Bullet Caskets For Thieving Leaders, By Tunde Odesola

Let the dead bury the dead, so said the omniscient being that walked the face of the earth about 2,000 years ago. Here, Jesus Christ was teaching his disciples to focus on the things of the kingdom over earthly worries. But the way humanity frets over earthly possessions, power, burial ceremonies and other various vanities shows that scant regard is given to the teachings of Christ, the son of Mary.

For weird and, or altruistic reasons, man has continued to worry over the preservation and burial of the dead. Science, religion and tradition have had their fair shares in bothering to give a hoot about treating the dead right.

Plastination is a technique developed in 1977 by German anatomist, Gunther von Hagens. The groundbreaking technique is used to preserve dead bodies by replacing water and fats with certain plastics.

In the land of our nearest English-speaking neighbour on the West African coast, Ghana, burying the dead has been upgraded to a shocking level of creative absurdity. Ghana not only boasts of the world’s largest artificial lake, Lake Volta, the Ga people living in the southern part of the Kwame Nkrumah country also bury their dead stylishly like no other people. The Ga in Ghana have a deep belief in the afterlife. For them, death is no finality, life continues hereafter. They believe the dead are much more powerful than the living and that the dead could influence the living. This is why families do everything they can to ensure that they curry the sympathy of the dead. This is why they build fantasy coffins for their dead. A fantasy coffin could be shaped in the symbol of the deceased’s profession, vocation, family totem or favorite object. It is thus a common sight to see a driver being buried in a coffin shaped like a car, or a footballer buried in a coffin shaped like a soccer ball or a boot.

Back home to Nigeria. Going by the primitive acquisition of wealth and hypertensive worry over material possessions by the political class, it won’t be out of place to know in what type of caskets Nigerians would love their political leaders buried when they die. I’m very sure that a cross-section of Nigerians would wish a vast majority of Nigerian politicians was buried in bullet, condom, spear, maggot and padlock-shaped coffins – to show the disdain in which they hold the political elite.

But there is a panacea for the odium against the political class. Everyone in the land knows the cure for the bitterness, poverty, want, scourge, suspicion and hate in the land, though no one is willing to force the pill down the throat of the 57-year-old toddler nation. And Nigeria will continue to grapple with darkness, thirstiness, hunger, diseases, ignorance and high mortality, all because she fails to take the potion called restructuring. The restructuring pill, depending on the manufacturing pharmaceutical company, also goes by the names – true federalism, devolution, resource control, regionalism, self-determinism, equity, etc. But it is one sure cure for our ailment.

Why is it difficult for the political class to restructure the country? The experience of the Editor, The PUNCH, Mr Martin Ayankola, at the Obafemi Awolowo University zoo about three decades ago offers an explanation. The young Ayankola had visited the zoo during his undergraduate days in the 1980s. The striking resemblance between gorillas and man held a fancy for the young undergraduate. So, off to the enclave of the hirsute creatures he went. There, he threw sweets into the steel cage. As the sweets zoomed high up through the air, the eyes of all the gorillas followed them even as they descended right down into the midst of a band of young gorillas having fun on the sunny afternoon. Poh! Poh!! Poh!!! The three ‘Trebors’ thudded on the grass. As if a mischievous gorilla among the band had released a sickening, noisome fart, all the young, able-bodied gorillas, who had been jumping and falling over themselves, suddenly broke up and slunk away, leaving the ‘Trebors’ conspicuous on the grass. Sshwah! Sshwah! Sshwah! Heavy footsteps rustled dry grass somewhere at the rear of the cage. Unabashedly, the living head of the autonomous primate community, a massive 230kg gorilla, sauntered forward, swaying like a content despot. Majestically, he ambled to the ‘Trebors’, picked them up, tried to unwrap one of them, but his stumpy fingers won’t allow such a desire. Brooking no patience, he put the ‘Trebors’ in the hollow of his left palm and snapped them. He opened his palm and still tried to unwrap some of the peppermints, but the wrap won’t reveal its content. Nonsense! One after the other, he tossed the wrapped ‘Trebors’ into his buccal cavity. Only God knows what the taste did to his sense of self-worth, he rose to his mighty feet, let out a frightening guttural cry and rained blows on his chest. Case closed. This is the way of the jungle. Might is right. Though the ‘Trebors’ could go round all the apes if shared equitably, fairness is an alien word in jungle lexicon.

