Independence Constitution negotiated by our founding fathers. For the federation to function properly in the interest of the constituent parts there should be fundamental devolution of powers and functions to the federating units.
“This is important so that each federating unit can effectively serve the development interests of the people. This is the central essence of a good federation, not the current over-centralisation of powers and functions in the central government.”
Odumakin said that as a logical derivative, “Nigeria must work out a new fiscal formula that would move the country away from the current overdependence on oil and gas revenue to a diversified economy; a diversified economy where all federating units are encouraged to develop their abundant natural human resources for regional and national development. The federating units shall remit agreed percentage of their revenue to the federation account.”
He said the leaders urged the Federal Government to take appropriate and urgent steps to ensure the full implementation of the resolutions and recommendations contained in the 2014 National Conference report.
THE DANGER OF RESTRUCTURING WITHOUT A REFERENDUM-APPROVED CONSTITUTION
Written by Rev. Fr. Francis Anekwe Oborji - Tuesday, July 25, 2017
|Pontifical Urban University, Vatican City (Rome)|
Fr. Francis Anekwe Oborji is a Roman Catholic priest. He lives in Rome, where he is professor of missiology (mission theology) in the Pontifical University.
“Watchman, what of the Night” (Isaiah 21:11):“Nobody pays attention to what we say. No – one listens to us. We are there to wait at their door. Those who have papers pass in front… taken care of … for us nothing.” (Jean-Marc Elain the epigraph in his book, “L’Afrique des Villages” (1982).
What restructuring means in practical terms by ABC Nwosu
Written by Johnbosco Agbakwuru
~Vanguard Nigeria. Monday, July 17, 2017.
|Prof ABC Nwosu|
Nwosu in this interview speaks on the contentious issue of restructuring the country. Excerpts:
There is the clamour for the restructuring of the country, what is your position on restructuring?
Restructuring of the country is imperative. We have no choice in this matter. We will either restructure, or we cease to exist as Nigeria, it is an existential threat. Restructuring is not new. Post-January 15, 1966, one of the study groups set up by General Ironsi was on structure. When Gowon took over in July, remember we had a conference which broke down; one of the things then was about structure. Aburi was nothing except structure. When President Babangida came in, it was structure, when Abacha came in, in the conference attended by Dim Chukwuemeka Odimegwu Ojukwu, Dr. Alex Ekwueme, it was structure. When Obasanjo set up his own political reform, it was about structure. When Jonathan set up his own, it was still about structure.
When something is not working, you change it, you redesign it to work, and that redesigning is restructuring. We have no choice in this matter. If we don’t understand it, it will explode in the face of our children and our grand children, and it will be a shame if we want something that will really consume our children and our grand children.
There is the fear that restructuring may lead to disintegration of the country, what is your reaction?
People are free to fear anything. My belief is that when something is inevitable, we should then try and speak with the same language. The danger I am seeing now is that we are speaking different languages on restructuring. Some think that restructuring is about regionalisation, it is not. Some think that it is about the break-up of the country; it is not. Some think that it is so that you will deprive them of the money they come and collect at the centre illegitimately; it is not. It is about making sure that all governments in the country, federal and the states work optimally. Therefore in my view, the key thing in restructuring is the devolution of power and greater autonomy to the federating units.
The Federal Government collects about 52 percent of the national revenue, and this is wrong. Even if you divide the country into the original four regions, the four will be unviable because the bulk of the money, 52 percent has been pocketed by the federal government. It is very wrong, and it cannot be more wrong than that. The Federal Government in an ideal situation should not have more than 35 percent of national revenue and if that is done and all the theft, most of which you see is at the federal level, and not at the state level.
Whether you recover forty something houses, so many billions of dollars from safes and private buildings, they are not being recovered from states; they are being recovered at the federal level. There is too much money at the federal level. Even if you had policemen in Nigeria with hundred eyes and whistleblowers with hundred whistles, they would not be able to catch 52 percent of what is being stolen in more than four hundred ministries, departments, agencies and parastatals. You can’t catch that. If you remove it and make it 35 percent, most people will go back to their states to help develop their states, and there will be less money at the centre given to foreign affairs, defence, immigrations and all those functions the federal is performing.
Not sinking boreholes etc., and therefore, you will find that there will be less money to be stolen and there will be greater autonomy and government will be nearer the people and take care of the people. That is why we should now sit down and work out the details of how we can do that. Before I end let me give you an example. Look at a brilliant man like Dr. Kayode Fayemi (Minister of Solid Minerals Development), I respect him but give him one million years in the ministry of solid minerals, he will achieve nothing. This one he is going round saying we will cooperate with states to bring minerals will not work. I saw him in Enugu the other day; there is Article 39 in the federal Constitution which stipulates that mines, minerals et cetera are under exclusive list. Is the Federal Government cooperating with states to give oil mining licences? It is the Federal Government's responsibility, whether the mineral is gas or liquid or solid, it is mineral.
So how can he now operate the way he wants to operate without Article 39 in the Constitution which is on the exclusive list being put on the concurrent list? How can he?
These are the reasons we must restructure. All his good intentions as minister of solid minerals cannot be brought until you restructure and make that item on the concurrent list so that states can come in. It is then that special funds can be brought. So, that is how I look at it, devolution of power most be central. Resource control is central, and those who are afraid are those who think they have no resource and it is wrong. Every part of Nigeria has resource, enormous resources and what I find laudable is that the same people who are saying no resource control are on the other hand saying we have more resources than these people who are talking about resource control.
What is required is to have a national fund for the development of those resources so that you will bring coal, bring Barytes in Nasarawa, bring all the bitumen all to full development and bring them to the national wealth sharing table and you will increase the size of the cake, and they take their own derivation too just like cocoa was used to spur the development of resources in the other regions.
The East went and developed its palm oil, Mid-West developed rubber; the North developed groundnut, cotton, etc. Each part of this country has abundant resources, and we are letting resources kill the human love which we have for ourselves. So it is only restructuring that will let us focus on building the nation.
Do you consider it worthwhile the idea of going back to regionalism, like the four regions we had in the First Republic when there was strong competition among the regions?
I was at the national conference of 2014 organised by President Jonathan. The representation was well done for me. What was the agreement? It was agreed that we shall have a central government with more powers devolved from it to the federating units and that the states as presently configured, shall act as the federating units. That conference did not agree on either six geopolitical zones or eight geopolitical zones or twelve. I was also in charge of the Igbo Secretariat when Ojukwu, Ekwueme, and Co. came and argued it under Abacha. That conference also did not agree on geopolitical zones as federating units, it agreed on six geopolitical units for administrative reasons, for sharing reasons, but not as federating units and its report is available.
Now, what 2014 said and what became a major issue was that nobody is good enough to rule over another person without his consent.
Any group of states that agree to can cooperate. Which means if the six states of the South-West agree on their own volition, nothing can stop them from acting as a zone. If the five states of the South East agree, nothing can stop them. But if the six states of the South South do not agree, they should not be forced. That to the best of my understanding was what was agreed in 2014 which I was part of. So, even if you have two regions North and South and the federal still keeps 52 percent, the North and South will be unviable, completely unviable. The key issue is that we have money for our country, say one hundred naira, and the central government collects fifty-two Naira, and they expect the rest of the country after you have removed derivation to live on that? It is wrong. The Federal Government has become a behemoth; it is unmanageable.
The waste is too much. If you look at the Kontagora Report, you will see that the Federal Government has over eight thousand abandoned projects throughout Nigeria that will require over four trillion naira to complete. They are in different stages of completion. If you restructure and devolve power, you can also devolve these uncompleted projects, and the states will look at them and evaluate. We have a federal prison at Nnewi (Anambra state) the man at Abuja who has never crossed River Benue down to the South East will now determine the priority rating of that prison and the borehole which he doesn’t know where it is.
The key thing, devolution of power, devolution of responsibilities, devolution of resources. If people don’t understand it, it is about greater autonomy to the federating units. If they still can’t understand it, it is like begging the Archbishop to let the Parish Priest be in charge of local weddings. It is not the Archbishop that is in charge of every wedding in every parish or every burial in every parish. This is what restructuring is all about.
NIGERIA: What is restructuring?
Written by Emmanuel Aziken, Political Editor, Clifford Ndujihe, Dapo Akinrefon & Charles Kumolu
Restructuring has become the latest buzz word in the political landscape with political and non political actors pushing forward their ideas of the word that was not too long ago, an anathema to many state actors.
But what exactly is the idea of restructuring? Given the view of some that Nigeria is presently a federation, it is not surprising that different political actors would give different perspectives to the concept of restructuring.
Among those to have given life to the concept of restructuring are General Ibrahim Babanigda, former Vice President Atiku Abubakar and some pro-democracy activists.
Their ideas on what restructuring means is presented hereunder.
GENERAL Ibrahim BabangidaI will strongly advocate for devolution of powers to
|Former Head of State, Gen. Ibrahim Babangida|
during prayers to mark his 75th birthday celebration at the Hilltop, Minna, Niger State
Restructuring and devolution of powers will certainly not provide all the answers to our developmental challenges; it will help to reposition our mindset as we generate new ideas and initiatives that would make our union worthwhile. The talk to have the country restructured means that Nigerians are agreed on our unity in diversity; but that we should strengthen our structures to make the union more functional based on our comparative advantages.
Added to this desire is the need to commence the process of having State Police across the states of the Federation. This idea was contained in my manifesto in 2010 when I attempted to contest the presidential elections. The initial fears that State Governors will misuse the officers and men of the State Police have become increasingly eliminated with renewed vigour in citizens' participation in, and confidence to interrogate power. We cannot be detained by those fears and allow civilization to leave us behind. We must as a people with one destiny and common agenda take decisions for the sake of posterity in our shared commitment to launch our country on the path of development and growth.
There is no doubt that many of our states are not viable, and were not viable from the start once you take away the federation allocations from Abuja. We have to find creative ways to make them viable in a changed federal system. We can constitute a body of non-partisan experts to suggest other ideas. But in all, we must devolve more powers and resources from the federal government and de-emphasise federal allocations as the source of sustenance of states. We need to start producing again and collecting taxes to run our governments in a more sustainable way with greater transparency and accountability.
It's restoration of federalism - Osuntokun
MR Akin Osuntokun, Political Adviser to former President, Chief Olusegun Obasanjo is a former Managing Director of the News Agency of Nigeria, NAN.
Restructuring is simply a call for the restoration of federalism-the foundational constitution structure to which all Nigerians subscribed as encapsulated in the independence constitution of 1960. This constitution was violated in 1966 and the violation set in motion a chain of events that has culminated in the present abnegation of a 36 states structure against the four regional structure that emanated from the independence constitution. All the ills presently plaguing the country are directly or indirectly a consequence of the wrong anti federalist diversion Nigeria took in 1966.
The violation has concomitantly resulted in the unitary command culture of military dictatorship-in which the constitutionally prescribed decentralization and devolution of powers have been subverted and supplanted with centralization of power.
Independent self- sustaining federating units -Shonibare
CHIEF Supo Shonibare is a chieftain of the pan-Yoruba socio-political organization, Afenifere.
I would wish that we have a Federation with independent self- sustaining Federating units able to develop infrastructure, critical amenities, undertake other developemental projects , education and health without a Centre body interfering.
We already have geo-political zones. Why don't we have say 6 or 8 Regions from that template, enable the Regions exercise the functions presently being exercised by the FGN in the various States & co-ordinate such functions & utilize economies of scale. Each Region should be at liberty to create more States in their region as their constitution stipulates. Minority rights will be entrenched in the Federal Constitution to protect minorities in the Regions & enable them evolve into States.
We do not need bi-cameral National Assembly, the Regional Assembly can collectively act as checks & balances on the unicameral National Assembly on issues & functions presently exercised by the present bi-cameral National Assembly chamber. We will reduce costs & also enable closer engagement with the electorate from the region.
Functional structure'll end calls for restructuring - Kokori
Former General Secretary, National Union of Petroleum and Natural Gas Workers Union, NUPENG, Chief Frank Kokori.
