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Friday, May 26, 2017

Tackling unitary features of Nigeria’s federal system

Written by Ladipo Adamolekun
Professor Ladipo Adamolekun writes from Iju, Akure North, Ondo State.
~Vanguard Nigeria. Monday, May 22, 2017. 

Tafawa Belewa
BETWEEN January 1966 and September 1999, the military politicians who ruled Nigeria for close to 30 years - from Aguiyi Ironsi to Abdusalami Abubakar - introduced unitary features that were inspired by their military culture but were inconsistent with the features of the negotiated federal system introduced in 1954.

It was in reference to this negotiated federal system that Prime Minister Tafawa Balewa made the following observation in 1957: "The federal system is, under the present conditions, the only basis on which Nigeria can remain united" . The extreme example of the military leaders' unitary mind-set was Aguiyi Ironsi's infamous "Unification" Decree of 1966 that precipitated the civil war.

Centralism and uniformity were the two directing principles of the unitary features that the military rulers foisted on the country. Two crucial illustrations relate to (a) the concentration of powers at the centre (reflected in the skewed allocation of functions between the central and sub-national governments in the 1979 and 1999 Constitutions) and (b) a distorted revenue allocation formula that assigns 52.68% to the federal government, 26.72% to state governments and 20.6% to the local governments. At a more subtle level, the centralist and uniform orientations of the military were progressively transmitted to many federal parastals. My favourite example is how the National Universities Commission, NUC, metamorphosed from being a buffer between the government and the universities during the pre-military era into an over-powerful and control-oriented government parastatal with very extensive powers used to dictate uniform policies to all the universities.

Of the country's four presidents since the return to civilian rule in 1999 - Olusegun Obasanjo, Umaru Yar'Adua, Goodluck Jonathan and Muhammadu Buhari - only Yar'Adua understood the dangers posed by the unitary features of the country's federal system. And he formally committed to initiating the abrogation of anti-federal laws, that is, laws that underpin the unitary features. ("I have also directed that all laws be examined that go against the federal system so that they will be amended to be in conformity with the federal system of government" ) – interview with London's Financial Times reported in various national newspapers, May 20/08). Concretely, he cancelled the contracts for building health centres in all 774 local government areas that his predecessor had unilaterally awarded without consulting state governments. Unfortunately, his presidency was short-lived because of sickness and death and his commitment to remove the unitary features of the country's federal system was abandoned by his successor.

Whilst the two former military rulers who have become presidents under the civilian dispensation - Obasanjo and Buhari – are unsurprisingly comfortable with the oxymoronic unitary federalism they had imposed on the country during their first coming, Jonathan's failure to follow in the footsteps of Yar'Ardua is evidence that not all civilian presidents would be anti-unitary federalism.
Notwithstanding the Jonathan example, I would still argue that a major first step towards tackling the unitary features of Nigeria's federal system is to ensure that Buhari is the last military politician to rule Nigeria. Buhari's negative attitude to the 2014 National Conference held under Jonathan's watch that recommended the removal of several unitary features from the federal system is a strong argument for ensuring that the country must never again be governed by a politician with a military mind-set. (Jonathan probably envisaged electoral dividends from his sponsorship of the Conference but this is immaterial).

Two examples of centralism are highlighted below: one that is being creatively tackled in one of the geopolitical zones (Local Governments) and one that deserves urgent attention (education). The third example, regional integration as antidote to centralism, is receiving only half-hearted attention even in geopolitical zones where the cries for devolution and restructuring are loudest.

Local Governments and Local Council Development Areas
The convoluted provisions relating to the creation of new local governments in Chapter 1, Part II, Section 8, subsections (3), (4) and (5) of the 1999 Constitution, including an important role for the National Assembly, are obviously inspired by military centralism. Indeed, Nigeria is the only federation in the world where the list of local governments is enshrined in the constitution. Four States in the South-west (Lagos, Ogun, Osun and Oyo), that have created Local Council Development Areas, LCDAs, in order to bring government closer to the grassroots, have creatively rejected the constitutional constraints. Strikingly, ultra-centralist president Obasanjo's decision to punish Lagos State that blazed the LCDA trail by withholding the statutory allocations from the Federation Account to the State's Local Governments – on the ground that LCDAs would benefit from them – was declared illegal by the Supreme Court. Thus, the creation of LCDAs constitutes an example of effective action that limits the constraints imposed on States by a centralist feature of the 1999 Constitution.

