The Pursuit of ‘True’ Federalism

Simon Kolawolelive!, Email: SMS: 0805 500 1961

What is federalism? To use the simplest definition at my disposal, federalism is a political system in which powers are shared between two “equal” levels of government: namely national and sub-national governments. Nigeria and Brazil have a third tier — local or municipal government. These powers are fundamentally to make laws. The powers held by each tier of government are determined from country to country. That is it why it is impossible to find two countries practising federalism exactly the same way. Every country has its own peculiar formation, politics, evolution, experience, culture and circumstances.

One major factor that accounts for the differences in the practice of federalism is the history of state formation. Some countries, such as the United Arab Emirates, voluntarily agreed to form a federation. They pre-defined the terms of their engagement before consummating their political matrimony. Many others, such as Nigeria, are colonial creations. It is a case of “arranged marriage”. However, there are usually some basics across federalisms: the national government, or central government, which we call federal government in Nigeria, typically takes control of foreign affairs, monetary policy and defence. These I would describe as the “irreducible minimum”.

What then is “true” federalism? For decades, different sections of Nigeria, particularly in the south, have been campaigning for restructuring, with “true federalism” being the focal point. It is argued that Nigeria currently runs a unitary system in which most powers are in the hands of the central/federal government. Indeed, federalism is designed to accommodate diversity so that no part can lord it over the other. The diversity could be ethnic, political, religious or even historical. The federating units — called states in Nigeria, provinces in Canada, cantons in Switzerland and emirates in the UAE — are equal: they are not subordinate to the centre.

In comparison, a unitary system has an all-powerful centre and the units are subordinate to this centre. Confederacy is a different proposition altogether: it is merely an association of independent countries such that the centre is subordinate to these units. Any of the units can pull out of the union at anytime. There is no country that currently has a confederacy; it exists mainly in associations, leagues and unions, such as AU, ECOWAS and FIFA. Belgium and Switzerland are the closest to confederacy today — but without the “free exit” clause. The Senegambia confederacy, established by Senegal and Gambia in 1982, dissolved in 1989 because it just did not work.

Back to the question: what is “true” federalism? One common definition among the agitators in Nigeria is self-determination for the federating units. For example, any state that has oil should take charge of the oil, determine who mines it and under what conditions, pocket the revenue and donate a maintenance allowance to the federal purse. This should also apply to every other mineral wealth. Currently, the centre controls that. Derivation and resource control are thus among the key demands. It is also argued that states should be allowed to set up a police force, levy taxes as they may wish, and decide if they want to run Sharia or Canonical legal systems.

To achieve “true” federalism, there are also suggestions that Nigeria should be restructured to a six-zone nation in line with the current six geo-political zones: north-east, north-central, north-west, south-east, south-south and south-west. In 1963, we had four regions: north, east, west and mid-west. We currently have 36 states. Under the proposed regional structure, it is expected that the cost of running government will also come down dramatically: from 36 state governors to six regional governors, and from 36 state houses of assembly to six regional assemblies. It is also projected that the six regions will compete “positively” in development terms.

A clear argument that has been advanced over time is that in the first republic, the three (and later four) regions competed positively. The north had groundnuts, the west cocoa and the east oil palm. If one region set up a university, the others would follow suit; if one region started a TV station, others would do theirs; and such like. To return to the era of healthy rivalry, we need to return to the regions, according to the proponents of regionalism. The distortion to our federalism is generally believed to have started in 1966 when the military adopted their central command system to run the country. The military went on to do significant violence to federalism for three decades.

Now where do I stand on “true” federalism? Before I proceed, we need to get some misconceptions out of the way. There is this impression that the regions had healthy rivalry and developed cocoa, groundnuts and oil palm in the first republic because of the truly “federal” constitution, and that the 1999 “unitary” constitution stopped agricultural development. This is urban legend. I can confirm that there is nothing in the 1999 constitution that stops Bayelsa state from developing its rice potential to feed Nigeria — and even export. What has dwarfed agriculture is the oil boom (and I will discuss this in greater detail in my next article: “The Pursuit of ‘Fiscal’ Federalism”).

Actually, the three regions “competed” in the 1960s and created three TV stations, but as 36 states “compete” today, there are at least 36 state-owned stations. Those three regions also “competed” and built three universities, but 36 states are “competing” today and, the way I count, we now have more than three state-owned universities. Competition, narrowly defined, is seen as only possible between regions and not states. I object. In the south-east alone today, Abia prides itself as the SME state, Ebonyi calls itself the rice state and Anambra brands itself the home of science and technology. That’s called healthy competition, according to my English tutor.

I love the argument about reducing the number of states. Most states are not viable, it is argued, and cannot survive without the petrodollar-funded federation allocation. This is a sound argument, but it ignores two factors. One, there is no state in Nigeria that is not viable. We have reduced the definition of viability to federation allocations, yet oil-poor Ekiti can make more money than oil-rich Bayelsa through visionary leadership. What natural resources does Japan have? What allocations does Las Vegas collect? Two, states were created for political reasons, so as you collapse them into one region, you may solve an economic problem and create multiple political crises.

Let us take another look. Under the “true” federalism proposal, we are to revive the 1963 constitution and amend a few provisions to pave the way for a return to regions and provinces in place of states and LGAs. Meaning Akwa Ibom, Edo, Delta, Bayelsa, Rivers and Cross River, for example, will now have one governor. Like seriously? Kogi state will return to Kabba Province, as it was called in 1963, consisting of today’s east, west and central senatorial districts with roughly 10 ethnic groups: Igala, Ebirra, Okun, Nupe, Ogori, Bassa, Gwari, Kakanda, Oworo and Ogori/Magongo. They will be re-united under one provincial chairman. Are you joking me?!

My stand: I’m not opposed to restructuring. Change is the only constant in life. But I think we are still badly missing the point. We think our problem is the system of government; I think our problem is inept and corrupt governance at every level of government. It is not as if we have not tried state police, regionalism, etc, before. But does anyone still remember what Major Kaduna Nzeogwu said in his coup speech? He spoke about “the political profiteers, the swindlers, the men in high and low places that seek bribes and demand 10 percent… the tribalists, the nepotists…” In 1966!!! The way some people talk about the first republic, you would think Nigeria was the best thing after paradise.

That is why I am saying, yet again, that we should perform the experiment I’ve been suggesting all along: relocate Germans to Nigeria; let them come and operate the same demonised 1999 constitution; don’t change a word in the document; also relocate Nigerians to Germany and let them operate the perfect federal constitution over there; and give both sets of human beings 10 years each in their new country. Return in 2027 for development assessment. I promise you: Nigeria will turn to Germany and Germany will turn to Nigeria within 10 years. You see, our problem is not the law. It is the kind of human beings we have as leaders. Rwanda is my witness.


Heavenly Father, 36 states and FCT have just shared over N243 billion from the Paris Club refunds. Merciful Father, when the first tranche was refunded, the agreement was that 75% would be used to offset arrears of salaries owed to labourers who, you said, deserve their wages. We later found out that while Nigerian workers and pensioners were perishing, some governors were spending the money building hotels and buying up mansions home and abroad. Loving Father, please touch the hearts of these wicked leaders to clear the backlog of salaries before they start building hotels again. Dear Lord, blind their eyes to the private jets, the yachts and those tiny girls. Amen.

