Steven Adedayo Bello
For quite some time now, probably since about 20 years ago, there has been agitation by individuals, geo-cultural groups, geo-political associations for the restructuring of Nigeria. The various heads of state and government that had been in power over this period had not seen reasons to give the calls serious consideration. The nearest they have done is either to call a national conference, as Jonathan did in 2014 or to establish a reconciliatory commission as done by Obasanjo or issue a press statement as the Presidency did about a week ago as reported in the front page of the Nation of 31st May, 2017 . There are 3 major reasons for this: Some people believe that there is no guarantee that such an exercise will succeed in moving the nation forward, and that it may even be counter-productive or lead to unexpected consequences; Secondly, prior to 2015, the people who were calling for restructuring never gave a clear definition of what they meant by re-structuring, neither were they specific about the scope, modalities or even the timing of such an exercise; Thirdly, up till 2015, most of the calls for restructuring had been from individuals and groups from the southern part of Nigeria, especially South South geo-political zone. Others from the North probably think that the agitation is because the south controls the major mineral resources that constitute the bulk of Nigeriaâ€™s wealth.
However, in recent times or since 2016, prominent Northerners are beginning to join their southern counterparts in asking for restructuring. Former Vice President, Atiku Abubakar, GCFR recently called for restructuring of Nigeria. Also recently, it was reported that the Speaker, Hon. Dogara suggested constitutional amendment that will deliver the local governments from the hand of governors, this is actually a form of agitation for restructuring.
Also, agitators are beginning to give more details about what they mean by restructuring. Former Vice-President, Atiku Abubakar, in his speech during the launching of a new weekly newspaper, Daily Stream, listed some agenda items to be tabled during any restructuring exercise, these include devolution of power to the states, reduction in federal government exclusive list(87) in favour of concurrent list(15), developing our own model of fiscal federalism, reduction in number of federating units, administrative restructuring, leaner bureaucracy, local government autonomy (state control), federal ownership of interstate roads, resource sharing. Others have also raised issues such as resource control, state police, federal character principle etc.
The tempo, frequency and spread of agitation are increasing by the day. There is a wide spectrum of agitators both for and against. Agitators from the south are unanimously in support of restructuring while those from the north have divergent views. On one hand you have proponents like Balarabe Musa, Northern Elders Forum as announced by their spokesperson, Paul Unongo, General Gowon etc. On the other hand you have the opponents of the motion like the outspoken Dr Junaid Mohammed, Tanko Yakassai, the little known Northern Delegates Forum led by Bashir Dalhatu. However, agitation by two or three outspoken individuals in the north cannot be used as a yardstick for measuring northern opinion on restructuring; it is mainly by town hall meetings or wide consultation that the peopleâ€™s opinion can be distilled or synthesized. Also , surprisingly, retired military generals, such as Alani Akinrinade, Tunde Ogheha(Kogi) and Ike Nwachukwu are reported to have also joined the agitation. The same military powers that de-structured Nigeria are now asking to undo some of the changes they made during their 29 years in power. Infact, the incursion of armed forces into Nigerian political landscape is a bag of mixed blessings, some of the structures they created are difficult to dismantle and some of the changes they made are impossible to reverse.
The recent call on President Buhari by some delegates to Jonathanâ€™s National conference, asking for the implementation of the conference proceedings is a pointer to the fact that government can no more neglect these calls nor treat them as mere agitation by advocacy groups. And rightly, Buhariâ€™s government has come out with its own contribution to the debate. According to a publication on The Nation of 31, 2017, government is not actively opposed to restructuring, but believes that such an exercise must follow due process, including a referendum where necessary, and this will require amending the present constitution which may take a long time. Their position seems logical but they gave the impression that it cannot happen so soon. Actually it needs not be time consuming. Infact, the national and state assemblies can amended the constitution in three months if the will is there. With the present tempo of debate, restructuring is likely to be a major campaign issue during the 2019 general election.
Those asking for restructuring are of the opinion that it will make the nation more stable politically and also bring more economic progress by encouraging hard work and competition among the federating units hence allowing each unit to develop at its own pace. However political stability is not a function of ethnic homogeneity or religious purity. Somalia in a nation in which over 90% of the population speak the same language. Also, Somalia is 99% Muslim by religion, yet it is one of the most unstable countries in the world.
