A PAPER PRESENTATION BY PROF. ABIODUN AMUDA-KANNIKE, (SAN), PROVOST, COLLEGE OF LAW, KWARA STATE UNIVERSITY, MALETE VIA ILORIN, KWARA STATE, AT THE 9TH EDITION OF UNIFEMGA HONOUR DAY ORGANIZED BY OBAFEMI AWOLOWO UNIVERSITY, MUSLIM GRADUATES ASSOCIATION (UNIFEMGA) AT SAVANNAH HOTELS & SUITES, AJASE-IPO ROAD, OFFA GARAGE AREA, ILORIN, KWARA STATE, ON SATURDAY, 2ND DAY OF FEBRUARY, 2019.
Presenter Email Address: email@example.com
The present topic is important to our nation, Nigeria, because, it has become a serious discussion among ethnic nationalists, religious organizations, civil societies, academicians, vis-à-vis, the politicians among other numerous interest groups.
It is however important to note that the definitions differs from one group or the other, from one interest to the other. Some see restructuring issue as a means to divide the country into two or several countries, some persons oppose restructuring because, they believe, Nigeria must remain one indivisible country, others see the mentioning of the word “restructuring” as a “taboo”.
It is pertinent to understand that before delving into the discussion, we need to understand the keywords associated with this topic which are as follows;
The term “restructuring” is said to be a political and administrative connotation which means, the agitation for more formation in the entire component of the existing federalism, because of the need to be in control of the center or representation in the political landscape of a particular country. Restructuring can further be seen as the economic redistribution of the resources among the components units which makes up a federation in relation to true federalism, including the constitutional issue which requires amendment for such restructuring.
To define “restructure” in the verb, means to change the way an organization or system organize its activities in order to make it to work more effectively.
Restructuring also means, bringing about a drastic or fundamental internal change that alters the relationships between different components or elements of an organization or system.
Problem has been described as a situation regarded as unwelcome or harmful and needing to be dealt with and overcome.
Problem has also been described as a situation that is unsatisfactory and causes difficulties for people.
Country has however been described as a nation with its own government, occupying a particular territory.
Furthermore, a country has been described as one of the political units which the world is divided into, covering a particular area of land. The people who live in a particular country can be referred to as the country, once recognized by comity of nations such as the United Nations and other World bodies.
The above core terms or words, will be useful in dealing with the topic, as they shall be in use throughout our discussion. It is however important to look at the historical background of restructuring in Nigeria summaringly. The purpose of this presentation is not specifically to trace the historical background of restructuring in Nigeria but to have a cursory look of what restructuring was earlier and in the present day Nigeria in order to take a position on whether or not restructuring will address our problems in Nigeria.
According to, Eshiobo Sam Shola, restructuring means a purposeful alteration or adjustment from a former form, situation, characteristic or structure to a newer form which is often intended to be better than the former or previous structure.
Restructuring can be done in various ways, such as;
The fact remains that significant issue of restructuring will certainly require constitutional amendment in order to become a reality.
HISTORICAL BACKGROUND OF RESTRUCTURING IN NIGERIA
The issue of restructuring in Nigeria has been a continuous one and it became more serious and pronounced in the year 2017 as a result of sudden recession. There was the agitation from both the ethnic nationalists and political group on a large scale this time around and the agitation is still ongoing.
It is however important to state that the structure of federalism in Nigeria started taking shape as a result of the coming into effect of various Nigerian Constitution, which is popularly called, “Constitutional development in Nigeria” according to many authors, jurist and writers, however, we call it “constitutional under development in Nigeria”. This is because, the definition of development and underdevelopment are not the same. One is the opposite of the other. We would not have mind the words or sentence “constitutional history of Nigeria or the history of Nigeria Constitution”.
The endorsement of the division of Nigeria into Northern and Southern Provinces through the 1922 Clifford Constitution commenced the structure of Nigeria Federalism. There also exist other Constitution which were imposed on Nigerians such as the Richardson Constitution of 1946, the Macpherson Constitution of 1951 which also created its own restructuring, this led to the Lyttleton Constitution of 1954 which expanded the scope of federalism a little and which came into effect on 1st of October, 1954. This constitution can be seen as sharing constitutional powers between the central government and the regional government. The issue of the division of powers into exclusive, concurrent and residual items of the constitution can be seen therein.