Nothing ever changes in Nigeria. In 1990, FIFA suspended Nigeria from all age-group competitions for just one reason: they wrote to the NFA asking for explanations on the discrepancies in the dates of birth of Samson Siasia, Andrew Uwe and Dahiru Sadi, and we failed to reply until it was too late. Here we go again. In 2013, the Egmont Group, a global body central to the anti-graft war, asked Nigeria to make its financial intelligence unit autonomous but we ignored them. Now we’ve been suspended. If we don’t do the right thing by January 2018, we will be expelled altogether, and this will affect not just the anti-graft war but millions of Nigerians doing business abroad. Sigh.

Did I just read that the federal government has filed a suit seeking the remittance of $793m, “hidden” by seven Nigerian commercial banks, to the treasury single account (TSA)? Although most of the accused banks and agencies have denied hiding any money, my real puzzle is why the federal government will engage the services of a lawyer and incur legal costs on a matter that is purely administrative. Is it not as simple as writing a memo to the defaulting government agencies to remit the money and getting the CBN to discipline the banks? Why engage lawyers on such a straightforward matter? Is it just another job for the boys? Change!

Lagos state held polls saturday into 20 councils and 37 LCDAs. If you are like me, you would have concluded years ago that APC would sweep the poll. Why? Exhibit One: In Ebonyi, PDP won all the 13 chairmanship seats and 171 councillorship seats last April. Exhibit Two: in July, APC won all the 27 chairmanships and 287 councillorships in Jigawa. Sitting governors simply put their guys there. That is the way state “independent” electoral commissions roll. And on the issues of restructuring, can we cancel council polls and just ask governors to appoint the chairpersons and councillors? Why waste billions when we already know the results before election? Farce.

  • Hajenu

    As usual, week after week, Kolawole is 100% correct and right! Nigerians need to restructure our brains first! With the kind of thinking prevailing in the country and moral degeneration of society in all parts, changing the structure of the country will not lead to a change in governance for the better. It is indeed shocking to see failed politicians, seeking relevance and maybe access to the treasury pushing for ” restructuring” – Atiku, Ezeife, Fani Kayode,

  • Magnus0071mg

    have said time and again that we need to talk and negotiate this federation and maybe in due course produce a new constitution (our way of life) along with other sub national constitutions (ways of life) This will clearly define us as Nigerians and our sub national definition of us At least for whatever its worth we the people would really claim this is our way of life agreed and created by us Then the civic studies so loved by the Min of Education will have a base and basis to flourish with faith and passion from the citizenry
    Now this can only come about by agreement amongst us through intense and sincere negotiations
    The lines of the two views for such negotiations have emerged between pro-RESTRUCTURIST and anti-RESTRUCTURIST
    This two parties should now gather their followings to come to the negotiating table to agree how we live together then fashion a different way of life
    Each party can be made of states tribes religious group that believe in a restructured nation or against

  • Magnus0071mg

    I have said time and again that we need to talk and negotiate this federation and maybe in due course produce a new constitution (our way of life) along with other sub national constitutions (ways of life) This will clearly define us as Nigerians and our sub national definition of us At least for whatever its worth we the people would really claim this is our way of life agreed and created by us Then the civic studies so loved by the Min of Education will have a base and basis to flourish with faith and passion from the citizenry
    Now this can only come about by agreement amongst us through intense and sincere negotiations
    The lines of the two views for such negotiations have emerged between pro-RESTRUCTURIST and anti-RESTRUCTURIST
    This two parties should now gather their followings to come to t

  • “Korede

    My takeaway from the piece is from one of the four other things “PERISH CLUB” and I quote

    “Dear Lord, blind their eyes to the private jets, the yachts and those tiny girls. ” and also say Amen.

    i don’t know how mere restructuring will address the issue raised under this paragraph titles PERISH CLUB.

    We actually need more than restructuring.

  • FrNinja

    In his definition he neglects to mention a few things about REAL federations:

    1) They all have a FOURTH TIER – municipal governments. The countries of Switzerland, Brazil, UAE, and Canada all have municipal governments responsible for running cities like Geneva, Rio De Janeiro, Dubai and Toronto. They all have mayors and city councils all sustained from taxes. Even in Africa, countries like South Africa, Kenya have municipalities. Nigeria has over 30 cities with populations over 500,000 and bizarrely has no system of municipal government.

    2) Most federations have policing systems that MIRROR the devolution in responsibility. Brazil, Switzerland, UAE and Canada all have policing at the federal, state and municipal or city level. In Nigeria backward elements continue to argue senselessly that state and local police will empower rogue governors.

    3) Most federations operate on the basis of RESOURCE CONTROL. The Emirates of the UAE do not share all oil to a center that then distributes it. They each earn royalties for oil drilled in their domains. While Abu Dhabi emirate depends heavily on its huge oil reserves, the Dubai emirate WAS FORCED to go beyond oil to diversify into ports, hospitality, shopping and business services. Today while oil-rich Abu Dhabi which has 94% of UAE oil accounts for a much less 66% of UAE GDP, Dubai the oil-poor state with less than 5% of UAE oil accounts for 25% of UAE GDP.

    The same goes for Brazil where oil revenue is earned principally by states that produce it which in Brazil are controlled by the states of Rio De Janeiro, Sao Paulo and Esprito Santos. Indeed in 2010, the Federal Government of Brazil under Roussef created a new law seeking to share the royalties of new rich off-shore oil blocks with all 26 states and was taken to court by the state governments.

    All these make nonsense to those who claim that Nigeria should not be restructured.

  • marcos avelino

    What you should have said is our problem is not the law. It is the kind of human beings we are and not — our problem is not the law. It is the kind of human beings we have as leaders.
    The leaders are from the people and not from the moon. Nigerians are simply savages and it will take some time to civilse them. The british came and found an animist pagan south in deep shit only about a hundred years ago.

  • RumuPHC

    Simon’s verses sound familiar so are the responses from the ” usual suspects” of this forum!

    Anyway to add more food for thought on this debate, I share two quotes from the work of one Daniel Aigbiboa:

    First on regional system-

    “The inherently flawed regional system, combined with the equally problematic Westminster majoritarian model bequeathed by the British (complete with its winner-takes-all and dual executive arrangements), nurtured deep social and political tensions in Nigeria. Far from fostering national unity in diversity, Nigeria’s regionalized political arrangements fanned the flames and intensi ed the thrust and impunity of centrifugal forces as driven by the ethnic majorities. In
    the absence of colonial mediating influence, independent Nigeria gravitated rapidly towards political bedlam (1961–66), military coup (1966), counter-coup (1966) and civil war (1967-1970) – alll within a decade of independence.”

