By Jerome-Mario Utomi
The idea here is simple. The 7 North West Nigerian States of Sokoto, Kebbi, Niger including Nupe and Gwari, Kano, Katsina, Kaduna and Zamfara should serve as a Federating Unit because they have many things cultural / religious in common, The Oragwu’s Communication on nation restructuring further suggested as follows; The 6 Yoruba States plus Yoruba ethnic Nationalities located in Kwara State and in Kogi State should form one Federating Unit.
The 5 Igbo States and Igbo Anioma Section of Delta State, should form one Federating Unit
The Akwaibom, the Efiks and the Ogoja ethnic Nationalities also qualify as a Federating Unit like Russian Federation in a USSR Federation, should form one Federating Unit,
The Kanuri dominated North East of Nigeria including Bauchi, Yobe, Gombe, Jigawa and Adamawa States should form one Federating Unit,
The States of Plateau, Benue including Idoma and Igala, Taraba, Nasarawa States similarly qualify as a Federating Unit
The States of Rivers including Ijaw, Bayelsa qualify as a Federating Unit
The States of Edo, Urhobo, Itschekiri, Isoko, and other non-Igbo States in the present Delta State also qualify as Federating Unit.
However, it is important in this Restructuring Exercise to ask any of the above ethnic Nationalities to consider and agree on which Federating Unit they wish to belong, and the adjustment accordingly made. This will avoid the experience of many failed attempts at Restructuring Nigeria into a True and Sustainable Federation. Please See England, Scotland and Wales of United Kingdom of Great Britainand Canada respectively which came into Existence without Bitterness, Rancor, Demonization and Hatred among the ethnic Nationalities or Nations which brought into being UK of Great Britain and Canada sustainable Federations.
If the above Suggestions in the case of Nigeria are accepted, Nigeria may have no more than Ten (10) Federating Units Federation.This will be a welcome Relief from the existing 36 Federating Units, in which over 75% of National Revenue is utilized in servicing the Bureaucracy, leaving only 25% for the Socio-economic Development Projects( Roads, Energy Power Supply, Railways, Air Transport Infrastructures, Employment Infrastructures, among others which are the Main / Prime Objectives of Good Governance.
Each of the above suggested Federating Unit is capable in the light of the Terms of Union of taking full and exclusive responsibility / control of its Land, Agriculture, Economy, Education at all levels of its Citizens and other factors of socio-economic development within its domain, and can develop at its own pace and factor endowment in healthy competition with other Federating Units without any interference whatso ever from the Federal (Central) Government. The Federal (Central) Government itself, is a Coordinating Government of mutually agreed Common National Services and not a Controlling Government. In this regard it is immaterial which ethnic Nationality is the President or Prime Minister of Nigerian Federation. The Common Services of the Federal (Central) Government are well defined as indicated above.
Approval of the Proposals for aRestructured Nigeria’s Federation.
This is a Matter for the existing National Assembly / 36 States Assembly to take Action as per the Existing Constitution, which states among other things, that 2/3 of the National Assembly and 2/3 of the 36 State Assembly can amend the existing Constitution, the Way Nigeria as presently constituted want.What the overwhelming Nigeria’s Constituent ethic Nationalities now want, is a True and Sustainable Federation for Peace and Progress to reign.
In Conclusion, the Federating Units of a True Federation of Nigeria should be based on ethnic Nationality and or Consenting Groups of Ethnic Nationalities comprised in Nigeria. By Convention a True Federation consists of two or more ethnic Nationalities or Nations.Please seethe case of UK of Great Britain, which is a Federation of ethnic Nationalities of England, Scotland and Wales, all located in distinct/ different Parts of the Great Island called Great Britain which came into being in 1706 under a Treaty titled “Treaty of Union” and that of Canada which is a Union of English Speaking Americans and French Speaking Americans which came into existence following American War of Independence from Europe.
In these two sustainable federations, It does not matter which ever ethic Nationality is the Prime Minister or President of UK or Canada, because the Responsibility of the Federal(Central) Governmentis limited to mutually Agreed Common Services of the respective Federation. UK of Great Britain and Canada respectively.One can also have a look at former USSR Federation of which Russian Federation is one out of 14 Federating Units now independent Nations. Nigeria should consider all these Federations and see which is suitable for Nigeria.
Secondly Reduction from 36 States Structure will reduce the costs of governance / the Size of bureaucracy and the current overloaded Civil Service Structure and eliminate duplications of Functions as now observed in the Federal / 36 States Administration Structure.
Thirdly, the Financing of the Federation should be as well spelt out above and should continue to form the Basis of the Financing of Nigerian Federation.
Fourthly Nigeria can quickly be restructured peacefully by the 2/3 of the National Assembly and 2/3 of the current 36 States Assembly as required by the current Nigerian Constitution which empowers these Assemblies to amend the Existing Constitution any time as Nigerians want. This Power of Constitutional Amendment is not extended to the President of Nigeria or the Governors of the States. The only Role of the President is to endorse the decision of the Assemblies and if he refuses to endorse the 2/3 Decisions of the Assemblies, the latter has the Constitutional Power to repeat their Votes and the Constitution is automatically amended the Way Nigerians want it. All these in effect mean, is that neither the President nor the Governors nor the partisan Political Parties per se can Restructure Nigeria into a True Federation, Nigerians now want.
Consequently, all these hate -ridden, abuses and demonization of one ethnic Nationality or the other as the Villain against Restructuring of Nigeria is misplaced and an exercise in futility and unnecessary Street Fighting as nothing good can come out of these Fights. Therefore a Bill to effect the necessary Amendment along the above Suggestions should now be sent to the National Assembly by anybody, including Political Parties or concerned Citizens like myself who genuinely / seriously want Restructuring of Nigeria into a True Federation so that real Peace, real Unity and Real Economic Progress can reign in Nigeria as a leading True Federation in African Continent.
‘As noted elsewhere, ‘The destiny of the ship is not in the harbor but in sailing the high sea’’ and so shall our collective responsibility be, not to destroy this great nation but join hands to nurture and sustain it .
Indeed, there are ingrained lessons to draw from this communication.And I hold the opinion that If we are able to commit to mind, and implement these suggestions, it will once again, announce the arrival of a brand new great nation where peace and love shall reign supreme. But, then, no nation enjoys durable peace without justice and stability without fairness and equity!
Utomi is the Programme Cordinator (Media and Public Policy), Social and Economic Justice Advocacy (SEJA), Lagos. He could be reached via;j[email protected]/080327253.