It must also be understood that in the exclusive list, it means that only the federal government or the central government can legislate. Concurrent list means both the federal and regional government can legislate on, while residual list has to do with a situation where the regional government is exclusively allowed to legislate on, without the interference of the federal government.
The next constitution which followed the Lyttleton constitution of 1954 was the 1960 independent constitution of Nigeria which primary aim and achievement was the conferment of the status of an independent nation on Nigeria with the similar federal structure as it was in the Lyttleton Constitution of Nigeria as mentioned above. This independent constitution divided Nigeria at this time into three (3) regions, which were, Northern Region, Western Region and Eastern Region.
In 1963, the country, became a republic which eventually ushered in the “Republican Constitution” and it was in 1963, that the Mid-Western Region of Nigeria was created after the agitation of the members of the region who were formerly part of the Western region. The constitution gave birth to parliamentary system of government.
In the year 1966, there was a coup by the military and this truncated democratic rule as it was one form of military dictatorship against the other and one form of decree to another till the 1979 constitution came into being. The military had ended up by creating more states.
The 1979 Constitution brought in the Presidential System of Government, in it, we have the central government which is the federal government as this time, there was 19 states, the 1979 constitution was brought to an end as a result of coup against the regime of Alhaji Shehu Aliu Shagari, through General Muhammed Buhari, General Babangida overthrew Buhari government, chief Ernest Shonekan, interim regime came on board before General Sanni Abacha took over, as a result of the death of General Sanni Abacha, General Abdulsalami Abubakar took over government. He introduced the 1999 constitution and ushered in a new democratic regime which brought in Chief Olusegun Aremu Obasanjo. The Civilian regime continues through the government of Alhaji Yaradua, Dr Good Luck Jonathan and presently, Gen. Muhammed Buhari who is still in power. There has been some partial amendment of the constitution leading to the birth of the “1999 constitution as amended”. It is therefore not in doubt that “we the people of Nigeria” in reality were not taken into confidence when the various constitutions were enacted. Even the constituent assembly members were not the true representative of the people in terms of what can be seen as the various constitutions in Nigeria vis-à-vis restructuring. No wonder the agitation will always seem as if it is no longer alive but persistently rare its head unabatedly.
In dealing with this topic, we shall dissect the various argument of those agitating for restructuring and those oppose to restructuring. We shall accordingly proffer long lasting solutions to the issue of “Restructuring in Nigeria”.
THE ARGUMENT IN FAVOUR OF RESTRUCTURING
Those calling for restructuring according to Mallam Yusuf Olaolu Ali, SAN, advocated for it because of the imperfections in the way and manner federalism is being practiced in Nigeria and he identified the followings among many other reasons as being responsible for the call for restructuring;
- Imbalance in the federal structure.
- Imposition of the constitution on Nigerians.
iii. Economic hardship and poverty in the country.
- Corruption and mismanagement
- Bad governance, bad leadership and bad followership.
- Strong individuals with weak public institutions.
vii. Tribalism and ethnicity.
viii. Lack of patriotism.
- Poor investment in Human development.
One cannot agree less with the Senior Advocate than to state that we agree completely with the above postulation except to add to it that tribalism and ethnicity including the imposition of the constitution seems to be the major reasons for majority of the agitations taking place.
We further agree with the above position, when we look at the defective federal structure we operate in Nigeria where absolute major power find itself concentrated at the centre, that is at the federal level over and above the states and the local government. There exist also the problem of allocation of funds to the states which is popularly called the “National Cake”. This national cake issue caused rivalry and struggles between different interest groups to be in control of the central government and the wealth of the nation.
Also the mistrust between the various states and the federal government in relation to the proper administration and management of the nation wealth, led to the establishment of violent ethnic groups, restiveness, ethnic agitations, on the platform of Niger-Delta Militias, I.P.O.B, Boko Haram, Massob, Mosop and all other groups.
RESTRUCTURING AND 2014 NATIONAL CONFERENCE
To show the serious concern on the issue of restructuring, on June 14, 2017, the Senate of the Federal Republic responded to the growing tension in the society by debating a motion jointly sponsored by all the Senators. Such only happened on critical instances, when the lawmakers take on the statesman-like role of speaking with one voice, but how far has this gone?
Before the Senate, Majority Leader, Senator Ahmed Lawan, indicated that the chamber cannot keep watch while threats of disintegration were rife in the polity. The motion came on the heels of the October 1, 2017 quit notice issued by some Arewa Youth groups to Igbos living in the North. That threat had been followed by lots of condemnations and support, with some leaders noticeably adopting doublespeak.