    On Federalism-

    ” Overall, Nigerian multi-state federalism has given a greater voice to the country’s so-called ethnic and other minorities. With roughly one-third of the states in the federation under their direct control, “the minorities now constitute a substantive, although heterogeneous and fractious, political bloc in the federation. Thus, the genius of Nigeria’s tripartite federalism in accommodating ethnic minorities and mitigating conflict is re enacted as follows: (1) “The partial compartmentalisation or decentralisation of conflicts in separate, multiple, sub-federal arenas (rather than a few large regional centres), thereby reducing the capacity of such conflic to polarize or destabilize the entire federation; (2) The fragmentation and relegation of each of the three major ethnic groups into several states, thereby promoting the political accommodation and empowerment of communities that were previously disenfranchised under the defunct regional structure; (3) The establishment of several more or less heterogeneous ethnic minority-dominated states; (4) The moderation and sublimation of ethnicity through the promotion of intergovernmental alignments that cut across ethnic fault-lines. Constituent states are not exactly isomorphic with ethnic boundaries, and both cooperate and compete along functional lines of interest, including issues of states’ rights and constitutionalism; and (5) The promotion
    of some form of distributive justice through the devolution and redistribution of resources to multiple sub-federal jurisdictions as well as the representation of diverse sub-federal elites in national government institutions, as concretized in Nigeria’s revenue sharing and federal character policies, respectively.”

    Regional structure collapsed within 6 yrs of practice while federal system has sustained Nigeria for more than 50yrs despite all manners of challenges during the period.

    • Country man

      RumuPHC are you deliberately ignoring FACTS or do you just want to play devil’s advocate on the topic?
      For ALL the reasons you gave to justify the present structure, NONE states how it brings about good governance, as all your reasons center on ethnicity and parochial sentiments.
      Why are we having so much agitation around the country presently if creating states “reduced the capacity for conflict”? Why are we so underdeveloped?
      I say this for the UMPTEENTH TIME, government Respecting property rights of individuals and removing price regulation is the solution.
      And hey, no one is insisting that the regions must be 3 or 4 or 6. The only thing is that EVERY REGION SHOULD BE SELF SUSTAINING, and create as many LGAs, states or provinces that it can conviniently carter to from its own resources

      • RumuPHC

        Sir, The above post is not entire mine though I am in complete agreement with this position. These are conclusions drawn by Daniel Aigboboa which I decided to share to add to the discussion.

        Every political concept has its merit and demerits. No one is saying you are wrong and regional structure of governance is bad. What we are saying is that for a country like Nigeria with multiples of ethnic groupings , the more amendable structure for inclusiveness is the federal structure.

        Regional structure exacerbate the fault lines of ethnicity and punishes minorities by promoting the dominance of the three major groups. That is why it easily collapsed under its own weight in the ’60s post independence- a titanic struggle for power by leaders of 3 regions. On the other hand, federalism reduces the effects of these negative tendencies and provides a more level playing ground for all ethnicities- emergence of a minority Ijaw as president.

        Expectedly, solving one problem always create new problems. The agitations under the current federalism are valid and justifiable. Understandable too, cries will be loudest under economic uncertainties which will naturally expose incompetence in leadership triggering political tension as currently witnessed under PMB/APC .

        Therefore it is solutions that we should seek and not reversal of the gains of the past 50 yrs no matter what. Better leadership will be able to mitigate the immediate effects of economic challenges, develop a blue print for future prosperity as well as fine tune policies that will further reduce the pains and cries of ethnic entities who feel deprived of certain rights under the federal structure.

        The 1999 Constitution provides for all that is required for solving new challenges of federalism. What is needed is good leadership first to implement the provisions of the Constitution with knowledge and in good faith , and also to anticipate new challenges and respond appropriately before such become mainstream issues that provokes widespread agitations including demagoguery.

        It is possible to see the fairness of the 1999 Constitution even on casual reading . The contentious issues are basically contained in Acts enacted more than 4 decades ago by the military and now form most of the received laws in our nascent democracy. The Land Use , Petroleum , Revenue Acts and others are actually overdue for review . It is political will that is lacking . This is where leadership counts.

        • William Norris

          First reasonable post from you on this subject, especially the last paragraph.

          Leaders will only act if the people insist. The people of Nigeria are addicted to government loot.

          • RumuPHC

            Sir, This has always being my opinion . Anyway many thanks for your acknowledgement.

            Again that is why we say leadership matters. A real leader show the way and the people follow.

  • Bukola Ajisola

    Corruption, not restructuring is our bane – The Nation Nigeria

  • Country man

    Mr Simon, if you are not seeing how the constitution is impeding growth in this country then i can enlighten you and use illustrations that are simple to understand too.

    First you said “oil poor ekiti can make more money than oil rich bayelsa”, but the question is WHY SHOULD THEY THINK OUTSIDE THE BOX? If you had someone pay you what you earn as a writer while you sit at home- Will You Work? The salaries of governors, senators, state legislatures in kano, abuja, oyo, enugu, etc comes whether their states are productivr or not so there is no incentive to do anything. Yet the CONSTITUTION supports this.
    Also no state that actually has visionary leadership can move forward. Take for example can lagos or ekiti state bring in say General Electric to power their state and CHARGE APPROPRIATE FEES without the federal govt fixing prices?

    Second on state creation- People clamoured and continue to clamour for state creation for the simple selfish reason that they want a slice of the cake. Divide into regions and have them create as many states as they can sustain and we will see state creation for what it truly is.

    Then your mention of Rwanda actually does not fit because Nigeria has better GDP Per capita than rwanda so we cant emulate people we are better off than (even though kigali airport is sure many times better than MMIA)

    You complain about governors embezzling bailout funds but you fail to see that the law protects them by granting them immunity.

    Finally on the exchange of Nigerians and germans, I can assure you that if the Germans came here the first thing they will consign to the dustbin before doing anything is the Nigerian constitution. If they are forced to use it, with 80% of budget going to recurrent expenditure, DEVELOPMENT WILL STILL BE SLOW AT BEST.
    1. The idea of SHARING ALLOCATION has to STOP.
    2. THE PROPERTY RIGHTS OF INDIVIDUALS HAS TO BE RESPECTED. Individuals should feel free to explore the natural resources in their lands and pay taxes to the govt, both local and federal. In the western world GOVT THRIVES ON TAXES. If this was done since independence, i seriously doubt if we would have all the issues we have today because no one will be crying of marginalization.
    3. Government has to STOP FIXING PRICES of anything be it petrol, electricity, dollar, etc as this only encourages corruption.
    Foreign investors should be free to come and invest and set APPROPRIATE PRICES DEPENDING ON MARKET FORCES.
    Govt should be an UNBIASED UMPIRE making sure SUBSTANDARD SERVICES are not offered at a premium.

    If we were to do these a lot will change:-
    1. States or Regions will start to think outside the box as there will be no free oil rent to live off.
    2. There will no more be any reason to clamour for state creation or to inflate the population in your state or region as there is no more FREE allocation to share.
    Equally no governor will have GOVT MONEY TO EMBEZZLE, as funds to run the region come from the people and appropriate punishment will be placed even on Sitting Governors who play any hanky panky with the people.
    Remuneration for politicians will be cut to size, thereby weeding out people who come to government without any intention to govern. For example if in a new constitution a senator or governor earns only 500k without any allowances, IDIOTS who populate the political space will leave.

