By Okwadike, Dr Chukwuemeka Ezeife CON.
Fellow Nigerians, all true friends of Nigeria, and all those who wish Africa and all blacks well, ladies, gentlemen, and Nigerian youths – male and female – there is one truth, a truth which cannot be honestly doubted, controverted or wished away: every serious thinking Nigerian, even with minimum sincerity, knows this bothersome truth: that our dear country, Nigeria, the largest concentration of blacks on the face of the earth, will, without urgent serious political re-engineering or restructuring, go into extinction – cease to exist!!! This is the only truth! Don’t mind some people who talk idly about Nigeria remaining united and being ”indissoluble” without restructuring!!
This truth defines the IMPERATIVE of restructuring Nigeria. The recent fate of devolution of powers in the National Assembly, defines the need to lay bare, the A,B,C of restructuring Nigeria.
Nigeria’s Manifest Destiny and Efforts To Abort It
God designed for Nigeria, unmatched greatness, to enable her achieve His purpose for creating her. That purpose is Nigeria’s Manifest Destiny.
To restructure Nigeria, and make her able to achieve her Manifest Destiny is the task every Nigerian should pray for and help to bring about!!! This task must be performed, and urgently too. Surely, Nigeria was not an accident of British imperialism.
No! God created Nigeria using British imperialism merely as a tool. And God created Nigeria for a purpose! What purpose? It is reasonable to say that God created Nigeria to be a rallying point and big brother for Africa, and, indeed, for all the blacks on earth. Population and geographical size are important in the ranking and power play among nations.
Nigeria cannot achieve God’s purpose for her unless she develops into a Super Power among the nations of the world. And she needs her present large size to achieve that. Nigeria developing into a Super Power among world nations will raise the respect, dignity and prestige of all the blacks of this world. Income per head, population and geographical size contribute to the ranking of world powers.
Nigeria is the greatest concentration of blacks on earth and has massive geographical size. To ensure very high income per head, God endowed Nigeria with a stupendous abundance of resources. Nigeria’s ultimate purpose for being, clearly appears to be: to wipe away the shame of slavery from the faces of all blacks!!! Nigeria achieves this by attaining the status of a Super Power among nations. We should elaborate on the endowments that make this possible.
Think of the climate in Nigeria and you are forced to easily see that the climate is meant for human beings. One can be naked and stay in the open for much of the year and not die, come rain, come sun shine and all. Thunder storms are minimal, there are no hurricanes as happens in the Americas, nor typhoons as in Asia.
The winds are not too fierce nor are the rains too heavy – tsunamis are not really known. We have occasional flooding, but not, at all, comparable to what is observed in other parts of the world. The geo-physical structure of Nigeria is solid, rugged and favourable, there are no volcanoes, no earthquakes, landslides and erosions are manageable. Nigeria and Africa appear to have been originally designed for human habitation. Material resources are simply surplus. Every plant can grow in Nigeria.
Those that cannot grow in Igbo Ukwu, can grow in Mambila Plateau and similar places in the country. We have gold, silver, gem stones, oil and gas, limestone, iron, tantalite etc – all in large quantities. And, it does not appear that we know, yet, all the mineral resources the country is endowed with. Of animals, Nigeria is home to anything that moves or breaths. What of human resources? Not only does Nigeria boast of large population, we can also boast of many talents from many tribes.
Nigeria’s endowment with equable climate and huge material and human resources disposes her to unmatched greatness. This was not, and is not, hidden. The British saw clearly, this potential in, or of, Nigeria and, fearing that her former colony would fast develop into a Super Power and challenge her in world affair, she contrived strategies to keep Nigeria down, underdeveloped, and for them, hopefully, undevelopable. The colonial masters assessed the potentialities and made choices to stifle the growth of Nigeria. Some of the colonial officials who were used to implement the strategies have confessed about their manipulations. But the time seems to have come, and it seems to be now, that, as ordained, God’s Will must dominate, prevail over, and neutralise, all the negative efforts of man, foreign man and the chosen local man, to mess up His design of unmatched greatness for Nigeria!!!
Fellow Nigerians, our God is great. He answers prayers. Let no groups of Nigerians blame themselves or other groups. For some of us were merely used – it was not the making of those who have been used!! Our God works in mysterious ways. As It appears, this is His time. He will open the minds of every group to see the group’s greater long term benefits, in a politically re-engineered or restructured Nigeria.