Kokori, a veteran in the struggle for a better polity, explained his assertion thus: "In Nigerian terms when people talk about restructuring, they say they need true federalism. I don't know what true federalism is because federalism is federalism. A nation that practices it as a system of government must abide by its tenets. That is what the constitution says. Because of the military incursion into politics in 1966, Nigeria became a unitary government. So they were not following the tenets of the constitution that allows for devolution of powers to the federating units. It is on that basis that the minorities are demanding to restructure. If we had real federalism, there will not be agitations. Real federalism was what we had before 1966 when the regions had their own institutions.
"The reason agitations are going on this country is because certain people feel they are marginalized but I know that the whole country is marginalized because of bad governance and corruption. I am for real federalism, the federal government should be left with some residual powers on defense, currency Foreign Affairs, and others while the states should be given powers over other affairs. To douse the present agitation in the country, the federal government needs to be serious.
If you ask me what I really want for this country, I will want us to revert to the 12 states that Gowon created. We should have that structure instead of having many states to the next that every village wants to be a state. If we do that, Nigeria will move forward.
Let's return to regionalism with six zones as federating units - Ikokwu
Second Republic politician, lawyer and a member of the Ime-Obi, inner caucus of Ohanaeze Ndigbo, Chief Guy Ikokwu.
The military command after the civil war unitarised the country and diminished the percentage of the formula of derivation. For instance in 1946 the derivation formula for the regions which controlled their resources was 100 per cent, while in 1951 the British recommended 50 per cent derivation, whereas in 1953 the western region actually disbursed a 100 percent of resources they controlled.
The 50 per cent derivation continued from 1960 at independence up to 1970 when Gen. Yakubu Gowon reduced the derivation formula to 45 per cent and by 1975 it was reduced to 25 per cent. Nigerians should know that in the first coming of Gen. Buhari it had crashed to 1.5 per cent and Gen. Babangida then raised it to 3 per cent and thereafter it moved to 13 per cent.
With the increase of states from 12 to 36 by the military class, and the accumulation of the legislative list to the central government, the Nigerian states today have become so pauperised as appendages that they cannot even pay the salaries of their workers let alone their gratuities and pensions.
Therefore, the Nigerian Unitary system of administration which we have now is not only an illegal constitutional contraption, but also an unworkable political system and a harbinger of a perverse, chaotic, political and economic conundrum.
Under these unitary systems Nigerians are getting poorer and poorer. The issue of restructuring of Nigeria's political system is already partly documented in the 2014 Abuja Confab which has been endorsed by the federal executive council under former President Jonathan, and handed over to President Buhari.
It's time to restructure Nigeria, says Babangida
~The Guardian Nigeria. Tuesday, June 27, 2017.
- Backs creation of state police
'Even the idea of federal roads in cities is outdated'
|Former Head of State, Gen. Ibrahim Babangida|
According to him, the Nigerian federation, as currently structured, is in need of reforms that will emphasise the individual strength and advantages of the component units so that governments can really work to improve the lives of Nigerians.
Babangida, a major player in the country's power politics, was involved in all the major putsches that threw up military regimes from 1976 . He ruled the country maximally between August 27, 1985 and August 26, 1993 after annulling the June 12 presidential election of that year that was reputed to be the freest and fairest in the nation's history.
He gave the advice on restructuring in his Eid-el-Fitri message to Muslims yesterday. With this call coming from the former military leader who undoubtedly is one of those considered as conservatives in their sticking to the status quo, which they in fact helped to foist on the country, the demand for true federalism is gaining traction.
As a soldier during the civil war and one of those who held the country together and who even charted a course of democracy, even though not generally seen as a sincere venture, Babangida is a strong voice whose call is capable of drawing out other ex-military chiefs to take a stand in the ongoing debate.
While seeking a departure from the norm and calling for a reform that will put the country on the same pedestal with advanced democracies, he said: "If we have repeatedly done certain things and not getting the desired results, we need to change tactics and approach, and renew our commitment. It is our collective responsibilities to engender a reform that would be realistic and in sync with modern best practices.
"For example, restructuring has become a national appeal as we speak, whose time has come. I will strongly advocate devolution of powers to the extent that more responsibilities be given to the states while the Federal Government is vested with the responsibility to oversee our foreign policy, defence, and economy.
"Even the idea of having federal roads in towns and cities has become outdated and urgently needs revisiting. That means we need to tinker with our constitution to accommodate new thoughts that will strengthen our nationality.
"Restructuring and devolution of powers will certainly not provide all the answers to our developmental challenges; it will help to reposition our mindset as we generate new ideas and initiatives that would make our union worthwhile.
"The talk to have the country restructured means that Nigerians are agreed on our unity in diversity; but that we should strengthen our structures to make the union more functional based on our comparative advantages.
"Added to this desire is the need to commence the process of having state police across the federation. This idea was contained in my manifesto in 2010 when I attempted to contest the presidential elections.
"The initial fear that state governors will misuse the officers and men of the state police has become increasingly eliminated with renewed vigour in citizens' participation in, and confidence to interrogate power.
"We cannot be detained by those fears and allow civilisation to leave us behind. We must as a people with one destiny and common agenda take decisions for the sake of posterity in our shared commitment to launch our country on the path of development and growth.
"Policing has become so sophisticated that we cannot continue to operate our old methods and expect different results. I also want to appeal to the Nigeria media to be more circumspect in their news reportage."
Until now, the lone voice from the northern part of the country for restructuring has been that of former Vice President Atiku Abubakar. Most leaders from the region have often strongly condemned the call for restructuring. They see it as an attempt that would threaten the unity of the country.
It is in this vein that President Muhammadu Buhari has consistently opposed the 2014 conference report that recommends the restructuring of the country.
Beyond restructuring or secession: My fear for Nigeria
Written by Azuka Onwuka
Phone: 0809-8727-263 (sms only)
~Punch Nigeria. Tuesday, June 6, 2017.
Since my childhood, I have been having great expectations about Nigeria. With the coming of every new head of state, that expectation would rise but would nosedive soon after. In the early 1990s, I hinged my hope of a transformed Nigeria on the exit of the military. I looked forward to graduating from the university into the civilian regime. Sadly, that dream was truncated by the annulment of the June 12, 1993 presidential election won by Chief MKO Abiola and the crisis that enveloped the country afterwards. It was only in 1999 that civilian rule returned. With the return of civilian rule, my excitement lasted for some months and waned.
I used to believe that Nigeria was merely battling with teething troubles that would give way. I consoled myself that Rome was not built in a day. But what I see is not an attempt to progress. What I see is retrogression.
Consequently, I have begun to look at Nigeria critically, replacing my optimism with realism. I am beginning to ask if Nigeria would ever rise to its feet. There are some yardsticks to use in measuring progress or attempts at progress. The first is to ask ourselves one area of life that has experienced progress in Nigeria since 1960 when Nigeria had her independence. Progress should be differentiated from technological advancement. For example, we cannot refer to the change from typewriters to computers as national progress. That is a global phenomenon. We cannot also refer to the rise in the number of graduates from 1960 to 2017 as progress. That is a natural occurrence in demographics. What we are looking at is the change in the quality of education, health care, food security, transport, security, leadership, electricity, water supply, maintenance of infrastructure, national cohesion, respect for human lives, etc.
For example, those who had secondary school certificates could easily be employed in many organisations in 1960. Is that obtainable now? No. Even many university graduates are not employable today because of the low quality of university education in Nigeria. That is why parents are eager to send their children abroad for studies, including sending them to West African countries like Ghana and Benin Republic. In the same vein, one can ask what happened to Nigerian Airways, Nigerian Railway Corporation, Daily Times newspaper, Nigerian Telecommunications, Nigerian Postal Service, and other government agencies. These were big government corporations that employed thousands or millions of Nigerians. Why is the National Art Theatre dilapidated? Why are our national stadiums in ruins? Why are our national roads death traps? Why has there been a steady decline in the quality of anything handled by the federal government since 1960?
Some 60 years ago, it was not difficult for Mallam Umar Altine to beat an Igbo man to become the first Mayor of Enugu. And it was not because he had his Northern kinsmen as the majority among the electorate. It was also not difficult for Chief Felix Okonkwo to become a member of the Northern Nigeria House of Chiefs. It was not difficult for Prof Kenneth Onwuka Dike to be made the first Nigerian vice chancellor of University College, Ibadan, which is University of Ibadan now. Surprisingly, today, when it should have been the norm for a non-indigene to be elected in any part of the country, it has become almost an impossibility. It only happens in few areas where non-indigenes are the majority among the electorate, and the wishes of the people are allowed to prevail as occurred in the 2015 election. Nigerians are daily digging into their ethnic enclaves.
By 1966 when the first coup took place in Nigeria, one of the complaints of the coup plotters was that public office holders took a 10 per cent cut on contracts as bribe. From the 1980s to the present, it is no longer 10 per cent bribe but treasury looting. Money budgeted for projects are looted wholesale with no job executed. Millions of dollars are stolen from the system and paid into foreign accounts, thereby further impoverishing the nation. The callousness is so much that even money meant for people internally displaced by the Boko Haram terrorists is stolen, while the children in the IDP camps emaciate and die from hunger and diseases.
I know that men like Dr Nnamdi Azikiwe, Sir Tafawa Balewa, Chief Obafemi Awolowo, Sir Ahmadu Bello, and Chief Dennis Osadebay, who led the nation at independence, would have hoped that they would see a great Nigeria in their own time. However, they all died without seeing such a nation. Within them, they would have thought so highly about themselves and believed that they did wonderfully well. However, the state of the nation shows that their best was not good enough, and that they even contributed to the present problems of Nigeria.
I watched men and women like Chief Margaret Ekpo, Chief Gani Fawehinmi, Dr Tai Solarin, Mr Chima Ubani, Dr Beko Ransome-Kuti, Prof. Chinua Achebe, Dr Eskor Toyo, Dr Bala Usman and Prof Dora Akunyili battle to see this nation transformed. They showed how things could be done better; they even participated to make things better. They were filled with high hopes that Nigeria would be great. But one by one they died, sad and disappointed that rather than rising to greatness Nigeria was deteriorating.
It is not that Nigeria is not making flashes here and there occasionally. It is not that Nigerians are impatient. The problem is that the little progress usually recorded in certain areas now and then is never enough to make the nation move from its unenviable position to a place of reckoning or hope. If a pedestrian walks while others are running, there is some hope that the person will reach the destination, albeit later than others. But if that person takes a step forward and two steps backwards, there is no guarantee that the person will ever reach the destination, because the person is actually moving backwards while pretending to be going forward.
After four decades of watching Nigeria and hoping that it would rise from its prostrate position, my fear is that in my old age, I may still behold Nigeria lying prostrate or even in a worse condition than it is now if nothing is done differently. We have placed our hopes on different leaders - both civilian and military - yet, there has not been any transformation in the fate of Nigeria. And a majority of Nigerians. Sadly, we continue to believe that our problem is lack of "honest and selfless leaders." The question is why do these so-called bad leaders perform excellently in private organisations but the moment they are appointed or elected to work for Nigeria, they become "bad"? What makes them bad? Can't we change that thing that makes them bad rather than hope that God will send some good leaders to us someday?
There are many people who are working against the interest and progress of Nigeria, thinking they are working in the interest of Nigeria. There are agitations in the land asking for restructuring of the country or secession. Those who see tomorrow would know that these agitations portend no good for the nation. No government waits until an issue becomes a crisis before acting.
It is not debatable that Nigeria has not progressed; Nigeria is not progressing; Nigeria is not showing signs that it will progress. It is obvious that its pseudo-unitary system is the cause of its sorry state, not "bad leaders". The 2014 National Conference is a document to start with if there is a genuine desire to salvage Nigeria. Let it be brought out and deliberated upon for implementation. If that is not acceptable to the government, let a new national conference be constituted to find a solution to Nigeria's structural problem.
'Why north is uncomfortable with restructuring'
- Agenda is to hurt our region, Yakassai insists
- It's the way out, say Onadipe, Akande,
The controversy over whether or not to restructure the country continued at the weekend with two elder statesmen, Malam Tanko Yakassai and Chief Bisi Akande as well as former Nigerian Ambassador to China, Olusola Onadipe expressing divergent positions on the matter.