The federal government's role with respect to education as provided in the 1999 Constitution is the following: "to prescribe minimum standards of education at all levels" - Exclusive Legislative List, 60 (e). Whilst the law-making powers of the National Assembly and a state's House of Assembly concurrently cover university education, post-primary, technological education or professional education, including the establishment of an institution for those purposes, it is only a House of Assembly that can "make laws for the State with respect to technical, vocational, primary or other forms of education, including the establishment of institutions for the pursuit of such education".

It is against this background that the "Compulsory, Free, Universal Basic Education Act, 2004" that assigns a role to the federal government with respect to primary education is inconsistent with the provision on the subject in the 1999 Constitution. Awareness of this inconsistency is almost certainly the explanation for the careful crafting of the Act's objective: "the Federal government's intervention under this Act shall only be an assistance to the States and Local Governments in Nigeria for the purpose of uniform and qualitative basic education throughout Nigeria".

Notwithstanding the acknowledgment in the UBE objective that only States and Local Governments have responsibility for primary education - the federal government only seeks to provide "assistance" - the UBE Act is patently and unquestionably anti-federal and should be repealed. And the share of national revenues hi-jacked for the purpose by the federal government should be shared among the state and local governments.

Regional Integration
While there is merit in the argument of those who advocate constituting the six geo-political zones into the country's federating units, the slow progress recorded to date with respect to regional cooperation and coordination tends to undermine the argument. There are no provisions in the 1999 Constitution that prohibit willing states from cooperating among themselves and moving in the direction of regional integration. So, why has progress towards the goal been slow? Two of the zones, South-west and South-south established institutions for the purpose with the former having a well-publicised strategy: Development Agenda for Western Nigeria (DAWN). The South-east has announced interest in pursuing regional cooperation and in the North-east, the ravages caused across several of the states by Boko Haram insurgents have necessitated a regional approach to tackling both the internally displaced persons (IDP) problem and the rehabilitation and reconstruction challenges across the zone.

In a real sense, then, it is only in the NE zone where a regional development approach is driven by a force majeur that concrete actions are being implemented whilst the three other zones are still largely on the drawing board. The North-west and North-central are yet to commit to the regional development approach. At this juncture, it is fair to observe that the significant motion in the SW (a regional development strategy exists and the governors meet fairly regularly) need to move up a gear to the actual implementation of their strategy. The two other zones (SS and SE) also need to demonstrate that their proclaimed commitment to regional approach to development is genuine through progress towards crafting appropriate strategies and implementing them.

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I am an Igbo, I was born an Igbo, I live the life of an Igbo, I come from Igbo, I speak Igbo, I like to be Igbo, I like to dress in Igbo, I eat Igbo food, my heritage, culture and tradition is Igbo, my parents are Igbo.

Am sorry I cannot help it if you hate my lineage. Am sorry I cannot help it if you detest Igbo, am sorry I cannot help it if you hate me because am Igbo. Igbo is who I am, my name is Igbo and I must die an Igbo.

You see Igbo as a threat, why? You call Igbo rapist, criminals, ritualist, prostitutes, kidnappers. You attribute all negative vices to represent Igbo? Why do you do that? You do because you feel threatened that Igbo might outrun the rest of the tribes. Why do you hate Igbo and despise us? You do that because we are creative, enlightened, hardworking, industrious, genius, intelligent, smart, rich, beautiful and amazing. But its difficult for you to admit it because you feel jealous of my race.

Igbo do not own politics, Igbo do not control the economy neither do we control the natural resources and the common wealth of the nation. You do, we don't and yet, despite the fact that you own everything, we still remain one indispensable race that has outshined the other race in all ramifications.

You fear us because you want to exterminate and annihilate our race, you deny us many things and yet we are stronger, richer and mightier. You fear us because we are everywhere. You fear us because no matter how rural a place might be, when Igbo steps in, they turn it into a Paradise. We have our own resources, which lies in resourcefulness, we do not bother you and your control over the polity, but yet when we cough you and the other race begin to shiver.

Am proud being an Igbo, am proud of my heritage and culture. Igbo means high class, Igbo means independence, Igbo means hard work and strength, Igbo means riches, Igbo means resourcefulness, Igbo means self belonging, Igbo means self esteem, Igbo means pride, Igbo means swag.