He will also give the dialoguing or negotiating groups, the mind to accommodate necessary interests, where they are merited. Let us not yield to the devil and help tear down, and demolish, the gem of a country, given to us by God. No group of Nigerians, large or small, can happily walk away from Nigeria, properly restructured, and with justice, as fairness, prevailing. God will forgive those who know this truth, but who, for whatever reasons, including clearly myopic delusion supporting the sustainability of unsustainable unfair advantages, or cheating, or those who will like to delude themselves and their people, that the status quo can continue and Nigeria survives – does not go into extinction. Those who may have been at the receiving end must find ways to love their neighbours as themselves. And ”neighbours” mean any other Nigerians. The saying ”God’s time is the best”, is the truth!!!
The National Assembly Experience
Recently, the National Assembly dealt with the issue of devolution of powers, which is a key element in the restructuring of Nigeria. Devolution of powers deals with the sharing of powers between the centre or federal government and the federating units. It is what makes a federation a federation. When powers (the power over electric power, the power over external relations, the power over all internal affairs, the power over weights, measures and currencies, the power over primary and secondary schools, the power over the exploitation of minerals, the power over external security, the power over all internal security or police affairs, markets, courts, religion, the power over revenue etc) are concentrated in the central government, it defines extreme unitary government. As it were, by their rejection of devolution of powers, the National Assembly is saying no to the appellation: ”Federal Republic of Nigeria”. Although we expect patriotism, and service to the people, justice as fairness, to prevail, we must be aware of myopia. This is a clear case of short-sightedness, a clear case of baseless hope that clearly unsustainable and unfair advantages can be sustained. The National Assembly is part of the problem and needs to be restructured to work in the overall interest of the country. It is clearly unrealistic to leave the issue of restructuring Nigeria to the National Assembly as it is, at present, composed. Ask the National Assembly whether Nigeria should have bicameral or unicameral legislature, or whether legislation should be part time or full time job, it will give the same answer as it has given to the question on devolution of powers. In this case the conflict of interest is naked. The answer to the devolution question defines a clear case of living in the past, and of closing eyes to stark naked current realities. It may look like arrogance in the extreme. But we must accept that man is man and has limitations, which include, conflict of interest. Who did the voting? How did they vote? The result is a clear dramatisation of the unfairness of the actions of the post-civil war military leaders from the North. The only surprise is what appears as extreme short-sightedness and total lack of patriotism. As shown below, the post-civil war Northern military rulers of Nigeria gave the North more states (therefore more senators), more federal constituencies (hence more representatives in the House of Representatives), and, by far, more local government areas. All these mean more money in a system without fiscal federalism.
A,B,C OF RESTRUCTURING NIGERIA
Nigeria has failed man and God, she has failed comprehensively and woefully. Instead of providing a template for good governance to Africa and wiping shames off the faces of blacks, we are leading Africa in corruption and bad governance, and, generating more shame for all blacks! For Nigeria not to go into extinction i.e., not to cease to exist, we must restructure her and make justice, as fairness, prevail in the restructured country. Now, what is restructuring Nigeria? What does it call for? In substance, restructuring Nigeria simply calls for our going back to the ”agreed Nigeria”, that is, going back to the structure or political arrangements of Nigeria, as agreed by our founding fathers – our heroes past! To that ”agreed Nigeria”, we add all, or some of, the results of the 2014 National Conference. This is the A,B,C of restructuring in Nigeria!!! Elements of the agreed Nigeria are in the independence constitutions of the federal and regional governments. And the Report of the 2014 Conference is readily available, if even in the archives. As is well known that ”agreed Nigeria” was a federal structure, with regions as federating units. Initially there were three regions: Eastern, Western and Northern regions. Midwestern region was created later, making four regions: three in the South, one in the North. Each region had its own constitution and operated fairly autonomously. The Federal Government handled issues universally agreed to be federal responsibilities – issues like: external relations, currency, weights and measures etc.
There was fiscal federalism, as the resources for running the Federal Government came, basically, from the federating units. Each region controlled its resources and grew at its own pace. The people owned their regional governments, in the sense that people in the regions were, particularly, concerned about how their regions were run and their finances spent. That was mainly because the money spent in the regions was basically internally generated – contributed by the people of the regions, through taxation, other payments etc. That is different from the present situation, wherein revenues ”come” from the Federation Account to the federal, state and local governments. With that agreed structure there was peace and satisfactory progress. The agreed structure was rubbished by the Nigerian military in 1967, at the beginning of the Nigeria/Biafra conflict and was not resurrected after the civil war.
The Rubbishing of the Agreed Nigeria
To win, the Nigeria/Biafra war, easily and fast, the military government, under General Gowon, adopted the strategy of isolating the Igbo from the rest of eastern Nigeria. Twelve states were thus created: six in the North, six in the South, with the Igbo bottled up in the Southeast state. The running of Nigeria was also made more fully adapted to military central command system. This central command has given Nigeria a unitary, as opposed to, the agreed federal, structure of government.
