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Restructuring has become the latest buzz word in the political landscape with political and non political actors pushing forward their ideas of the word that was not too long ago, an anathema to many state actors. But what exactly is the idea of restructuring? Given the view of some that Nigeria is presently a federation, it is not surprising that different political actors would give different perspectives to the concept of restructuring. After the former military ruler and an ex-vice-president called for restructuring of Nigeria, among other recent calls from personalities and analysts, restructuring of the country appears imminent. Although, each analyst and advocate has different suggestions for their calls based on various reasons including location, religion and even availability of natural resources.
Restructuring and devolution of power
will certainly not provide all the answers to our development challenges; it will help to re-position our mindset as we generate new ideas and initiatives that would make our union worthwhile. The talk to have the country restructured means that Nigerians are agreed on our unity in diversity; but that we should strengthen our structures to make the union more functional based on our comparative advantages.
Several decades after the amalgamation of the northern and southern protectorates in 1914, i.e. over 103 years ago by Lord Luggard, and 57 years of the nation’s independence, there are still strong and persistent agitations by some interest groups in the polity demanding for the immediate restructuring of the existing political arrangement. This, they say should be done if the country must remain an indivisible and indissoluble entity. Their agitations are coming on the heels that Nigerian federalism has totally assumed the attributes of a unitary system of government. Pundits have also agreed with the above line of thought, describing the federalism in practice as a “proxy unitary”. Proxy because Nigeria being a Federalism State is in character with a unitary system.
According to my erudite friend, Ikemitang”a unitary system of government or a unitary State is a sovereign state governed as a single entity while the central government is supreme, the administrative division exercise only powers that the central government delegates to them. On the other hand, a Federal Government is a system that divides power between a strong national (federal) government and state and local governments, otherwise known as the component units.”
Drawing from the above, it is understandable that under federalism, each level of government has sovereignty in some areas and share power in other areas. For instance, both the Federal and State Governments have the power to collect tax. However, only the Federal Government has exclusive jurisdiction over the issues of defense, immigration, currency and external affairs.
Political watchers are unanimous that the unitary system of government was occasioned by the 1966 military incursion into the nation’s political landscape, which invariably truncated the constitutional democracy of the country’s First Republic. Meanwhile, the military has been swift to cite the ethnocentric politics, regionalism, corruption and failure of the political elite to play by the rule that pervaded the First Republic as some of the reasons for their intervention and takeover of government.
Indeed, there are contending views regarding the on-going restructuring debate. Those leading the fray have asserted that given the present economic realities, the hitherto political thermostat of the nation is not only weak, but lacks the propelling force to regulate the political temperature of the country. The force being the ingredient to instill the needed stability for socioeconomic and political emancipation of the people for sustainable development, hence the need for restructuring.
They have averred that Nigeria, as it stands currently is nor working, and cannot experience development unless a fundamental political restructuring is first addressed. They have also described as worthless, even the constitution upon which our democracy is based, saying it was bequeathed to the nation by the past military regimes.
Conversely, those that are averse to the restructuring idea have equally posited that Nigeria has since the First Republic, undergone series of restructuring journey without commensurate progress. Besides, the country has also failed to consolidate on the gains of restructuring and or making a conscious effort to improve on the challenges. Therefore, they opined that those clamouring for restructuring are perhaps, looking for avenue to position themselves for relevance and wait for the opportunity to milk the country dry. In the first part of the above theme, restructuring is said to be the only song every individual sing today with political and non political actors pushing forward their ideas of the word that was not too long ago, an anathema to many state actors. But what exactly is the idea of restructuring? Given the view of some that Nigeria is presently a federation, it is not surprising that different political actors would give different perspectives to the concept of restructuring.
The modality of carrying out the restructuring must be based on equality of all constituent units regardless of population size or land mass. This would mean that CONSTITUENT ASSEMBLY members representing each ethnic nationality would meet to discuss matters of common interest in relation to the continued existence of Nigeria.
In the course of focusing on itemized issues and others that might come up, they would unwittingly but consciously construct the framework for a new Constitution to be approved back home in the Political Units (PUs). Any PU that disapproves or disagrees with the new Constitution should be allowed to reconsider and review its decision or be allowed to form its own country. Regardless, the new Constitution must include a clause that allows referendum in any ethnic nationality that seeks to leave the Union to do so as long as it is the wish of the majority of its citizens.
In the words of John F. Kennedy, during his inaugural address in January 20, 1961, he maintained that “the operating principles of and for the RESTRUCTURING are and should be self determination, freedom from oppression, equity, justice, balance, sense of equal belonging and equality in all ramifications”.
“In the long history of the world, only a few generations have been granted the role of defending freedom in its hour of maximum danger. I do not shrink from this responsibility, rather; I welcome it.”