Udo diri unu umunnem.
# IgboAmaka
# AnyiBuNdiMmeri

Michael Ezeaka

This is beautiful poetry ...

In response to Alaba Ajibola, the Babcock Lecturer Hate Speech against Igbos.


In Igboland women live apart from their husbands and neither cook for them nor enter their husband's quarters when they are in their period. They are seen as unclean. Even up till today such practice is still applicable in some parts of Igboland especially by the traditionalists. Before a woman can enter the palace of Obi of Onitsha, she will be asked if she is in her period, if yes, she will be asked to stay out.

Leviticus 15: 19-20
When a woman has her monthly period, she remains unclean, anyone who touches her or anything she has sat on becomes unclean.

An Igbo man's ancestral heritage, called “Ana Obi” is not sellable, elders will not permit this. If this is somehow done due to the influence of the West the person is considered a fool and is ostracized by the community.

1 Kings 21:3
I inherited this vineyard from my ancestors, and the Lord forbid that I should sell it, said Naboth.

Igbos have practiced the taking of a late brother's wife into marriage after she had been widowed until the white men came. Now it is rarely done but except in very rural villages.

Deuteronomy 25:5
A widow of a dead man is not to be married outside the family; it is the duty of the dead man's brother to marry her.

In Igboland, there is a unique form of apprenticeship in which either a male family member or a community member will spend six (6) years (usually in their teens to their adulthood) working for another family. And on the seventh year, the head of the host household, who is usually the older man who brought the apprentice into his household, will establish (Igbo: idu uno) the apprentice
by either setting up a business for him or giving money or tools by which to make a living.

Exodus 21:2
If you buy a Hebrew slave, he shall serve you for six years. In the seventh year he is to be set free without having to pay you anything.

In Igboland , the yam is very important as it is their staple crop. There are celebrations such as the New yam festival (Igbo: Iri Ji) which are held for the harvesting of the yam. New Yam festival (Igbo: Iri ji) is celebrated annually to secure a good harvest of the staple crop. In the olden days it is an abomination for one to eat a new harvest before the festival. It's a tradition that you give the gods of the land first as a thanksgiving.

Deuteronomy 16:9
Count 7 weeks from the time that you begin to harvest the crops, and celebrate the harvest festival to honor the lord your God, by bringing him a freewill offering in proportion to the blessing he has given you. Celebrate in the Lord's presence together with your children, servants, foreigners. Be sure that you obey my command, said the Lord.

In Igboland it's a tradition that the male children are circumcised on the 8th day. This tradition is still practiced till date.

Leviticus 12:3
On the eighth day, the child shall be circumcised.

In Igboland, there is a practice known as "ile omugwo ". After a woman has given birth to a child, a very close and experienced relative of hers, in most cases her mother is required by tradition to come spend time with her and her husband. During which she is to do all the work of the wife, while the new mom's only assignment to the baby will be to breastfeed. This goes on for a month or more. In the Igbo old tradition, at this time, the new mom lives apart from her husband, would not cook or enter his quarters.

Leviticus 12:1-4
For seven days after a woman gives birth, she is ritually unclean as she is during her monthly period. It will be 33 days until she is ritually clean from the loss of blood; she is not to touch anything that is holy.


The Igbo tribe is in a serious problem and danger of extinction for the following reasons:

50% of Igbos are born outside Igbo land. Meaning that those children are not likely to live and work in Igbo land and cannot speak Igbo language but foreign language (Yoruba, Hausa, French, English).

40% of Igbos girls between the age of 25 & 45 are single with no hope of marriage because 35% of Igbo boys live overseas and they have all married white ladies.

75% of Igbo youths leave Igbo land every year in search of opportunities in Yoruba, Hausa land or overseas.

85 % of Igbos have family houses and own investments outside Igbo land. They strongly believe in one Nigeria but failed to know that NO Yoruba or Hausa man has a family house or investment in Igbo land.

Igbos are the only people who believe that living outside their land is an achievement.

Igbos are the only tribe that celebrate their tradition outside their land e.g. Eze Ndi Igbo, Igbo Village in America and this is because they have family homes in foreign lands.

Igbos have failed to know that the children you have outside Igbo land especially overseas will never think of living in Igbo land. So what happens to the properties you are building for them when you are gone?

Igbos are the only tribe who see their land as a place to visit or a tourist site than a place to work and live.