    Why Mr Simon as well as his co-writer Adeniyi refuses to see or deliberately ignores these points befuddles me.
    Its high time men of truth and vision especially in the fourth estate rise up and say it just the way it is.

  • lanre lanre

    Simon Kolawole is writing like Donald Trump tweets. Sad!

  • Mystic mallam

    For a welcome change, commentators on Simon’s posting today have shown unusual maturity in responding to his Janus-faced, on-the fence position on restructuring and true federalism; – no inter-ethnic insults, no puerile self-abuses. I have up-voted many of them. As for Simon himself, sometimes one has to wonder how such a talented writer succumbs so easily to such contradictory statements in the same essay, while proposing childish generalisations that one could only expect to hear from beer-parlour banters. After a useful dictionary definition of federalism, he concludes with an insinuation that Nigerians ever agreed that the federating units should be subordinate to the centre. A few soldiers decided that not us, and for good measure, that wasn’t just in the 1999 constitution, it was the case from the commencement of army rule, and the advent of inordinate greed fuelled by oil rent, made bad-enough unbearable. It was the sharing of oil rent as a constitutional entitlement to arbitrary, non-viable states that stopped agricultural development, nothing else did, and it’s futile for Simon to try changing that narrative. Yes, the prior 3 regional governments built 3 world class universities which Simon rudely compares to the new ”no-class political” state universities whose degrees are virtually worthless outside the states that award them. That is not healthy competition, that’s unhealthy rivalry. Simon’s mindset appears still locked-in the world of natural resources, otherwise, why would he be asking ‘what resources Japan and Las Vegas have’ in defending the sustenance of the present 36 states, 28 of which are said to be incapable of paying salaries. If he is unaware, Japan has the most important resource of all, and it’s called intellectual resource, so does Las Vegas, which by the way, is a city in Nevada not a federating unit of the USA. And, please Simon, no one is romancing the 1st Republic, we know it wasn’t perfect, and we didn’t need any major Nzeogwu to tell us that. All we are saying is that, in comparison, the present unitary system comes a distant second in terms of national cohesion, stability and service delivery. The growing tide of across-country revolt against unitary rule is enough evidence. I will resist the temptation to comment on your infantile experiment of Nigerians and Germans trading places. At the least, you should have known that the proposal clearly illustrates your confusion about federations being sui-generis because of variances of culture, history and whatever.

  • samG60

    Why should states have control of land and mineral resources? why should land be vested in governors? Land and minerals therein should be the property of the owner of the land and not any state, local or federal government, taxes and royalties can then be paid thereof. All that is within the territorial waters, exclusive economic zones and continental shelf should rightly belong to the National government, but land and mineral rights should belong to the owners. Land Use act as it is currently first has to be repealed.

    • William Norris

      Before Nigeria existed, the various tribes each had their own unique political and economic systems that were well suited to their circumstances. The British came to these shores and conquered all the tribes and then wrote LAWS that created a commercial corporation called NIGERIA, disguised as a nation state and proceeded to TAKE ALL LANDS AND RESOURCES from the tribes and give same to NIGERIA.

      So the issue is NOT individual, village or tribal ownership. The tribes should have their sovereignity back and be free to DECIDE FOR THEMSELVES which economic, social and political systems they want. The Igbo should be free to continue with their Osu caste system or abolish it, the Fulani can continue to emulate the pedophilia of Prophet Mohammed, the Edo can give all their lands to their Oba and the Ijaw can give all their crude oil & natural gas resources to Egbesu to manage for them.

      Get it? No dictates, no forced choices, just FREEDOM.

      • Bishop

        Just freedom to fail or succeed on their own terms.

      • Don Franco

        Dear Michael Norris,

        Must you appeal to the worst angels of our nature?
        If you propose to tear down this citdel; at least proffer a practical workable solution devoid of profane platitudes. ..

        • William Norris

          Excuse me? Are you OK?

      • Priestley Okorro

        Thank you very much even if i do not agree 100% with all issues you have raised in your note . Every body should swim or sink according to their beliefs ,behaviour and work. Stop feeding bottle unitary system masquerading as federalism. We should go the whole hog and even be confederal. Some states in the north have introduced sharia in a secular state which should be treason. Everything should be decentralized so that no one is held back by dead weights from moving very fast. Holland exports more than $100bn of agricultural products every year much more than Nigerian oil exports.People like Kolawole defending the military fraud are not better than the military rascals that foisted the fraud on Nigerians. Old Kano was created the same day with Lagos in 1967. Old Kano now has 80 LGs but Lagos is stuck with 20 LGs. That is equity in the jungle of Nigeria. For the information of Simon Sani Abacha joined the army as a driver and never passed staff college but was one of the state creators. Before the civil war the north and south had six states each. After the war the north now started creating states and LGs like EBOLA infested republic. Teacher dont teach me nonsense.

      • FrNinja

        Awolowo, Azikiwe and Balewa agreed on resource control for their regions. There was no Land Use Act in 1960.

        It was the military that nationalized oil resources that should have rightly belonged to the people not FGN. But this was NOT NEGOTIATED with oil producing communities but imposed. After all, when the Royal Niger Company was active in Nigeria they were buying cocoa, palm oil from locals, coal and tin mining were established by negotiation with local authorities. The whole argumentvof windfall earnings is nonsense. The Bafokeng in South Africa get billions from platinum royalties and run a major investment company that owns shares in companies and stadiums and hotels.

        So MEND and others are justifiably fighting for their rights. Oil companies should be negotiating with local communities not FGN or Rivers or Delta state government. Its the land of those communities being used. Deep Offshore belongs to the commonwealth.

        • William Norris

          There was Land Use Act and other forms of wealth theft by government, the laws just had other names. Immediately the British conquered Nigeria, the tribes LOST THEIR RESOURCE AND LAND RIGHTS to the Colonial Corporation called Nigeria. I already shared a link about Oloibiri with you. Did the Natives of Oloibiri have ANYTHING to do with the decision to drill for crude oil in their village in 1953? Could they have said NO, don’t drill here OR give us 70% of the profits from this oil well?

          And deep offshore belongs to the tribes on that coast, not Nigeria. Sorry.

          Apartheid in South Africa has been abolished, the Separate Areas Act of 1913 or whatever has been repealed and replaced by democratic laws, yet the Whites still own over 90% of the lands. It remains so because THAT IS WHAT SOUTH AFRICA IS ABOUT, that’s the OBJECTIVE of the State, to take property from Blacks and give to Whites. The Bafokeng are an exception. What % of the Black Population are they?

          In Nigeria, the Land Use Act, Petroleum Act, Solid Minerals Act are reincarnations of the ORIGINAL PHILOSOPHICAL BASIS of Nigeria, which is that the Native Peoples must not be allowed to own any lands and resources. That is the major reason Nigeria is poor. If you abolish those today, they will be reinserted into the Law and given another name because LEGAL THEFT is the BASIS of Nigeria.