On the other hand, Switzerland consists of 3 major languages (German, French and Italian). It has no single gram of mineral resource, yet it is one of the most stable and one of the richest countries in the world. It can therefore be concluded that the mindset of the citizens of a country is the major determinant of political stability and economic progress.
What is structure: From my engineering background, structure can be defined as the number of sub-systems or functional components that combine together to make up a complex system and the rules that govern the inter-relationship between them to ensure they all work together seamlessly to achieve a common purpose or a given output. For example, a car, is a system consisting of engine, transmission, gear box, tires, steering system and a chassis. None of the units can work independently without the others. (A system is actually greater than the sum of its component parts). Hence a car is a simple system or a first order system with a simple structure. However, there are super-structures, which are made up of two or more subsystems, each of which can actually exist or produce an output independently. Nigeria or any nation at all can be described as a superstructure consisting of many sub units, each of which can actually exist independently. For example, Singapore is a single city, but it is also a country with its own head of state, currency, national anthem, language and economic system. Lagos can exist as a country and Kano can also exist as a country. The smallest country is Europe, Monaco, is about the same size of Ogori-Magongo LGA in Kogi State. If, for example, today Ekiti State becomes an independent Nation with His Excellency, Fayose as Head of State. It may be relatively poor, its per capital income will be about one-tenth of Nigeriaâ€™s per capital income. It has no major mineral deposit, it would be a land-locked country with no access to the sea. It has no major manufacturing industry, no dam to provide water for irrigation in time of draught.
The only significant export it has is its professors, which it can export to international universities in Europe or USA. Though it will exist as a country, but the poverty level, at least in the short term, will increase far beyond what it is today. On the other hand, if that happens, it will be forced to start finding innovative ways to survive since there will be no more monthly allocation coming from Abuja. It may call its professor to Ado-Ekiti and tell them to start developing software for Facebook, WIPRO, Microsoft or LM Ericsson in Sweden. Within 5 to 10 years it may actually become a prosperous country like Switzerland or Israel who donâ€™t have any mineral resource but depend only on the brain of their citizens. So the prosperity of a nation is predominantly determined by the mindset of its people. With the right mindset, the nation of Ekiti Republic can become very prosperous if left alone. Also, with the wrong mindset, Ekiti Republic may plunge into abject poverty far above the level they are today when they still have the opportunity to share from the resources of other regions in Nigeria. It is the same scenario for most states in Nigeria. The question is this, how do we generate the right mindset in our citizens in such a way that Ekiti State will be able to contribute as much to the countryâ€™s income as oil-rich Bayelsa State. With the right mindset, the professors in Ekiti can generate as much income as Rivers State is generating from oil. India will in 2017 generate over $250 Billion from software export by its IT companies like Infosys, Tata and WIPRO. Ten times more than the $25 billion revenue Nigeria will make mainly from oil export in 2017. It is a matter of mindset or social orientation. I have used these examples to illustrate the fact that political restructuring and resource control will not necessarily solve Nigeriaâ€™s problems, since these are the first major issues that come to mind when people hear or speak about restructuring Nigeria. There are different types of restructuring and there are many dimensions to restructuring. This I will discuss in more detail later in the next section of this write-up.
Types of Restructuring
What is restructuring: To simply put it, restructuring is the process of increasing or decreasing the number of component parts that makes up a system and re-defining the inter-relationship between them in such a way that the entire system performs more efficiently. However, restructuring, if not well planned and handled can lead to greater inefficiency or even system collapse.
The first thing that comes to the mind of people when they hear restructuring is political restructuring such as creating more states or merging of states/LGA, resource control, regional autonomy, power devolution etc. The most sensitive of which is resource control especially oil wealth. However, there are many dimensions to restructuring, some of which include political restructuring, economic restructuring, educational restructuring, social restructuring, accounting restructuring, administrative restructuring, restructure of security apparatus etc.
Consequently, since there are many dimensions to restructuring, anybody agitating for it should tell Nigerians the exact type or types of restructuring he or she wants.
Modes of Restructuring
Implementing restructuring can take many forms depending on the choice among the following alternatives:- Wholesale restructuring or Piecemeal restructuring; Fast-paced restructuring or Gradual restructuring; Short-term restructuring or Long-term restructuring; Government-driven or people-driven restructuring; and Formal or informal restructuring
The outcome of any restructuring will depend to a great extent on which of the above modes of restructuring is adopted by Nigeria.