Sadly, this is the way of our political class and the reason why restructuring sounds like a dirge. In the lair, the lion’s share is not the majority of the share, it is the whole share. After having his fill, the king lion leaves the carcass for the rest of the pride.

The other day, I asked my little daughter if she could recite the American pledge, and off she goes: “I pledge allegiance to the Flag of the United States of America, and to the Republic for which it stands, one nation, under God, indivisible, with liberty, and justice, for all.” Ummhh!? Can you recite the Nigerian national pledge, I asked curiously. “Yes, I can,” she replied eagerly. “I pledge to Nigeria my country, to be faithful, loyal and honest, to serve Nigeria with all my strength, to defend her unity and uphold her honour and glory, so help me God.”

If the words of a pledge were a measure to determine nationalism, the Nigerian national pledge dwarfs the American pledge. Unfortunately, however, the Nigerian pledge offers no promise of liberty, equity and justice, which are fundamental bricks of nationhood, and which the American pledge did not fail to address. May be this is the reason why Nigerian leaders have abysmally failed in restructuring the country and bluntly refused to fulfil their part of the social contract. I learnt at the election petitions tribunals that you don’t get what you don’t ask for.

The ‘point-and-kill’ Oshodi-garage mentality of winner-takes-all among our geopolitical regions over revenue allocation would cease if the nation frees its boundless energies in the regions by devolving power from the centre and sharing it equitably among the federating units. Kaduna State Governor, Mallam Nasir el-Rufai, identified some of the problem afflicting Nigeria when he delivered a speech on restructuring in September 2017 at Chatham House, London, lamenting the 53 per cent of national revenue being controlled by the Federal Government while the biggest but maltreated cash cow, Lagos State, and the 35 states of the federation and Abuja share a miserable 47 per cent.

Recalling that some of the most enduring institutions in Nigeria were built by regional governments, El-Rufai said it was impossible for a centralized police force to produce security for nearly 200m people just as he spoke against the exclusive control of over-crowded prisons and ‘unmanageable number of federal trunk roads and railways’.

The governor, who recalled an article he penned in 2012, “A Federation without Federalism,” said that the broad consensus among Nigerians was that ‘our federation had been dysfunctional, more unitary than federal, and not delivering public goods to the generality of our people’.

In a telephone chat with me during the week, Professor of Sociology, University of Lagos, Lai Olurode, said restructuring remained the way out of the country’s myriad challenges, adding that Nigeria’s population was a game-changing asset.

He said, “Every part of the country needs a fair deal. We must emphasize governance, not politics. We must reassure the North, no part should feel threatened. We need to void the administrative waste and greed at the centre, and this would ensure fairness, equity, competition and more effectiveness. Each region would develop and cater for the needs of its people. Abuja is too far away from the people.”

The bleeding scars of Nigeria’s unitary federalism can be seen in the guillotining Lagos-Ibadan Expressway, the ratty Apapa Road, the trillions of naira spent to procure darkness, the illusory 2nd Niger Bridge and 3rd Mainland Bridge, intractable erosion scourge in the South-East; the sinful environmental pollution in the Niger Delta, spine-chilling Boko Haram evil in the North, and the general milieu of backwardness across the country.

The time to heal our land is now.

Mr Tunde Odesola was a former Political Editor of Punch Newspaper, now lives in US

I Don’t Believe In True Federalism, Says Obasanjo

Former President of Nigeria, Chief Olusegun Obasanjo has said that those agitating for true federalism are ignorant of the concept.