          In fact, if those are abolished in a way that affects the property rights of Western Companies, the next thing you will read in the news is that the USA & UK and EU have placed Nigeria under sanctions and how the country violates human rights and elections are not credible. Follow the money and understand what your country is.

          • FrNinja

            Rubbish! The Parliament of the then northern Nigeria passed the Land Tenure Law in 1962, which governed all interest affecting land. The Land Tenure law vested all land in the governor who was to hold land in trust for the people and only rights of occupancy (not rights of ownership) could be granted to other people. The consent of the governor was required before any alienation of interest in land could take place.
            In the then Southern Nigeria, however, customary system of land tenure governed land interest and land was owned by communities, families and individuals in freehold. Land was acquired either by inheritance, first settlement, conveyance, gift, outright purchase or long possession. There were also crown lands, which were acquired by the British Crown by virtue of treaty, cession, convention or agreement. When Nigeria attained independence, such crown land became known as state land.

          • FrNinja

            The Parliament of the then northern Nigeria passed the Land Tenure Law in 1962, which governed all interest affecting land. The Land Tenure law vested all land in the governor who was to hold land in trust for the people and only rights of occupancy (not rights of ownership) could be granted to other people. The consent of the governor was required before any alienation of interest in land could take place.
            In the then Southern Nigeria, however, customary system of land tenure governed land interest and land was owned by communities, families and individuals in freehold. Land was acquired either by inheritance, first settlement, conveyance, gift, outright purchase or long possession. There were also crown lands, which were acquired by the British Crown by virtue of treaty, cession, convention or agreement. When Nigeria attained independence, such crown land became known as state land.

            About deep offshore by UN Convention after certain nautical miles resources belong to countries. Indeed considering that almost half of oil production now comes from deep offshore will cushion the impact of resource control for indigenous nations in the delta.

          • William Norris

            You can quote whatever law you want. First of all, you have illustrated what I wrote earlier, no Native Nigerian has owned ANY land or resource since the creation of Nigeria.

            The Native Tribes within the territory lost all their political, economic, land & resource rights with the creation of Nigeria.

            The Northern situation is even funnier. First the Hausa tribes lost their sovereignty to the Arabo-Fulani conquerors, then the British came and conquered the Fulani.

            So whatever rights were “CLAIMED” by the government of Northern Nigeria were in FACT being administered by the Sarduana, who was a successor rule to the Sokoto Caliphate.

            If Bayelsa or Akwa Ibom were to be a sovereign state, some of those offshore resources would belong to them. Nigeria owns nothing, Nigeria is nothing means STEALING, THEFT & ROBBERY as national policy.

          • FrNinja

            Now you are talking nonsense. The British colonialists practiced eminent domain whereby land could be seized for public purpose. Otherwise they recognized customary title to land. Enugu coal for example was negotiated by acquiring land from the village of enugwu ngwo by the british colonialists.

          • William Norris

            There has NEVER been anything like OWNERSHIP or TITLE to ANY land in Nigeria since it was colonized by the British. That’s fact, but…..

            Please….PAUSE A MINUTE….and think about what you just wrote.

            The British government NEGOTIATED with Enugu villagers…just imagine.

            In fact, the Igbo became part of the British Empire by negotiation too.


          • FrNinja

            Instead of debating ignorantly go and read: “Informal Land Delivery Processes in Enugu, Nigeria” by Cosmas Uche Ikejiofor and I quote:

            Traditionally, Nigeria did not have a uniform system of land tenure. The heterogeneity of its population was reflected in the many forms of land administration that existed. The local political structure determined to a large extent the ways of obtaining and holding land. In the northern parts of the country an Emirate system operated, with a hierarchical power structure. In these areas, all land rights resided in the highest authority who (or whose representative) could give out parcels following some cultural rules. In most parts of southern Nigeria, however, the tenure system adopted a general form, the dominant characteristic of which is that land belongs to the group or community (tribe, village, clan, kindred, lineage, family) and not the individual.

            Unlike the situation in many of the British colonial territories elsewhere in Africa, the British did not wish to stay for long in Nigeria. The colonialists learned early that the indigenous peoples could produce the raw materials needed by the Empire at a cheaper cost than could foreigners. This, together with strong existing states in much of coastal West Africa, gave rise to the British policy of ‘indirect rule’ articulated in the principle of the ‘dual mandate’: to develop the agricultural resources of Nigeria through the agency of its inhabitants.

            A cardinal principle of indirect rule was minimal interference with traditional institutions. Thus, the colonialists did not embark on any major transformation related to land. In southern Nigeria, the system of communal ownership of land was allowed to continue because it enabled the colonial administration to increase the power of local (paramount) chiefs through whom they could rule indirectly.

            National independence in 1960 did not bring about any fundamental changes in urban policy and planning.

            The origin of Enugu dates back to the discovery of a rich seam of coal in the area in 1909 by a geological exploration team led by a British mining engineer, Mr Kitson. According to Njoku, the colonial government persuaded the people of Ngwo and Ogui (the owners of the land where coal had been discovered) to freely and voluntarily cede ten square miles of their land to enable the administration to establish a colliery and a railway station. Isichei reports, however, that the colonial administration paid compensation of 200 pounds sterling for this acquisition.

  • William Norris

    Now where do I stand on “true” federalism? Before I proceed, we need to get some misconceptions out of the way. There is this impression that the regions had healthy rivalry and developed cocoa, groundnuts and oil palm in the first republic because of the truly “federal” constitution, and that the 1999 “unitary” constitution stopped agricultural development. This is urban legend. I can confirm that there is nothing in the 1999 constitution that stops Bayelsa state from developing its rice potential to feed Nigeria — and even export. What has dwarfed agriculture is the oil boom (and I will discuss this in greater detail in my next article: “The Pursuit of ‘Fiscal’ Federalism”).
    The oil boom only dwarfed Agriculture because the petrodollars were AVAILABLE to non-crude oil producing tribes. The obsession with crude oil could have been CONFINED to the Niger Delta if the other regions/states had NO LEGAL ENTITLEMENT to the resulting revenue.

    On a practical level, at the very least, the Land Use Act, Solid Minerals Act and Petroleum Act and all other laws that enable FORCED SHARING OF RESOURCES must be abolished.

    Finally, people like are NOT claiming that CONFEDERACY will make Nigeria better. We do insist, we KNOW, that it will make each tribe COMPLETELY RESPONSIBLE for its own success or failure or whatever conditions it chooses to live with, much in the same way the Ijaw can’t blame the Ashanti or Wolof for the problems in their lands.

  • austin

    Eg on the face for a government supposedly fighting corruption. The results are clear for all to see.

  • the masked one

    IN a rather resignedly, if not defeatist tone, Simon Kolawole, concludes: “Our problem is inept and corrupt governance at every level of government……and not (necessarily) the system of government in place”.

    More like a surgeon telling a patient who has been booked for surgery that his chances of survival is zero. Then, why recommend surgery in the place?

    Simon Kolawole, will always end up receiving jibes from his readers for his inability to stand for anything. Perhaps, he sees this as smartness? But all I see is intellectual dishonesty!