Past Restructuring Since Independence:
Consciously or unconsciously, deliberately or in-deliberately, most Heads of State or governments we have had since independence have implemented one form of restructuring or the other during their reign. The reasons why we did not know is that the decisions were not called or announced as restructuring, and they were done piecemeal making them un-noticeable by the general public. Even those that made the changes did not know that they were actually restructuring Nigeria, either economically, politically, administratively or otherwise. The restructuring exercises carried out unconsciously by each government since independence are as listed below.
Tafawa Balewa (1960-1965)
(Dr. Nnamdi Azikwe as Gov-General/ Ceremonial President)
a) Creation of Mid-Western Region from the then Western Region – Political Restructuring
General Aguiyi Ironsi: – Jan 1966-July 1966 (6 months)
1. Abolished the federating regions by Decree 32. Suspended Federal and Regional parliaments. Power became concentrated at the center (Political restructuring)
2. Cancelled Native Authority Police (Administrative restructure(ng)
3. Federal Government took over control of revenue from natural resources and corporate taxes from regional governments. Shared national income among the regions (fiscal and economic restructuring)
4. Started unitary government with a strong center and weaker regions, a bye-product of military dictatorship ( political restructuring).
General Yakubu Gowon (July 1966-August 1975)
a. Creation of 12 states to replace four regions â€“ ( major political restructuring)
b. Universal free primary education (educational restructuring)
c. Started with 50% derivation payment to oil producing states, â€“ (fiscal/ economic restructuring) (This was later gradually reduced to 13% over a few years)
d. Changed currency from pounds to Naira (monetary restructuring)
e. Promulgated the indigenization decree(economic restructuring)
f. NCE introduced (educational restructuring)
g. NYSC introduced (socio-administrative restructuring)
h. Takeover of schools owned by private or religious organizations (educational restructuring)
i. Created Ministry of Petroleum Resources (administrative restructuring)
General Murtala Mohammed (July 1975-Feb 1976)
a. Started the process of relocating Federal capital from Lagos to Abuja (political/administrative restructuring)
b. Started the process of drafting a new constitution for Nigeria (political restructuring)
c. Created additional states(political restructuring)
General Olusegun Obasanjo (1st reign)
a. Finalized and approved the change from British parliamentary to American Presidential system as recommended by Nigerians through the 49-member constitution drafting committee and endorsed by the constituent assembly (major political restructuring)
b. Land Use Decree: Takeover of urban land from land owners by Government and handling it over to State Governors (socio-economic restructuring)
c. Strengthened and formalized an independent third tier of government â€“ LGA with executive arm( chairmen/ supervisory councilors) and legislative arm (councilors forming local government house of assemblies and making laws) â€“ major political restructuring
d. Moved the federal capital from Lagos to Abuja in principle (Political/administrative restructuring)
e. Introduced the sharing of central revenue among 3 tiers of government (Federal, State, LGA) – Fiscal restructuring
f. Introduced free tuition in Federal Tertiary Institution (Educational restructuring)
g. OND and HND merged into one qualification (Educational restructuring)
h. JAMB established (educational restructuring)
i. Established the umbrella labour union NLC for junior workers. (Socio-economic restructuring)
Shehu Shagari (Oct 1979-Dec 1983)
a. Introduced Minister of State portfolio – (Administrative restructuring)
b. Introduced the 6-3-3-4 education system – (Educational restructuring)
c. Reversed OND/HND merger.(educational de-structuring)
d. Established Federal Character Principle in federal appointments (political restructuring)
e. Cancelled Federal Scholarship scheme (Educational restructuring)
f. Created Ministry of Science and Technology (administrative restructuring)
Major-General Buhari/Tunde Idiagbon:
a. No major landmark decision or restructuring was done during their short reign, implemented only minor administrative changes such as war against indiscipline, bringing corrupt civil servants to book, introduced death penalty for drug trafficking (Judicial restructuring). Implemented strict control of access to foreign exchange and naira exchange rate.