The persistence of the calls for restructuring requires a decisive move by all the citizens to resolve the issue amicably instead of allowing it to breed ethnic suspicion and hostility.
In an interview with The Guardian, Yakassai said the north was uncomfortable with the idea of restructuring the country.
"We are suspicious that the motive is to deprive the north in two important areas – representation at the National Assembly which is on the basis of population, and because there are more states in the north than in the south, when it comes to revenue allocation on the basis of equality of states and local governments, the north is bound to benefit more.
"The idea behind the agitation for restructuring is to demolish those two advantages that are naturally due to the north in terms of representation and revenue sharing. What is disturbing is that those behind it are unable to come out with a blueprint on what restructuring means to Nigeria. Anybody who is hiding his motive on an issue that would affect Nigerians has something bad up his sleeves.
"Nobody has told us the benefit we would derive from it. What we are saying is that it is not that the north is afraid, but why should people be inconsistent? This is the reason northerners who know what they are doing and who know the background of the agitation are not comfortable with the call for the restructuring of Nigeria," the politician said.
Yakassai, who is a founding member of the Arewa Consultative Forum (ACF), shed light on why the north is also uncomfortable with those agitating for restructuring.
"Those of us who were privileged to see through the transformation of Nigeria from a colonial territory to an independent nation, and who are aware of the history of the political development of the country, are surprised at the inconsistency on the part of those who are agitating for the restructuring because the agitation for the creation of more states in Nigeria was by and large supported by some political figures from the South West.
"The Action Group (AG) as a party representing substantial number of people from the South West supported the agitation for the creation of Middle Belt in the north and the creation of the COWA state movement (Calabar – Ogoja – Rivers State movement) and they, at the same time, opposed the agitation for the creation of the Mid-West State which was at the time part of western Nigeria. The leaders of the south-west at the time were supporting the dismemberment of the north and the east, but were opposed to the creation of a state from their own area of control.
"So people started to wonder why they were supporting splitting of other areas and you are not prepared for the split of your own area. That was the beginning of the suspicion. They campaigned and argued that the north was too big to be allowed to continue as it were because it was made up of two-thirds of the land mass in Nigeria and more than 50 per cent of the population and therefore people could see the justification of the argument for the creation of states from the north," Yakassai said.
But Ambassador Onadipe challenged leaders across the six geo-political zones to summon courage and accept the reality that restructuring is the way out of the socio-economic challenges and others confronting the nation.
Onadipe was of the view that the federal system of government currently being practised in the country would continue to hold it and the people down economically unless power is devolved to the states and then to the local governments, "the sources of economic activities."
"What is the business of federal and state governments in primary school education? We have been giving the Federal Government so many responsibilities and at the end of the day, nothing to show for it. There is too much power at the centre, power of appointments and others," he said.
The former envoy, who is a member of the Ijebu Professional Excellence Foundation (IPEF), spoke at the weekend during the 2017 Annual Merit Award ceremony of the group.
Onadipe suggested "leadership with foresight" as another ingredient the country needs to overcome her sundry challenges, particularly in the area of the economy.
According to him, leaders are supposed to break grounds, think for the masses, educate them and understand the fabrics of the economy, the political situation and forge ways to make life meaningful to the people.
He lamented that citizens and residents of some countries, less endowed than Nigeria enjoy better social services from their respective governments.
His words: "If there is no restructuring, this country is not moving anywhere, but some people are saying over their dead bodies would there be restructuring.
"I don't understand that kind of talk. Are we making progress now, how many years after independent? It is unfortunate."
Similarly, Akande, a former interim chairman of All Progressives Congress (APC), attributed the current national woes to deficiency in the constitution.
The APC leader spoke at the weekend at the 2017 Distinguished Role Model Award of The Wings Schools in Iwo, Osun State in honour of the late Ben Adisa Akinola, an educationist cum administrator.
Akande who was the chairman of the event noted the inadequacies in the 1999 Constitution and said the document had created unwarranted challenges not only to the country but its federating components. "The constitution that can move Nigeria forward is the one that recognises the culture of the people in relation to their occupation."
The former governor of Osun State noted that no nation is practising federalism in which all or larger percentage of existing power is concentrated on a single hand .
He noted that until the constitution is reviewed to conform to the nation's needs, the country would remain stagnant.
According to him, power must be properly distributed and devolved from the central to the federating units as being practised in other countries.
Akande said: " The Nigeria's constitution (1999) now constitutes a major obstacle to peace. Those who wrote the constitution did not realise that political domination and subjugation breed revolts, community disharmony and national insecurity. The bad constitution of 1999 has now begun to stimulate demand for ethnic self-determination and economic security otherwise being called 'resource control' or 'restructuring.' Whatever name you call it, community disharmony is a burden on national security and it is dangerous for economic development and peace.
"What we are saying, for instance, is that the constitution which (according to 1999 census) gave Lagos State (with 5,725,153 population) 20 local governments, also gave Kano State (with 5,810,494 population) 44 local governments. The same constitution, which gave Anambra (with 2, 796,510 population) 21 local governments, also gave Jigawa (with 2, 875,559 population) 27 local governments.
"Such constitutional provisions seem unjust to some federating components, especially in terms of equal opportunity to access the national revenue allocations. Such agitations may not be healthy for community harmony and national security to influence the change for the better," he stated.
How Nigeria was de-structured
By Omololu Olunloyo ex-gov, old Oyo State
TRUE FEDERALISM THROUGH RESTRUCTURING IS THE ONLY OPTION FOR NIGERIA NOW
Written by E O Eke
Never can true reconcilement grow where wounds of deadly hate have pierced so deep.' Satan, in John Milton's Paradise lost.'As relationship expires , affection decrease. The cunning of the fox is as murderous as the violence of the wolf and we ought to be equally on our guard against both'. Thomas Paine, rights of man and common sense
Road to recovery: A case for restructuring Nigeria
Written by Olawale Oluwo
~TheGuardian Nigeria. Thursday, September 1, 2016.
|Minister of Finance, Mrs Kemi AdeosunMinister of Finance, Mrs Kemi Adeosun|
The reasons may not be far-fetched, considering the unwholesome combination of internal and external factors at play. The price effect of the drastic fall in global oil prices, coupled with the drop in export volume from the pipelines bombing campaign of the Niger Delta Avengers, depleted Nigeria's foreign exchange earnings. The fallout has been the massive devaluation of our currency, increase in unemployment rate, inflationary pressure (at 16.5%), increase in interest rate (the yield on FGN Treasury Bills - risk free instruments - was 21% on 15/08/16!) and general downturn in other economic and social indices. Expectedly, being a mono-cultural economy, the collapse in oil prices has had disastrous impact on governance at all levels, as Nigeria economy is not insulated from the global economic crises. Some state governments find it extremely difficult to pay staff salaries and associated pension contributions, with no immediate solution in sight. The nation's woes is further compounded by growing restiveness and ethnic agitations, among which is the Boko Haram insurgency (which is now abating), the Indigenous People of Biafra (IPoB) agitation for the actualisation of Biafra, and the endless conflict between herdsmen and farmers in various parts of the country, with the attendant implications for agricultural output reduction. Further delay in arresting the present trend could lead to serious political and social instability.
Our problems are multi-faceted, covering economic, political and social, and the solution must be multi-dimensional in approach. Clearly, it cannot be business as usual anymore as concerted efforts must now be made to appropriately diagnose the problems and proffer workable solutions in order to avoid plunging our economy into full depression. Pertinent questions must be asked...Where did we go wrong? How did we arrive here? How did we move from one of the fastest growing economies to an economy on the brink of recession? How can we navigate our way out of the present quagmire? And more importantly, how do we comprehensively restructure Nigeria in a way that will support our aspiration for a productive and egalitarian economy, a stable polity, and a fairer society? There is a need for reality check by all tiers of government in Nigeria (Particularly the Federal Government of Nigeria). Perhaps, in the process of conducting a reality check, we might just be able to retrace our steps by embarking on a far-reaching and comprehensive restructuring beyond the cosmetic approach that the nation has been accustomed to over the decades.
The reality check by the Federal Government must start with asking the following questions:
. Is it realistic to increase the size of the projected federal budget from N4.49 trillion in 2015 to N6.1 trillion in 2016 in the face of dwindling oil price and production cuts from militants' bombing campaign?
. Is it realistic to increase budgeted non-oil receipts from N800 billion in 2015 to N1.5 trillion in 2016 without a corresponding structure to drive the increase? Are non-oil earnings capable of 88% elasticity in the face of limited investments and government incentives?
. Is it realistic to project external sources of financing a N2.3 trillion deficit in the 2016 budget when there is global recession and a downgrade of the country's rating?
. Is it realistic to project N1.5 trillion for debt servicing when capital expenditure is a meagre N1.6 trillion.
. Is it sustainable for the Federal Government to continue to hold on to over 50% of the revenue of the nation, only to spend it on debt servicing, recurrent expenditure and subsidising the foreign exchange market, the natural gas market, the electricity transmission sector and downstream petroleum sector?
The Problem is Structural!
The direction of the on-going debate on the restructuring of Nigeria has been skewed towards yet another political restructuring. Nigeria, since independence, has undergone series of political restructurings programmes from creation of states at different times, to the complete change in the political system from parliamentary to presidential, to revenue mobilisation and allocation restructuring, and other forms of adjustments that are political in nature. It is as if every government at the federal level wants to conduct its own political/constitutional conference to restructure Nigeria. The fact that all the political restructuring initiatives to date have not addressed Nigeria's problems is evidence that the problems are structural (and substantially economic). While the nation has carried out different political reforms, the only period that Nigeria can be said to have had serious economic reforms that had significant effects on the structure of the Nigerian economy were the reforms of 1985 to 1992 that divested government interests in various business concerns; and the reforms of 2002 to 2015 that restructured some of the commanding heights of the economy – banking, insurance, telecommunications, power among others. It is therefore clear that the solution to solving our structural economic problems must commence with the dismantling of the structural rigidities that have held the country down economically for decades.
The advent of the military in governance created a highly centralised political and economic system, with enormous power and resources concentrated at the centre. Instead of using the resources to build a solid economic base for Nigeria, a regime of over-bloated federal recurrent expenditure (almost 80% of budget year-on-year, subsidised government owned monopolies (NITEL; NEPA; Nigerian Railway; Nigerian Airways; NNPC; Nigerian Gas Company, etc) with huge unfunded pension funds were foisted on the nation. Now that reality has dawned and the federal government's revenue profile has reduced, FGN cannot carry on with the existing administrative structure. The time to take the bitter pill is now. Accordingly, the Federal Government should carry out the following reforms:
. Prune down the existing structure and divest itself of some unwarranted administrative responsibilities;
. Reduce Ministries, merge functions and devolve more responsibilities to states;
. Hand over intra-state roads to states while keeping only inter-state highways to itself to connect the vast and scattered communities in Nigeria;
. Give more autonomy to states with respect to control of inland water ways;
. Hands off control of lottery business in states;
. Limit the responsibilities of the Ministry of Solid Minerals at the federal level to regulation and cede control of solid minerals to states;
. Divest itself from involvement in distribution of VAT (sales taxes);
. Abolish the law that vests all mineral resources under the soil of Nigeria in the Federal Government. This will allow states to partner with the private sector to exploit mineral resources and pay agreed derivation to the federal government;
; Review mechanism for administration of PAYEE, to give the states more control;
. Reduce taxes for companies and entrepreneurs;
. Allow more private sector involvement in the economy.
•Oluwo, Lagos State Commissioner for Energy and Mineral Resources, delivered this lecture at a retreat.
Restructuring and its benefits for all
By Editorial Board
~TheGuardeian Nigeria. Thursday, September 1, 2016.
Incredibly, restructuring and federalism have become the most misrepresented words even by those who should understand and work for their actualisation in the interest of peace and progress of Nigeria.
To some political commentators, it is an idea whose time has come. To some others, it is a secret weapon by a section to break up the country so that others would not have access to the oil and gas resources, invariably the mainstay of the economy, available only in one part of the country. This is so very sad.