While presenting the motion entitled: “The need for National Unity and Peaceful coexistence in Nigeria” Senator Lawan told the Senate “this is the time to show leadership,” adding that the rising ethnic tension in the polity was undesirable.
But the additional prayers to the motion was brought in by Senator Mao Ohuanbunwa who raised an amendment to the prayers by asking the Senate to demand for the report of the 2014 National Conference. This was seconded by former Governor of Kebbi State, Senator Adamu Aliero.
Senator Ohuabunwa, who spoke on the need for restructuring, while contributing to the widely accepted motion said that the chamber needs to ensure dialogue, and the implementation of the 2014 confab report.
Seconding that additional prayer, Senator Adamu Aliero and a former governor of Plateau state, Senator Jonah Jang asked the leadership of the Senate to immediately take steps to request for the report of the 2014 National Conference. The duo said that the Senate must start work on the report immediately.
Aliero specifically said: “In 2014, former President Goodluck Jonathan brought people from every ethnic nationality together in Abuja in what was called the National Conference. It was chaired by Justice Legbo Kutigi. The participants came up with beautiful recommendations.
“This is the time to implement those recommendations. The Senate should demand for the outcome of that conference and find a way to implement them. That is the solution to these ethnic agitations. The outcome of the conference should be tabled for discussion.
“We cannot continue to lie to ourselves. Many people who are speaking here will go out and support something else. They do not practise what they preach. We cannot continue to live like this. Things must change for the better.”
Senator Jang, in supporting that view, stated that the Senate must recognise the confab report and act upon it quickly. He further stated: “I want to align with what Senator Aliero said. I remember that the Seventh Senate said it did not recognise the National Conference because they, were the true representatives of the people.
Leader of the Forum of National Conference Delegates, which is agitating for the implementation of the Conference report, Dr. John Dara, said that the forum would not wait for too long before forwarding copies of the report to the National Assembly.
“I can assure you that the National Assembly would not wait for too long before they receive the report from the Forum,” Dara said, adding that the Forum had earlier decided to meet the leadership and members of the two chambers of the Assembly to facilitate a debate of the confab report. Several other groups including the pan-Yoruba socio-political organisation, Afenifere, the Ohanaeze Ndigbo and a number of Middle Belt groups also praised the lawmakers for taking the decision to look at the conference report.
But can the report of the 2014 National Conference really save the country the widespread agitations and ethnic tension? The answer could come in the affirmative, especially as the issues are right now coalescing on the front of restructuring.
RESTRUCTURING: THE CONFUSION AND FEAR
As the word restructuring gained popularity among the political class, so also the height of confusion over its real intendments. Kaduna State Governor, Mallam Nasir el-Rufai, said in a television interview that different categories of Nigerians are using the word for different purposes. He said that some were using it for selfish and mischievous purposes, while few really believes in it.
The Former National Chairman of the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC), Chief John Odigie-Oyegun, also re-echoed the statement earlier credited to Information Minister, Lai Mohammed that restructuring was not the priority of the incumbent administration.
But Southern leaders and opinion leaders have continued to insist on the need for restructuring to safeguard the unity of the country. At least two critical and well-attended meetings of the leaders have restated the need to restructure Nigeria.
The United Kingdom’s chapter of Afenifere in a recent statement, challenged the APC to make its position clear on the restructuring debate.
In a communiqué made public after a meeting in London, the chapter said that the APC actually campaigned in the build-up to 2015 election with restructuring agenda.
The communiqué read in part: “The meeting equally noted that it appears the APC leaders in the South West have reneged on their promise of restructuring in 2015. Did our political leaders in APC do us 419 in 2015 when they came seeking our votes when they know that our demand for restructuring which is clearly in their manifesto will not be met?
“When the APC came calling in the South-West in 2015, their promise read as follows: ‘As a change agent, APC intends to cleanse our closet to halt the dangerous drift of Nigeria to a failed state, with a conscious plan for post oil economy in Nigeria. To achieve this laudable programme, APC government shall restructure the country, devolve power to the units with the best practices of federalism and eliminate all the unintended paralysis of the centre.’
“We wonder how many of our people were sucked in by this promise and deceptive it has turned out to be. Will Obafemi Awolowo behave like this?”