General Ibrahim Babangida (1985-1993)
1. Liberalized access to foreign exchange by introducing auctions for foreign exchange (economic restructuring leading to 400 % devaluation of Naira within 24 hours)
2. Released the determination of naira exchange rate to market forces rather than government forces (monetary restructuring)
3. Finally cancelled derivation principle for oil producing areas.(geo-economic restructuring)
4. Replaced derivation with the Creation of OMPADEC (now NDDC) so that federal government can directly develop the Niger Delta region. ( Fiscal/economic restructuring)
5. Created Federal Revenue Mobilization and Fiscal Commission ( Administrative restructuring)
6. Attempted to enforce 2-party system for Nigeria (failed political restructuring)
7. Breaking of NITEL monopoly and creation of NCC thereby attracting private sector investment into telecoms (major economic restructuring)
8. Breaking of NTA monopoly and creating of Nigerian Broadcasting Commission, bringing private investment into broadcasting ( socio-economic restructuring)
9. Creation of Zayyad â€“led TCPC to privatize or commercialize government industries and parastatals (fiscal and economic restructuring)
10.Decrease the year of service for qualifying for pension from 15 to 10 years and gratuity from 10 to 5 years .(administrative restructuring)
11. Approved 100% of terminal salary as pension for army generals, permanent sectaries and university professors (Administrative restructuring)
Ernest Shonekan. August 1993-Nov 1993
No time to implement any restructuring during his 3 months tenure.
Abacha Nov 1993 to June 1998
1. Created 6 additional states and additional local government (political restructuring)
2. Introduced value added tax (economic restructuring)
GEN ABDUSALAM ABUBAKAR JUNE 1998- MAY 1999
1. Drafted a new constitution for Nigeria by modifying the 1979 constitution
2. Removed local government autonomy through joint account with state government (fiscal restructuring)
3. Licensed the first private university (Igbinedion University , Okada) (educational restructuring)
GENERAL OLUSEGUN OBASANJO (2ND COMING) (MAY 1999-MAY 2007)
1. Restored 13% Derivation to oil producing areas by sponsoring an executive bill in the National assembly ( geo-fiscal restructuring) The same bill also extended derivation to other solid minerals extracted in non-oil-producing areas.
2. Created Ministry of Niger Delta (administrative restructuring)
3. Started full and all-out privatization of Government parastatals (economic restructuring)
4. Implemented full monetization of Federal Civil Servantâ€™s fringe benefits (economic restructuring)
5. Started the contributory pension scheme for civil servants (administrative restructuring)
6. Established EFCC (restructuring of security apparatus)
7. Introduced 8-year tenure for Federal civil servants (Directors and above)
8. Created Excess crude oil account (Fiscal restructuring)
ALHAJI UMARU MUSA YARâ€™ADUA (May 2007-May 2010)
a. His short-lived reign did not allow him to implement any major restructuring during his reign
GOODLUCK EBELE JONATHAN (May 2010 â€“ May 2015)
No major restructuring done during his 6-year reign.
He is however being remembered for the bold step of convening a national conference and also as the first African leader to conceded election defeat and congratulated the winner ( – restructuring of mindset)
I have gone into the above details in order to prove to Nigerians that restructuring Nigeria has been happening since Independence. It is still work in progress, and as long as the earth remains, we shall find reasons to continue to restructure Nigeria in one way or the other.
Political restructuring may in due course, stabilize like in the developed countries, but social, administrative, fiscal and economic restructuring are likely to continue as long as the earth remains. I will in the next part of this article enumerate examples of the various types of restructuring we need in Nigeria which are far more important and more productive that the political restructuring that most people tend to emphasize.
Restructuring of Our Mindset:
By far the most important restructuring we need in Nigeria today is that of our mindset. That should be the starting point and the mother of all restructuring. There are certain unproven statements and beliefs that have found a permanent residence in the heart of Nigerian adults- eg Corruption cannot be eradicated, we can never have correct census, if you donâ€™t bribe you cannot get a contract, if you donâ€™t bribe voters you cannot win elections, merit alone cannot get you job or promotion e.t.c. They paint the picture that Nigeria is an impossible country and the worst place on earth to live in.
Unfortunately, young men and women today are growing up with the same orientation and belief that if you donâ€™t know a big man somewhere (e.g. Senator or Minister) you cannot secure employment, win a contract in a ministry or get admission into a Tertiary Institution. Also, if you donâ€™t join the corruption train, you can never be rich, or make it. We need to re-orientate our mindset. No amount of political or economic restructuring can bring any meaningful progress unless we first restructure and re-orientate our mindset, change our value system and develop sound character.
