By Bode Olowoporoku
There is increasing noise that Nigeria should be restructured. It is a pity that the advocates of restructuring have not spelt out exactly the items of the restructuring and so they keep the citizenry guessing. This write up is to challenge the advocates of restructuring to open up. We have the right to know. One of their items is to put recruitment, training and totality of police under the State Governors. Those advocating State Police have short memories of what the Regions did with regional police in the 1st Republic. The Regional Police were turned to thugs used by the Regional Governments against political opponents. Thousands of Police uniforms were given to political thugs to brutalize political opponents. This was the main reason for abolishing Regional or State Police. In-fact, the State Governors are now more politically blatant than the Regional Premiers of the 1st Republic. Look at what they have made of State INEC. The State INEC are not allowed to do their Electoral jobs. They sit in Governors Offices to compile the results of elections not done and they set up Kangaroo Election Tribunals with their political men as the appointees of the Tribunals. The result is that opposition parties in the States do not bother to contest Local Government elections because no matter whatever votes are recorded by political opponents, fictitious results are recorded. Today the State Governments allocate to their parties all the positions of Local Government Chairmen and Councilors in each state. Even, the Governors may not waste their time to conduct Local Government elections, they simply name their party men as caretakers to fill all the positions.
To make a further mockery of Local Governments, all the Local Governments are put under the State Governments in terms of money allocation from the federal level to the Local Governments. The State Governors just appropriate all the moneys coming to the Local Governments and misuse everything for their own purposes. The Governors just release pittance to the Local Governments. This is why Local Government System in Nigeria has been killed. Attempts by the National Assembly to rescue the Local Governments from total death have been frustrated by the Governors who use their puppet States Assemblies to frustrate all steps to amend the 1999 Constitution to give financial independence to the Local Governments.
The advocates of restructuring Nigeria should tell us in unambiguous term what they want to achieve so that we can educate them. The most dangerous aspect of what the advocates of Restructuring are parading is Revenue Allocation based on Derivation. That is, there must be Resource Control by each State. This means the States from where Crude Oil is mined must be given the oil revenue 100%. There is no country in the World where the oil Revenue from a region is given to the Region where the oil is produced. The advocates are not versed in the political history of Nigeria. During the 1st Republic, the Western Region advocated 100% Derivation (same as resource control) while the East wanted National interest as basis of Revenue allocation and the North emphasized NEEDS. When oil was discovered at Oloibiri meaning that Crude Oil would dominate and dictate the immediate future of Nigeria, the Eastern Region immediately changed tune and started to agitate for Derivation (Resource Control), the Western Region changed position and advocated National interest and the North still advocated NEEDS. The argument became violent and intractable, the East prepared to leave Nigeria if Derivation would not be given to the East as was given to Western Region in 1954 because of buoyancy of Cocoa revenue over all other sources of revenue then. This was the real reason why the Eastern Region wanted to leave Nigeria all of which led to the Civil war.
I cannot understand why people from states with only 3% – 5% of their total revenue coming from internally generated revenue are supporting the South-South on resource control. This shows how puerile our political leaders are. One thing is clear, there is no way 100% Revenue from Crude Oil can go to the areas where crude oil is mined and Nigeria will still remain one Country. Nigeria will just disintegrate not peacefully, but in highly bloody encounter. Nigerian States and tribes are so inter woven that the disintegration will be the bloodiest in modern World history. The disintegration of Nigeria is too ghastly to think about. Those saying that the unity of Nigeria is negotiable do not know the gravity of what they are talking about. BREXIT is a foolish analogy to be brought into Nigeria setting. Britain is a separate sovereign country whereas Nigerian parts have been evolving together like a woven net since 1900 (not even 1914) the disintegration of Nigeria is too dreadful to think about. For instance, I want some of the leaders of the Advocates from Ekiti where I came from to tell me what Ekiti people stand to benefit from restructuring. Ekiti State was created to create a growth Centre or Development Centre at Ado-Ekiti to which all Ekiti towns and villages defer. Ado-Ekiti has picked up a development tempo which would not have happened in the next 50 years if Ekiti State has not been created, but remained under the old Region. Are the advocates of restructuring saying that Ekiti State should be cancelled so that we have just the old Region. We must know all specifics of what will be involved in restructuring. We should throw it into voting to know the citizenry who want their States cancelled in favour of restoring old regions. Certainly Ekiti State will vote REMAIN as against OUT. I bet it that Advocates of Restructuring to revert to old Regions will be chased away in every State because all the citizenry in each State will vote REMAIN.
Even looking at the international dimension only big countries with threshold of about 50 million people will be able to escape parasitic economic development in the 21st Century. Bigness is now a virtue and a great weapon in the international political economy. This is why China, India, Brazil etc are now reckoned with in the World today. The Bigness of Nigeria is a potential weapon and prestige of the Black race. If there is still any iota of respect given to the black man in the World, it is because of the hope that Nigeria will one day have breakthrough in its development process to sit among the comity of great nations of the World. Once Nigeria disintegrates that will be the end of the hope of the Black race. So anybody contemplating the break up Nigeria is committing treason against the black race.