It must be stated unequivocally, however, that the honest pursuit and enthronement of federalism in its true meaning will be hugely beneficial to all Nigerians from all the geo-political zones.
The first and the most fundamental point is that there is a common denominator, poverty and mass illiteracy, all over Nigeria.
The effects of those decades when the military overthrew the finesse as well as practice of federalism are still being felt nationwide. In other words, the real trouble with Nigeria is not just poverty nurtured by corruption and illiteracy but lack of understanding of the impact of the overthrow of the principles of federalism, a system that once triggered rapid growth of Nigeria.
The first military Head of State, Lt-General Thomas Aguiyi-Ironsi thrashed federalism through a Unification Decree No.34 in 1966 before he too was killed in a counter coup that did not restore federalism.
In fact, successive military governments, beginning from General Yakubu Gowon's through General Murtala Muhammed's to General Sani Abacha's kept creating states that have become mere administrative capitals and peripheral beggars instead of federating units of development. The states have since 1966 been depending on crumbs from the centre.
Since a proper federalism that triggered exponential growth of the Northern, Western, Eastern and Midwestern Regions was destroyed by military politicians, Nigeria has not recorded any tangible growth in any economic or political sense.
The selfless leaders from the North and South of Nigeria in the first republic were arguably the last of the great men this country has had. Since federalism or regionalism that propelled them to greater heights collapsed, crass opportunism and enlightened self interest have given birth to small minds as 'Big Men' who have led the country to the nadir of reproach.
It is, therefore, time to tell all Nigerians, including those who profit from misleading the people about the many benefits of restructuring that, just as there was oil in the South, cocoa in the West, rubber and timber in the Mid-west, the North of Nigeria used to play host to most of the best textile companies in the country and indeed West Africa. The same North used to be the home of the famous groundnut pyramids in Kano and a place where cotton, millet, among numerous other economic crops were grown. It is a shame that Nigerian leaders would not be eager to harness these vast mineral, agriculture and water resources in the area from North central to the North West within the context of a truly federal Nigeria.
Kogi State, for instance, can go to Nasarawa State and invest in some mineral resources and employ the people there. Just as Lagos State is currently doing with Kebbi State in rice production. It is Kebbi's citizens that will be employed and taxes will be paid to the state, after all. That way, there will be a balance of opportunity to exploit what is available in all states.
Therefore, instead of shooting down and foreclosing discussions of opportunities that abound in fiscal federalism, all Nigerians should encourage their representatives to take another look at the recurrent and exclusive legislative lists. The exclusive list that gives too much power to the Federal Government in exploitation of mineral and water resources should be relaxed and the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) should begin the process of devolution of powers to the federating units for the rapid development of the country.
Besides, those who wield federal powers now should seek to renew their minds and be persuaded that Nigeria cannot be broken or hampered by the practice of federalism as some have mischievously submitted. Indeed, federalism will even strengthen democracy and make the country grow economically.
If the 36 federating units are not allowed to exploit all the natural endowments in their states and develop state policies based on priorities and then pay their workers according to what they can afford, development even at the centre will be a mirage. At the moment, poverty in the federating units which keep asking for bailouts from the centre before they can pay even basic bills is shameful, and unacceptable.
In the context of competition which used to exist when Nigeria was a really federal entity, Lagos and Kaduna states are now setting some instructive examples. Just as the Western Region did in those days, the Kaduna State government, for instance, has decided to invest heavily in compulsory and quality education as a matter of priority. This is how a good federation should be. And it is hoped that other states will follow this example. Lagos too continues to invest heavily in education and to enhance its status as the economic capital of West Africa. Both states parade the best civil services in the country at the moment and are restructuring their operations according to their vision and resources.
Therefore, the time has come for Nigeria's leaders at all levels and from all regions to remove politics from discussions of the many benefits of fiscal federalism and focus on how ventures such as cattle rearing, grains, gum Arabic, tomatoes, sweet potatoes, rice production, etc in the North can be exploited for the glory of the region. This does not remove any steam from the efforts at finding oil in the North East, which may just be some added value.
The Eastern Region, comprising the present South South and South East, is already show-casing the gains of self-dependence as Anambra State, for instance, is gradually finding its groove in agriculture and industrialisation.
Against the background of diversification, with emphasis on agriculture and mining as central elements in the political economy, that all things are available in every state but not exploited till now is the shame of a nation. Governments should step forward and remove obstacles to these resources and the value that would accrue to all citizens therefrom.
No doubt, the country is already factionalised over this matter. The elite caused the division which Nigerians do not need. And the country was not always like this. In 1993, this same country organised a presidential election in which a political party fielded a Muslim-Muslim ticket that no one complained about anywhere. It was a pan-Nigeria mandate which Chief MKO Abiola won convincingly before the military cancelled the result. The same obtained in the election that brought President Muhammadu Buhari to power in May, 2015. It was a popular mandate that was not disputed. Now, history beckons on Buhari to see this popular mandate as one to be exploited to listen to what Nigerians are saying and implement true federalism.
Nigerians, especially members of the elite, must show an understanding beyond the dubious position of those who associate true federalism with the balkanisation of the country.
Restructuring: Let's go our ways in peace -Rufai Hanga
Written by Omoniyi Salaudeen
The SUN Nigeria. Thursday, September 1, 2016
Senator Rufai Hanga is a prominent Kano politician and founding national chairman of the defunct Congress for Progress Change (CPC). In this interview, he challenged those clamouring for a restructuring of the country to lay their facts on the table, saying it is better for the constituent parts to separate in peace than going into a crisis.
From your personal assessment, how has the 8th National Assembly fared in terms of its responsibilities and functions as a lawmaking organ of the country?
I am not happy with what is happing because there is a lot of rumbling between the executive and members of the National Assembly, which is affecting the country. I am not too impressed with the performance of these lawmakers. I don't know whether their failure is as a result of the circumstance in which they found themselves, but what they have done so far is nothing to write home about. I can't point at any significant thing they have done this time around. Rather, they are more concerned with protecting their personal interests.
On the side of the executive, how would you assess the support base for the Buhari administration since he assumed power vis-a vis his popularity before the election?
Certainly, it is diminishing by the day. That is the home truth. I like Buhari, I support him, but unfortunately, the support base for his government is dwindling by the day. I think this has to do with ill-advice by those people around him. I don't know whose advice he is listening to, but there are so many things that are wrong. There are so many things that are done wrongly. There are so many things that need to be addressed. Presumably, may be those around him are not advising him well. Some of the people around him are analogue; they have no proper understanding of the present reality. Therefore, he needs to broaden his reach so that things can move on well. People like him, he means well, but then, there is a need for him to open up. I believe he is sincere and he is doing what he is doing in good fate, but like people say, 'a single tree can never make a forest.' There are certain things you may feel are not good for him to do, but as a leader, he must take a risk.
The renewed violence in the oil producing region by the Niger Delta Avengers is part of the problems the government has had to grapple with, especially its crippling effects on the economy.
I won't attribute what I have just said to the Niger Delta crisis. There is a great degree of sabotage in that part of the country. I think some people who are under the watch of the anti-corruption agency are trying to cover up their asses. That is why they are trying to divert attention. Right now, President Buhari is dealing more with Northerners in his anti-corruption war than any other group. More northerners are affected by his anti-corruption war. And as we all know, more of these atrocities were committed in the Niger Delta region. That is where bunkering activities involving several millions of dollars were done. President Buhari is yet to reach out to these people; so, they are doing this to divert the attention of government or sabotage him to make sure he fails. And they are succeeding. They are succeeding because the oil revenue is down so much that confession was made recently by Secretary to the Government of the Federal (SGF) that government cannot implement the 2016 budget because of the dwindling revenue accruing to the federation account. By all economic analyses, if we continue like this, Nigeria will be in a serious recession. And the major cause is the Niger Delta violence activities.
In the light of this, would you support government's dialogue with the militants?
I think the government has already decided on dialoguing with them from what I read in newspapers. Another story I read is that they are being dealt with. So, I don't know how you can blow hot and cold, and at the same time expect to get the same result. I read that the military is determined to deal with them. And I also read another version saying that the government is dialoguing with them. So, I don't know which is which. But if it is true that government is dialoguing with them, the government must be careful not to be blackmailed. Whichever of the group rises up, the government can sit and dialogue with it, but there is a tendency for some people to confuse the government because there are several other groups which may also emerge after reaching an agreement with them. If I were in government, I will say, 'sit down, we are not going to discuss anything with you because you've already negotiated with the previous government. This is a new government and you know government is dynamic, let us maintain the agreement you had with the previous government and then we will give you moratorium for so and so months. When everything is calm, then we can come back and continue further negotiation. But if you continue doing what you are doing, then there is nothing for you" This is one of the measures I would have taken if were in government.
You must have also read different opinions on the issue of restructuring which is now on the front burner of national discourse. What is your take on this agitation?
People are not telling the truth. When you are talking about a restructuring, let them lay it on the table. What kind of restructuring do they want? Restructuring can mean a lot of things. Most of the people clamouring for restructuring are just saying so without breaking it down. Let them break it down so that we can know the kind of restructuring they want. Let them come out. For me, I don't know what they mean and I cannot give an opinion on something I am not conversant with. Let them define it and then I will give my own opinion. Right now, when I see some people talking of restructuring, I look at them as non-conformists, I see them as hypocrites who want cheap popularity among the people that are disgruntled. I see some of them as just merely following the train of bandwagon because they hear people saying restructuring.
Let whosoever want the country restructured come out and put it in black and white the way they want the country restructured. I have once given my opinion on this. Even if they want the country divided, I welcome it. True to God, I welcome it because I will rather prefer we separate peacefully to fighting ourselves. One thing I will never support is fighting ourselves, especially over religious division. Religious crisis is the most dangerous thing in all aspects of life because when it comes to religion, nobody reasons. Whether educated, illiterates, semi-illiterates, big, young or old, nobody reasons when it comes to religion. I don't want any problem with the country. Rather than having an internal crisis like religious or ethnic, I will prefer everybody goes his way. It will be better for everybody to go and start afresh. There are lots of countries that have separated and they are doing fine. If that is what they mean by restructuring, then it is welcome. I personally welcome it than fighting ourselves. I don't want any crisis. People who are agitating and instigating people don't know the implication of what they are doing. We should not let such people drag us into a crisis because it is dangerous.
What would you like to say about the arms purchase scandal involving some top military brass?
It is an unfortunate situation. If what is being said is true, then I shed tears for Nigeria. If people who are responsible for security, responsible for making sure we have peace could go to that extent of looting, then we should all shed tears for this country. I am always proud to be a Nigerian anywhere in the world but this is very unfortunate.
What is your take on the viability or otherwise of states that can no longer meet their obligations of paying salaries of their workers?
If a state is unable to survive, then it is not viable. There are two ways to it. It is either the leaders are misfits, incompetent, can't sit down and think about how they can generate internal revenue to sustain themselves or the states are not viable.
I will suggest a situation where some states are merged with the viable ones. If they cannot sustain themselves, how can we allow them to remain as parasites? It is too ways. One, it is either the leaders are incompetent to keep the states afloat or the states are not viable.
IT IS TIME TO RESTRUCTURE NIGERIA
- Nigeria is a product of British military conquest. Thus, 200 to 300 ethnic groups were forcefully incorporated by the British without their permission. Obviously, Nigeria, like a vast majority of the modern African states, is a jail house or a detention center where 200 to 300 African ethnic groups are detained against their will. As far as the ethnic groups feel detained or trapped in a cage, they are not likely to cooperate in building a harmonious country.