One of my icons and example of a perfect leader in Nigeria today is His royal Highness, Lamido Sanusi, the Emir of Kano. He has embarked on a one-man, anti-establishment crusade to re-orientate the mindset of northerners, to free them from shackles of unprogressive tradition and misunderstanding or misapplication of religious tenets. He is letting the younger generation know that religion is not against scientific education or skills acquisition. If the tempo is sustained and other emirs join his crusade, the north in ten years may close the educational gap and become the richest part of Nigeria. His crusade needs to be replicated in every part of Nigeria in order to implement a positive change in the mindset of Nigerians. This is the key to our future and the foundation on which other forms of restructuring can be built.
Resource Control- Which Resource?
Most countries in the world have different types of resources some of which include the following:
â€¢ Human Resource/ Human Capital
â€¢ Land Resource
â€¢ Water Resource/ Ocean Resource
â€¢ Oil/Petroleum Resource
â€¢ Gas Resource
â€¢ Solid Mineral Resource
â€¢ Airspace resource
â€¢ Rainfall Resource
â€¢ Frequency Spectrum Resource
â€¢ Animal Resource
The greatest resource that a country has is the human beings who use their brain or intelligence to manage the other non-human resources. That is why Adam & Eve were the last of Godâ€™s creation, and God commanded them to multiply and dominate the earth. You need human intellect to be able to turn every other thing on the earth into useful product or money making commodity. For example, the ancestors of the Ijaws, Ikweres and Ogonis in Niger Delta have been sitting on oil resource for over 500 years without knowing that they were sitting on top of the black gold.
It was only when some knowledgeable British Scientists from British Petroleum came and did seismic survey that they discovered oil in Oliobiri in 1956. If the British oil company had not come, maybe up till now the Ijaws would not have known that they have oil underneath their houses and farmlands. Lagosians also would probably not have known they have oil under the sea, just 20km from Bar Beach or Badagary Beach.
Consequently, a nation that wants to make progress must concentrate on developing its human capital by giving them the right orientation, the right mindset and the right incentives, all as a package.
Examples of revenue generation from various resources by other countries:
1. Kenya makes billions of dollars in revenue from tourist who come from all over the world to view its animal resource. In Nigeria we have killed all our exotic animal resources for bush meat and eaten them up. I donâ€™t know how many animals are left in the game reserves at Yankari, Bauchi State or Obudu in Cross River state.
2. Egypt makes $5billion revenue per annum from Suez Canal shipping traffic â€“ water resource.
3. Brazil exports over $12Billion worth of cow meat (beef) to Europe and Russia every year. Fulani herdsmen should be educated, convinced and assisted to settle in permanent cattle ranches and to take advantage the vast grassland of the north to produce beef for export like Brazil.
4. America produces more crude oil than Nigeria, but oil revenue is only about 4% of Americaâ€™s national income. The state of California in USA has no drop of crude oil, yet it is twice as rich as Texas that produces over 50% of Americaâ€™s oil. Its wealth comes from the innovative skills of the CEOâ€™s of Facebook, Apple, and Google most of whom are products of Stanford University, California Institute of Technology, and University of California at Berkley which are among the ten best technical universities in the world.
5. Israel does not have a drop of oil like its Arab half-brothers, sons of Ishmael, yet it is richer than most of its oil rich neighbors because of the productive capacity of its human capital.
6. Indians in diaspora working outside India, remit about $73 billion back home every year. This is almost 3 times Nigeriaâ€™s 2017 annual budget of $25 Billion ( =N= 7 trillion at N320 to $1 exchange rate) This is revenue from human capital resource. Comparatively, Nigerians overseas remit $27 billion back to Nigeria every year, also more than Nigeriaâ€™s annual budget which is mainly based on revenue from oil resource.
I can go on and on, but the above examples are to prove to us that modern wealth of nations does not depend mainly on natural resources below the ground but on the productive capacity of its human capital resource living above the ground. It is predicted that by the year 2025-2030 electric cars will outnumber fuel-based cars. We now live in a knowledge economy where the wealth of Nations will no more be determined by mineral resources, but on the productive skills of the citizens. Nigeria must therefore begin to develop all the above resources in order to diversify our economy as oil resource is beginning to show signs of diminishing returns.