Igbos are the only tribe who instead of promoting and appreciating their culture through movies and documentaries they have sought to ridicule it by portraying rituals, killings, wickedness, love for money and other social vices which were not originally inherent in our culture thereby cursing more harm than actually promoting their culture.

Igbos are the only people who without hesitation believe their history and description when it is told or written by an enemy or a foreigner. E.g. that you do not love yourselves or that you love money.

Igbos are the ONLY largest tribe on earth who fought for their independence and failed to achieve their freedom after 40 years.

Igbos are the only tribe who fails to honour their brave heroes and heroines especially the innocent children starved to death during the Biafran war.

Igbos are the only tribe who embraced their enemy after a bloody civil war and subsequently become slaves.

Igbos do not find it necessary to teach their own version of history to their children.

Igbos fight for marginalisation in Nigeria but has no collective strength or teeth to bite.

Igbos how long are you going to fight for your relevance in Nigeria?

How long are you going to fight for a functional airport, rail networks and other structural establishments that underpin sustainable development?

How long are you prepared to wait for your enemy to guide you to your destiny?

Oh Igbos!
Where are your leaders?

Unfortunately, none of them live and work in Igbo land. If you wish to save the future of your children, your identity, your generation and your race then you need freedom and that freedom is Biafra.

Ukpana Okpoko gburu bu nti chiri ya!

By Chime Eze

The Igbo: We die for causes, not for personalities

Written by Emeka Maduewesi

~on fb. 28th September, 2016.

The Igbo will never die for anyone. We will not even riot for anyone. But the Igbo will die for any cause they believe in because the Igbo have a true sense of justice and a determination to obtain it.

The Igbo will not riot because one of their own lost an election. Operation Wetie was the Western response to a massively rigged 1965 election. The Yoruba doused fellow Yorubas in petrol and burnt them alife. Properties were burnt with occupants. The Igbo will never do this.

In 1983, the Yoruba went on a rampage again over the massive rigging by NPN. Lifes were lost and properties destroyed. The riots were over personalities.

Contrast that with Anambra State where Chief Emeka Ojukwu was rigged out by his own NPN, who also rigged out Chief Jim Nwobodo. The Igbo did not protest because the goat's head is still in the goat's bag.

In the North, ba muso was the battle cry when Sultan Dasuki was imposed on the Sokoto Caliphate. The riot and protest lasted for days and crippled economic activities.

The Igbo will riot over issues and causes. The Aba Women Riot was over Tax. The Enugu coal mine riot was about conditions of service. The Ekumeku Uprising was over British colonialization.

Those of "Ekumeku" ancestry - Umu Eze Chima and Umu Nri - were at the forefront of the struggles for Nigerian independence, with people like Dr. A A Nwafor Orizu and Chief Osita Agwuna serving prison terms. Any struggles the parents could not conclude is continued by the children by other means.

The Biafran war was a response to the genocide. The war in fact was brought upon us. The battlefield was Eastern Region. The war ended in 1970 but the issues and causes were not resolved. That is where we are today.

The Igbo will also jointly rise to fight evil in their midst. They did it in Onitsha in the 1980's, Owerri in the 90's, and with Bakkassi in the 2000.

The Igbo will not die for any man. But the Igbo will stand by any man who symbolizes their cause and their pursuit of justice. Even if the man dies, the struggle continues, and like the Ekumeku warriors, the children will pick up the baton from their parents.

This is the Igbo I know, the Igbo I am, and the Igbo we are. This is my story. Feel free to tell yours.


"My boy, may you live to your full potential, ascend to a dizzy height as is possible for anyone of your political description in your era to rise. May you be acknowledged world-wide as you rise as an eagle atop trees, float among the clouds, preside over the affairs of fellow men.... as leaders of all countries pour into Nigeria to breathe into her ear.

But then, Chuba, if it is not the tradition of our people that elders are roundly insulted by young men of the world, as you have unjustly done to me, may your reign come to an abrupt and shattering close. As you look ahead, Chuba, as you see the horizon, dedicating a great marble palace that is the envy of the world, toasted by the most powerful men in the land, may the great big hand snatch it away from you. Just as you look forward to hosting the world’s most powerful leader and shaking his hands, as you begin to smell the recognition and leadership of the Igbo people, may the crown fall off your head and your political head fall off your shoulders.

None of my words will come to pass, Chuba, until you have risen to the very height of your power and glory and health, but then you will be hounded and humiliated and disgraced out of office, your credibility and your name in tatters forever...”


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