NIGERIA: THE ROAD TO CENTENARY (10) – THE “FEDERAL REPUBLIC” OF NIGERIA

A PEEK INTO THE FUTURE OF A NIGERIA THAT FAILS TO IMBIBE THE PRINCIPLES OF FEDERALISM.
A PEEK INTO THE FUTURE OF A NIGERIA THAT FAILS TO IMBIBE THE PRINCIPLES OF FEDERALISM.

I could only think of Nigeria’s appellation as second only to North Koreas’ in level of ridiculousness as regards oxymorons.

There is no way the ‘FEDERAL REPUBLIC’ of Nigeria would beat the ‘DEMOCRATIC PEOPLE’S REPUBLIC’ of Korea, DPRK in the spuriousness of what is asserted.

Like Nigeria, North Koreans delude themselves of their democratic credentials as demonstrated in the farcical elections held just days ago in which Kim Kung Un ran unopposed and won 100% of votes cast.

Unlike North Korea, Nigeria is a free and democratic society, yet it is a shame that it continues to live this lie.

Nigeria did actually experience federalism at some point in her history, infact at independence and soon after independence. In those days power was vested more in the regions than with, and/or at the centre, the reason for which Alhaji Ahmadu Bello whose party won majority seats in parliament elected to be premier of the Northern Region, rather than become Prime Minister at the Centre, to which he delegated his deputy, Sir Tafawa Balewa to act in his stead, the fact that he was deemed to have continued to play puppet-master to Balewa accounted for his neutralization by the Coup Plotters of January 15, 1966.

Nigeria, as presently constituted and run is a far cry from what it was under the parliamentary democracy it practiced at independence and shortly afterwards. It failed to exploit the opportunity provided by the change from Parliamentary to the Presidential system in 1979 to amend the FALSE FEDERALISM, which was infact nothing but the continuation of the UNITARY SYSTEM put in place by General Aguiyi Ironsi, after Nigeria’s First and Bloody Coup.

Though one of the reasons for the toppling of the Ironsi regime was the perception by Northern elite and members of the army that the UNIFICATION DECREE NO.34 that birthed Nigeria’s Unitary System of government was promulgated to place Igbos who were at the time more widely spread across Nigeria into positions most Northerners may not be ready to undertake for reasons associated with competence and qualifications, the General Yakubu Gowon government which was the beneficiary of the Counter-Coup (much Bloodier targeting Ironsi and mainly Igbo officers and men of the Nigerian Army) did nothing to change the existing Status Quo, but rather went ahead to further entrench it, taking advantage of same to instal their own people regardless of requisite competence and qualifications, especially since the Igbos at the time were suffering a setback by reason of the civil war (from which they emerged vanquished) and the marginalization that followed afterwards.

Before Ironsi’s Decree 34, the regions controlled their resources and developed at their own pace. They also determined their own priorities, paying a part of their earnings to the centre.

The regions were run as autonomous CENTRES OF EXCELLENCE, while the Centre catered to foreign relations and maintenance of the country’s integrity and sovereignty.

Today, governors run cap in hand to the centre for monthly allocations, skewed in favour of the Federal Government in whose purview all of the nation’s natural resources (with the relegation of Agriculture to the background with the discovery of oil, and its exploration and exploitation in commercial quantities) now reside.

The various regions which hitherto depended ‘pon particular agricultural products, even raw materials of which they wielded economic advantage have sacrificed all of that to benefit from CRUDE OIL’s ‘Rent Money’.

Unfortunately, the boom in the oil industry happened at the time Nigeria’s Federalism was in practice Unitarism, denying Niger Deltans on whose land and adjoining offshore basins Crude Oil was explored, the opportunity other regions enjoyed during the First Republic with which they developed their territories. Proceeds from here was committed to building other parts of Nigeria, while Niger Deltans bore the brunt of environmental degradation leading to massive loss of livelihoods and depreciation in health associated with the ensuing pollution.

Nigeria’s lie of a federalism has continued to deny Niger Deltans the full benefits of their resources, as was obtainable in the Younger days of Nigeria as a republic when the Eastern, Western, Midwestern and the North developed their regions with proceeds from sale of Palm Oil, cocoa, Rubber and Groundnuts respectively, besides other mineral resources.

It’s the laziness associated with the shame that’s Nigeria’s FEDERAL REPUBLIC, that’s responsible for statements by some Northern Elders recently that the Niger Delta oil (especially the part offshore) belongs to the North asserting that the distance further into the sea that’s considered Nigerian is as a result of the distance further inland that’s bequeathed Nigeria by the expanse of land the North possesses, without which Nigeria may not have access to Offshore oil in the first place. Interestingly,I doubt that these Northern Elders will be comfortable with the present 13% derivation enjoyed by oil producing states when and if oil is found in the Chad basin tomorrow, beyond asking for total resource control.

Nigeria has witnessed a dearth of industry and entrepreneurial adventurism owing to the relegation of it’s federal structure. Merit has been sacrificed on the altar of mediocrity and cronyism, nay nepotism (and I don’t even want to mention Ethnicity).

It’s in the midst of all these, politicians continue to con their people into agitating for the creation of new states, when most of the existing ones can barely survive on internally generated revenue, talk more monthly federal allocations which most governors have been known to routinely fritter away while running up huge debt portfolio for their successors in office.

I had thought that the opportunity provided by the convening of a National Conference will afford delegates the opportunity to discuss Nigeria’s unusual Federal System, understand that it’s presently farcical, and provide suggestions that will restore it’s true meaning to governance in Nigeria. Sadly, only delegates mainly from the South-West appear to be keen on canvassing this position, while the Northern elite (note that I did not say ‘people’) which have benefited immensely from the distortion appear to be assiduously working to thwart their effort, going by the statement of one of the Northern Elders that the call for TRUE FEDERALISM is uncalled for, as every nation has the right to determine what it’s federalism should be, another misrepresentation of facts.

As long as Nigeria’s Federalism isn’t tackled frontally to ensure that provisions of a federal state is activated and fully adhered to, this National Conference will not be the last, if peradventure it becomes the last then a future similar to that witnessed when the Federal side failed to abide by resolutions reached at Aburi, in Ghana in 1967 will not be shy in repeating itself, especially seeing that Nigeria wouldn’t have been in the state it is in today had the hands of history written otherwise.

‘kovich

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