Based on my analysis, the underlining reason behind 90% of all agitations for restructuring is centered on resource control either directly or indirectly. Those who have crude oil reserve want to take control of the revenue; those who donâ€™t have oil donâ€™t want to lose their share of oil revenue from federal allocation. The reason why we are all paying so much attention to resource control is because we are still operating a oil-based economy. By the time we graduate to a knowledge and innovation-based economy, nobody will bother anymore about resource control because, income from natural resources will be a negligible proportion of our national income. Lagos is the only state in Nigeria that is gradually moving from a resource-based economy into a service-based economy. With an internal revenue generation of N310 Billion in 2016, the N80 Billion allocation from federal government is only about 25% of state budget. Lagos State can survive comfortably without monthly allocation from Abuja. All states should emulate Lagos and transform their economy instead of waiting for monthly allocation or regular bail out from federal government.
For the mean time however, we must find an efficient way of managing revenue from the natural resources in order to encourage hard work, healthy competition and fair play.
Exploitation of natural resources produces a lot of environmental problems and land degradation. If only for this reason alone, derivation principle must be maintained and reinforced. Oil has produced a lot of such problems in the Niger Delta region, and other regions where natural resources are exploited though not in the scale we have in the Niger Delta. For example, there are over 500 abandoned pits in Plateau State. These are products of the Columbite and Tin mining of the early 50â€™s when this mineral was responsible for a good proportion of Nigeria foreign exchange earnings before independence. There may be such problems today in Enugu coal sites, the various limestone mines feeding the over 10 cement factories in Nigeria e.g. Mafosin in Cross River, Ashaka in Bauchi State, Obajana in Kogi State, Shagamu/ewekoro in Ogun State etc. All these states should also enjoy derivation based on the value of income generated from the mining activities. This will ensure equity and fair play in dealing with environmental problems emanating from natural resource exploitation.
Consequently in accordance with the derivation bill the present 13% derivation should be implemented and made to apply to all mineral resources whether liquid, solid and gaseous in proportion of the revenue derivable from each deposit to compensate for environmental degradation.
If I have my way, I will recommend that derivation be gradually increased to at least 75% over a three to five year period. The sates should be encouraged to, within 5 years, increase their internally generated revenue to a level that will enable them pay salaries without help from Abuja. This will encourage states to develop their human capital resource and other untapped natural resources over the next few years. Meanwhile, we must not abandon the Niger Deltans whose lands resource has fuelled our economy for the past 50 years. We must help them clean up the land just as Buhari has flagged of the cleaning of Ogoni land. We must also assist them in making the changeover to knowledge economy through massive investment in education and in encouraging them to restructuring of their mindset. We must all take our mind off the oil revenue from the Niger Delta if we are to make any significant progress in this country.
Most traditional institutions in Nigeria have from time past employed rotation as a means of power sharing. The selection of OBAâ€™s, OBIâ€™s and EMIRS employ rotation among ruling houses. This is a good tradition we should retain for now. The Secretary General of the United Nations is rotated among the five continents Americaâ€™s, Europe, Asia, Africa and Oceanic/ Australia. So rotation is recognized even at international level by developed economies. Consequently, Nigeria should embrace an administrative restructuring which will enable executive posts at Federal, State and LGA levels to be rotated among constituent units in line with existing practice in most of our traditional geo-political institutions. I agree with former Vice president Atikuâ€™s suggestion that we should develop our own brand of federalism that is tailored to our local culture and values. Rotation should be entrenched in that type of federalism even if only for a period of 50 to 100 years after which it can be reviewed if developments make it unnecessary thereafter.
Presidency should be rotated in a two dimensional axis, between north and south, and thereafter among the 3 geopolitical zones in the north and the south.
Also, state governorship post should be rotated among the three senatorial districts in each state. With the condition that if the reigning governor/president dies or is impeached, he or she can only be replaced by someone from the same zone whose turn it is to produce the chief executive. This is to prevent the temptation of vice Presidents or Deputy Governors planning the death or impeachment of their bosses knowing that the post will automatically revert to them. This can be a purely administrative restructuring embedded in the Electoral Act. A situation in which a dominant tribe in a state perpetually produces the state governor as a birth right will breed discontent, internal sabotage, low productivity and lack of commitment. Rotation will therefore ensure equity, justice and fair play. Also, rotation will put an end to 80% of agitation for state creation in Nigeria.
