Today’s Nigeria is being confronted with a multiplicity of burdensome questions begging for answer. Some of the issues arise from sharp and very dangerous differences in religion; most especially the inter-religious suspicion between Islam and Christianity. Numerousity of ethnic composition which diversity should have been a major source of strength has, indeed, been a clog on national unity.
National growth in education has tremendously been impaired by what many consider as retrogressive application of the policy of federal character. States are clustered together to move at an unusually federally-dictated pace in order to enable others who, for no acceptable reason, have remained on the slow lane of educational development.
Redistribution of national income accruing considerably from a few zones in the country has continued to be a principal source of discontent. Stakeholders from such zones continuously express worries of marginalization.
Appointment into strategic Federal government positions are said to favour only the Hausa/Fulani, with serious attachment to Islam.
Insecurity has also added a dimension to the National question. The Boko Haram insurgency in the North, particularly the North-East, has been a source of painful devastation and destruction of precious lives and property for some years now.
As if that was not enough source of agony, Fulani herdsmen, who have stubbornly and arrogantly refused to embrace global best practices in herding cattle through ranching, have acquired sophisticated weapons of mass destruction and have rendered many Christian farmers homeless, with thousands dead while more are permanently maimed.
A good number of Nigerians feel that the centre is so powerful that power should be devolved to the States.
Incidentally the voices calling for a redefinition of the Nigerian Federal Structure are mainly from the South.
The Middle-Belt, which was part of the defunct Northern Region of Nigeria, has joined in the expression of discomfort under the present dispensation.
By this development, the North-Central, South-East, South-South and South-West have boldly indicated to the world that all is not well with the Nigerian State.
As beneficiaries of the country’s awkward Federal structure, which was imposed on the people by the Hausa/Fulani dominated military, the core Islamist North is seriously opposing any attempt to have a critical review of the country’s present structure.
Advocates of restructuring express strong belief in the report of the 2014 National Conference and demand that it should be implemented.
On the other hand, the core North claims that the North was not commensurately represented at the conference. They go further to question the legality of the conference. Not long ago, it was reported that their youths threatened that any northern
elder that supports restructuring, does so at his own peril.
In the midst of all these dissenting opinions, there are others whose concern appears to border on what type of restructuring are people clamouring for. According to this school of thought, the quest for restructuring should be clearly defined.
The Centre For Equity And Eradication Of Rural Poverty strongly believes that the Nigerian military pepertrated a sharp departure from the foundation laid by Nigeria’s founding fathers for good and acceptable governance. Imposition of unitary system of government as against the acceptable federalist Structure amounts to avoidable anarchy in a multy-ethnic assemblage. The best that can be achieved from this type of unitary system is suppressed agitation. But once agitation starts, no matter how reactionary elements endeavour to suppress it, the end result result will always be catastrophic.
The Hausa/Fulani, for now, have a firm grip of the Nigerian security apparatus. They could kill, maim and suppress but it can only be for a while. If they could be humble enough to turn through some pages of history, they would realize that no condition is permanent. Besides, nature has always had a soft spot for the oppressed and the enslaved.
The Centre for Equity And Eradication Of Rural Poverty proposes the following as definition of restructuring in Nigeria;
(1) the present thirty-six state structure is unrealistic. Many of the states, without allocation from the federal government, can not be sustained for more than half a year. Therefore, the Centre suggests that the federation be restructured into six geo-political zones vis; (a) North-Central, (b) North-East, (c) North-West, (d) South-East, (e) South-South and (f) South-West.
(2) Each region should explore, harness and exploit natural resources within its boundaries, retain sixty percent of its total revenue while forty is remitted to the centre for the maintenance of defence, internal affairs, foreign policy, Immigration, ports and aviation.
(3) Each region should be at liberty to create the number of states it deems fit to have.
(4) Local Government Councils are no federating units and, so, it’s creation and administration should be the prerogative of the States.
(5) Regions or geo-political governments should have the power to establish it’s own police for prompt and effective policing. The Federal Government will also have it’s own police.
(6) Each region should have a regional Assembly that should make its Constitution.
(7) No road shall be termed a federal road. Any road within the geographical boundaries of a region should be maintained by the government of that region.
(8) Education should be the entire responsibility of the regional government, starting from nursery up to the university. Each region should be allowed to progress according to its ability.
(9) Federal character should strictly apply only in such areas as mentioned in (2) above.
(10) Out of the forty percent each region pays as royalty to the federal government, fifteen percent of its cumulative should be be redistributed to the regions on basis of equality of regions, to make sure states that are not as naturally endowed as some others do not collapse and
(11) the Federal Government should have a constitution that provides for a unicameral legislature propelled by a parliamentary system of government as it is in Britain.
It must be suggested here that if Nigeria actually wants to grow into the status of a great nation, it must stop deceiving itself over it’s population census.
It should embark on an honest population census to determine exactly what her population is. As at present, Nigeria’s population borders on falsehood. There is no miracle that can make any country plan and execute effectively when her claim on population is absolutely deceitful. You can imagine how spurious it sounds to hear that Kano has more population than Lagos!
The Centre frankly believes that if Nigeria is, indeed, restructured, it would guarantee unity, stability and overall development of the polity.
Insisting that Nigeria must continue to be governed on its present basis of falsely imposed Constitution, which claims to have been made by the peoples of Nigeria when it is only the handwork of the military, is merely prolonging the day of judgment. A stitch in time, should save nine.