    I find Simon Kolawole’s experiment of interchanging Germans and Nigerians to prove his point about leadership rather ludicrous, if not totally infantile. This is banal and falls abysmally below intellectual discourse. Only in beer-parlour circles do men amuse themselves with such trivia.

    Seriously, no human problem is totally solvable or totally unsolvable. As the world is in a constant evolution so are ideas and means of controlling and containing it. Who had imagined climate change in this 21 century and its attendant environmental hazards? But the world is not sitting idly and allow nature to its course.

    I quite agree with Simon Kolawole that Nigeria’s problem is leadership, however, I do not agree we have to import Germans or Americans to solve our problem. No system or structure in sacrosanct. We have tried unitary structure and ‘mixed’ federalism and did not get it right.

    As I stated in my earlier comments, if we really desire to live together as a united entity we must have to talk. It is only after that we can formulate the type of structure(s) that will sustain that unity.

    Personally, I favour a federalism designed to accommodate our diverse identities/self-determination/resource-control for federating units. Regions should be allowed to evolve at their own pace/desires. For instance, I do not see why a region that says alcohol consumption is haram should draw from excise duty on alcohol or why a region should not practice sharia or other traditional religious practice if it deems that fit.

    I leave you with America Energy Secretary, Rick Perry, take on federalism: “Crucial to understanding of federalism in modern day America is the concept of mobility or ‘the ability to vote with your feet’. If you don’t support death penalty and citizens packing pistol – don’t go to Texas. If you don’t like medicinal marijuana and gay-marriage, don’t move to California”.

    My lgbo adage says: Forest that does not want to see basket should not grow mushrooms. People should make fire with the type of firewood available in their locality!

    • Edon B.

      The Ibibio adage says: It is a town that has river, that must have of necessity own canoe. Pure and simple!

      • the masked one

        I hear you! Making use of one’s resources to good effects! That is federalism!

    • Bishop

      Thank you Sir.

    • pius pumpum

      You are obviously one of the climate change converts….Africans we can hardly see,so mentally lazy.The West will keep enslaving us,from Human slave trade to economic slave trade,once you have a comparative advantage over them on any thing they will try so hard to demonize it——–it happened with coal and it is now happening with crude oil.Have you asked question why Trump pulled out of paris climate Agreement?because it will hurt American jobs,so what does that tell you?it is all about business.Nobody is sure that fossil fuel is the cause of the so called climate change it is all speculation.The west are the most tricky they can use the media to sell poison as a the coolest drink ever.Because we cannot think on our own we must join the bandwagon to demonize the only commodity that gives us comparative advantage…..we should wake up and smell the coffee.Even if you don’t burn a drop of fossil fuel no guarantee that the climate will still not change period! sell

      • the masked one

        Just being diversionary, I guess? However, the import of my digression never detracted from the subject under scrutiny. All the same, the thinning of the ice in the antarctic lake is still a cause for worry for many.
        The perennial flooding witnessed in some parts of Nigeria hitherto unassociated with such phenomenon has left tales of woe among the citizenry.
        Definitely, you cannot compare the way America reacts to environmental hazards with the way we Africans do. Until proven otherwise that fossil fuel is not the cause of climate change, we have to be on guards! That is the wise thing to do! Many countries are now looking for alternative sources of energy other than fossils!

  • Michael Kadiri SocioPolitical

    Simon, you are wrong in the suggestion that we should not restructure because of your dodgy conclusion that it will be too difficult to manage. Your Germany argument is just beer parlour banter and should not have formed part of your argument. I suspect however, that you came to that conclusion because you do not think that we have the calibre of leadership that will deliver success on the new proposed model and in that respect, you have a point.
    My take therefore is that we must restructure because it is the right ‘fit-for-purpose’ thing to do. However, we must also pay equal attention to how we select those who will lead us because however sensible we make the system, we must stop allowing the patients run the asylum.

  • remm ieet

    The 1954 constitution started the federalising process which culminated at independence and we enjoyed it for a while. I will argue that the processes which resulted in the federal system even at that time was flawed. It opened Nigeria to the present day collapse. First, into unitarism which was disguised as federalism for many years. Second that process which centralised authority at the centre, gradually gravitated us into the money politics which we practice today. That is the reason why people who go into politics go for money straightaway and don’t beat about the bush. They are already far away from the reach of the people. That is also the reason why the demand for true federalism has created a two classes of elite in our national consciousness. You have the genuine leaders who do not see a way out of this imposed centralisation. The other group of leaders are the ones we should worry about. They are directly responsible for the record level demand for restructuring and true federalism which is due to their recklessness. They are the ones who forced Simon to storm the heavens. They are truly wicked and their consciences are already seared with hot iron.

  • Don Franco

    Dear Simon,

    You’re becoming like Dele Momodu in defending the indefensible; so you’re now against restructuring because you can’t imagine how 36 states can be condensed into 6 geopolitical zones, with six regional Governors; even though it’s clear that it’s either we restructure this country into six zones or be prepared to deal with her total disintegration in the nearest future.
    Are you not aware that the state of Texas, roughly the same size as all of Nigeria, has one Governor? Why do you propose for every minority tribal grouping in the Middlebelt to have its own Governor? The confederacy of the first republic worked well for every part Nigeria, in a tried, tested and proven manner, including for your part of Kwara State.
    The reason why Germans can transform Nigeria after ten years is because they are “one people” with the same ethos, language, culture, mindset and religion. While Nigerians will not be able to change Germany because we as a people have nothing in common, except maybe a tendency to grossly marginalize, steal, hate, kill and destroy; Nnamdi Kanu is my witness.
    You have a gifted pen, Simon; but you lack the strength of character, and the character of conviction to clearly and convincingly propose Restructuring, without cowardice.

  • Okikiola Akinkugbe

    Simon, your conclusion shows clearly that you don’t have a solution to Nigeria’s problem. While I agree that our biggest flaw as a nation is character, ridiculing proffered solutions is a waste of time. If we have 6 governors (or less) it only means local government chairmen, state houses of assembly etc. have bigger roles to play. No brainier.

  • Thompson Iyeye

    Seriously, the three or four regions of the ’60s cannot be compared to the Lilliputian 36 states of today. In the first place, those regions independently generated their incomes out of which the centre was supported. Very few of the present 36 states can be so self sufficient. The economy of scale is very much in favour of larger regional units. To seek to propagate the current feeding bottle federalism, makes no sense.

    Strangely, Simon Kolawole sees a problem coalescing the present 36 states into six, and highlights the diversity of the various components of people that need to be pulled together. He therefore sees the numerous ethnic groups as the problem or challenge in having larger regional units. The same Simon Kolawole has vigorously argued for Nigeria remaining one unit, when clearly there are even more ethnic groups forming the united Nigeria. May we ask him why it is ok to pull together the larger number of ethnic groups under one country, but yet not possible to pull together a fewer number to form regional units?