Obasanjo who made this statement during a tour to promote his new book, ‘Making Africa Work’, told his interviewers: “I don’t believe in true federalism. What is true federalism?”

“Why are they (the states) not accountable? What powers do they not have? They have power.

“In fact, state governors are more powerful than the president. That’s the truth.

“(So) if anybody tells you they want devolution or true federalism, he doesn’t know what he is talking.”

Obasanjo insisted that some of those agitating for the sovereign state of Biafra do not know what the (Biafra) struggle is all about.

He, however, admitted that “the government’s military intervention – in the secessionist agitation – have “made things worse”.

“All youth in Nigeria have legitimate reasons to feel frustrated and angry,” he said.

“The protesters don’t even know what the struggle is all about, but if it gives them false hope, why not hang onto it?

“Let the elders handle it (the secessionist agitations) or ignore it until it loses momentum. There are elders in any community who are still respected… After all, they’re their fathers and mothers, grandfathers and grandmothers, and can still be used effectively.”

He also said President Muhammadu Buhari has not done “enough” in the area of youth employment, especially with regards to sustainability.

“Is Buhari doing enough about it (youth employment)? I don’t believe he is. Can he do enough about it? Of course he can.

“He (Buhari) has tried to keep on going in the area of agribusiness, but not enough. It is not yet enough to prepare the ground for uninhibited growth of the economy, which we need.

“Youth empowerment, skill acquisition and youth employment – education must be able to do that. If you do that, the ticking bomb of possible youth explosion out of restiveness and anger will subside.”


SouthWest To Abuja: A Mid-Term Appraisal – Review And Outlook

Kazeem Mohammed Reviews The Discourse At A One-Day Conference On The Second Year Anniversary Of The Southwest In National Governance With The Theme; Southwest To Abuja: A Mid-term Appraisal

It took robust intellectual discussions for stakeholders in the Western Region to agree that the solution to the current political debate on restructuring of Nigeria can only be resolved in favour of adjustment of both constitutional and tax powers to reflect the urgent need to devolve power to the federating units and cut the excesses of federal intervention in those matters that are purely regional or local.

This was part of the resolution at a One-Day Conference on the Second Anniversary of the Southwest in National Governance, with a theme: ‘South West To Abuja: A Midterm Appraisal’, held at the Aurora Conference Centre, Osogbo, on Friday, September 15. The conference was organised by them Urban Media Limited.

Professor Mobolaji Aluko, the pioneer Vice Chancellor, Federal University, Otuoke, Bayelsa State spoke on, “The Southwest in National Governance: An appraisal of the first two years”, where he interrogated the major contribution of the South West to the President Muhammadu Buhari administration. Dr Charles Akinola, the Director-General, Office of Economic Development and Partnership, State of Osun,  spoke on, “From Osun To Abuja: Investing in Social Infrastructure in A Recession” when he highlighted the social intervention policies of Osun government from which the Federal Government has had to take a cue. Senator Olubunmi Adetumbi of the Ekiti North Senatorial District (2011-2015) spoke on “Federalising Political Parties to Conform with Local Need – APC As a case study”, where he explored the imperatives of the APC to ‘federalise’ the party to reflect the socio-cultural and religious adversity of Nigeria.

After a robust discourse, where politicians, journalists, civil society organisations, academics, artisans, market men and women, religious leaders, and other stakeholders were participants, the conference, came up with a communiqué, which read:

“Conferees at the Osogbo conference observed that the idea of popular democracy has come to stay in Nigeria. They took notice of the facts that Nigeria’s democracy during the Fourth Republic has been in operation for the past eighteen years but that progressive politicians have not been part of the national government until the last two (2) years. Conferees also noted that the Western part of Nigeria being always in the progressive mode of opposition politics have therefore not had any opportunity of being part of the political forces which constituted the Federal Government until about the last 2 years.

