The Restructuring Nigeria Needs
The ‘Restructuring of Nigeria’ has grown from being a mere topic of debate and diverse interests to being an issue regarded as the solution to the long debated issue of Nigeria’s leadership structure and the only way of getting meaningful and better life to all Nigerians.
Most alarmingly, the topic have been employed by politicians in past elections to floor one another and has a campaign propaganda. It has become so important that Nigerians now pin their faith to it as their only shot at a better and eased style of living.
As such, there is an increasing pressure on the ruling Federal Government of Nigeria to answer the call of the masses and Restructure the country’s leadership. In this column, I also join in on the issue as well as proffer the best way to Restructure the Country.
WHY DO WE NEED RESTRUCTURING
The reasons for the clamour for restructuring is as much as the number of groups or sects calling for it, as they all give reasons according to there various problems and preferred solutions.
Equal Treatments and Opportunities
Perhaps the most popular among agitators; the need to bring equal rights to all parts of the country irrespective of the race or the magnitude of a part over the other has been the major problem leading to ethnic crisis and unsurprisingly, the most popular reason for restructuring.
The people in the Southern Regions mostly express this view as they feel they are being marginalised by the North. According to the claims laid by the aggrieved, the North is being favoured especially in the area of the Country’s leadership as they get more offices and appointments than the others. In view of this perceived advantage, the North is being alleged to have shown no interest in the call for Restructuring.
Senator Abraham Adesanya in April, 2003 said in his statement “At the root of the refusal to allow a restructured Nigeria is the desire of a section of the country to continue to exploit the resources of other sections without compunction, or how do we explain the fact that the North, which supported the principle of derivation in 1954, now refuses to accept the same principle? Did the same North not support confederation arrangement in 1951? Could it be because Petroleum has taken the place of Groundnuts and Leather?”.
Former Vice President Atiku Abubakar in March, 2017 claimed arguments against restructuring comes from the North. He said “the bulk of the calls for restructuring comes from the south while the bulk of the opposition to it comes from the North. This tells me that it will be critical for all parties to put their cards on the table, give one another the necessary reassurances and make the necessary compromises in order to secure a restructuring deal. Denials and insults by both sides are not a substitute for these.”
The above statements alleges that the North has no interest whatsoever on restructuring, and the statement made by the Governor of Kaduna State Mallam Nasir El-Rufai in July, 2017 that “those calling for restructuring of Nigeria are political opportunists and irresponsible” further fuels the allegation.
Devolution of Power
Overtime, questions have been raised as regards the over-concentration of powers on the Central Government. The power wielded by the Federal Government has made it a daunting task for the equal development of all parts of the country has some minority regions are not properly catered for.
The devolution of powers to the State Government have also been earmarked has one of the important ways to deal with the problem of unequal grassroots development.
General Ibrahim Babangida once said in a statement “I will strongly advocate for 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”.
The devolution of powers is an important aspect of restructuring as it gives room for certain decisions to be taken by the State Government without the interference of the Federal Government.
Nigeria is plagued with so many problems and deficiencies that the system with which Nigeria is being run has lost its mandate and popularity among the masses; this has birthed the call for restructuring.
This in volume is seen as the only solution if Nigeria really wants to rid herself of the problems battering her. This is clearly echoed in the words of the former Governor of Anambra State, Dr Chukwuemeka Ezeife ‘’If we don’t get Nigeria restructured between now and next year, we may lose this country’’.
SYSTEMATIC REGIONALISM: THE BEFITTING SOLUTION
In trying to proffer the best way to restructure Nigeria, a lot of ideas has been given, a lot of opinions has been shared, and a lot of voices have been raced; in attempts to find a way best suited and bring the much needed positive effect on our darling Nigeria.
On Monday 21st May, 2018 at Alex Ekweme Square, Awka, the Ohaneze Ndigbo held a summit where Ndigbo declared its strong preferences for the restructuring of Nigeria as the only solution to the problem that has threatened to divide Nigeria.
One of the outlined demands is the structure that allows the six Geo-political zones be regarded as components of government and the rotation of the Presidency amongst all zones. They also suggested that there be five Vice Presidents from other zones that did not produce the President of the present administration . A six year single term was also suggested.
Taking Nigeria’s diverse culture and other related natural and human factor into consideration, it is clear that the only viable solution is;
Systematic Regionalism in short words is a form of government where administrative powers will be passed to the Regional governments, while the Federal government oversees their functions.
Nigeria is divided into six geo-political zones, each zone will have its own government known as the Regional Government overseeing its affairs; the regional governments will be directly responsible to the federal government.
The Regional Governments are not left unchecked and as such, the powers wielded by the Regional Governments are drawn from the government at the centre as they are accountable to the Central Government – this will check the arbitrary rule of the regional governments. The Systematic Regionalism however requires certain steps to be taken:
Section 1 sub-section 2 of the 1999 Constitution states that “the Federal Republic of Nigeria shall not be governed, nor shall any persons or group of persons take control of the Government of Nigeria or any part thereof, except in accordance with the provisions of this Constitution”.