Local Government Autonomy:
This was embedded in the 1979 Constitution, but Abdulsalam Abubakar single-handedly removed it in the constitution he handed over to Obasanjo. This should be restored as in the 1979 constitution.
Legal Restructuring â€“ a newspaper once reported that there are 5,000 cases pending in the Supreme Court, this is unacceptable. The following are suggested solutions:
1. We can have 5 parallel supreme courts working simultaneously but dealing with specific and well-defined legal issues. Eg Constitutional supreme court handling only constitutional cases.
2. Certain type of cases should not be allowed to go to Supreme Court(s) e.g. Chieftaincy tussle, land tussle, all those type of cases pending should be withdrawn.
3. We can also create specialized appeal courts to act as terminal points for certain type of cases e.g. Chieftaincy terminal appeal Court, land appeal court, financial crime terminal appeal court, corruption terminal appeal court, industrial/dispute appeal court , human rights court, commercial labour disputes etc. Just like the arrangement we have today in which Senatorial election cases terminate at the appeal court while only Governorship electoral cases go as far as the Supreme Court.
4. Supreme Court should be limited to constitutional issues, presidential election cases, interstate boundary dispute, international commercial disputes and other cross-cutting cases.
The case of the 40 lecturers sacked by the vice chancellor of the University of Ilorin,( UNILORIN 40) took 13 years. Many of the professors had died before the case was finally decided in their favour by the Supreme Court. The judgment was of no benefit to them. Justice delayed is justice denied.
The above examples are just to show us the various types and dimensions of restructuring we require, rather than just fixing our mind on political restructuring and the wrong impression that it is the almighty formula that will put an end to all Nigeriaâ€™s problems. A big mistake.
The Way Forward
Up till this point in this write up, I have tried to define what restructuring is, the various types of restructuring, and modes of implementing restructuring. It will not be of much use if I only explain the terminology without giving hints on it practical implementation within the context of the Nigerian nation. I will now go ahead to suggest the fundamental principles that should guide our restructuring and a list of needed restructuring we required in the short and medium term.
Principle no. 1: Equal Access And Equal Oppurtunity For All.
Every Nigerian, irrespective of social status must be given a sense of belonging so that no single individual, ethnic group, geographical segment or social group feels alienated or unwanted in terms of what he or it can contribute to the nation or in terms of having a fair share of national wealth. Minorities must have their interest taken into consideration and be protected at national, state or local government levels.
Principle no. 3: Equalization Of All Inequalities.
As a consequence of the principle no. 2 above, present structural imbalance should be corrected so that sectional grievances can be addressed once and for all. As long as those issues are being glossed over, those who are disadvantaged will not be fully committed to the common national goal. For example, distribution of local government is lopsided in favour of a section of the country giving them disproportionate advantage over others in revenue distribution and in representation. These inequalities should be corrected going forward.
Principle no. 4: Meritocracy- Merit Should Be King.
Emphasis should be on merit. It should be given the highest priority when deciding the criteria that will be considered when selecting people into non-elective policy making positions or appointing people who will manage our economy at all levels. These include Ministers, Commissioners, Directors, Heads of MDA and parastatals. This is of uttermost importance in critical parastals such as CBN, IFRS (Revenue generation), NAFDAC (Food safety), NIMASA (Maritime safety), NCAA/NAMA (Air safety), NCC (Telephony), NBC (Information broadcast) etc.
Federal character principle is a very good policy because it ensures that every section of the country is as much as possible equally represented in Federal Institutions and the same thing at state level. However, merit should not be sacrificed in the altar of federal character. It is recommended that going forward, and administrative restructuring should be put in place that will enable appointment to critical parastatals to be based on 75% merit and 25% federal character. Non-critical political appointments, merit and federal character should be shared on a 50-50 basis. Board of federal parastatals should have 50% of the members chosen by merit, while the other half will be based on federal character. For example, if a post is zoned to Yobe State, the choice of the representative from Yobe state should be based purely on merit. Such people are available in every state of the federation. Ekiti State may have more professors than Yobe state, but the people of Yobe are as intelligent as Ekiti people, the only difference is that one has more exposure to western education than the other.
