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Towards a fair union

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Igboeli Arinze

Owing to the numerous crisis which in the time past have threatened to engulf our great country and the consistent demands for restructuring, it is expedient upon its citizens as well as leaders of this country be they political, traditional or socio-cultural to proffer solutions on how best to tackle these calls and help get our focus back on how to transform Nigeria from the sleepy giant that she is to one awake to her responsibilities to the her citizens, Africa and the world.

These clarion calls for True Federalism is an apt response to these grave problems begging for our attention before the onset of the civil war, it is my hope that these deliberations here and everywhere  within the federation will be matched or surpassed by the will power of our leadership. We have an opportunity to leave a legacy to generations of Nigerians, now is the time to do so.

I will therefore start with the knotty issue of State Creation: On the creation of states, I believe that one of the reasons fuelling the recent agitations by my people in the SouthEast region of the country is due to the lopsidedness in the creation of states, it is indeed unfair for a region that is said to house the single largest ethnic group in Nigeria is left with five states while other regions have an average of six states, while the Northwest has seven States. This implies that while each region sends an average of 18 senators to the Senate, the Southeast sends only 15 Senator’s, this is unfair and unacceptable.

It is to this end that I suggest that while each present geographical region is gifted with a state, the Southeast region be given two states.

Derivation Principle: On the derivation principle, I will proffer that we increase it from the 13 percent figure to 30 percent in order to create better options for Nigeria’s economic success, this would definitely make States more viable and ensure that the goose that lays the golden eggs gets a better share of her resources.

To make this indeed workable, I am proposing that local governments be granted autonomy  and also handed a derivation principle ratio of 30 percent leaving the Federal Government with 40 percent of the revenues from such areas, while the states take 30 percent on such resources.

This way we will be able to ensure that the original owners of resources at the local governments enjoy such provisions as well as accelerate development in these local governments.

Regionalism,  Zones,  Or States: On the question of regionalism, zones or the maintainance of the present structure of 36 +states, I want to suggest that we are better off maintaining the present state structure. Yes, there are arguments that regionalism will help us shrink the size and numbers of government as well as benefit from the number of scale, sadly, the bitter taste that was left in the mouths of a number of peoples who were so wrongly marginalized and neglected  during such an era.

Thus, let us ask isn’t it better that we have a structure where each state handles more responsibilities  and is  allowed to handle matters such as mines and minerals which sits on the exclusive list as well as move more of the items on the concurrent lists such as health, education, internal security (within these states), agriculture, infrastructure and housing to the residual list? If we take these and domicile them in the residual lists as well as increase the percentage of revenue to the States and the local governments, then states will be allowed to pursue independently and aggressively their own manifest destinies. The spirit of competition would spur them to tinker with new ideas and the birth of a modern and progressive Nigeria will not be beyond our reach.

State Police: On state police, I believe that the time is ripe, however, I must add this caveat that there must be means of ensuring that it is not abused into becoming the personal armies of state politicians.

Presidential or Parliamentary System?

On the Presidential or Parliamentary question, I will always say that Nigeria needs a national figure, who will stand as a symbol of unity, a father figure, Cicero talked of of the Saviour Dictator, I prefer Saviour Democrat. Thus when we reduce the election of a national leader to the choice of party delegates alone as is the case with Westminster like democracy then we open ourselves again to the problems of 1960-1966. The presidential system may be expensive but for a nation like Nigeria it is the best system ever.

Independent Candidature: I do not support the quest for independent candidacy, no, I think it will be prone to abuse, Nigeria presently has 18 political parties or so, if any aspirant doesn’t like Party A, he can move to party B.

Rotation of Offices: I am for the rotation of political offices between the six geopolitical zones as well as between the Senatorial Districts, but gentlemen let us give such arrangement a 48 year timeline, hopefully at that point in time we will be able to arrive at a phase in our political life where it will matter no longer where one comes from but what he has to offer and how he hopes to offer it.

Type of Legislature: On the type of legislature, whether we like it or not, Nigeria needs a bi-cameral system of legislature, however owing to the amount of days these legislators spend doing the business of legislation,  a part time legislature may be viable.

Let me round of by stating that the desires for the establishment of True Federalism that reflects and encourages fiscal autonomy as well as the independence of all tiers of government will spur progressive competition amongst these tiers and open the doors for rapid growth and development so that in the next couple of decades Nigeria will not only be a truly great country but will also stand within the Pantheon of top five nations, One People! One Nation!! One Magnificent Destiny

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