- The Sir Arthur Richards 1946 constitution turned Nigeria into a tribal and regional confederacy. The 1946 constitution embedded a mechanism which has inhibited the country's ability to create a homogenous united nation out of the diverse ethnic groups. This is why there is not one Nigeria but many Nigerias, depending on ethnicity, religion and regional affiliation. As result, every national policy issue is looked upon from a zero sum perspective with one side winning and the others losing. For example, the South-South and the South-East wants resource control and the Upper North opposes it. The South-East, South-West, South-South and the Middle Belt want a national referendum and the Upper North is not willing to go that route. The South and the Middle Belt insist on true federalism but the Upper North seems to be inclined towards the unitary system where the national governments is in total control and the states are given less freedom to maneuver. The Christian and traditional South and the Middle Belt incline toward the Western world and the Islamic North inclines towards Arabia and the Islamic world. This creates a problem for Nigeria's foreign policy. The Upper North wants national grazing reserves for one ethnic group to do cattle business and the South-East, South-West, South-South and the Middle Belt are not eager to grant such a wish to a particular ethnic group to have the right to settle in every territory of the country. Thus, there is rarely a national consensus on anything. Sir Richards and the British colonial strategists, perhaps, did not want Nigeria to succeed as a vibrant political, economic and industrial power, hence, a constitutional tool was used to tactically disunite the country through the 1946 Constitution.
- Geographically, the manner in which the country is divided into the North and South is flawed. It is only in Nigeria where a country is physically divided into the North and South in such a manner that one region is much larger than the other. Generally, when a territory is divided geographically, it is supposed to have equal territorial space, using the North, South, East and West configuration. In other words, it is weird to have regions where the North is two times larger than the South. This is a fundamental structural flaw in the distribution of territorial land mass. If those who created Nigeria had wished the country well, they would not have established a country in which one region is twice the size of the other region. It is obvious that the Middle Belt would have been part of Southern Nigeria. In this case, states like Kogi, Kwara, Benue, and Plateau would have been placed in Southern Nigeria to create a geographical balance between the North and the South. The physical imbalance in the distribution of the regions creates distrust, frustration and instability as the Northern region seems to overshadow the Southern region.
- Another geographical flaw in Nigeria's physical structure is that the smaller South is further divided into the East and West with a Mid-West sub-region while the giant North is allowed to stand alone as one region, even though the Middle Belt does not belong to the North.
- Before independence, the smaller ethnic groups insisted upon the creation of states during the Willink Commission's Hearing. The suggestion was rejected. So, the small ethnic groups became vassals of the large three ethnic groups.
- On independence, Nigeria adopted federalism which in theory, requires the sharing of power between the national and regional governments. In practice, the country operated as a confederacy in which the regions functioned almost independently. This was why the regional premiers were almost as powerful and influential as the national prime minister. An individual like Ahmadu Bello was even more powerful that the prime minister of the entire country.
- When the military came after the January 15, 1966 abortive military coup, the military adopted a unitary system of government which took away the powers of the regions and later the states to make independent decisions. The unitary system centralized political and administrative power at the center and made the states dependent upon the national government. Even while the military regimes centralized political and administrative authority, they still pretentiously viewed the country as a federal entity. Thus, like in the First Republic, the military era too continued the practice of calling Nigeria a federal state while suffocating federalism through excessive centralization of power.
- During the First Republic, since the three major ethnic groups dominated the three regions, national resources were distributed based on derivation. The regions were largely responsible for producing and generating income for themselves using the resources in their territories. However, as soon as oil became a major economic commodity and it was found mostly in regions dominated by minority ethnic groups and the Igbos, the Petroleum Act was passed by the military regime of Gen. Yakubu Gowon. This deprived the ethnic groups in the oil region the ability to make decisions about the exploration and management of oil and gas in their territories.
- As stated above, due to the geographical imbalance between the North and the South, the South is compelled to serve as a junior partner, rather than as an equal partner in the political management of Nigeria. The North dominates the entire country in so many ways. For instance, Lagos States is more populated than Kano State. Recent statistics indicate that Lagos City has a population of about 21 million people. However, Kano State has 44 local governments while Lagos State has 20 local governments. How did this come about? It is exceedingly difficult to explain or rationalize why Kano State with a lesser population has more local governments than Lagos State with a much larger population. Similarly, due to the fact that the North is two-third of the entire country, in terms of geography, it has 19 states and the South has 17 states. Additionally, out of the 774 local governments in Nigeria, the North has 419 while the South has 335. Of course, the fact that the North is physically larger than the South does not mean that it has more people than the South. There is a general believe that the South is actually more populated than the North, yet, the North has more local governments.
- Following the geographical imbalance, the North tends to act as the dominant region in the country. This is why most of the country's leaders have originated from the Islamic North. It is much more difficult for someone from the South to rule the country. For instance, whenever, an individual from the South tries to serve as the leader of the country, the person is expected to unduly appease the North as if the individual does not have a constitutional right as a Nigerian citizen to rule the country like someone from the Islamic North. A would- be-presidential candidate from the South must pass the North's Litmus test, otherwise, the individual has no chance of succeeding. Moreover, the Upper North can literarily reject a Southern presidential candidate if the person does not dance to the strategic interest of the North. As a result, the late Chief Obafemi Awolowo from the South-West never had a chance to rule the country. Similarly, when Dr. Alex Ekwueme was supposed to be the presidential candidate of the National Party of Nigeria (NPN), there was opposition from the Upper North. Hence, he was dropped from consideration as a presidential candidate, even after serving as a vice president. When Chief Moshood Abiola appeared to be winning the presidential election of June 12, 1993 against a Northern candidate, the election was abrogated. In other words, the Upper North (Islamic) did not want Chief Abiola to become the president. When the military decided to quit the political business and return to barracks in 1998, the preferred candidate of the South-West region was Chief Olu Falae. The North opposed Chief Falae and selected Chief/Gen. Olusegun Obasanjo as the presidential flag-bearer of the Peoples' Democratic Party PDP). When he became the president, he had to give three critical ministerial positions to the North as the region demanded. Being a Southerner, former President Obasanjo was powerless in stopping the Sharianization of some Northern states. Thus, Sharia Law was installed without any legislative discussion in the National Assembly. When Dr. Peter Odili decided to contest the presidential election of 2007, he had to spend vast sums of money to attract support from the North and the Southwest. Even then, he was unceremoniously dropped as the presidential flag-bearer of the PDP. When the late President Umaru Yar'Adua got sick, the Upper North refused to allow the vice president, Dr. Goodluck Jonathan, to take over the leadership of the country. As soon as he eventually became the president, threats of making the country ungovernable started to saturate the media. D. Jonathan had to spend a considerable amount of time and effort in appeasing the Upper North while attempting to run for reelection. He actually devoted more time throughout his tenure to persuade the North than the South to support him, yet, various tactics of ungovernability were deployed to shipwreck his administration. Alhaji Aliyu Gwarzo, a prominent Fulani leader from Kano, did not hide the intention of the Upper North when he said "No Goodluck or anyone else will stop us from taking back our power next year. We will kill, maim, destroy and turn thiscountry into Africa's biggest war zone and refugee camp if they try it" (Pointblanknews Magazine, October 2, 2014).
- As a result of the predominance of the North, the South is increasingly looking like a conquered territory of the North since most critical national decisions tend to favor the North. This is why Southern legislators in the National Assembly are almost voiceless and inactive. They are seen but rarely heard from. The governors and religious leaders in the Upper North have tremendous national influence while the governors and traditional rulers in the South have very little national influence. In fact, due to the overbearing influence of Northern political elites in the country, Southern political elites are very cautious in expressing themselves, fearing that if they talk too much, they could be punished.
- Apart from the pre-January 15, 1966 period, the Nigerian armed forces are dominated by the North, so much so that Southern military officers are barely noticeable. Almost all critical military and national security positions under President Muhammadu Administration are held by officers from the Upper North. In some circumstances, some junior military officers from the Upper North have more influence than some senior military officers from the South. A Southern military or police officer, to safeguard his or her job, would not take any action without getting approval from an officer from the Upper North. This was why former Inspector General of Police (IGP), Mr. Solomon Arase did not mobilize the police to stop marauding herdsmen from mobilizing and attacking Agatu community in the Middle Belt and Nimmo community in Igboland, even though everyone knew in advance that the herdsmen were about to invade those communites. The same reason could also be given for why the army remained quiet. They did not act because they did not get clearance from President Buhari to prevent the invasion, killing and destruction of Agatu and Nimbo communities.
- A vast majority of the military and police training and educational institutions are located in the North. Similarly, it is much easier for someone from the North to join the armed forces than someone from the South. A letter from an Emir can make a whole difference whether someone is admitted into the Nigeria Defence Academy (NDA) or get a lucrative employment.
- The fear of Islamization is a constant worry among non-Moslems in Nigeria. This follows a statement made by the late Sardauna of Sokoto, Ahmadu Bello, to the Moslems to spread Islam throughout the country. He was seconded by the late prime minster of Nigeria, Alhaji Abubakar Tafewa Balewa. Alhaji Aliyu Gwarzo, electrified the agenda for Islamization by saying:
- It was either the Koran or the sword and most of them chose the Koran. In return for the good works of our forefathers, Allah, through the British, gave us Nigeria to rule and to do as we please. Since 1960 we have been doing that and we intend to continue (Ibid.).
- Even though the population is almost evenly divided between Christianity and Islam, Nigeria is not a member of any international Christian dominated foreign political or economic or religious alliance. On the other hand, Nigeria is a member of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation, the D8 - an organization of Islamic countries, the Islamic Development Bank and the Islamic Coalition against Terrorism, otherwise, referred to as Islamic Military Alliance. This means that even though Nigeria supposed to be a secular state, it is incrementally being Islamized through tactical joining of Islamic organizations. Therefore, when some Northern politicians introduced a bill which intends to nationalize the Fulani cattle business by granting land for cattle grazing in every state of the country, Southerners and Christians oppose the idea, suspecting it to be a ploy to spread Islam in the South by creating permanent Islamic enclaves throughout the country.
- Since Northern and Southern Nigeria were amalgamated in 1914, riots resulting in the killings of Southerners, Christians and non-Moslems have taken place in the North. It happened in 1953 and has continued into the twenty-first century. On the other hand, Southerners have never caused riots that lead to the killing of Northerners. Whenever an anti-Northern riot takes place in the South, it is always in reaction to the killings of Southerners in the North. Thousands of Nigerians have been killed and maimed due to the riots. How can the North and South co-exist since the lives of Southerners, Middle Belters, Ancestralists and Christians are always endangered by riots in the North. Thus, for most Southerners living in Northern Nigeria, there is always the danger of being killed through religiously and politically motivated riots.
- Nigeria is made up of 200 to 300 ethnic groups, yet, there are some individuals from two ethnic groups who believe that they have an exclusive right to rule the country because the British gave them the mandate to rule the country. Without mincing words, Alhaji Gwarzo stated "When I say that the Presidency must come to the north next year I am referring to the Hausa-Fulani core North and not any northern Christian or Muslim minority tribe." (Pointblanknews, Ibid.).
- Petroleum started to become a major source of national wealth immediately after the Nigerian civil war in 1970. By 2015, Nigeria had almost totally depended on oil and gas for its national wealth. Oil and gas are found mostly in the Niger Delta/South-South, some parts of Igboland and the South-West zones). However, due to the fact that oil and gas are totally nationalized, the citizens of the oil region are very poor. On the other hand, the greatest beneficiaries of the oil wealth are Nigerians from the non-oil producing regions. In particular, oil shares (blocks) are owned mostly by individuals from the Upper North.
- While for about forty-five years now, Nigeria has almost totally depended on the oil wealth, the country has refused to carry out any environmental cleaning of the region. As a result, the South-South region is highly polluted with oil leakages, pipeline fires and gas flaring. Even the Nigerian plan to clean Ogoni land came by way of the United Nations Environmental Program (UNEP). Thus, Nigeria is not interested in cleaning the polluted environment but wants to exploit the oil and gas with total disregard for the feeling of the inhabitants of the oil region.
- The 1999 Constitution was put together through the supervision of the military. Therefore, it was not a product of democratic discussion involving the ethnic groups that make up the country. This accounted for why an immunity clause was included to protect military officers who had engaged in misappropriation of public funds. Sadly, elected officials since 1999, have relied on the same Immunity Clause to protect themselves from prosecution for misbehavior while in office. Similarly, all the decrees and acts passed during various military regimes were imposed arbitrarily without the consent of the Nigeria people. To have a very representative democratic constitution, it is necessary to have an open debate involving all stakeholders in the country. Perhaps, the closest exercise to a representative constitutional debate was the National Conference of 2014 because individuals from different parts of the country participated in the exercise.
