How to Properly Restructure Nigeria

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Ajibola Oluyede

It is now consensually accepted by everyone, including the major beneficiaries that the Nigerian Structure/system is unjust, undemocratic, inept, tailor made for a small clique to monopolise the communal resources to the detriment of the vast majority, therefore corrupt, decadent, unholy and backward.

However, as is to be expected, the beneficiaries of the evil system who have sufficient awareness to realise that the structure is collapsing already are also quite vociferous about the need for another structure. The difference between them and the oppressed classes is that they merely want an opportunity to replicate the failed structure in areas they consider as their political enclaves. These enclaves consist of territories where by use of ill-gotten wealth they have over the years, through an unrelenting financial attack on the sensibilities of the people, entrenched themselves as political financiers (a.k.a. godfathers) and/or terror mongers.

The Nigerian masses, consisting of the largely marginalised middle class and the underclass, realize that the most important issue is the complete demolition of the current structure/system but largely have not properly been able to articulate a structure/system that will meet their yearnings and aspirations.

The Federal system of agglomeration of sovereign peoples and/or interests in its modern form is a product of the Social Contract Theory whereby certain inalienable rights and privileges are arrogated to the individual members of a society and the Social Contract between them represents the attempt to protect those rights from being abrogated or impeded by the Institutions of State created to enhance the enjoyment of life by these members.

In the United States of America we see how this system has been used mainly for safeguarding economic rights already held by the constituent States before agglomeration/unification. In Canada and Switzerland cultural interests are also instigative of the Federal structure utilized.

In Nigeria it was quite clear, even to the colonial administrations that federalism if not confederalism (a looser federal arrangement) was the only way that the diverse cultural, ethnic and territorial interests prevalent in the “geographic expression” could be validly agglomerated as a State unit under the relevant principles of International law then in operation particularly the revolutionary principle of “self determination of ethnic nationalities”.

In Nigeria what would represent true Federalism would be the result of “devolution of powers economic policy” which transcends mere resource control to return of power back to the constituent members of the Nigerian State thus creating a structure in which the power base is again the people and not the institutions of the State or their operators.
Without this deliberate “holistic policy” mere regionalisation would only result in a partitioning of Nigeria into enclaves for the same oppressors (now regional despots) to wield power to the detriment of the people of their regions.

Each of the regions will have States and Local Governments, operating minimal structures, as the main legislative organ in the region becomes the Regional Assembly, a unicameral body from which the prime minister and his cabinet emerge. The Governors of the States merely implement the laws passed in the Regional Assembly whilst the local Governments operate as mayoralties.

The Prime Minister of each region will be the Chief Executive Officer of each Region. The Regional government shall include an independent Regional Judiciary and judicial system headed by Regional Chief Justice with charge over all Superior Courts of record within the region including the High Courts and the Regional Court of Appeal (the highest Court within the Region). The States shall only establish the equivalent of Magistrate Courts.

The Regional Government shall have control over education, agriculture, natural resources, Regional law enforcement, taxes, health, lands and housing, labour relations, Energy and economic policy, Chieftaincy and cultural matters etc. The States within a Region shall form the Constituencies for the election of Members of the Regional Assembly (MRA) and each State shall produce four MRAs each. The Political party or Coalition of Political Parties with a majority of MRAs shall form the Executive arm of the Government of the Region.

The Federal Administration (i.e. the central government) will consist of an Independent Federal Judiciary consisting of the Federal Supreme Court (from which appeals from Regional Appeal Courts will lie), Federal High Courts with jurisdiction over matters relating to Federal Government revenue and the High Court of the Federal Capital Territory (The Chief Justice of the Federation shall head the Federal Judiciary); A compact Legislature (the Senate) also unicameral and an Executive led by a President electable by no less than two thirds of the votes cast in the election in all the Regions. The President shall be the Chief Executive Officer of the Federal Government.

The Federal Government shall have charge over Foreign Affairs and relations for the entire Federation, Federal Law Enforcement including drug law enforcement, Defence, Fiscal and monetary policy for the entire Federation, export and import taxes/duties and inspections, customs, immigration and the Federal Capital Territory.
The Regions shall form the constituencies for the election of Senators and each region shall produce 3 Senators each.
Each Region shall have control of natural resources within its territory whether onshore or offshore (within the continental shelf). The Federal Government shall control natural resources within the National Territorial Waters beyond the continental shelf.

Each Region shall be obliged to pay Federal Revenue Tax to the Federal Government representing no less than 40 percent of the income from mining of natural resources within their territories, Agriculture and taxes. Failure to pay in any year at the time set by the Senate shall be sufficient ground for declaration of a state of emergency in such defaulting Region followed by the dissolution of its Assembly and the Government formed by it and its replacement by a Special Administatrator appointed by the Federal Government; all these only upon the recommendation of a resolution of the Senate supported by no less than four fifths of the votes of all members of the Senate.

Government and State policy at all levels shall be for the protection and maintenance of the rights of citizens to a minimum standard of living including free education at primary and secondary educational levels, Medicare or Medicaid, unemployment allowance, accommodation, and all the rights enshrined in the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights . All these rights shall be enforceable against the government and any other transgressor.

Private prosecution for corruption against public office holders shall be allowed and no public Officer including the President, senators, Prime ministers and Governors shall have any immunity from prosecution for any crime committed before or during their tenure in office.
For purposes of prosecution of a public officer for corruption, guilt shall be sufficiently proved beyond reasonable doubt by production of evidence of assets owned directly or through proxies by the said public officer the value of which is shown to exceed the lawful income of such public officer.
There shall be no time limitation for bringing of charges against a public officer or former public officer for any crime committed whilst he held office whether or not under the operation of a constitution.

A verdict of guilt by a competent court or tribunal against any public officer for any felony shall automatically operate as an impeachment of that public officer from the office held or dismissal from such office as may be relevant.

In line with the trend in many socially responsible States it is necessary in view of the vast poverty and deprivation of the vast majority of Nigerians for government to embark on a socialist construction of the national economy. This means that production and services in the national economy should have significant participation by the State to ensure that everyone has access to basic amenities such as housing, energy, food, dignifying and comfortable public transportation, potable water and life sustaining environment.

No doubt, true Federalism is the answer to “Bigmanism” factor which often leaves African States run by these unpopular mediocres at the mercy of predator foreign States.
––Ajibola oluyede, a lawyer, wrote in from Lago