“Conferees deliberated on the main theme of the conference, that is, an appraisal of the place of the Southwest in national political equation, the issues of economic development and the place of Osun State in the anchoring of development initiatives in the last six years and, the idea of federalising political parties in Nigeria.

“Conferees agreed that the Southwest’s relative importance in the federation of Nigeria is such that it stands in a better stead in the continuance and stability of the federation and not in its disintegration. That the Southwest has nonetheless in the last thirty years judging by the physical development and the distribution of infrastructure from the Federal centre to the states regressed significantly from being a leading region in the country to a position less than what she occupied before the 1970s.

“Conferees agreed that constitutional amendment to reflect significant transfer of power from the centre especially as contained in the Second Schedule to the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria 1999 (As Amended) to the States, would be an antidote to the regression of the Western part of Nigeria.

“Conferees noted that the most significant way by which development can be more meaningful to the people of Nigeria is to transfer resources from the few and the privileged to the majority of the pole through a system of welfare and social safety nets.

“Conferees agreed that the Government of the State of Osun has in the last six years significantly transferred public resources to the ordinary man and the majority of its citizens through its social welfare programmes such as O’Yes, O’Meal, O’Rehab, Agba Osun and Women Empowerment. It was also observed that an additional and effective way of transferring resources to the ordinary man would and should be through the capital budget in which resources are not spent on recurrent expenditure by paying salaries, overhead and wages alone but also on the simultaneous creation of physical infrastructure by which the majority of the people can be reached.

“Conferees discussed the issue of political federalisation by which it meant ensuring that all political parties in Nigeria and the leadership thereof reflect our federal character and that leadership should be progressive from the grassroots to the state and federal levels.

“Conferees agreed that this political orientation is not new to the western part of Nigeria but that there is the need to avoid falling into conservative and reactionary politics into which the southwest fell during 2003-2011.

“Conferees concluded that the solution to the current political debate on restructuring can only be resolved in favour of the continuance and growth of Nigeria and not in its dissolution but more important also, in the adjustment of both constitutional and tax powers to reflect the urgent need to devolve power to the federating units and cut the excesses of federal intervention in those matters that are purely regional or local”, the communiqué read in full.

Professor Aluko in his paper said the South-West political alliance has achieved mixed results across all sectors of governance, “but early days – as well as the health issues of the President – mean that much can yet be achieved”.

Tasking the South West leader to clearly define the restructuring they want in line with their agitation, he said, “The South-West leaders must act purposively and with consistency, practicing locally (at the state levels) what restructuring they wish at the national level”.

In his own paper, Akinola highlighted the specific social welfare and protection programmes of the Governor Rauf Aregbesola administration towards managing inequalities and vulnerabilities in Osun, saying the government has robustly designed and continued to faithfully implement its innovative social welfare and protection programmes, spread across the MDAs and sectors, targeting the neediest sectors of the population including women, children and the elderly.

“Through ardent financial engineering, the state government has been able to ride the storm and provide social welfare and protection to the most vulnerable segments. The Aregbesola government has robustly designed and is implementing innovative social welfare and protection programmes, spread across the different Ministries, Departments and Agencies (MDAs) and sectors, targeting some of the neediest sectors of the population including women, children and the elderly. The programmes include but are not limited to the following: Osun Elementary School Feeding and Health Programme (O-MEALS), Osun Youth Empowerment Scheme (OYES), Programmes for Women, Programmes for the Elderly ‘Agba Osun’, and programme for the destitute. These programmes are run to address some of the evidence-based vulnerabilities that are manifesting in the lives of the people”, he stated.

