Presently, virtually all regions in Nigeria are in support of and yearning for restructuring, through a fundamental rejigging of the entire fabric of what is left of Nigeria.
What we should ponder upon now is why the entity called Nigeria is no longer suitable to the South and the North, given the latest agitations from all the regions. The simple answer, to my mind, is that Nigeria is in the hands of a cabal, a tiny few, cutting across tribe and religion, spread and entrenched within the business sector and indeed, all important aspects of our national life, not excluding the legal profession.
They have cornered the commonwealth of the nation, they are in charge of everything useful to our economic life and because of this, they are not directly affected by the sufferings and problems that the masses go through, which in itself explains why they are vehemently opposed to the idea of any form of change at all, relishing as it were, the booties falling their way from the status quo.
Restructuring, therefore, means fiscal federalism or resource control, state police and devolution of powers to the states and local governments, which will empower every part of the union for greater productivity. Before the 1966 military incursion, Nigeria was practising true federalism, whereby the regions controlled their resources as autonomous political territories.
With over 250 ethnic nationalities, diverse cultures, multiple faiths and irreconcilable historical experiences, federalism is the only suitable form of government for Nigeria.
To insist on anything contrary to federalism is to ask for its eventual balkanization. Today, of the 37 units making up Nigeria, only one of them is viable, being the Federal Government, FG. The 774 local governments merely exist in name, almost choked out of any meaningful impact by the states. The states and local governments cannot functionally respond to critical issues in their locations without the intervention of the FG. That is unacceptable.
Why should Lagos and Kano states not be allowed to grow their separate economies in accordance with their growth capacities and resources? Sao Paulo is the second richest city in Brazil with a GDP that exceeds those of countries like Argentina and Paraguay. In Australia, there is healthy competition between the regions in mining, agriculture and industries. The monthly IGR of Lagos State is now in excess of N300B, which exceeds those of five countries in Africa. How do we hold down the development of such a state in the name of unitary federalism
The Basis for Restructuring
In its section 16 (1), the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria states expressly that "the State shall: (a) harness the resources of the nation and promote national prosperity and an efficient, a dynamic and self-reliant economy; for every citizen on the basis of social justice and equality of status and opportunity.
(d) that the economic system is not operated in such a manner as to permit the concentration of wealth or the means of production and exchange in the hands of a few individuals or of a group."
As you would well agree with me, Nigeria is running exactly the opposite of the constitutional imperative stated above, given that the national resources of this great nation are only circulating between very few individuals and their favoured agents. We surely cannot continue in this form at all and expect things to remain normal. No. A time is coming, and it is nearer than it used to be when the people will revolt when the gunpowder will explode, when tolerance will be exhausted and endurance will thin out. No one should take the people for granted permanently.
So, our leaders should listen to the voices of reason and do the needful very urgently. Without any doubt, APC claimed to have set up a committee on restructuring without any meaningful result, playing political tricks on the people and dancing on the tribulations of its followers. For sure, the National Assembly is currently on its regular weather-beaten track of constitutional amendment, with almost very predictable results. This must stop. We cannot keep taking people round in endless circles all the time and think that they are fools. Nigerians are choking right now! It is becoming totally unbearable and something has to give.
Exclusive Legislative List
"Arms, Ammunitions and Explosives, Aviation, Bankruptcy and Insolvency, Banks, Commercial and Industrial Monopolies, Control of Capital Issues, Copyright, Currency, Customs and Excise Duties, Defence, Drugs and Poisons, Evidence, Exchange Control, Export Duties, Fishing and Fisheries, Immigration, Incorporation of bodies corporate, Insurance, Labour, Trade Unions, etc, Maritime shipping and navigation, Meteorology, Military, Mines and Minerals, oil fields, oil mining, natural gas, National Parks, Nuclear energy, Passports and Visas, Patents, Trade Marks, Business names, Pensions, Gratuities, Police and Government Security Services, Posts and Telegraphs and Telephones, Prisons, Public Holidays, Quarantine, Railways, Regulation of Political Parties, Stamp Duties, Taxation, Marriages, Trade and Commerce, Inland Waterways, Weights and Measures, Wireless Broadcasting and Television, etc."