Former military President, General Ibrahim Badamasi Babangida also threw his weight behind the restructuring campaign in a sallah message to Nigerians. Babangida, in the statement said the time to restructure Nigeria was now, adding that the government at the centre must ensure national unity.
He said: “Restructuring has become a national appeal as we speak, whose time has come. I strongly advocate for devolution of powers to the extent that more responsibilities be given to the states while the Federal Government is vested with the responsibility to oversee our foreign policy, defence, and economy.
“Even the idea of having Federal Roads in towns and cities has become outdated and urgently needs revisiting. That means we need to tinker with our constitution to accommodate new thoughts that will strengthen our nationality.
“Restructuring and devolution of powers will certainly not provide all the answers to our developmental challenges; it will help to reposition our mindset as we generate new ideas and initiatives that would make our union worthwhile.”
Notwithstanding the attempt of Babangida contention attempting to break the debate down to manageable size, the confusion still persists especially in the North as to what restructuring really means. For instance, a former Governor of Kaduna state, Alhaji Balarabe Musa stated that the idea of restructuring as “nebulous.” Former Presidential Adviser, Alhaji Tanko Yakassai also asked for a blueprint on the idea of restructuring. According to him, apostles of restructuring must provide Nigerians the blueprint on how it will be implemented. Former Minister of Health, Professor Nwosu, who commended Babangida for his current position on restructuring, said however that Nigeria has to agree on at least three things.
“There are three things we need to agree in order to arrive on what configuration a restructured Nigeria should be. Should it be the Federal Government with states as federating units? Or should it be the Federal Government and the new super- structure (regions or zones) as federating units? We need to agree.
“We argued over these options in 1994/1995 Abacha Conference and we had a decision. We argued over it at the 2014 National Conference which I was a part of. It is important that we agree on that decision now and stop introducing confusing configurations. We must speak with one language on what constitutes federating units.”
It is his further argument that Nigerians needed to agree on the powers that must go from the centre to the federating units, from the Exclusive to concurrent lists.
Besides, he said that Nigeria needs to “do the restructuring arithmetic.” By determining the percentage of resources going to the states or regions and the Federal Government. It is not in doubt that these points were well argued and analysed.
Nwosu said: “Everybody says the states as they are presently are not viable and they cannot be viable because the Federal Government has pocketed the entire money by collecting over 50 per cent of national revenue.
“The Federal Government should not have more than 35 per cent of national revenue and the balance should go to the federating units. If that happens, the federating units will be very viable whether they are states or regions.
“So we have to really do the arithmetic to determine what percentage of national revenue will go for things such as derivation on minerals and other important functions.”
AN ANALYSIS OF THE 2014 NATIONAL CONFERENCE
The final report of the 2014 National Conference can be seen as an attempt to break down key issues in the polity. In an attempt to tackle the perennial problems in the polity, the Conference divided the issue of restructuring down into (i) fiscal, (ii) political and (iii) social segments.
In looking at the challenges of the past efforts, the confab report indicated that the National Political Reforms Conference (NPRC) of 2005 organised by former President Olusegun Obasanjo did not work out because “it had to adjourn sine die as a result of some irreconcilable issues, such as revenue sharing and introduction of a clause for a third term as against the usual two terms allowed by the 1979, 1989 and 1999 Constitutions.”
Former President Goodluck Jonathan had in his independence address in 2013 announced the determination of his government to organise the National Conference with the setting up of the Senator Femi Okurounmu-led 12-member Presidential Advisory Committee on National Dialogue.
The 492 delegates to the conference were inaugurated on March 17, 2014 by President Jonathan after the announcement of the six-member management team. It was headed by Justice Idris Legbo Kutigi as Chairman, Professor Bolaji Akinyemi as Deputy Chairman and Dr.(Mrs.) Valerie-Janette Azinge as Secretary. Some of the important issues discussed are enumerated below.
(i) DEVOLUTION OF POWERS
The conference noted that the structural composition of Nigeria’s federal system has increasingly come under critical scrutiny leading to agitations for a review of the legislative lists allotted to the tiers of government. It noted that the general opinion favour reducing the legislative powers at the federal level and devolving same to the federating units.
The report stated: “As conceived, the problem is that there is an over-concentration of power at the centre to the detriment of the federating units of the country. A skewed power arrangement in favour of the federal government has greatly resulted in bloated administrative machinery at the centre; with a disconnect between the centre and its developmental policies and the intended recipients at the grass roots.”