Akinola went memory lane that as far back as 2004, before the emergence of Ogbeni Aregbesola as the governorship candidate of the then Action Congress (AC), his advisory team had produced a green book titled ‘My pact with the people’ containing the Six Point Integral Action Plan that formed the philosophy of his administration. The six points are:

  • Banish Hunger
  • Banish Poverty
  • Banish Unemployment
  • Promote Healthy Living
  • Promote Functional Education
  • Promote Communal Peace and Progress

The Osun Youth Empowerment Scheme (OYES)

Akinola who recalled that the scheme was launched within the first 100 days of Aregbesola in office, through which 20,000 youth were engaged every two year said, “OYES is a revolving volunteers’ scheme designed to eliminate the frustration and paralysing effect of unacceptably high and seemingly intractable youth unemployment pervasive in Osun. It aims at creating a bridge to employment by equipping as many young men and women with positive work ethics and culture, self sustenance, resourcefulness and respect for the environment. It is designed to develop youths with Character and Competence.

“Over 40,000 youths have passed through the OYES Scheme and over 60 per cent of them have been given permanent employment in various ministries in the state. In February 2011, it was discovered that an unacceptably acute shortfall of teachers existed in the secondary schools. The Teachers Corps in OYES was set up through which 5400 graduate OYES cadets were seconded to schools.

“Through the scheme, N200 million is injected monthly into the State’s grassroots economy. This financial stimulant has recorded dramatic impact on local economies, creating multiplier effects for Osun people. Another spin off of the programme is that by gainfully engaging the youths, crime rate plummeted in Osun, making it one of the states with the lowest crime incidents in the country.

“OYES is designed by the state government to also engage and include Osun’s youth in the economic opportunities created by the O-MEALS. Over 300 OYES cadets have received training and a total loan of N100 million for them to act as cocoyam intermediaries between the cocoyam farmers and food vendors”.

The Home-Grown School Feeding Programmes (O-MEALS)

Akinola said the programme was designed as a win-win social safety net intervention for children living in poverty and food insecurity, with the aim to: tackle hunger and improve nutrition; increase children’s access, participation and achievement in school; and support local livelihoods.

He said the programme has the capacity to get children into school and retain them there to enhance enrolment and reduce absenteeism, saying it is expected to contribute to their learning, and enhance their cognitive abilities as hunger is eliminated.

This scheme, he said, has gained international endorsement and in Nigeria, just as it has helped to increase school enrolment by a minimum of 25 per cent within the first four weeks of commencement of the revised programme.

According to the National Bureau of Statistics, July 2013 edition, Osun has the highest population to primary school enrolment rates in Nigeria, a feat no doubt attributable to O-MEALS, among other factors.

Social Welfare Programme for the Elderly: ‘Agba Osun’.

He said, the condition of senior citizens warrants attention as many are hungry while many are ravaged with preventable diseases, saying lean resources of the state notwithstanding, the administration is committed to the welfare of the aged to bring them out of destitution, hunger, sickness and homelessness through the provision of welfare package for highly vulnerable senior citizens who have been identified as not having any form of guardian support.

“The scheme currently provides monetary support as well as free and personal medical attention because their other need as identified is healthcare. Those in need of urgent medical attention are therefore also treated. At some point, free eye treatment was provided for people in the state, in association with a partner organisation, Oranmiyan Worldwide. A large number of the elderly received free eyeglasses and free eye surgery. Osun is one of the few states where such scheme is being run in the country”.

The Osun Destitute Rehabilitation Programme (O-REHAB)

“This programme was introduced in 2011. The objective was to reach out to the destitute, the homeless and vagrants, who could also be psychotic. Those with physical or artificial disabilities are also helped. The state government under this programme was able to take all lunatics off the street. After given medical treatment, they were rehabilitated. While some were reunited with their families, some others were resettled, put under vocational apprenticeship and helped to establish a trade. The interesting discovery made was that all the lunatics put under treatment recovered and remained lucid as long they continued to take their medication.

The Osun Social Welfare and Protection Programmes Mutates

Akinola hinted that the social welfare and protection programmes of the state government have been run so successfully in Osun and have since been adopted by the Federal Government and other states.

OYES was understudied by the World Bank and recommended to the Federal Government and other states. It has now emerged in a variant as the Youth Employment and Social Support Operation (YESSO)ý.

