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.


A Sceptic View Of Regionalism

Agitation for a return to regions seems to have a somewhat tribal assumption, the assumption that once a people of shared identities have constituted themselves into one region they would be able to confront the larger society as a united front. The history of regionalism in Nigeria, especially that of the defunct Western Region predominated by the Yoruba, contradicts that assumption.

The Western Region was great between 1952 and 1959 when the late Chief Obafemi Awolowo was premier of the region. His achievements were outstanding and historical, especially in the field of education. Many, who otherwise would have been palm wine tappers, rose to become great professionals because the free education policy of Awolowo and his party made it possible for them to attend schools. Without any disputations, it is generally agreed that Awolowo has a legacy that will endure in history.

However, the same Western Region crumbled into an eyesore soon after the exit of Awolowo. The regional politics of 1962-1965 contributed significantly to the collapse of the Nigerian First Republic. While not disagreeing that external influences had a hand in what eventually became of the region, the honest truth is that key politicians of that era did not have the discipline that marked out Obafemi Awolowo as an historical leader. Regional politicians  publicly told prospective voters that their votes did not matter because their political party would still win without them. Non-collaborative traditional rulers had their salaries reduced to a penny a year. The post-election disagreements of 1965 were expressed in the burning of houses and killing of political opponents.

Even during the leadership of Awolowo, political competition in the Western Region was evenly balanced between his Action Group and the rival National Council of Nigeria and the Cameroun, headed by the great Nnamdi Azikiwe. In fact, the latter won the 1954 federal election in the region. Awolowo was not the most popular politician in the regional headquarters of Ibadan, that honour belonged to his bete noire, the crowd-pulling Adegoke Adelabu of the NCNC.

A renewed Western Region will not be an El Dorado, as being canvassed by proponents. As against just two universities in 1965, there are now over 20 universities in the former region as well as scores of polytechnics and colleges of education. The problems of unemployment and delayed payment of salaries will not disappear simply because states have merged into a region. Neither will the competition or rivalry that is inevitable between the sub-groups – Oyo, Ekiti, Egba, Ijebu, Ondo, etc.

The assumption here is that creation of states by the military has reduced the tensions that once existed within  regions. In the Eastern and Northern Regions in particular, there were serious conflicts between the majority ethnic groups and the minority ones. Those who experienced those tensions arising from the domination of the majority ethnic groups, would not be too keen about any suggestion of a return to regional government. A preliminary survey of public opinion indicates that the majority of Nigerians would rather cling to their states than return to regions.

Thanks to money from the oil producing territories, creation of states seems to have resulted in the growth of more urban cities. It can be said that prosperity has been evenly distributed that it once was. Gone were the days when the good things were the exclusive preserve of regional headquarters – Enugu, Kaduna, Ibadan. The states will have to fend for themselves once a possible restructuring of the Nigerian federation has visited them with new economic implications or realities. Oil may not be the most attractive commodity in a couple of decades and that is one reality staring us in the face.

States do not have to be equally endowed in financial terms. There will be rich and poor states, as it is the case even in the United States of America. The Nigerian states will have to learn how to generate wealth, as well as cut their coats according to their sizes. The erstwhile culture which assumes that citizens can enjoy governmental facilities while they do not pay tax will have to change. Tax-paying is a reciprocal obligation which arms the citizenry with moral authority over the running of state and society. One reason why corruption has become a monster in our society is the perception of oil money as free money.

Be that as it may, the one semblance of regionalism canvassed by this writer is the constitutional recognition of the six geopolitical zones for the purpose of leadership rotation and the balancing of political appointments. It is wasteful having 36 ministers, one minister per state, when 24 or less will do. America would have had 50 ministers if, like Nigeria, every state must have a minister. States that have a special affinity can always cooperate in many respects without endangering the drive towards a more cohesive Nigerian federation.

• Akinola is the author of Rotational Presidency, and Party Coalitions in Nigeria – History, Trends and Prospects.