Time to Insist on True Federalism


Elliot Ugochukwu-Uko argues that there is an urgent need to devolve powers to the regions by reverting to the 1963 constitution

This New Year 2020, provides a wonderful opportunity for the leadership and political elite of Nigeria, to rise up and do the needful: urgently begin the process of reconstructing the polity in order to whittle down excess power from the centre and devolve same to the federating units via a new people’s constitution.

A bipartisan, respectable committee of eminent and patriotic leaders should be raised now, to begin the process of a holistic restructuring of the polity. We have pretended for too long that this military Decree 24 of 1999, aka, 1999 Constitution, can sustain, unite and grow Nigeria.

We have lied to ourselves for much too long. Consistently, resisting the truth, in preference to falsehood, is a dangerous and unhelpful response to the stark reality facing us as a country.

Voting huge amounts to acquire military hardware just to contain internal disaffection, setting up dozens of military operations, (some codenamed after reptiles and wild cats) only deepens the anger, bitterness and frustrations in the land.

Anti hate speech laws and suppression and repression of rights to free speech, again, only succeeds in establishing an atmosphere of apprehension and fear which in turn, only encourages more dissent and revolt.

Circumventing reality and going round in circles, while struggling to avoid the needful, did not help Somalia, Sudan, the USSR and Yugoslavia. It will never save Nigeria. Only doing the needful, which is: devolving powers to the regions by reverting to the 1963 constitution will. Only returning to true federalism will save Nigeria.

2020 should be a season of stock taking, reminiscing and ruminating on development strides of the first republic 1959-1966 and the unwieldy rigmarole of today. The untidy and unjust unitary system has destroyed cohesion, enthroned nepotism, prebendalism and hatred from the oppressed peoples, which in turn has given birth to every thing evil dominating the land today. Continuing to deceive our selves, is unkind to the good people of Nigeria, especially our progeny.

Our decade’s old hypocrisy has not and will never solve the problems. Things can only get worse with time.
The hunger, poverty and criminality ruling the land today are only signposts of a dysfunctional unitary structure imposed on the country by the military. Corruption, unemployment, disequilibrium and calls for revolution are direct consequences of ignoring reality for too long. Calls for secession only confirms to the deaf and the blind that the termites of injustice and oppression has eaten the foundation of the edifice called Nigeria the cracks are so obvious, yet our leaders across board prefer to paper over the cracks in pretence.

We have pretended for too long.
The trumpets could sound any day now. Nigeria’s restructuring agenda should be rolled out without further delay as,time is clearly running out. 2020 calls for urgent reality check.

Which brings us to the quite disappointing comments from regional and ethnic groups in response to Mr President’s New Year address. Nigerians are shocked that all these groups could concern themselves with are mundane and banal desires of the political class: appointments and accommodation. Pity. Nigeria is tottering at the precipice and all our “leaders” could care about is political accommodation in this squeaky rickety vehicle burdened with a frightening foreign debt profile, crawling in a most directionless manner to only God knows where. Sad, so sad.

All hands should be on board to both plead and pressure the government to embark without further delay on the only solution to our miseries, the holistic restructuring of the polity.

*Ugochukwu-Uko is the President of the Igbo Youth Movement