OMEALS has also been adopted by the Federal Government and is being implemented in phases, all over the country. Other states joining the programme have sent personnel for training in Osun.

In his address, the Chairman of the conference, Chief Bisi Akande, the pioneer National Chairman of the APC said, “all over the world and particularly in Nigeria, the present business climate is not particularly positive and profitable for crude oil economy. Little do the members of the general public of Nigeria yet appreciate that government can no longer play “Father Christmas” and that the so-called free money from crude oil may no longer come in steadily if and when Europe, America and China totally convert to electric motors that consume no petroleum fuel.

He said, “the occasional negative reflections of the APC-controlled government results partly, from the silence of the APC party offices which should henceforth be encouraged to stimulate “deliberative Democracy” by frequently convening every organ of the party to brainstorming sessions where party leaders should discuss and be informed about various intended policies, plans and decisions of the party at its National Working Committee, at the state and the National Executive Committees, at the Board of Trustees, at the Elders’ Caucuses, at the congresses and the Convention levels.

“Through such regular policy deliberations and understandings, party members could become adequately informed and enlightened, and they would thus become regular mouthpieces and foot soldiers of the party and of its governments at all levels, with a view to favourably modulating and moderating the opinions of the general public, particularly now when Nigerians are reading back to APC its manifesto promises and are looking forward to the party and the government to bring about ‘True Federalism’, Akande stressed.

Mixed Reactions Over Restructuring, Devolution Of Power

Of recent, issues of constitution review has taken the centre stage, and divergent views have continued to greet some particular aspect of the exercise like the restructuring, devolution of powers to state and return to parliamentary system of government and several others.  Joshua Afolabi, Kehinde Oladele, Modupe Omotoso and Yusuf Oketola went to town to sample the opinions of the people on the exercise.

Regionalism Is Not The Solution

In my own view, I prefer we continue with the federal system of government that we are using now and I believe that things will get better, because we are known to be the giant of Africa. We cannot compare Nigeria with other countries in Africa in terms of population, as countries like Ghana, Cotonou and others have lesser population. I think we should stick to the federal system for now, and when the time comes, things will be normal.

Besides that, we should jettison the idea of regionalism for now, because there are some region that cannot even manage their resources, eventhough they have it. I believe that that returning to regional system is not the solution to our problem in this country.

Regionalism Will Guarantee Federalism

When we talk about regionalism, it is also called true federalism, whereby each regional unit will be given power to maintain their resources and less power will be given to the federal government. As far as I am concerned, this system will be more productive.

True federalism is the answer to our problem, and we can achieve that easily if we regionalise. We have been facing one problem or the other since we gained independence and the problems still remain.

Most of our political leaders are just campaigning for infrastructural development but what we need is economic development because it determines who we are.

In addition we don’t deserve bi-cameral legislature in Nigeria, we should adopt uni-camera because I don’t know the duties of the National Assembly and the House of Representative. They are all carrying out the same duties.

Devolution Of Power Is Necessary

Part of what I think will solve our problem in this country is restructuring, hence, we must restructure, because as it stands today, things are lopsided. There is too much power at the federal level and that is not the intent of the federalism that we claim to be using. More power should be shifted to the regions and less power at the centre. That is the reason why people are embezzling our money.

If there is restructuring, every regions will strive to control its own resources and we will be better for it.

When talking about devolution of power, it will work because every region will have maximum power to do things on their own. If we can shift power to the region, the federal will have less power to operate.

Federal System Of Government, The Best

Federal system of government is the best and we don’t need to restructure this country. The only task that should be taken serious is that government needs to monitor all the resources in every state and stop mismanagement. If we decide that each state should stand on its own, it would cause more problem because there are some states who are hiding the resources they have from the federal government.

By my own understanding, it will give political leaders in the state, the opportunity to behave without recourse to the people’s interest.

Regional System, Solution To Our Problem

In my opinion, restructuring of the country and devolution of power make different things to different people. Nigeria is a country that we have been managing from the genesis just like diluting petrol with water, they are not compatible but they are both useful. God has blessed this nation with many resources, but we don’t have self-service. Selfishness has been the major problem in this country.