- The coming into power by President Muhammadu Buhari and the APC political party in May 2015 has deepened the desire for a national referendum to discuss the fate of the country. The demand became strident when President Buhari made a statement that he was going to favor the 95% that voted for him against the 5% that did not vote for him. After making that statement, he seems to have tactically decided to ignore hiring people from the South-East and the South-South zones of the country. Even the South-West zone which voted for him in large numbers has been neglected. In addition, he has tactically recruited individuals from the Upper Islamic North to occupy critical positions in the Federal Government. Meanwhile, he has not taken any active step to contain the violence perpetrated by Fulani herdsmen. President Buhari war on corruption seems only to be targeted at the officials of Goodluck Jonathan's administration and the members of the Peoples' Democratic Party (PDP) while corruption perpetrated by members of the All Progressive Congress Party (APC) are ignored and treated as non-crimes. His style of leadership creates the impression that he is northernizing and Islamizing the country to fulfil the dream of the late Ahmadu Bello. Hence, some people in the South-East and the South-South have revived the call for the creation of the Republic of Biafra and the Republic of the Niger Delta. Similarly, militant opposition to the exploration of oil and gas in the oil region has been reactivated. Thus, President Buhari's actions tend to deepen the feeling that Nigeria is increasingly being treated as a country dominated by one ethnic group, despite the fact that it is made up of 200 to 300 ethnic groups.
- Due to the dysfunctional nature of the country, creativity and innovation are stifled, hence, Nigeria has not been able to develop as an industrial nation capable of competing in the global marketplace to sell finished industrial goods and services. It is interesting to note that Nigeria tends to kill motivation, creativity and innovation. This is why creative and innovative Nigerians tend to do very well in their professional fields outside the country but seem to do poorly inside the country. The reason is that inside Nigeria, the politics of ethnicity, regionalism and religion intercedes to dampen motivation. Moreover, the politics of personalism tends to force people to become "LOYAL" boys and girls to political godfathers and godmothers. The godfathers and godmothers are only interested in how much political power and financial wealth they can acquire. This is why loyalty is more important than creativity and innovation.
- As Nigerians become increasingly dissatisfied with the contradictions, imbalances, and unequal distribution of power and resources, the level of patriotism declines. Lack of patriotism feeds the desire to embezzle public funds recklessly to the detriment of the Nigerian nation.
RESTRUCTURING AND THE YORUBA AGENDA
Written by Eric Teniola, |Lagos Nigeria.
"We are convinced that the cause of Nigeria's federalism will be well and truly advanced if we return to the pre-1996 evolutionary path: a balanced federal structure which recognizes fully the legitimate claims of all ethnic groups for self-determination and where no single entity among the federating units will be strong or powerful enough to hold the others to ransom, but where each of the federating units is large enough, both in terms of size and population as well as of resources, to be viable, self-reliant and dynamic. Other relevant factors include the homogeneity of each federating unit, geographic contiguity among the units of a region and demonstrable willingness to be together. In pursuance of the principle of self-determination and in the interest of the sustainability, any state or community shall have the opportunity to decide, through the democratic process, the region of its choice in the light of these criteria. In the light of the foregoing criteria, we propose the restructuring of Nigeria into six federating units to be known as Regions. The six regions shall be Western, Eastern, Southern, North-Western, North-Eastern and Middle Belt Regions.
The Western Region will group together the following States: Lagos, Ogun, Ondo, Osun and Oyo and all other Yoruba-speaking communities wherever they may be in the Federation. The States that will constitute the other regions will be decided by their people subject to the observation of the principle of self-determination". With the restructuring into six viable and potentially dynamic and prosperous regions, individually and collectively serving as a countervailing force to the centralizing tendencies of the centre, Nigeria will be constituted a Federation of six Regions. Each would have the power to prepare its own constitution and determine its political structure, its legislative organs and the structure of its executive, provided that nothing in the constitution of the Regions conflicts with the fundamental tenets of federalism and with principles of the federal constitution.The function of the federal government must be clearly spelt out. Residual powers must lie with the Regions. The Federal Government shall have no power to interfere in or take over any function of the Regional Government. Similarly, it shall have no power to interfere with the operations of any Regional Government. Each Region shall determine the number functions and power of its constituent institutions.
The National Assembly shall be bi-cameral: House of the People and the Upper House. Members shall be elected or designated for a period of four years with the possibility of re-election. Membership of the House of the People shall be by universal suffrage with constituencies delineated on the basis of population, contiguity, homogeneity and territorial expanse. Each Region shall send an equal number of representatives to the upper House, one-quarter of whom must be traditional ruler from within that Region. Each Region will be free to determine the basis and method of election/selection of its representative to that House.
The Head of Government shall be the Prime Minister who shall be appointed by the President. The Person to be so appointed, shall be the leader of the party or of a coalition of parties which has the support of the majority of the members of the House of the People. Whenever he loses such support he shall resign or be dismissed. The Prime Minister shall be free to form his Government which must receive the immediate endorsement of the House of the people through a vote of confidence. The Prime Minister shall resign or be dismissed whenever the majority of the House of the People withdraws its support.
There shall be provision for power-sharing in the Constitution. Power configuration shall be accorded a zoning status on rotational basis. For this purpose, five key portfolios(such as Internal Affairs and Petroleum) in addition to the office of the Prime Minister, shall be identified in the Constitution and be assigned to five Deputy Prime Ministers drawn from the five Regions, other than Region from which the Prime Minster hails. For avoidance of doubt, the Prime Minister, the Deputy Prime Ministers and all members of government shall be elected members of the House of the People."
"The principle of derivation in which each Region will retain an overwhelming share, if not all, of the revenue accruing from the tax imposed on the natural resources within its territory, shall apply. Revenue from the exploitation and custom duties shall be put in distributable pool account to be shared between the Federal and the Regional Governments in accordance with an agreed formula, but with special consideration being given to the Region(s) where the facilities for their collection are located. Every effort must be made o achieve self-reliance in mobilizing resources by all the Regions and the Federation. In particular, no Region must take proportionally more than what it contributes to the Federation financially. There shall be no direct Federal allocation to State Local governments. With regard to the power of personal and direct taxation, such as personal income tax, capital-gains tax, sales tax and property tax, governments shall have the right to levy them that provided that, in order to ensure efficiency, a uniform tax base should be applied and tax rate split between the Federal and Regional Governments. The rate of tax can differ from region to region so that regional revenue can be enhanced to respond to the special needs of a particular region and in accordance with the ability and willingness if the citizens to pay higher taxes".
Restructuring: Who lopsided Nigeria in the first place?
~The SUN Nigeria. Friday, August 19, 2016
Ever so often in the past couple of decades, we have been almost chocked by knowledgable, ignorant, well-meaning and malicious Nigerians on the inevitability of restructuring the Nigerian federation. Perhaps desirably. Even then, the take-off of the intermitent demand of purported restructuring is always from wrong bases to wit that (a) northerners malstructured the country and (b) through the instrumentality of the army nuances of ardent agitators of restructuring to that effect are unmistakable
What are the facts of Nigerian political history specifically from the independence constitution to the end of PDP federal administration in 2015 on this controversial issue? First, President Muhammadu Buhari deserves severe rebuke for unnecessarily attracting criticisms for his rather tactless handling of his government's handling of the restructuring issue. Asked what was his government's policy on the prospects of restructuring of Nigerian federation, especially in view of Conference Report (containing recommendations for restructuring) submitted on the eve of Goodluck Jonathan's exit from office, Buhari, like a macho man, dismissively responded that the Conference Report would remain on the shelf. Truly, it is not as if Buhari would ever retrieve the document from the shelf for implementation but he (Buhari) was wrong to impliedly put the blame on himself.
To assert himself and still put the blame where it (still) belongs, all Buhari had to do rather effortlessly was to employ what, in boxing profession, is called technical knockout, for which nobody can fault him. The very agitators of political resructuring made the task easy for Buhari by rendering the Conference Report comatose, even before he (Buhari) was elected. While campaigns were on for the 2015 presidential elections, agitators of restructuring made it an election issue, a sort of referendum, by publicly canvassing on voters to return former President Jonathan to office "so that he could implement the Conference Report". Chief Ayo Adebanjo led the entire Egbe Afenifere group to take that public stand. It was a risky gamble, which they lost. It was a political dagger aimed at Buhari, which fortunately he survived by winning the presidential elections. He, therefore, does not owe any obligation to implement the Conference Report. We must learn to accept responsibility for our actions.
Only a couple of months ago, erstwhile British prime minister, David Cameron, threw his tenure at the electorate to support Britain's continued membership of European Union. Britons, in the referendum, voted otherwise and Cameron accepted the verdict by resigning, with the assurance that Britain would end its membership of European Union and the new administration in Britain has comenced that process. Even if the Buhari administration is dragged to court in a desperation to force him (to) implement the Conference Report, Federal Government's submission should be that Nigerians, had, in the presidential elections rejected the document. QED.
The issue of who lopsided the country in all ramifications of administration is always unfairly discussed, as if a section or a sector deliberately set out for self-serving purposes. As at time the army struck in January 1966, Nigeria not only had the federal and four regional governments but also a very flexible federal form of constitution, as obtains in United States, India, Australia and West Germany, now united with East Germany, running a single federation. Nigeria's only four regions were east, west, north and mid-west. But more than that, Tafawa Balewa's federal government learnt the hard way that regional autonomy, (almost independence) was untouchable, a safeguard well assured by the trenchant judiciary of the day, unlike today's asset accumulating gang. In 1961, prime minister Balewa tried to probe the finances of western region but was halted by Federal High Court judge, Daddy Onyeama, a ruling affirmed by Supreme Court. On the other hand, when breakdown of law and order warranted total take-over of the enire west regional government and Balewa strictly followed the constitution, Nigerian judiciary upheld the move.
However, when General Johnson Aguiyi-Ironsi assumed office in January, 1966, he set up a panel headed by a federal permanent secretary, Francis Nwokedi, to recommend a workable administrative structure for Nigeria, which would remove or, at least, minimise the political problems, mutual animosity and suspicion. The Nwokedi panel report recommended unitary system, which encompassed abolition of the regions, increasing the power of Federal Government. That was the beginning of lopsidedness (in favour of Federal Government) in Nigeria. Both were southerners even if, by circumstances, Ironsi was a soldier.
In the midst of the uncertainty created by the counter coup of July 1966, head of the federal military government, Lt. Colonel (as he then was) Yakubu Gowon (a northerner) and military governor of eastern region, Colonel Chukwuemeka Ojuukwu, a southerner, agreed at Aburi, Ghana, to new consitutional/political arrangements, which contained all the demands of today's agitators for political restructuring, especially resource control and total regional autonomy, except creation of states. In short, as far back as 1967, Gowon, a northerner, and Ojukwu, a southerner, had the foresight and agreed on the restructuring.
When Gowon returned to Lagos, mainly Yoruba and Bendelites descended on him rather derisively. These critics were super permanent secretaries, journalists, political class led by their godfathers, academicians, senior civil servants carried away in their new posts abandoned by easterners, all of them calling on Gowon to throw "Aburi to the dogs." Remarkably, northerners, as tactful as ever, largely did not join in the public uproar in the media and public places, as they (northerners) merely listened, looked on and allowed southerners to do the talking. At the worst, southerners played into the hands of Gowon, who then had to abandon Aburi agreement by creating twelve new states, majority of them in the North. Again, that was the beginning of the North, having more states than the South, all at the instigation of westerners, Bendelites and eastern minorites. Remarkably, throughout colonial era, up to independence in 1960, North, East and West each had only one region and on its own, created as many local governments as desirable. Southern political desperados conferred the power to create new local governments on the Federal Government. These same fellows are moaning today. By the way, south easterners at that time had all retreated home because of the political uncertainty and did not join the call for Aburi to be thrown to the dogs.
