Former Governor of Ogun State the late veteran Journalist Chief Victor Olabisi Onabanjo was a most vocal canvasser for a Confederation structure for Nigeria in those days. And in solid agreement with him were the likes of Elder statesman Chief Anthony Eronsele Enahoro, former Senate leader and Populist Dr Olusola Saraki, Chief Mbadiwe of the Timber and caliber fame, and Esaoke Orator the late Chief Bola Ige and several other distinguished as well as ordinary Nigerians who believed that the present wobbling structure was unwieldy and unsustainable.
The myriad of problems confronting the geopolitical space called Nigeria today could be traced to one single cause. It was a marriage that was not canvassed, not negotiated, not consented to that was the root, the father and mother of all the diseases that had plagued Nigeria since 1914. The diseases include consistently rigged Population Census, the basic fraudulent allocation of seats in the old federation, the fraudulent foundation of the country’s Military and the Police, and the inbuilt ingredients of sectional domination.
The listed diseases and their by-products gave birth to the military incursion in the country’s politics, coups and counter coups, avoidable tortuous and calamitous brutal war, the self-serving dubious balkanization of the political space into unending states that have become a huge albatross on the financial resources of the country, the bigger fraud of 774 local governments, the collapse of the country’s infrastructure nation-wide, the plunder of the country’s huge assets including corporations like the Nigeria Airways, and the grinding poverty that has virtually consumed all the citizens of the land.
The diseases led to a complete loss of values and the humongous criminality that has enveloped the country. There is total distrust in the land. Fear, terrible fear of insecurity rules every heart and soul in the land. Horrible crimes like kidnapping for ransom and rituals, extremely violent and soulless robberies, highway gangsters, big frauds the likes that were never known in the land have all grown wings and have become alarmingly monstrous.
This is where we are as a country and as a people.
For trust and confidence to return to the land we have to go back to the drawing board. First and foremost is the need to seriously search our minds and then agree to continue to live together in a country called Nigeria. We must accept that the country is indivisible and indissoluble. It is after that all important agreement is freely entered into that we can open a chapter on how we want to live together.
We must secondly appreciate and respect our diversities in culture, tradition, religion, worldview, strengths and weaknesses and accept the cardinal principle that no culture is superior to another; no religion is superior to another and no individual or groups of individuals are superior to another group in a Union.
We should also be honest to admit that cost of governance in the dying Nigeria is nauseatingly outrageous. Our great leaders of the past when Nigeria ran a viable and peaceful Parliamentary system in a loose federation achieved numerous successes because they ran modest governments. The great Ahmadu Bello who successfully governed the North which now consists of 19 states plus Federal Capital Territory had less than 12 Ministers. He had only one Minister of Education. The North that succeeded his Administration now has 19 Ministers of Education! The same scenario goes for the great Nnamdi Azikiwe and Michael Okpara in the East and the Sage Obafemi Awolowo and Orator Samuel Akintola in the West.
Now we have motley of employees and political jobbers who drain the purse of the country by way of salaries, wages and emoluments. We do not need to enumerate the many areas of waste in our national governance structure which are well documented and well known to even a Vulcanizer next door.
What we should now do to douse the raging tension in the land is to first and foremost collapse the unviable states into SIX regions. Let each region be autonomous in all matters material. Each region should be free to decide how many states and how many local governments it can afford for the smooth and efficient running of their regions. Of course every region shall have its own Police and its own distinct Constitution.
The regions can then form a Confederation which will handle matters of External Defence and Security, National Currency and Fiscal Policy, National Transportation and Customs and Immigration. Every other matter is subject of each region’s decision.
The six regions will agree on Parliamentary form of government which is more transparent, less corrupt, and very accountable. The Head of the confederation shall be a Prime Minister while regions are governed by Premiers.
We must seriously prune down the cost of governance. The Confederal Union must be limited to 24 Ministers at the Centre, which are 2 per region. Details can be worked out by Constitutional Experts.
There is one big lamentation. Who will make this possible? The present crop of legislators in the country CANNOT make it. Unfortunately it was the Military that insidiously created our political mess since 1966; it encumbered the country with unviable states and local governments; imposed the seriously and irredeemably corrupt presidential system and created the huge disunity in the country. No civilian government has been able to create a state or alter political structure since creation of the Midwest in 1963.
Who will bell the cat??
In conclusion I draw your attention to some of the world’s most successful Confederal states in practice as put together by one citizen Ade 08055104997 posted on Newspot online newspaper.
Some of world’s major confederal states
Australia is 7.692 million km².This means the country is over 8 times bigger than Nigeria which is 923,768 km² big. Australia however is divided into 6 states and 2 tiny territories. Each state in Australia has its own constitution, is equal to other states and equal to the federal government of Australia.
Canada with 9.985 million km² land mass is even a bigger federation but is politically divided into 10 provinces and 3 territories. Each province is autonomous and none waits for the central government to send it allocations every month to pay secondary school teachers or build roads.
In India federalism, the state of Utter Pradesh has a landmass of 243,290 km² which is almost as big as the whole of Southern Nigeria and an estimated 204 million population which is bigger than Nigeria population. Utter Pradesh is still one of the 29 states of India and is constitutionally equal to Goa, another Indian state with just 3,702 km² land mass and 1.8 million populations.
The argument about political division of constituent states/regions of Nigeria based on landmass is inane. The old men clinging to this lame proposition to oppose restructuring and the birth of true federalism in Nigeria belong to the medieval times.
Nigeria is naturally suited for 6 states of equal status along the 6 existing geopolitical zones. Six states as federating units each with its own constitution, 50% derivation, 30% payable to a distributable account and 20% to the FG will make Nigeria better than those other federal countries mentioned above.
We will continue to say no to this structured poverty, underdevelopment, violence and chaos of the 36 unviable states structure endorsed by the 1999 constitution.