We are claiming to be one in unity but we are not one. So, I suggest we go back to the regional system so that every region will manage its resources. We should have stronger regions and weaker government at the centre, in which, each region will give little to the central government. The regional system will solve all the problems we are having because everybody will be able to understand themselves.

Devolution Of Power ‘ll Bring More Problem

As far as I am concerned, Nigeria must be restructured for us to make headway. Also, the federal system we are practicing now is better and should be continued along the regional system line.

Moreover, devolution of power will bring much problem and war to this country; therefore, let’s maintain our federal system because it will allow every citizen of this country to stay anywhere.

FG Should Share Resources Fairly

I just urge the federal government to share resources fairly, because the way and manner the resources are being shared presently is not fair. I am neither in support nor against the return to the old system of regionalism, but I must say, even if we go back to the old system, without considering how we will manage our resources, we might be having the same problem.

Regionalism ‘ll Make Govt Farther From The People 

Re-adopting regionalism would not bring back the nation’s glorious days, an era when robust activities and the spirit of nationalism is evidenced in the effective governance and even development in the then Nigeria.

Federalism, as known, has, as one of its merits, the protection of the interests of the minorities, owing to the heterogeneous state of the country as regards its ethnic groups and tribes.

If Regionalism is adopted, the government which in the real sense at present is far from the people would be taken much farther away. Peradventure, the Southwest region is birthed and it has Ibadan, Oyo state as its capital, how effective would the Midas touch of the administration reach the nooks and crannies of the would-be defunct states under it?

The absurdities however is that there are numerous agitations from a range of diverse groups, thus, what the nation truly need may on the long-run not be feasibly achievable.

My take now is that the constitution of the country should be reviewed in such a way that it would see to the countless shortcomings in the 1999 constitution. Subsequently, the presidential system of government should be abolished and a parliamentary system be embraced as this would curtail extravagant spending, hasten the passage of right bill at the right time.

Our constitution as it stand today is a ‘Military Constitution’ designed in the selfish interest of majority of military men who never envisaged the sudden return to civilian rule in a so-called democratic era.

Regional System Can’t Work For Us

Personally, what I think is that the devolution of power thing can’t pay anybody. I agree that the people at the centre are not doing anything, they are just sharing our resources and we are all clamouring that they should give more power to states, but I can tell you, if we regionalise, many of us will suffer, because we are all corrupt.

Regional system cannot come back to existence because there is no knowledge of war unlike before. For example Nnamdi Kanu, the leader of the IPOB doesn’t know anything about war, he should go and learn from those who fought in the Biafra war or experienced it.


Aregbesola Calls for True Federalism

As the “restructuring” of Nigeria remains on the front burner of public discourse, Governor of the State of Osun, Ogbeni Rauf Aregbesola, has noted that the practice of true federalism would accelerate development of the country.

Aregbesola made the remark, while delivering a paper at a one day conference on the second anniversary of South West in National Governance.

Speaking on the theme: “South West to Abuja: A Mid-term Appraisal,” the governor however frowned at the call for local government autonomy, stressing that such is antithetical to federalism, as according to him, under the 1999 constitution, local governments are  appendages of the state government.

True Federalism: Osun Recommends Six Regions….Support Scrapping of 36 States

Government of the State of Osun has supported the agitation for the restructuring of Nigeria with the scrapping of 36 states and recognition of six regions to serve the course of true federalism.

This is contained in the Memorandum of the State of Osun on the review of the 1999 Constitution of Nigeria, a copy of which was made available to OSUN DEFENDER.

The memorandum, it said, emerged from the aggregation of contributions by different stakeholders in the state in an exercise coordinated by the constitution review committee set up by the state government and led by a former Attorney General, Barrister Gbadegesin Adedeji.