Up to July 1966 when Gowon assumed office, revenue allocation formula was as obtained under colonial era till the collapse of First Republic, with regions having the largest share, depending on its resource. Cocoa was the major revenue earner for Nigeria and western region was accordingly far better placed financially above the three other regions, East, North and Mid-West, Under Gowon's regime, and with Obafemi Awolowo as federal commissioner for finance, government set up the I. O. Dina (a retired permanent secretary in the defunct western region) panel to review the revenue allocation formula. Dina recommended Federal Government control of resources to the detriment of (regions) today's states. That was the background of the scrapping of the principle of derivation by the states. Awolowo and Dina were southerners and even if Gowon ordered the review of the allocation formula, collateral responsibility was still that of Awolowo. After all, he was credited with the sole financial expertise of managing Nigeria's economy throughout the civil war without a kobo foreign loan. It must, however, be conceded that had he won the 1979 or 1983 presidential elections, better use would have been made of the federal revenue. Northerners should not be blamed as a group for changing the revenue formular
On the imminent return to civilian rule in 1979, military head of Federal Government, General Olusegun Obsanjo, set up a constitutional drafting committee headed by Chief Rotimi Williams. Both were southerners. Obasanjo, in his eventual amendment of the draft constitution, ensured lopsidedness against the South. Constitions by succeeding military regimes of General Ibarahim Babangida (1989) scrapped by Abacha for his 1995 version, and the 1999 Abdulsalami Abubakar were all mere convenient rehash of their C-in-C's 1979 document. Worse still, was there any change in Obasanjo's third term attempted constitution except the plot to perpetuate himself but for the determination of northerners to stop him? Not to be forgotten was the patriotism of the then senate president, Ken Nnamani, who ruled for televised debate.
Goodluck Jonathan and ex-finance miniter Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala both further violated the revenue allocation formula by pauperising states with the so-called Sovereign Wealth Fund. Both are Niger Deltans and southerners. Our constitution does not empower Federal Government to tamper with the budget of any state with the extortion of purportedly saving for a rainy day. It is the inalienable right of each state to put aside any convenient amount instead of being coerced by the Federal Government. Goodluck, a southerner, had six years within which he could have restructured Nigeria but he took no action until he was seeking an extra four years. He lost that battle.
Which Conference Report for restructuring Nigeria are these agitators demanding to be implemented? The same report, which recommended eighteen new states in Nigeria? Are we really serious? The existing states except, perhaps, Lagos, cannot pay salaries. Northerners are not saints in this our political logjam but blame for malstructuring is minimal if any.
The clamour to restructure Nigeria
Written by ADEZE OJUKWU
Ojukwu, is a journalist and USA- sponsored Hubert Humphrey Fellowship Alumnus.
~The SUN Nigeria. Friday, August 19, 2016
The outcry in Nigeria has reached a crescendo . While some are trumping ‘change’, others are chanting ‘restructure.’ For several others, it is ‘resource control, self-determination and fiscal federalism.’
The cacophonous voices are deafening. May be, even the deaf can hear the outrage. The blind, perhaps, can see the carnage. Nigeria is bleeding on all sides, from the Boko Haram-ravaged North-East and poverty-stricken North-West to the bleeding fields of North-Central, allegedly by Fulani herdsmen, as well as militancy in the South-South, kidnappings in South-East and ritual killings in the South-West.
The orgy of violence and blood-letting is unprecedented even as deprivation is petrifying. Fr Ejike Mbaka, a well-known Catholic cleric and supporter of President Muhammadu Buhari captured it succinctly in an emotive sermon recently. “Hunger is everywhere,” he said. He was not wrong.
The current plight of most citizens is horrendous, even as the situation is worse for many Nigerian patients and students stranded abroad due to naira depreciation and epileptic financial policies of the government and the regulatory authorities such as the Central Bank of Nigeria.
The destitution across society has reached exponential levels, requiring serious rescue strategies But little has come. The reason is simple. The convoluted structure of the configuration called Nigeria makes it possible for leaders to transform into rulers, for the vile to become nobles, for the inert to become the stupendous rich, and unlearned to railroad into the highest seats of power.
These years of mindless enthronement of systemic incongruities in the polity have given rise to a fractured and sick country called Nigeria.
The nation has been stifled by roguish rulers operating as either military despots or democratic demagogues, entrenched widespread corruption, favouritism, nepotism, tribalism and religious extremism as well as abject poverty across the polity.
Indeed, the outcry in the land without doubt is a result of mind-boggling diversion of public funds by these corrupt leaders particularly military dictators, politicians and their acolytes.
Sadly, the current administration at various levels is no different from these of the past, as most of the key players today are the same old and recycled past military oligarchs, convoluted politicians, tainted contractors and unsaintly top civil servants.
Corruption, as it were, has virtually wrecked the nation’s public sector and has eroded meritocracy and the ideals of the founding fathers after independence. The level of infrastructural decay and poverty across the country is unprecedented, with the epicenter in many northern states.
This is rather unfortunate, as the northern region has produced the highest number of rulers and military dictators, since independence.
This has resulted in the increasing clamour for restructuring of the country. Nigeria is not working, because its present structure is weak and convoluted. It has never really worked. It will be foolhardy to expect it to work. Every good house, the Bible says, is built on a strong foundation. Hence, Nigeria needs to revisit its foundation in order to overcome the raging storms.
Perhaps, if there was justice across board, the country may have thrived. The current spate of killings over resources, skewed federal character, religious extremism in the north, tribalism and ethnic tensions, have more than anything else waned the fragile unity that may have existed. For whatever reasons, this woeful tide should end, many insist.
The present regime keeps chanting the mantra of ‘One Nigeria; claiming that Nigeria is indivisible, while ignoring the obvious. This position is laughable, as the Nigerian union was contracted in 1914 by the British colonialists for administrative convenience, but with a caveat for dissolution, after 100 years if the constituent parts so wished.
The clamour to restructure the country has intensified with political leaders and notable Nigerians leading the campaign. The list includes former Vice-President, Dr Alex Ekwueme, former Secretary-General of the Commonwealth, Chief Emeka Anyaoku, former Vice President Chief Atiku Abubakar, Rt. Rev. Emmanuel Gbonigi(retd), Gen Alani Akinriade (retd), Chief Ayo Adebanjo, Bishop Mike Okonkwo and Dr. Chukwuemeka Ezeife, among others. Others include Senator Femi Okunronmu, Chief Albert Horsefall, Pastor Tunde Bakare, National Secretary of Afenifere, Yinka Odumakin and President, Ohaneze Youth Council, Mazi Okechukwu Isiguzoro. The President and his advisers will do well to listen to these calls as well as cries of the people before it is too late. It is often said that the voice of the people is the voice of God, thus as the eternal creator, he has the absolute authority to redefine any nation and its people.
The collapse of the Russian empire was inevitable. Same for Sudan. India, Pakistan and Bangladesh used to be one country but are now independent nations. Ethiopia and Eritria separated after a bloody war. Nigeria’s leaders must spare the citizens endless ethnic struggles and renegotiate its existence and structure.
A major fallout of the recent exit of Britain (Brexit) from the European Union (EU) is a renewed clamour for Scottish independence, which according to pundits, may possibly lead to the eventual break-up of the United Kingdom (UK).
It is a truism that cowards fear change, while the brave embrace it. This is an irrefutable fact of man’s dynamism, existentialism and mortality.
In the 2nd Republic it was the Maitasine Islamic uprising, now it is Boko Haram. In the late 1960s it was Biafra secession, now it is Niger Delta and Igbo militancy asking for fair - deal or the independence of their people. Even if the present agitations are suppressed, without restructuring other groups will come up.
Why Nigeria must be restructured (2)
Statements which show that the 84-year-old man is still living in the past of the First Republic and military era and is, therefore, sleeping through a revolution that will end up in Hausa – Fulani leaders having and showing respect to other Nigerians if the country is not to break up. I am surprised that Alhaji Kaita does not realise that the era when northern leaders solely provided the Head of State under an elected administration ended with the victory of the late Chief MKO Abiola in the annulled June 12, 1993 presidential poll. I also wonder if he does not remember that the reactions of southerners spearheaded by Abiola’s Yoruba people forced the North to concede the presidency to the ethnic group in 1999.
I believe since then it should have been evident to Hausa – Fulani leaders that the presidency has become a rotational affair between the South and North in a turn – by – turn order. I think it is because Alhaji Kaita is ignorant of the full details of the ethnic situations in the defunct Soviet Union, Yugoslavia and Czechoslovakia that made him boast that the North can and will prevent the Igbo and Niger Delta militant agitators from breaking away from Nigeria.
The uprisings in the Niger Delta and the South – East should be clear signal to northern leaders who don’t want the country restructured that southerners too can cause Nigeria problems like the Boko Haram insurgents and with more devastating effects on the nation’s economy than the northern jihadists have accomplished.
The worse for the country will be if militants in the South – West have to join the fray because 60% or more of the industries and commercial activities are in their zone. As a result, their actions will have more telling effects than the militancy in the Niger Delta and South – East. So, the best thing is for government and the Hausa – Fulani leaders to find solutions to the problems in the country not belligerent or non – compromising posture or standpoint.
The population of each country in the world and the percentage of each of the ethnic or racial groups in them are available in the Reader’s Digest 1980 Almanac and YearBook published in the United States. In the Soviet Union the Russians were 53% of the country’s population, the Ukrainians 17%, Belorussians 16% and the others 14%. In Czechoslovakia the Czechs were 65%, the Slovaks 30% and the rest 5%. While in Yugoslavia the Serbs constituted 40%, the Croats 22%, Slovenes and Bosnians 8%, Macedonians and Albanians 6% each and the other tribes 18%.
The Russians, Czechs and Serbs dominated the armed forces and police in their countries by 70% or more and they were more educated and prosperous than the minority nationalities. Yet, in spite of the advantage the majority had, the minorities through their struggles caused the countries to collapse. The Soviet Union, a super power nation is now broken up into 15 countries, Yugoslavia into seven states and Czechoslovakia into two nations.
In Nigeria the Hausas and Fulani do not have the domineering numbers, status or influence the Russians, Serbs and Czechs had over the minority tribes in their countries. In the Reader’s Digest, the population of the Hausas in Nigeria is 21% and Fulani 8% making 29% for the two, whereas the other ethnic groups in the country are 71% broken down to 20% Yorubas, 17% Igbos and 34% for the minorities in the North and South. Meaning that the Hausa and Fulani are minorities in the overall population of Nigeria.
Why Nigeria must be restructured (3)
~The SUN Nigeria. 31st August 2016.It’s delightful that a growing number of weighty northern leaders from different ethnic groups in the region are now coming out to join their southern counterparts in canvassing for the restructuring of the country. When most of their people are against transforming the nation from a 36 – state set up into about six or eight regions and from the executive presidential order to the parliamentary system of the colonial era and the pioneer Republic of October 1, 1960 – January 14, 1966.
The first reports of this were about the trio of former military Head of State, General Yakubu Gowon, an Angas of Plateau State, Hausa – born Alhaji Balarabe Musa and Colonel Abubakar Umar, a Fulani, who are former civilian and military Governors of Kaduna State respectively. Last month, Alhaji Atiku Abubakar, a Fulani of Adamawa State and the nation’s Vice – President from May 29, 1999 – May 28, 2007 joined the crusade, while General Ibrahim Babangida, a Gwari of Niger State and former military Head of State (August 27, 1985 – August 26, 1993) followed up two weeks ago.
Babangida’s contribution is particularly very important because he revealed that his government considered the parliamentary system for the nation in 1989 and regretted that his administration did not implement it before he left office abruptly in 1993. It is a telling remorsefulness because like President Muhammadu Buhari and former President Olusegun Obasanjo he too was a member of late General Murtala Muhammed – led Supreme Military Council which in October 1975 decided and announced that the country on return to civil rule on October 1, 1979 would operate the executive presidential system.
Which proved expensive, wasteful and retarded the country’s rapid development and progress and made corruption worse that Generals Buhari, Babandida and Sani Abacha overthrew the elected government of President Shehu Shagari on December 31, 1983. A system which the military administration of General Abdulsalami Abubakar unwisely and unfortunately returned the country to on May 29, 1999 and which has made things worse that the immediate past Prime Minister of Britain, Mr. David Cameron earlier in the year described Nigeria as a fantastically corrupt nation.
