As Nigeria draws closer to state bankruptcy, the agitation to restructure it to fit its natural default mode of true federalism is attracting both genuine and dubious converts. Lately, Sokoto State Governor Aminu Tambuwal has joined the bandwagon, rightly arguing that Nigeria “must undertake restructuring to survive”, reorganizing its political regime, economy, security and “ways of doing things. do things”. Like other northern politicians in recent times, a former chairman of the Independent National Election Commission, Attahiru Jega, has also urged the executive and legislative branches of government to opt for “short-term restructuring” ahead of the 2023 general election. In light of current realities, stakeholders must rise above politics and begin the process to save the union.
Unlike the president, Major General Muhammadu Buhari (retired) and other elites still living in denial, the message must get across to all stakeholders: Nigeria faces an existential threat. Centrifugal forces, long suppressed, tear it apart. Mutual trust between the constituent nationalities was broken and the unitary administrative and political format imposed on a natural federation failed irreparably. The economy is unproductive as insecurity has reached an unprecedented level. Unless the country is restructured into a true federation, collapse is inevitable. Unfortunately, it may not be peaceful. Nobel Prize winner Wole Soyinka was right when he said recently: “We are in deep trouble. This country is in shambles. It crumbles before our eyes.
The inevitable dissolution has long been looming. The more the federal government seizes the power of the state, the more the country slips through its fingers. Foreign Policy, an online magazine, argues that states do not fail overnight. The seeds of their destruction are sown deep within their political institutions. “They fail not in an explosion of war and violence, but in being utterly unable to take advantage of the enormous growth potential of their society, condemning their citizens to a life of poverty,” he says. Saving the country is beyond politics and beyond regional, sectoral, ethnic and personal interests. The current arrangement via the 1999 Constitution is patently and disastrously dysfunctional. Its inherent contradictions have created poverty, economic ruin and insecurity, pushing the country towards absolute state failure.
Since the start of the Fourth Republic in 1999, instead of the progress seen during the First and Second Republics, infrastructure has collapsed, the country has become the poverty capital of the world, the unemployment rate is 33.3% and human development indices have plummeted. It is ranked 12th most fragile country in the world.
Unprecedented insecurity and separatist movements have taken firm root. Conflict resolution mechanisms have failed. The entire North is besieged by Islamist terrorists in the northeast, bandits / terrorists in the northwest, and Fulani shepherds / militants in the center-north. Neither is the South safe, beset by shepherds / kidnappers, and local armed thieves, kidnappers, ritual murderers, criminal gangs, vandals and ethnic activists. It is impossible to deal with widespread insecurity, as the Basic Law insanely entrusts policing and security exclusively to the federal government. States are powerless to secure their territories, yet forced to finance an inept central police force.
Those who arrogantly reject restructuring and make peaceful change impossible are Nigeria’s real enemies. Federalism is simply a two-level governance structure of a central government and its constituent units – regional, provincial or state governments. Subnational governments are, in theory and in practice, autonomous units with the power to govern their territories. Countries with diverse ethnic, regional or cultural characteristics are natural federations. There is no plausible argument against this. Today there are 25 such countries in the world, together representing 40% of the world’s population. The main benefits, said the Brookings Institution, include regional autonomy, inclusion and the preservation of freedoms. Its main pillars are fiscal federalism, resource control and autonomous police. The absence of these has impoverished the 36 states and made them dangerous.
Federalism “reduces conflicts between the various communities, allows interjurisdictional competition which encourages innovation,” the report states. He declares conclusively: “Sometimes nations are faced with a difficult choice: to allow regions to federate and govern themselves or to risk national dissolution”. This accurately describes the situation in Nigeria today.
The Buhari regime and other protagonists of the mantra “Nigeria’s unity is not negotiable” delude themselves by failing to face the harsh reality of history. Cracking down on separatist agitators will NOT save the union; he can only postpone the day of the accounts.
When a country faces an existential threat like Nigeria faces today, its leaders do two things. First, they face reality. Then they rise above politics, partisanship, parish groups and interests to save the union. State spirit, not primitive politics, will save the day. In the United States, the bipartisan state of mind trumps strong diversities when external threats or critical economic problems arise such as the September 11 attacks and the recent $ 1.8 trillion welfare plan. dollars approved by Congress. But here the leaders cannot overcome ethnicity, sectionalism and religion. Most national interests subordinate to their ambition for wealth, power and influence. Hypocrisy, opportunism, deception and crude politics have delayed restructuring for too long. As Wole Olanipekun, a senior lawyer for Nigeria, recently noted, the US constitution “was not put in place by politicians but by statesmen” who set aside short-term gains for the sake of it. create a sustainable democracy.
The PDP spent 16 years in power, produced three presidents and refused to restructure. The political conferences they initiated in 2005 and 2014 were mostly opportunistic political gimmicks to save time.
The principle of self-determination is enshrined in Article I of the Charter of the United Nations and is firmly established in international law. Globally, there are 100 groups in 29 countries, according to one report, seeking greater autonomy from central government or self-determination of their homeland. CEPR, a research-based policy analyst, says that throughout history there are few regions in the world whose map has changed as frequently and sharply as that of Europe. Yet amid the blatant injustice, the leaders and groups that hold all the major levers of state power in Nigeria have categorically made peaceful dialogue impossible. Instead, all forms of agitation for self-determination, including peaceful ones, are “demonized” and criminalized. APC politicians who vowed to restructure to overthrow the PDP in 2015 are treacherously silent today as they refine their ambitions for power. Olusegun Obasanjo, who, like his two immediate successors to the presidency, Umaru Yar’Adua and Goodluck Jonathan, saw calls for restructuring as a betrayal, now vehemently advocates true federalism.
Nigeria desperately desires visionary statesmen and rulers, not great men and rulers. Restructuring is beyond the PDP and the APC, whose leaders are moving from declaring a phantom, non-negotiable “Nigeria unit” when in power to becoming lawyers when in power. opposition. The report of the CPA el-Rufai committee on restructuring has been trashed. Unsurprisingly, PDP is now trumpeting restructuring with every given opportunity. The two political parties fiddle around as Nigeria burns down.
However, the advantages of federalism are numerous in the history of the country. From the era of autonomy in the 1950s under colonial rule to the first six years of independence, the pace of development reached by the defunct autonomous regions has been unmatched since the incursion of the army in 1966 and the centralization that followed.
While no humane arrangement is perfect, the International Institute for Democracy and Electoral Assistance asserts that by dividing powers and responsibilities between a central and regional level, federalism promotes competition, ensuring local self-government. on regional economic development, infrastructure and public services, culture and language. . It also facilitates effective law enforcement with citizen police. Federal policies entrust law enforcement primarily to federative units; everyone chooses the one that suits them best.
We must put an end to this jamming policy. Nigeria’s manifestly dysfunctional system must give way to practical federalism, characterized by state policing, fiscal federalism and control of resources. True national leaders from all regions and sections must immediately and courageously come together to push for an immediate restructuring of the crumbling edifice and save Nigeria.
The time to do it peacefully is running out. Enlightened self-interest dictates urgency and a rise above ethnicity and politics. Unless Nigeria restructures quickly, a violent implosion is inevitable and unstoppable.
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