According to the proposal, the new amendment to the constitution should make provision to recognise six regions which are North West Region (Sokoto, Zamfara, Katsina, Jigawa, Kano and Kaduna States), North Central Region  (Plateau, Nasarawa, Kwara, Kogi, Niger and Benue States), North East Region (Yobe, Bornu, Adamawa, Gombe, Taraba and Bauchi States), Western Region (Oyo, Ogun, Ondo, Osun, Ekiti and Lagos States), South East Region (Imo, Enugu, Anambra, Abia and Ebonyi States) and South South Region (Cross Rivers, Rivers, Akwa-Ibom, Edo, Delta and Bayelsa States) as constituent units of the Nigerian Federation.

It said, Nigeria is at present a strange federal arrangement of 36 federating units that are largely unviable, saying “Power is over concentrated in the centre and radiates from there to the states at the pleasure of the Federal Government, while resources allocation formula tilts unjustifiably in favour of the centre, breeding wastes, corruption, ineptitude and under-development of the constituent states.

“The cause of true federalism would be well and truly served if we return to the pre-1966 evolutionary path. That is, a balanced federal structure which recognises fully the legitimate claims of all these groups for self determination, and where no single entity among the federating units will be strong or powerful enough to hold the others to ransom.

“We are of the strong conviction that the present 36 States cannot, properly speaking, be the constituent units of the Nigerian Union, as they were not arrived at on the basis of any rational, cultural, linguistic, political or economic parameters but were largely products of whims, caprices and hegemonic designs of privileged past Heads of State or Presidents (as the case may be) who used their positions to the advantage of their people.

“We therefore hold the position and recommend the adoption of regional or zonal structure. These regional or zonal structures should be accorded constitutional recognition.  Each region or zone should have its own constitution or be constitutionally empowered to enter into such agreements on administrative, economic and other activities, as may be approved by the Regional Legislatures.

On devolution of powers to the federating units, the memorandum averred that more powers should be taken away from the centre to the federating units, saying, only matters bordering on the collective interest of the generality of Nigerians like Foreign Affairs, Defence, Currency, among others, should be left with the Central Government.

It said, the National Assembly should be bi-cameral, but election to the House of Representatives should reflect extant Electoral Act incorporating Justice Uwais panel reports in its entirety.

It further recommended that senators should be on part-time basis and receive sitting allowances only which should be determined by the Revenue Mobilisation and Fiscal Commission (RAMFAC), the salary and emoluments of members of the House of Representatives should not be higher than that of the most senior public servant in the employment of the central government.

On system of government, the Osun memorandum recommended that a true federal administration based on parliamentary system of government should be entrenched, rather than the existing presidential system, saying parliamentary system would allow for collaboration and greatly assist in reducing the cost of governance.

On Immunity Clause, as contained in Section 308(1), (2) And 3 (As Amended), according to the memorandum, it was the view of the stakeholders that it should be retained in its present form, as the section and sub sections have not conferred a wholesale immunity on the persons holding the office but only as at the period they are incumbent of the offices.

It stressed that the purpose of the provision is that removing the immunity clause could distract the President, Vice President, State Governors and their Deputies, as opposition parties or mischievous individuals could institute criminal charges against them thereby distracting the due functions of their offices.

The memorandum then noted that the investigations should not wait until the exit of the affected officials; the trial should not be allowed to be prolonged over so many years as in the recent cases; while the plea bargain should follow the British type where the guilty shall not only be allowed to forfeit the ill-gotten wealth but should also be made to serve terms of imprisonment as provided under the law.

The memorandum also supports Regional Policing where each Region is allowed to establish its own Police Force that would operate and be subject to the directives of the Regional Inspector General of Police in the region, who derives his powers from the regional authorities.

The state government also recommends that gender and special group should be constitutionally empowered such that the position will not be abused, saying though, the law as at present does not prevent any woman from contending with any man in all spheres of life, be it education, politics, farming among others, but the 30 per cent arrangement for women can be prescribed for public offices.