After the war, the military rulers continued to run the government in Nigeria – making it progressively more unitary and more dictatorial. It was thus easy for the military to, basically dictatorially, create not only new states, but also new local government areas (LGAs), without considering the fairness of their distribution. Today, we have 36 states plus Abuja, sometimes treated as if it were a state, 19 states plus Abuja in the North, 17 in the South. The imbalance in the distribution of local government areas (LGAs) is, by far, more pronounced. For example, Kano and Jigawa (which was created out of Kano) have between them almost as many local government areas as the whole of the Southeast geo-political zone; Kano has 44 LGAs, Lagos 20, Bayelsa 8, etc. The North has 419 local government areas, and the south has 357. Both the federal, states and the LGAs, get allocations of revenue (funding) from the Federation Account. The unfairness of these military creations should be obvious and problematic, and should be a major reason for the clamour for restructuring. However it, indeed, is its consequence that is the main problem. As the country is currently structured and run, the country is growing backwards – indeed, taking giant steps backward. The Nigerian people, at federal, state and LGA levels, do not police the expenditure of revenues allocated from the Federation Account, and this and other factors, have led to the monumental corruption which has eaten deep into, and permeated, every fabric of the society, leading to the comprehensive and woeful failure of Nigeria.
Restructuring Nigeria and
Completing the Unfinished Business of 2014 Conference.
We note that the very well composed 2014 National Conference approved the creation of additional 18 states. Those who doubted the wisdom of so many new states, should think of the new suggestion of twelve regions and 52 states for only the Middle Belt. The problem is that the extent of dehumanisation and suffering to which some Nigerians are subjected cannot be imagined by many Nigerians. Without taking account of the new information from the Middle Belt, we have 54 states plus Abuja to deal with. We should adopt the least controversial and most efficient approach to restructure Nigeria, instead of rediscovering the wheels with attendant new controversies. The line of least resistance, which can also yield fairly efficient solution, appears to be: to adopt the present six geopolitical zones, which have been used, even if informally, for decades now, as the Federating Units, and allow the states, in each zone, to work out their constitutions, with the recommendations of the 2014 Conference and Independence Constitutions of the former regions as guides. Of course, they may introduce new elements, forced by current realities. One such, is to make the zones responsible for their internal security – with external security left with central government. In this case, the coexistence of Zonal and State Police Commands, should be seriously considered, for greater effectiveness and efficiency. There is, of course, the option of treating the 54 states as federating units, leaving it open to interested states to somehow cooperate. Beyond, perhaps, satisfying theoretical completeness, no knowledgeable analyst will take this option seriously in the empirical context of Nigerian. Whether we want to adopt the above line of least resistance or choose any other approaches, we must be aware that we are running out of time. We should note the following:
(1) The materials/templates for the work of restructuring Nigeria, including the 2014 Conference Report and the Independence Federal and Regional Constitutions are available.
(2) The existing states have their interests which need to be fully accommodated. Members from the states should work to ensure that, there is not, for any state, a reasonable bases for the feeling of
”going back to Egypt”.
(3) A restructured Nigeria, with justice prevailing, is in the best interest of every group in Nigeria, large or small.
(4) There is time constraint.
THE PROGAMME FOR RESTRUCTURING NIGERIA
A. By mid, or end, of September 2017: the Federal Government should set up a body (perhaps Sovereign National Conference/Constituent Assembly/ Some Other) to work out details of a New Nigeria based on improvements to our old durable foundations of the agreed Nigeria, aided by the Report of the 2014 Conference. Perhaps, the first month of the body’s work should be devoted to the participants from each zone working out their zonal constitutions, which will then go to the State/Zonal Assembly for any further action.
B. The structure of New Nigeria is adopted by mid-2018. A chunk of the Conference/Assembly time should be devoted to developing anti-corruption measures with a view to achieving, as much as possible, a zero-tolerance of corruption in the New Nigeria. The Body should also work out ways to empower women for electoral offices, in view of their special good qualities. This can be done by creating women exclusive constituencies.
C. The new structure is fully implemented before the end of the first quarter of 2019.
We pray to the Almighty God, our Father in heaven, to give us, Nigerians, the mind, the understanding, the passion and the determination, to save Nigeria, by restructuring Nigeria, by letting justice prevail in Nigeria, thereby empowering Nigeria to develop into a Super Power, and achieve her Manifest Destiny!!! Amen!!!
Okwadike, Dr. Chukwuemeka Ezeife CON.
Garkuwan Fika, Akintolugboye of Egbaland.
As Culled From Joseph Ikunna’s Facebook Wall