Principle no. 5: We Can Achieve More Together.
A nation is a group of people who have agreed to co-exist, share their lives and pull their resources together so as to achieve what they could never achieved if they remain as individual entities. Size is an advantage because you can reap the benefits of the economies of scale. There is also strength in diversity. Consequently, if Nigeria remains a single nation, our population, land size, and diversity can be converted into economic advantage that will make us more prosperous than if each tribe or geographical unit exist as separate nations. Infact, I am looking forward to a day when the entire West Africa(ECOWAS) will become one country, that country will be five times stronger than Nigeria.
Recently, Mr Nwodo, the president of Ohaneze Ndigbo, an Igbo Cutural association complained of alleged marginalization, inequality and neglect. Actually every section of Nigeria complains about marginalization at one time or the other. Edwin Clarks complains on behalf of Ijaws and the Niger Delta people even under the government of Jonathan their son. The Afenifere and Oduâ€™a people congress complained on behalf of South West during Obasanjoâ€™s reign. Arewa Consultative Forum complained during Jonathanâ€™s government and even now under Buhari, a northern president. We tend to complain more when we feel we donâ€™t have enough share of lucrative posts and less when things are favourable. For example, the Igbos occupied very lucrative posts and had favourable policies under Jonathan so they did not complain much, on the contrary, the Yorubas complained bitterly because there was no Yoruba man in the first 10 most important federal posts under Jonathan. Today it is the other way round, the Igbos are complaining much and the Yorubas complaining less. So is a matter of mindset. Let us develop the right mindset, that is, we cannot have it equally good in all areas and all the time. Also our reactions should not be subjective, depending on who is in power or what we can get from the government of the day. We should look at issue from an objective point of view, with emphasis on what I can contribute to make Nigeria better not how big a pie I can cut for myself from the national cake. However, on the other hand, every government should ensure that every section of the country is fairly treated and represented in accordance with the spirit behind federal character principle. The Igbos, especially the youths, are complaining so much and even agitating for drastic restructuring. The Igbos are well dispersed across Nigeria, they are mostly traders and they have investments all over the country. Nigeriaâ€™s unity should be paramount in their mind because a united Nigeria constitute a huge market for their trading business and for the distribution of their manufactured products including the shoes made in Aria Aria industrial cluster and other products. In the same way the southern states constitute a huge market for agric products from the northern areas with large farms while the south west can export their professors to universities all over the nation. We are interdependent and there is mutual benefits for all.
There is no human being that can live alone without interacting with others. Also there is no family, community or even ethnic nationality that can exist in isolation without interaction with other communities. Since no two humans are the same, there will always be differences between personalities, communities or religious groups, social groups etc. Our decision to live with or interact with one another can only be possible or beneficial if we are ready to sacrifice some of our desires, sovereignty and freedom in order to accommodate others different from us. This is the best way we can make Nigeria to move forward. Even when people are grouped together by others without seeking their opinion as colonial masters have done, we can co-exist together if we have the right mindset and we decide to live together.
However, this requires that we tolerate our differences, adjust to our peculiarities, adopt an attitude of give and take, embrace compromise synchronize our diversity, respect one anotherâ€™s opinion.
No constitution is perfect anywhere in the world, both the Nigerian constitution and the US constitution. In the last election, we can see the imperfection and serious flaw in the American Electoral College System and winner-takes-all principle. The person with the highest votes does not necessarily win the election; definitely that is a major flaw, but Americans have decided they will allow it work and it has been working for them. So is a matter of mindset. Even if Nigeria goes back to Westminster System of government, we may not fair better as long as the mindset is not changed.
We all agree that there is need to change many political, administrative or economic structures in Nigeria, but it must be done with open mind, justice & equity. We should not defend an unfair policy just because it favours us or our own section of the country. Let our collective interest override sectional desires. Let us not defend or protect a criminal just because he is our son, SIN IS SIN no matter who commits it. RIGHTEOUSNESS EXALTS A NATION, BUT SIN IS A REPROACH TO ANY PEOPLE. Long live Nigeria.
â€“â€“Eng. Bello is former Acting Executive Secretary of NCC