    The argument or suggestion of having Germans run Nigeria and Nigerians run Germany sound rather childish. Nigeria today has problems which have to be solved by Nigerians. There is no getting away from that fact. If Nigerians are not sufficiently capable of solving the problems under a particular system (unitary style federalism), what on earth is wrong in adopting another system (proper federalism) which can make the management of their problem easier, more so as such a system had been tested with better results?

    There is too much power in Nigeria concentrated at the centre and that is stifling virtually everything. The United States we copied this so called presidential system from, runs a system that has most powers devolved to the states. Why must we get stuck in the command and control mode of government handed us by the military? To have otherwise respected journalists like Simon stuck on this dogma, beats all imagination.

    • Truth is bitter

      Thank God you realise the childishness in Simon Kolawole’s article. He has held this silly view for a long time may be because he was not yet born at the time we practised Federalism. I wish I had time to address each paragraph of his article. I like journalist for the arm chair analysis of problems and the solutions they proffer – always detach from reality.

    • Ojoko

      The problem with some journalists is that they are consistently inconsistent. At one point, they dish out one utopia and at another, they contradict themselves, just to have something to write about.

      • ebele

        The are writing from their own viewing centres and not from what is on ground.

    • John Paul

      Kolawole is 100% correct.

      The federating units in Nigeria should be the States. Going back to a Regional arrangement, on account of nostalgia, is a very bad idea

      In addition to the well researched points made by Kolawole in his essay, as to why our States became unproductive, after the demise of the first republic – the oil curse, bad leadership, etc – Nigerians forget that when we had the regional system, Nigeria did not have many mouths to feed. Nigeria’s population was not even up to a paltry 50 million.

      Since Nigeria’s population exploded – 180 million – after the first republic, we need to devolve powers to smaller administrative units.

      By the way, the excessive focus on Regions or States may be missing the point. The focus should be on our cities – Lagos, Onitsha, Kano, Port Harcourt, Aba, etc. What we should have is metropolitan police, especially for our large cities – Onitsha police, Aba police and so on. And most of our resources should be spent in our urban areas, as they do in the United States where we copied our constitution from

      The argument that most of our 36 States cannot be viable is also a fallacy.

      Even the poorest State in Nigeria – Yobe State – can be viable if they cut their coat according to their cloth. Stop buying Prado jeeps every four years for each commissioner and top government official. Practice a parliamentary system at the State level, or make the State House of Assembly a part time or volunteer service, where assembly members are not paid salaries, etc

      In order to cut more costs to enable our current Federal system to work. We need a unicameral legislature – with one federal house of parliament – and a parliamentary system of government , where the ministers are appointed from the members of our single house of parliament

      To cut costs further, we need to reduce the salaries and remuneration of our legislators by, at least, 50%. We need to make government positions very unattractive, in terms of pecuniary benefits, so that we can attract only people who are interested in serving.

      Most public servants in the United States and Europe have only one house, which they are still paying a mortgage on. There is nothing wrong with a Nigerian government official having only one house, at the end of 30 years of serving his country

      The tribal mentality that suggests that if you put all Igbo, Yoruba and Hausa under one region, everything will be okay, is equally misplaced and does not capture the full picture.

      In the United States, where we gleaned our constitution from, their States are not a tribal enclaves. They do not have White States, or Black States, or Latino States or Asian States, there. And it is working just fine for them.

      Additionally, the South-South and many other regions in Nigeria, are not as homogeneous as many people want to believe. Why will Akwa Ibom State – which makes more money, under our current revenue sharing forrmula, than any other State in Nigeria – want to cede its sovereignty to a South-South Region, with the capital in Port Harcourt. Especially as the pace of their development is progressing nicely

      Nigeria should start its “restructuring” exercise, by adopting – “hook, line and sinker” – the recommendation of the 2014 Constitutional conference. Which includes the creation of 18 more States. Including Aba State.

      Those that oppose the creation of additional States, fall into two categories:

      (a.)They do not even live in their States. They live in Lagos or Abuja; and/or

      (b.) Their village is the capital of their State

      • Thompson Iyeye

        If being contradictory amounts to being 100% correct, then you are also 100% correct. He does not see the possibility of various groups in 6 states coalescing into a geopolitical zone or region, yet he swears all the various groups in 36 states must belong to a country. That sounds contradictory to me and can therefore not be correct.

        Your reference to states in the United States, has no sense of logic. What has tribe got to do with the fact that power is devolved to states in the US?

        You even talk about Akwa Ibom and sovereignty. What sovereignty? There is no state with sovereignty in this country, unless your idea of sovereignty is states being feeding bottle fed, as we now have.

        Restructuring this country will not solve all the problems. The problems will be reduced with a weaker centre. That in itself will reduce the do or die attitude of our politcians with respect to capturing the centre and power. Call the reference to the old regional system nostalgia, if you wish. The fact remains that it worked better than the unitary style system we are now running.

      • Country man

        Mr John Paul the USA you sighted have an underlying principle in their federalism:- RESPECT OF PROPERTY RIGHTS OF INDIVIDUALS. They do not take money from oil Texas to develop New york or Washington.
        Like mr Norris noted in an earlier article, why its hard for most Nigerians to understand this FUNDAMENTAL & BASIC PRINCIPLE is mind boggling.

        • John Paul

          You are correct.

          Part of the devolution of powers that Nigeria needs is resource control. Every State – as opposed to Regions – should control all the resources within its territorial boundaries.

          They should only pay taxes to the Federal Government

        • FrNinja

          The problem is that Nigeria post-civil war was built on a faulty foundation that is cracking and threatening to bring the house down. Its leaders have a choice. To take the easy way out and continue patching a failing structure or to take their valuable possessions out and build a stronger building the hard way. They are choosing to take the easy way out.

          A better leadership would do what Nasir El-Rufai has said which is to create a transition period during which resource control is implemented. For example, the oil producing communities should have derivation increase by 3.7% every year from 13% to 50% over a 10 year period. To cushion the impact, the LGAs should be removed from the allocation formula completely with their monies handed over to the state.

          Of course, El-Rufais smart suggestion has been overridden by the funny amendment proposals of Saraki and Ekweremadu which continues on the disasterous path of feeding bottle federalism with the idea of continuing LGA allocations from the center but giving them “independence”.

          • Country man

            Yea you are quite correct and i think a transition period is not a bad idea.
            The funny proposal by the senate leadership would be inconsequential if THE PEOPLE actually understood the PRINCIPLES OF FEDERALISM and forced the leadership to do the right thing
            SADLY most dont understand and the fourth estate that should enlighten people is trying hard not to upset the apple cart

      • Investor

        Akwa Ibom state should not have anything to fear in belonging to South South Region in a new Nigeria restructured along the 6 geopolitical zones.

        The State will in fact be better off in any such new arrangement. As proposed, the State will still retain its autonomy in certain matters and will be entitled to a percentage of revenues generated from its territory. The new percentage will be subject to negotiation with the other stakeholders in the regional government and may well be higher than the current 13% derivation.

        Indeed, the fact that it’s a major revenue contributor to the regional government should increase its bargaining power and overall influence in the region. Compare that to its current position in Nigeria where it’s too insignificant to be taken in to consideration when decisions are made at the centre.