According to Oyeyemi, “The issue of restructuring Nigeria is once again on the front burner. Restructuring remains one of the promises made by President Mohammadu Buhari during his electioneering campaigns, but prior to that, former President Goodluck Jonathan organized a National Conference in 2014 to discuss this issue. The recommendations of the Conference, even though not perfect, have been thrown into trash, while it ought to have been the starting point to save Nigeria from perdition”.
However, many of us seem not to have an understanding of what to restructure. The itemized issues below are not exhaustive in any way. The suggestions also are not written in stone. The bodywork could still be tampered with in terms of details. But the highlighted issues must be dealt with, honestly, sincerely and genuinely to build trust, sense of belonging and save Nigeria, if we all think we love the country.
AGRICULTURE: The Federal Government shall not have any power directly or indirectly to determine agricultural policies in the states. This shall be an exclusive responsibility of the locals and their Political Units (PUs) There shall be no Federal Ministry of Agriculture under any disguise for that matter. It shall be unconstitutional to use the common purse for agricultural development in any PU to the detriment of other PUs.
TRANSPORTATION: There shall no longer be any road within the borders of the PUs designated as FEDERAL ROADS. The PUs shall have the full power to develop its road infrastructures without any hindrance. Airlines, Rail ways, Water ways, and other forms of transportation shall be the exclusive management and administration of the PUs. The international laws guiding transportation of all genre would be adopted to guide transportation relationship between the PUs.
EDUCATION: The Federal Government has no business in formulating and controlling the educational system. The Elementary Education is absolutely for the control of local people to create a social foundation via curricula for their children. Such curricula shall, as agreed to by the locals, be imbued with their desired philosophical world view. Same goes with secondary, high schools or grammar schools. “Government”, communities and private entities can compete to have universities, colleges, polytechnics and other forms of post secondary institutions.
I put “government” in quote. because the FEDERAL government should be totally out of business of owing universities, controlling admissions, appointing Chancellor’s and Vice Chancellors among others. The Federal Government shall not and must not have any scintilla of power or responsibility in determining admission policies or criteria for such in all post secondary institutions.
It should be made UNLAWFUL and ILLEGAL for Federal Government to interfere in the internal affairs of post secondary institutions of which the most important is admission policies and contents of teaching. The Senate Council of such institutions should be given controls and powers subject to internal democratic control of members.
THE POLICE: There is urgent need to give control of police to the localities. The Political Units (PUs) should have their own police side by side with Local Government, City or Township Police Forces. This would make oppression more difficult and reduce abuse of power and usage. It would democratize law enforcement and facilitate citizen involvement. It would also enhance security, effectiveness and efficiency. The argument of abuse no longer holds water since we are all witnesses to the constant abuse of the police by the unitary Federal Government.
HEALTH: All health policies and infrastructure management shall be an exclusive responsibility of the PUs. The Federal Government shall not have any power to interfere in such matters, no matter how remote. Any arm of Federal Government that has Health issues as its concerns, shall relate to the PUs purely on advisory basis and shall have no power whatsoever to compel any PU against its will.
RESOURCE CONTROL: The Political Units (PUs) should have total control of its resources of all kinds whether on the ground, under the ground or in the sky. Each PU must be free to determine the exploitation or otherwise of such resources. Each PU should and must be free to enter into local and international agreement on how to manage its resources.
Such PUs should determine its taxes and rates of importation to as well as exportation from its territory. All the resources must be deployed to the development and progress of the PUs as determined by its people.
All the PUs that are constituent units must agree at a percentage of their resources not lower than 2.5 and not greater than 5.00 percent as contributions to the Federal Government. The percentage, when agreed upon must be uniform and not discriminatory.
ECONOMY: The management of the economy of the PUs would follow the same format as in the management of the resources in relation to the Federal Government. Each PU shall determine its own economic policies and have its own CENTRAL BANK to protect it against hostile action by an antagonistic, vindictive, querulous and envious Federal Government. Each PU would decide its economic relationship with other PUs or other Nations of the world as well as international bodies.
TAXES: The Federal Government shall not and must not have the power to tax any citizen or PU. A situation where VAT or Value Added Tax on liquor for example is taken from Anambra State to support Kano State that hates alcohol is an injustice not only to the general agreement but to their moral, sanitary and religious conscience. The Federal Government shall and must solely depend on the mandatory 50 maximum contribution from the PUs.
TRADE AND COMMERCE: All regulations and rules that govern ethics, practices of commerce and trade shall be jointly put in place by the Federal Government and the PUs. Where there is conflict of rules, the PUs shall have final say or superior authority. Each PU shall not need or require the Federal Government’s approval or authority to enter into bi – lateral or multi – lateral trade deals with any country or international bodies in the world. The PU shall have the freedom to determine what is in their best interest and pursue such without let or hindrance.

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