As for fiscal federalism of giving more money to the States, the greatest corruption and waste goes on in the State. So more money to the States must carry fiscal supervision. A commission of fiscal responsibility and supervision must be created outside the control of the States. States House of Assemblies have been reduced to puppets and robots which are no checks against the recklessness of the State Governors.
It is not the structure of Nigeria that is responsible for the misery in the land. Rather it is the form of Government we adopted and the puerile knowledge of our leadership about the process of Economic Development. The makers of our constitution are mentally and intellectually lazy to research and know the type and form government that is suitable for the historical empirical terrain of Nigeria. As many as you have European and Asian Countries, the forms of government they adopted were invented to conform with their culture, political terrain and their social and economic circumstances hence the forms of government vary from one country to the other without being a carbon copy of each other or one another. Instead of engaging in hard deep research, our constitution makers jumped from carbon copy of 100% British Parliamentary to 100% American Presidential System. Since both are incongruent with our culture, historical evolution and political terrain, our country ran into intractable social, political and economic problems in which we find ourselves today.
The more appropriate Constitution we should invent to solve Nigerian problems is Executive Presidency cum Prime-ministership. The Executive President will stand election on non partisan self recognizance independent platform. Under the Presidency will be all military and civil forces and prosecution such as the Military, Police, and the whole of Ministry of Interior which houses the Prisons, also customs, CBN, Attorney General and Solicitor General, EFCC, SSS, Auditor General and all other non partisan regulatory Departments and Commissions will be in the presidency. Also the Vice President must be President of the Senate. On the other hand, all spending Ministries will be under the Prime Minister who must be a member of the Parliament. Under this form of Government power is not absolute and in-built check system is built round all the spending Ministries because the Presidency and Parliament can call them to account for their deeds. The Premier under whose authority the budget of the nation is housed is accountable to the Parliament at all times and can be prosecuted and or sacked by the Presidency. The question of either the North or South being alienated from power is solved in a simultaneous equation of the North either taking the Presidency or the Prime Minister while the South takes either; no one takes both concurrently. The age-long quarrel of alienation from power is permanently resolved and so another reason for fear and distrust in the present structure of Nigeria is permanently resolved because neither the North nor the South will be able to dominate each other since the President and the Prime Minister will be rotated between the North and the South. The Executive President under this our invention has no absolute power neither does the Prime Minister have absolute power.
I recommend for Nigeria this my invented form of Government which is a product of intellectual research and global empiricism about world forms of Governments. Corruption is the lubrication of the current Presidential system we are operating and so the menace of ridiculous and fantastic corruption will live with us as long as we continue to operate this Presidential System.
Also to fast-track the development of the nation, President Buhari must adopt Systemic Economic Development models. The fire brigade approach or the long abandoned Neo-classical ultra capitalism models are not suitable for Nigeria otherwise the path of this nation towards economic revolution will become painfully protracted. A lot of work has been done to invent Systemic Economic Models which can propel Nigeria towards irreversible economic Development take off. President Buhari cannot govern Nigeria in a visionless socio-economic vacuum. All the President and his handlers should do is to access the Models to handle Agricultural diversification and small scale industrialization which are the foremost keys to the future prosperity of the nation.
Once President Buhari can launch Nigeria into positive economic Revolution, nobody will be talking of Restructuring of Nigeria more so if the present corrupt Presidential System is abolished and replaced with the modified Presidential cum Parliamentary invented System of Government enunciated in this paper. The wellbeing of a person is the bedrock of his/her psyche and vision. Once Nigerians are living comfortably within acceptable fair form of Government, only mad people will be talking of restructuring or secessions or confederacy. Nobody will even listen to such mad people. Our President must act now, weapons cannot quell restiveness arising from pains, hunger and agonies of poverty; only good living can quell it. This is the task that President Buhari must address now.
(1) Restructuring of Nigeria is not the answer to the misery, fantastic corruption and poverty of Nigerians. Restructuring which will inevitably lead to disintegration which will lead to bloody civil war and leave the parts in permanent prostrate vicious circle of poverty.
(2) Restructuring leading to confederacy and disintegration will dash the pride and hope of the black race.
(3) The Political Solution is to adopt Executive Presidency cum Parliamentary system of Government. The present political challenges and corruption will be eliminated if this invented form of Government is adopted.
(4) President Buhari must adopt Development Vision and Systemic Economic Development Models to diversify the economy and usher in Economic Development Revolution.
Bode Olowoporoku (Ph.D Econ, Manchester) , is a former Senator, a former Lecturer University of Ife, former Commissioner for Economic Planning and Statistics, Ondo State, and a former Federal Minister of Science & Technology