By Don Ubani
When a comparision is made between the application of federalism in Nigeria and other democratic climes, it becomes very clear that Nigeria’s style of federalism is just unique. As it is known the world over, a federal system of government allows the federating units within the polity to be in charge of their natural and human resources. In such a situation, the states that make up the federation strive to explore and exploit their natural resources to the fullest for the maximum wellbeing of their citizens.
They, however, pay royalties to the central government for the sustenance and growth of the system. This was the situation under the 1963 Republican Constitution of Nigeria. The uniqueness of the Nigerian style of federalism stems from the abnormality that unlike how federalism should be practised, as was the case in 1963, the federal government, through the instrumentality of military dictatorship, took over control of basically all the resources located in the states, including land and sea. Hence we have exclusive legislation governing those resources in Nigeria.
An inevitable and, rather, unfortunate consequence of this military coercion is that the economies of the states became almost paralysed. Hence the states are forced to become dependent on the federal government for their economic survival through monthly revenue allocation. This development implies that the contral government wields enormous powers and influence. To survive in an odd federal system like Nigeria’s, it becomes expedient, if not imperative, that leadership of states that make up the Nigerian entity should, apart from being visionary and focussed, be guided by maturity, diplomacy and tact.
It is on record that before the emergence of Chief Theodore Orji as governor of Abia state, the state was regarded as a pariah state because of its rather confrontational posture towards the federal government, then headed by Chief Olusegun Obasanjo, an Army general. For the eight years that the administration lasted in the state, it was on open secret that the federal government applied a tacit isolationist policy against Abia State. Hence, Abia State government could not point at any development project it attracted from the central government.
The founding fathers of Abia State were divinely inspired to give the state the appellation “Gods Own State.” It, therefore, becomes obvious that no matter the shape of its vicissitude, Abia State must have light at the end of its tunnel.
Abia State, from a critical look of her current developments, has gone beyond brooding over the past. Today, it is crystal clear that there is unity of purpose, unity of time and unity of action, all geared towards the enhancement of good governance in the state.
It, therefore, becomes absolutely reasonable that a former governor of the state who, out of sheer greed and inclination to opportunism and taking undue advantage of being a sitting governor coerced the senate of Abia State University, Uturu, into awarding a degree to him unmeriteriously should stop deceiving himself by wanting the world to believe that Orji was instrumental to the inevitability of the nullification and consequent withdrawal of his so-called degree certificate.
For crifical observers and analysts of the contemporary Abia polity, the state is in a comfortable and assuring position to restore her lost glory. In appreciating this fact, kudos should be given to governor for his maturity, administrative ingenuity, diplomacy, prudence and, above all, faith in God. Abia State has systematically pulled itself out of the status of a federal government- considered pariah state to a point of not only total reintegration into Nigeria’s mainstream politics, but to the extent where the President and Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces of Nigeria can openly declare the governor as his confidant. This is a thing that calls for psychological felicitation.
To be more specific, the recent elevation of Orji as one of the six governors in the Caucus of the Peoples Democratic Party, an elevation that was initiated and stamped by President Jonathan himself, is, indeed, a contemporary strategic socio-economic and political transformation of God’s own state of Abia.
It is, therefore, expected that every well-meaning indigene, resident and friend of Abia State would not relent in praying that God would continue to give Ochendo the required enablement to help him sustain this bilateral relationship, which is surely a manifestation of the restoration of lost glory.
• Ubani is Commissioner for Petroleum and Solid Mineral Development, Abia State