This charter of the Constitution clearly states that no changes can be made whatsoever to the leadership structure nor can there be any form of Governance without the dictates of the Constitution. As such, the first step to be taken is the amendment of the Constitution.
The adoption of Systematic Regionalism means there have to be the creation of Regions as opposed to the dictate of Section 2 sub-section 2 of the 1999 Constitution ‘’Nigeria shall be a Federation consisting of States and a Federal Capital Territory’’.
For regions to be created, this section of the Constitution has to be amended to give room for the creation of regions and each region shall have its own Capital.
The Part two of the 1999 Constitution outlines the Powers of the Federal Republic of Nigeria; the Section 4 sub-section 1 states that “the legislative powers of the Federal Republic of Nigeria shall be vested in a National Assembly for the Federation, which shall consist of a Senate and a House of Representatives”.
The above charter of the Constitution explains why we run a bi-camera legislature in Nigeria. This also needs to be amended such that we have a single Legislative House at the Federal level.
The House of Senate should be retained to be made up of Senators from each region and the House of Representatives be moved to the regional level such that each region shall have a House of Representative making up its legislative house.
Maximum of ten to fifteen Ministers at the federal level to make up the Executive Council
The current format with which the Senators and House of Representatives members are elected should be retained to allow for proper representation. This means that the House of Assemblies shall be scrapped.
Section 5 sub-section 1a of the 199 Constitution states that the executive powers of the Federation “shall be vested in the President and may subject as aforesaid and to the provisions of any law made by the National Assembly be exercised by him either directly or through the Vice-President and Ministers of the Government of the Federation or officers in the public service of the Federation”.
The President and the Vice-President should oversee proceedings at the federal level while there shall be a Governor-General at the helm of affairs in each region ably assisted by Deputy Governors from each state under the regions.
There shall be a maximum of ten to fifteen Ministers at the federal level to make up the Executive Council and there shall be Commissioners chosen at random from each State heading each Ministry at the regional level to make up the Executive Council at the regional level while the involvement of State Commissioners shall be exempted.
The Local Government system should be retained in a bid to allow for the effective development of the grassroots and the Chairmen of the Local Government shall participate in economic planning and development of the local areas and the Regional House of Representatives shall make provisions for statutory allocation of public revenue to local government councils as opposed to the State House of Assemblies in the Section 7 sub-section 6b of the 1999 Constitution.
Section 9 sub-section 1 of the 1999 Constitution states that “the National Assembly may, subject to the provision of this section, alter any of the provisions of this Constitution”. This means that the National Assembly is the only body vested with the powers to amend the sections of the Constitution needed in restructuring the country, and shall be subject to the support or votes of not less than two-thirds majority of all the members of the house and two-thirds majority of the Houses of Assembly of all States as stated in sub-section 2 of the above Section.
A Universal Agenda for Regional Governments
Systematic Regionalism gives room for the freedom of Regional Governments to enact policies in their various regions.
However, there is the need to check the regional governments and prevent huge development gap amongst regions; with this in mind, there is therefore the need to employ a universal tactics that maintains a favourable gap among regions and also shows the deficiencies in each regional government in terms of their inactions or gross acts of misconduct and misappropriation of funds.
At the beginning of every administrative year, regions are to come up with the important capital projects to be embarked upon; the projects are to be tabled in a Forum or meeting held between the Regional governments and the Central Government.
A compromise is to be reached on the tabled or suggested capital projects (the project to be undertaken for the year will be decided); this means that all the regions will witness the same capital projects decided upon at the meeting.
However, there is room for each regional government to undertake other minor projects it deems fit (which may not necessarily be universal as the regions require different needs).
A budget is then drafted based on the agreed projects and plans, which is then passed to the House of Senate where the budget shall be vetted and passed. Once it is passed, the Federal Government shall however grant allocations to each region, and each Regional Government would be required to see to the execution of the projects in their respective regions.
Also, each regional government shall decide upon and draft a budget on the minor projects to be undertaken for the year. The budget shall be vetted and approved by the House of Representatives in each region.
At the end of every administrative year, a review shall be done jointly by the Federal and Regional Governments in checking the success of the projects and policies implemented during the course of the year.
The advantages of a Systematic Regionalism are;
- It checks the arbitrary rule of the regional governments
- It ensures unity among the regions and the central government as decisions are jointly taken
- It promotes equal development of regions
- It prevents a totally weak federal government as it still influences certain decisions
- It avoids the marginalisation of a region by another
- It guarantees the principle of nationality.
Unarguably, the crisis plaguing Nigeria and her citizens needs swift solutions. However, considering different factors, there is no other solution as promising as Restructuring the country’s leadership; and there is no better way to restructure that suits the country as a Systematic Regionalism.