It submitted that the “huge attraction” to the centre has exacerbated the problems of unconscionable socio-economic and political manipulations and corruption.
(2) FISCAL FEDERALISM: REVENUE SHARING, RESOURCE CONTROL AND SHARING FORMULA
The Conference report defines Fiscal Federalism, one of the contentious aspects of restructuring as measures by which “Revenues are generated and distributed among the federating units in a Federation.”
The report noted that the present situation in the country which the constitution empowers the Federal Government to determine the terms and manner of revenue allocation is generally regarded as a negation of the principles of fiscal federalism.
It therefore recommends that the sharing of the funds accruing to the Federation Account among the three tiers of government, should be done in the following manner:
- Federal Government- 42.5%
- State Governments- 35%
iii. Local Governments- 22.5%
The above will replace the existing formula which stands at:
- Federal Government-52.68%
- State Governments-26.72%
iii. Local Governments-20.60%.
While the conference recommends that Local Government Areas should be stripped of their status as the third tier of public administration, it failed to recommend whether the councils be deleted from the revenue sharing formula.
Other fiscal restructuring proposed by the conference include: “That the percentages given to Population and Equality of States in the existing Sharing formula be reduced while that assigned to Social Development Factor be increased to a much higher percentage so as to ensure accelerated development of all parts of the country.”
It also recommended that the “technical” aspects and details of revenue sharing formula be referred to the Revenue Mobilisation, Allocation and Fiscal Commission and the National Assembly for final determination.
(3) RESOURCE CONTROL
This is another critical aspect of the restructuring debate during by the conference. The report indicated thus:
“Having critically examined the issues in contention, Conference recognises the need to:
- Review the percentage of revenue allocation to States producing oil (and other resources);
- Reconstruct and rehabilitate areas affected by problems of insurgency and internal conflicts; and
- Diversify the Nigerian economy by fast-tracking the development of the solid minerals sector.
“The Conference also notes that assigning percentages for the increase in derivation principle, and setting up Special Intervention Funds to address issues of reconstruction and rehabilitation of areas ravaged by insurgency and internal conflicts as well as solid minerals development, require some technical details and considerations; and conference therefore recommends that Government should set up a Technical Committee to determine the appropriate percentages on the three (3) issues and advise government accordingly.”
(4) ESTABLISHMENT OF A SPECIAL FUND FOR THE DEVELOPMENT OF MINERAL RESOURCES
The Conference decided that the Constitution should guarantee the establishment of a Special Fund for the development of mineral resources in the country. It stated that a competent body be established to administer the Fund,
(5) SOVEREIGN WEALTH FUND
The Conference recommends that the Sovereign Wealth Fund which is currently operating as Nigeria Sovereign Investment Authority (NSIA), be enshrined in the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria.
(6) POWER SHARING/ROTATION:
The Conference recommends that presidential power should rotate between the North and the South and among the six geopolitical zones while the governorship of the state should rotate among the three senatorial districts in a state. This recommendation is good but our recommendation will be seen later as the best.
(7) PART-TIME LEGISLATURE:
The Conference recommends a Bi-cameral legislature which it said would operate on a part-time basis
(8) FORMS OF GOVERNMENT:
The Conference also recommends a Modified Presidential System of government which will ensure that the President picks the Vice – President from the legislature. He will also be expected to name not more than 18 ministers from the six geopolitical zones and not more than 30 per cent of his Ministers from outside the Legislature to reduce the cost of governance.
(9) INDEPENDENT CANDIDACY:
The conference also recommends that Nigerians should be free to contest elections as Independent candidates.
(10) IMMUNITY CLAUSE:
One other key recommendation that could shake the polity if implemented is removal of immunity clause for executive office holders.
On the social front, the Conference recommends that government will no longer sponsor religious activities, including Christian and Muslim pilgrimages, while churches and mosques should begin to pay tax to government.
(12) CREATION OF 18 NEW STATES:
The Conference recommends the creation of additional 18 states at three states from each of the six geopolitical zones. One more state is to be created from the South-East to bring it at par with most of the other zones.
(13) AGRICULTURAL RESTRUCTURING
The Conference adduced options to tackle the perennial conflict between herdsmen and farmers, leading to widespread attacks by herdsmen across the country.