        The new structure I envision is one in which the Regions will have the same devolution of power arrangement with the States as it will enjoy with the Central government.

        • John Paul

          The Regional Government will become an unnecessary middleman

          By the time the compromise is crafted, you will find out that both the Federal and 36 State Governments – including their legislature and executive – will still be in place. Alongside the Regional Government

          The bureaucracy will be a complete mess:

          1. Federal Executive, Legislature and Judiciary;
          2. Six (6) Regional Executive, Legislature and Judiciary; and
          3. Thirty Six (36) State Executive, Legislature and Judiciary

          Not to talk about our local governments

          We should just go straight to the point and devolve powers to our existing States. Nothing Stops any region from forging common economic policies – or regional integration – like they are doing in Western Nigeria today

          • Thompson Iyeye

            Has it ever occurred to you that there could be a scenario where we have the federal government and six regions, with the present 36 states making the six regions? It will be just like the federal plus four regions of the ’60s. The bureaucracy will be much more streamlined without additional 36 states. Think about it.

          • John Paul

            In reality, the States will never be dissolved. On day one of the regional assembly, every State will insist that they want to keep their executive, legislature and judiciary.

            So we will be trapped with Federal, Regional, State and Local Government.

            In order to extrapolate what will happen if we condense the States into regions, it is necessary to be specific in our analysis.

            Let us take the City of Aba – population 2 million – as an example. Its challenges are security, sanitation, fixing important roads like Port Harcourt Road and Faulks Road and fixing the Enyimba International Stadium

            The easiest way for that City to achieve its goal is for power to be devolved as close to the residents of that City as possible. Dissolving Abia State, and having people in a far away regional capital making decisions about what happens in Aba, will make the lot of the residents of Aba worse than it is today

            Nigeria is more clannish than it was in the 1960s.

            From politicians, to pastors – remember the Ahiara diocese Catholic saga – have become clannish. And criminals too. Remember that the notorious kidnapper stated that, as a matter of policy, he did not operate criminal enterprise in Anambra State, his home State

            The 1960s are gone with the wind. Let us bring government as close to the people as possible

          • Thompson Iyeye

            One of the lessons I learnt in life is never to say never. Nigeria is a place of all possibilities. It is only sensible to have either regions or states. But not both.

          • William Norris

            YOU need to read this:


            The Foreign Ministry was trying to find the words for an apology to Saudi Arabia after the dates, all 200 million tonnes, were found to have been diverted, appearing in local Nigerian market stalls.

            As the entire world well knows, one Goodluck Jonathan had the presidential magic carpet swept from beneath him two years ago partly because Boko Haram was on the rampage and he didn’t know what to do.

            The then aspiring government of President Muhammadu Buhari would have no such nonsense, it said, promising to hammer the militant group into the ground. In any event, the Jonathan government was unforgivable corrupt, making the case for its replacement rather easy.

            Those reasons are why it is not the battles that are now not being won from Boko Haram that are the more painful, but those being conceded by Nigeria itself, such as greedy officials taking food out of the mouths of children, the hungry and the homeless.

            According to a May 2017 United Nations report, in Borno, Adamawa and Yobe States,there are currently 8.5 million people deeply in need of life-saving aid, 5.9 million people requiring emergency health care, and 5.2 million on the edge of starvation.

            These figures do not include the 204,500 Nigerian refugees in Niger, Cameroon and Chad. Remember that in January this year, a Nigeria Air Force jet mistakenly bombed an IDP camp in Rann, near the Cameroon/Chad borders, killing at least 236 and wounding hundreds. At the time, the Rann camp held about 20,000 people. On April 9 in this column, I also cited the case of 130,000 of our compatriots abandoned on a desert highway outside Diffa, in Niger, with no homes and no supplies. Internally, there are Nigerians in camps nationwide for various reasons.

            These are the kinds of victims to whom our Saudi friends sent those dates: people facing hunger, sickness, despair. But in an insensitive and uncaring country, some officials could find no mercy or a sense of responsibility. It was business as usual.

            As part of its apology, the Nigerian government announced an investigation. The Saudis would be unwise to hold their breath. Nothing will come of it, as such an investigation is for the consumption of the international community. Experience shows that in just days, the government would have abandoned its pretences.

            Exactly one year ago, for instance, following yet another report of the Global Fund announcing that funds it sent to Nigeria to combat HIV & AIDS, tuberculosis and malaria had again been looted, the second such report since 2010. Swiftly, the Muhammadu Buhari government launched three investigations: one by the EFCC; another by Health Minister Isaac Adewole; and a third by Auditor-General Samuel Ukura. Three!

            But nothing came of any of them: if anyone was found to have been complicit, the culprit was quietly sent off to other adventures. Now, if Nigerians can be so cruelly sentenced to die of disease, what are fruits?

      • William Norris

        John Paul, Idiot like you……you forgot to mention 16 years of PDP waste, corruption, and abuse and 2 glorious years of APC prosperity !!!

        Can you please go kill yourself….actually can you go kill America Idiot Abroad, Romla, Dele Awogbeogba and THEN yourself?

        You’re a SHIT HEAD !!!

    • pius pumpum

      I totally disagree with you and far more on the same page with Simon….the problem of Nigeria is not true federalism, Restructure or the numerous trending phrases….our major problem is leadership and followership,if the constitution as it is is followed to the letter we wouldn’t have the catorie of problems bedeviling us today. People like you keep giving the impression that restructuring or whatever you call it has a magic wand that will make all of problems disappear but it is far from the truth,infact it akin to a child dreaming in the fantasy land.

      Nigerians know the right thing but will never do it,do we need to change the constitution to stop Nepotism(where people in positions of Authority employ mostly people from their tribe like in DSS and NHIS),giving every tribe opportunity in governance as prescribed in the constitution,civil servants stopping undue interference in procurement processes,respecting the secularity of the nation by not spending government funds on Hajj and pilgrimage,stopping of noise blaring through loud speakers both from Mosque and churches facing the outside of their buildings etc.The most important thing Nigeria needs is a detribalized leaders that see themselves as Nigerians before their tribe and religion.

      Even if we change to Regionalism at our present mindset it will still be the same if not worst.How many of the state governors are been challenged by their citizenry upon all their impunities?Is there any form of accountability so far in the states?non.As it is most people that cannot survive in their states find solace in the federal,the system now creates room for alternative means of survival.We should be very careful before we create more problem than we try to solve.What we need is to strengthen the existing system for equity,fairness and justice.

      • Thompson Iyeye

        Please by all means disagree with me. One thing that vindicates my position is however the fact that the old regional structure operated with proper federal system, worked better than the present unitary style federal system. The regions were self sufficient with more powers devolved, compared to our states today that are incapacitated by a centre that is too strong. Yes, leadership is a problem in Nigeria. The problem created by bad leadership could be mitigated with the right structure and properly established institutions. Most other problems are nothing more than the symptoms of a defective structure.

      • ebele

        How do we achieve that detribalised and selfless leader in this over-bloated power centre. Cut down on salaries and allowances of those offices and only those who desire to make impact will be there.