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OBSERVATION: Beyond May 29, 2023

  BY ADEMOLA YAYA “ON the march again; looking for Mr. President; M.K.O is our man o!” That was the popular jingle of Chief M.K.O Abiola towards the June 12, 1993 general elections which he won under the platform of Social Democratic Party (SDP), but was annulled by General Ibrahim Badamasi Babangida military junta. Mr….”
April 28, 2023 2:49 pm



ON the march again; looking for Mr. President; M.K.O is our man o!” That was the popular jingle of Chief M.K.O Abiola towards the June 12, 1993 general elections which he won under the platform of Social Democratic Party (SDP), but was annulled by General Ibrahim Badamasi Babangida military junta.

Mr. Abiola was a successful business man and a philanthropist. He was seen by the majority of Nigerians as the messiah who would turn things around for better, using his business acumen and international connection.

Although he was from South-West, he garnered stupendous votes across the land, defeating his rival candidate, Alhaji Bashir Tofa who contested under the platform of National Republican Convention (NRC) in his polling unit, ward and local government. That election was adjudged the freest and fairest by local and international observers. MKO was a President that never ruled. I will, however, leave the rest for history.

February 25, 2023 Presidential and National Assembly elections have come and gone like the March 18 Governorship and States Assembly elections. Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu has been declared by Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) as the President-elect and he is to be sworn-in on May 29 as the President and Commander-in-Chief of Armed Forces.

Tinubu ardent followers believe that he has capacity to assemble best brains, round pegs in round holes that would work with him as a team that will bail Nigeria out, especially from its perpetual insecurity, corruption and ailing economy.

This belief is backed up by assemblage of his team between 1999 and 2007 when he held sway in Lagos State as the governor. His capacity to assemble most qualitative people for the job made him not only perform but relevant till date and in fact, contributed immensely to his emergence as the President among other factors. Immediately having taken the oath of office on May 29, President Tinubu must name his cabinet within 60 days and transmit it to Senate for confirmation.

Although there are 36 states’ Governors, National and State Assembly members with their various roles, the balkanised federalism Nigeria operates relegates to the background other ruling structures but makes the President almighty and real custodian of oil money.  

For a country with cultural, ethnic and religion diversity, federalism is a better recommendation as it will allow each region or state determine its priorities, policies, tradition and internal security; it will ensure peace, stability and mutual accommodation; it will improve service delivery, democracy entrenchment, guide against over concentration of power and resources and ensure wider opportunities for democratic participation. In the circumstance, the states will maintain independence from the centre without undermining the integrity and sovereignty of the federation.

This is not just a theoretical postulation, it had been practiced in Nigeria between 1954 and 1966 after which the military forced themselves into politics, suspended the Federal Constitution and enthroned a military government which relied on obnoxious decrees for its central authority and command.

Continuous military incursion into politics technically transformed our federalism to unitary system while we deceptively call it Federal Republic of Nigeria. Researches and evidences have shown that we were better off in all ramifications during federalism than after it was kicked out.

READ: {The Discourse} May 29: Beyond Fallacies And Wishful Thinking – The Million Little Pieces Together

Although the out-going President Buhari has signed 16 constitutional amendment bills that seek to remove some items like railway, prison and electricity from the exclusive list to concurrent list into law, it is still a mere scratch on the surface as far as federalism is concerned.

May 29

There is need for devolution of more responsibilities and revenues to the states. The revenue allocation of 52.68%, 26.72% and 20.60% to federal, states and local governments respectively is no longer sustainable. It needs urgent restructuring via amendment to Section 162 of the 1999 Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria.

Interestingly, the President-elect seems to be an apostle of federalism as he practically demonstrated it in 2003 when he created 37 new local government areas (LGA) in addition to the 20 local governments in Lagos State after conducting referendum and getting the endorsement of the House of Assembly which signed it into law. 

Apart from the fact that these LGAs were not eventually listed in the Nigeria Constitution and settled inevitably as Local Council Development Areas (within their respective LGAs), President Olusegun Obasanjo illegally withheld over N10billion fund meant for Lagos local government as a punishment for daring almighty President.

Tinubu has a God given opportunity from May 29 to make a critical change to deliver development; initiate and follow through policies that can make Nigeria thrive; reconcile post-elections widespread animosity across religious and ethnic lines. He must assemble the best team that will give competent and patriotic leadership especially in insecurity, corruption and economy.

Except there is political will to resetting and restructuring the present patching arrangement with quality leadership, four years starting from May 29 will soon be over with our economic and security agenda remaining pipedream, making us to be scouting once again for a Messiah, having been pushed further into the brink and overwhelmed more than ever with socio-economic misfortunes.


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