But now coming out to support the restructuring of the country Generals Gowon and Babangida, Alhaji Atiku Abubakar, Mr. Balarabe Musa and Colonel Umar have removed it from being seen as a southern agenda brought up because Buhari who is from their region is now president. When they never raised it during the presidencies of southern – born duo of General Obasanjo (May 1999 – May 2007) and Dr. Goodluck Jonathan’s five year stay in office (May 2010 – May 2015). But such northerners forget that it is Buhari’s discriminatory tribally influenced policies and non – cabinet appointments and the way he has been dealing with Niger Delta crisis that were responsible for southerners demanding restructuring.
Now that restructuring has been made a national issue instead of a parochial southern agenda its success has become enhanced. What I now look forward to is for Generals Gowon and Babangida and Alhaji Atiku who are highly respected and very influential personalities to go a step further than merely voicing support for the cause. They should now meet and discuss the issues with the Sultan of Sokoto, the Emirs and other monarchs in the North as well as the political and other leaders in the region. Letting them know why restructuring is good for the country and parliamentary system is better than the presidential one. And that making the changes will immensely benefit the nation and all Nigerians including the traditional rulers.
Why Nigeria must be restructured (4)~The SUN Nigeria. 7th September 2016.
The 4 major tribes and Nigeria's problem
I have had to alter the title of Igbo, Hausa, Fulani, not Yoruba, are Nigeria's problem to this one to save space. I suspended the series three weeks ago after telling the story that National Council of Nigerian Citizens (NCNC) dominated by the Igbos was in alliance with the Hausa and Fulani dominated ruling Northern Peoples Congress (NPC) and that they formed the Federal Government in power from Saturday, October 1, 1960 - Friday, January 14, 1966.
I am continuing the series today with the two parties move against Chief Obafemi Awolowo, their common foe. When the Action Group (AG) crisis broke out in 1962 they supported Chief Samuel Ladoke Akintola, the Premier of the Western Region and Deputy Leader of the AG, when he was expelled from the party. Akintola formed the United Peoples Party (UPP).
The NCNC which was the leading opposition party in the Western Regional House of Assembly went into alliance with the UPP and through it the two parties had the majority in parliament and as a result Akintola was able to remain as Premier while the NCNC's Leader of Opposition, Chief Remi Fani - Kayode, who decamped from the AG in 1960, became the Deputy Premier. The NCNC teamed up with the UPP to avenge what it called Awo's tribal politics in 1951 which deprived its leader, Dr. Nnamdi Azikiwe the opportunity of becoming the Head of Government in the Yoruba - dominated Western Region. According to the NCNC it had secured an alliance with the Ibadan Peoples Party led by Chief Meredith Adisa Akinloye to form the government since the AG did not win enough seats to do so.
Who's afraid of restructuring?
~The SUN, Nigeria. Friday, July 15, 2016.
THe call for the restructuring of the country is not new. But the past few months have shown that the call is growing as it's usually the case when a new government takes over. With most pro-restructuring Nigerians having the bits between the teeth, it's not likely that the agitation would stop soon. It was former Vice President Alhaji Atiku Abubakar who again raised the specter.
But his call, rather than find acceptability in the present government and by extension in the progressive folds that had always called for it, seem not to resonate. I recall that one of the issues by which progressive elements in the country have always been known is their support for restructuring or a call for a national conference to determine the direction of the country.
Such calls have always made the (People's Democratic Party (PDP) government in power so uncomfortable. I recall what All Progressives Congress (APC) leader Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu said at a lecture he delivered at the 70th anniversary of the Island Club on the same issue in 2013. An excerpt from the lecture tells it all.
"Yes, we need to talk. I remain an ardent supporter of the call for a national conference that is sovereign and truly open to all. That is the only route out of the woods. We must bring Nigeria back on the path of true federalism".
Though the APC leader scoffed and rejected the idea of the National conference set up by the PDP administration of former President Goodluck Jonathan which he described at the lecture as, "a staged-managed affair scripted and monitored to achieve the narrow political aims of narrow political minds in Abuja", one thing is clear, the progressives of which he is the arrowhead, believe the road to Nigeria's greatness is though a national conference. In his words, "anything short of a Sovereign National Conference will be like trying to apply a bandage to a tornado".
It was thus not surprising when the former Vice president advocated the restructuring of the country to ensure the development and growth of the federation units. "Agitations by many right-thinking Nigerians call for a restructuring and a renewal of our federation to make it less centralised, less suffocating and less dictatorial in the affairs of our country's constituent units and localities", he had said.
His call has also been taken up by other prominent Nigerians and groups. Former Commonwealth Secretary General, Chief Emeka Anyaoku recently reiterated the call for a restructuring of the country along regional lines because the 36-state structure has become unsustainable.
"The present governance arrangement we have, with the country comprising 36 non-viable states, most of which cannot pay the salaries of their teachers and civil servants, is not the best.
"Rather, we should return to an arrangement, where the six regions will form six federating units."
Socio-cultural groups such as Afenifere and the Ohanaeze Ndigbo have equally added to the clamour. In all these, the major issue has always been resource control, that each part of the country be allowed to develop and control its resources, but only contribute to the sustenance of the country at the federal level. I agree with this school of thought as it is the only panacea that would stem the cry of marginalization that has become more agitated and which has led to the unending bombing of pipelines in the Niger Delta. Indeed, the Niger Delta agitation is understandable.
Nigerian government, in times past, has been insensitive to their cry. Development has been far from a region that produces the wealth that has developed and sustained other parts of the country.
Moving around cities like Lagos, which is surrounded by water and was developed as a federal capital with all the road networks linking one part of the state to the other, before the movement to Abuja and Abuja itself which recks of petrol wealth, it would be ungodly to begrudge the Niger Deltans their agitation for the control of their wealth.
As a friend once side in an aside, 'Nigeria is a funny country, the government constituted the board and even the management of the agency that manages the wealth (oil) and you put someone who came from a place that does not even have oil as head and you expect the people not to agitate, we are not really ready for peace yet'. I want to agree. But some of these problems would be settled with an acceptable national conference.
So what is this 'progressive' government of President Muhammadu Buhari afraid of? One would have thought that since restructuring has been the progressive elements' major mantra, this current call would have been fully embraced by the government. Just this week, the Vice President, Professor Yemi Osibanjo gave an inkling of the thinking of the government when he said he was opposed to a return to regionalism. "Dividing Nigeria, going back to regions and all of those kinds of things, I do not believe them at all. I don't think that we need to go back to regions."
But these are issues that the conference should deliberate on apart from fiscal restructuring, state police, etc. And the earlier the government takes up the challenge, the better for the country.
Osinbajo commits political apostasy
Written by Ochereome Nnanna
~Vanguard Nigeria. Thursday, July 14, 2016
Vice President Yemi Osinbajo has lived the life of the quintessential vice president in the past 14 months of his emergence. There is an old American anecdote that portrays the Vice Presidency as a particularly "irrelevant" post in a presidential democracy. It tells of how one Unlce Tom "lost" two of his sons: "one joined the Navy, the other became the Vice President".
Perhaps, that is American sarcasm taken too far. In Nigeria, the Vice President is important for three major reasons. He is the Second Citizen and constitutionally empowered to act as the Chairman of the National Economic Council, NEC. Apart from acting for the President whenever the latter is not available, he also carries out many assignments given him by his boss, especially if he enjoys the President's confidence. But most importantly, though he acts the role of a “spare tyre" most of the time, he becomes President when the occupant of that position becomes permanently unavailable, as we saw in the case of Dr Goodluck Jonathan, former Vice President to the late President Umaru Yar' Adua.
Like all the Vice Presidents our presidential democracy has produced, Osinbajo boasts intimidating academic and public service credentials (dwarfed only by Dr Alex Ekwueme's multiple doctorates and professional accomplishments). Indeed, our Vice Presidents (except, perhaps, Atiku Abubakar and Namadi Sambo) have tended to be academic Brobdingnagians but political Lilliputians compared to their principals. Of the lot, Osinbajo towers over Buhari many times over: while the authenticity of President Muhammadu Buhari's School Certificate (with which he joined the Army to rise to the rank of Major General and Head of State) remains in doubt, Osinbajo is a Professor of Law and an epoch-making former Attorney-General of Lagos State during the tenure of Chief Ahmed Bola Tinubu as governor.
When Tinubu submitted his name to Buhari, the presidential candidate of the upstart All Progressives Congress, APC, as running mate in 2014, the party's famous (or infamous) propaganda machinery was immediately deployed in his favour. Osinbajo's position as a pastor of the Redeemed Christian Church of God, RCCG, was tweaked and burnished to prove that Buhari who accepted him as his VP was not a religious extremist. It is up to you whether Buhari has proved his critics wrong after 14 months as President.
Again, Osinbajo's wife, Dolapo, is a grandchild of the Father of South West politics, Chief Obafemi Awolowo. As soon as he was picked as Buhari's VP, Osinbajo, accompanied by top APC chieftains, went to his mother in-law, Chief HID Awolowo's residence in Ikenne, Ogun State, for blessings which he abundantly got. And to fit into the part of carrying the Awo imagery with him to Abuja, Osinbajo has also been wearing the type of cap popularised by Chief Awolowo.
It is another story whether Osinbajo has lived up to the pretensions he and Buhari wore like ceremonial robes during the electioneering days. As a pastor, he has not shrunk from the lies often associated with many of the APC chieftains and figures in its Federal Government, all aimed at demonising the former ruling party, the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP. For instance, Osinbajo openly lied that the regimes of Yar' Adua and Jonathan never built "a single road". And he made this false claim at a pastors and leaders retreat of the Fountain of Life Church, Ilupeju, Lagos on February 26, 2016. The truth is that the Jonathan regime constructed roads in all the six geopolitical zones, including the beginning of the total reconstruction and widening of the Lagos-Ibadan and Apapa-Oshodi Expressways. What a place and occasion to peddle faslehood so brazenly!
Osinbajo has, again, trounced the legacies of the Awolowo vision and philosophy which he leveraged on to get the votes of the South West electorate by saying that Nigeria does not need to restructure in order to move forward. In a lecture at the Elizade University, Ilara-Mokin, Ondo State, on Saturday July 9, 2016, Osinbajo declared that Nigeria needs the diversification of her economy, not restructuring, to move forward. He was obviously responding to calls by APC chiefs, former Vice President Atiku Abubakar, Governor Akinwunmi Abode and some regional leaders of the South East, South-South and South West who echoed the call for true federalism and restructuring as the only way to make Nigeria work.
This is a clear political apostasy for a political leader whose core political platform climbed on the back of Awoism to buy over the South West electorate. The leader of Osinbajo's faction of the APC, Tinubu, won the governorship of Lagos State and maintained his hold on it till date by posturing as a neo-Awoist. He even wears the Awo trade mark cap and round lenses. Tinubu successfully fought off rampaging President Olusegun Obasanjo's quest to "capture" Lagos because he firmly rooted his resistance on Awoist rhetoric.
Again, the Tinubu wing of the APC, which was the arrowhead of the Buhari Presidential Campaign Organisation, promised the restructuring of the country as one of the programmes an APC Federal Government under Buhari would immediately implement on assuming power. However, observers (including yours sincerely) wondered how oil and water could mix. How could Awoism be accommodated by Buhari's reactionary Caliphate fundamentalism (Fulani/Muslim/Arewa-centric interests) which favours the centralised Federalism that the military foisted on the nation?
At what point would Tinubu and his group begin to pressure Buhari to implement true federalism to prove that, indeed, APC was a properly negotiated political marriage? I have posed this question several times in the past one year. Tinubu's camp remained mute, though Governor Ambode spoke out for it recently. The APC appears confused on this matter, as everybody is speaking discordant tunes.
But Osinbajo's unsolicited disavowal of restructuring and true federalism, and his trumpeting of mere "diversification" of the economy appears to have made it clear that the Tinubu political group has abandoned Awoism in order to be accommodated within Buhari's Caliphate presidential dispensation.
It is a sellout, and we have taken note. One more promise has been broken. Next item?