How do we run a system whereby the FG appoints judges for the states and the FG controls the security of the states, to the extent that the governor is totally powerless if the Commissioner of Police of the state decides not to obey his lawful directives as the chief security officer of the state? Why will anybody insist on perpetuating this lopsided arrangement except of course he is an enemy of the people?
This is what is promoting corruption, as the fastest way to sudden wealth in Nigeria presently is to be connected to the FG one way or the other, through one of those moribund agencies that have no relevance to the lives of the people. How do we sustain this parasitic system that takes away true development from our people, simply because some privileged few are feeding fat on the commonwealth?
The immediate solution is in genuine restructuring, not this surface attempt of one step every year, as is being executed by the National Assembly, NASS in the name of a constitutional amendment. We must encourage the President and the legislators to go the whole hog and break down the Constitution into a workable template that can deliver true federalism, for our collective dream of a true Nigeria, as stated in the APC Manifesto. The President should not block his ears to the cries of all our people. He has proved himself to be man enough to touch the sacred cows, so he should confront the monster of the faltering imbalance called Nigeria. It is the only lifeline to rescue the sinking ship.
A Lopsided Federalism: Case of Zamfara Gold and Niger-Delta Oil
Not too long ago, news broke out that the CBN was in talks with the government of Zamfara State to buy N5 billion worth of gold. Many were shell-shocked at such strange development, given the position of the FG on issues of mines and minerals as part of the items listed in the Exclusive Legislative List of the Constitution, which has hitherto been held as being the exclusive preserve of the FG.
Even though the CBN and Zamfara State have offered some feeble defences on this transaction, it has raised fresh agitations within the Niger-Delta region, which has been denied control and use of minerals within their territory. The Zamfara gold has only thrown open the absurdity of the present unitary government of Nigeria stylishly termed federal. The new slogan in the Niger Delta that has trended online is: 'if Zamfara can sell gold, Niger Delta can retain and sell its oil.'
Whether this is right or wrong is not the issue presently but rather, that these fundamental contradictions have only highlighted the need for restructuring of the federation to achieve an equal sense of belonging by all the federating units. The regions should be allowed to develop their resources according to their capacities and through mutual agreements, they can engage in bilateral commercial arrangements that will allow the exchange of goods and services between themselves. What this translates to is that the FG has to shed weight, very urgently.
The Hypocrisy of Leadership
What has made the situation worse now is that the President seems to be living in denial of the true facts of the imminent disintegration of the foundation of the nation, given the utterances of his spokespersons, to the protests. The mood of the nation since the Edo State governorship election should have given enough warning signals to the powers-that-be as to the angst of Nigerians over certain unpalatable policies of the government.
How do we cope with rising inflation, increase in electricity tariff and insecurity across the land? Everybody has now voted for restructuring, from South-South leaders in PANDEF, to Northern leaders in NCF, South-West leaders in Afenifere, South-East leaders in OhanezeNdigbo and indeed Middle-Belt leaders. The Southern governors and legislators have recently joined the call for a total overhaul of the nation. The question then is this: who is opposed to restructuring or frustrating its manifestation?
In my opinion, it's all these disillusions in the governance of the country that is behind this agitation. #EndSARs just provided the opportunity. They want to tell the President in clear terms - You are not doing well. Perhaps some of us feel it's political jobbers that are behind this. I don't think so. Obviously, they want to take advantage of it and they will do it. If we notice, some of the protesters have tried in their own little way to ward off political opportunists but surely this kind of protest won't last without some funding.
Those who wish to create anarchy in the land will surely seize the opportunity. They had wanted to bring the President/administration down from day 1. They threw several things to make the people rise against it but consistently the masses had looked away. They actually had trust in the Man at the centre until now.
It is not strange that opportunists cash in on things like this. Lest we forget, a similar thing happened during the protest against the last administration. Tables have turned now, nobody should cry foul.
Vanguard News Nigeria