It recommended thus: “In the long term cattle routes and grazing reserves be phased out to lay emphasis on ranching. Cattle rustling is however a disincentive to ranching and must be brought under control by better policing. In the meantime, States which have large livestock populations should endeavour to maintain grazing reserves; and the traditional institutions should be primarily responsible for the conflict resolution between the Herdsmen and Farmers, and also their respective associations where resolutions has failed, then the Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR) Centre should be their last resort.”
There should not be a debate as to the fact that the 2014 Conference undertook an extensive work on the challenges of Nigerian polity. Though the report did not claim to be all-knowing, as it left some windows for further technical works on resource control and local government management, the fact remains that it has reached a great depth in seeking solutions to Nigeria’s quest for a restructured polity.
THE ISSUE OF MURIC (MUSLIMS RIGHTS CONCERN)
The MURIC (Muslim Rights Concern) in Contributing to the issue of restructuring after several meetings and contributions made (6) demands which are as follows;
- Nigerians enjoyed a total of eight (8) public holidays in a year. This are Christmas Day, Boxing Day, New Year Day, Good Friday, Easter Monday, Id el-Kabir, Id el-Fitr, and Maulud Nabiyy. Five (5) of the eight days belong to Christians while only three (3) belongs to Muslims. The MURIC are demanding that other Muslims Ceremonies and occasion should attract public holiday.
- Christian Marriages contracted inside churches or registries are held sacrosanct everywhere in Nigeria whereas Muslim marriages (Nikah) are not recognized for any official purpose. Therefore in a democracy, how can one marriage conducted by religious group be acceptable while the other is not. What kind of constitution is Nigeria using? Islamic marriages should be recognized in all official circles where Christian marriages are recognized. The Nigerian Marriage Act should therefore be revisited.
iii. Nigeria has a two – day weekend viz, Saturday and Sunday. Saturday was half day during colonial era and Sunday was the only full day at the weekend. However, Saturday was made full day to favour the Seventh Day Adventists, a Christian denomination during the regime of Gowon. The Muslim day of worship is however a full working day. Therefore, Friday should be declared public holiday.
- Immigration and other authorities made Muslims to shave their beard, remove their caps, turban, to take pictures, even hijabs have to be taken off, for drivers license the same scenario play out.
- Uniforms being mode of dressing is against the Muslim faith.
- There exist no Shariah Court in South Western Nigeria where Muslims Constitute the Majority.
THE ARGUMENT AGAINST RESTRUCTURING
It has been said that restructuring is a good concept but that it is not likely to solve Nigeria problem. It has therefore been said further that what Nigeria require is the sincerity of purpose in governance and in politics.
In further denting the image of restructuring the contention is that it will only serve as a conduit pipe for some people to loot Nigeria’s treasury because it will end up being a wasted effort. The recommendations of the last National Conference Committee will likely go into the dustbin the same way other policies of the government find themselves in the dustbin. The only time you really find a serious clamour for restructuring as such in Nigeria from available facts occur when a particular region in Nigeria is not favoured in government. It is therefore seen that the agitation for restructuring in Nigeria is self-serving and accordingly not in the best interest of the nation.
The issue of restructuring has been seen again as being a little to the left, and a little to the right, but certainly, restructuring cannot go on well with everyone. The United Kingdom and United States who are alleged to practice what is nearer to true federalism do not even have 100 percent system. Therefore, restructuring is not the answer to the political and economic problems of Nigeria.
Alhaji Tanko Yakasai, an Elder Stateman said he is opposed to restructuring because he felt Nigeria should remain an indivisible country. He is of the view that he has not seen a blue-print for restructuring of Nigeria and that he can change his position on restructuring if he can be convinced with a proper blue print on restructuring so far, it does not affect the unity and oneness of Nigeria.
It has again been said that restructuring is a simplistic way of another attempt at deceiving Nigerians. Tabia Princewill, gave reasons for his stance as follows;
“The level of political illiteracy in Nigeria is dangerous. The manipulation of the masses into acting against their own interests remains one of the strategies of those who selfishly believe that Nigeria and all its riches belong to them alone.
We are yet to successfully tackle the real issues which cause Nigeria’s underdevelopment because they are much too messy and would mean questioning the very foundations upon which our dirty social contract of oppression and dominance is laid.”
He further buttress his points when he look at the leadership structure in place and its attendant effects on our collective well-being thus;
“The question of bad leadership and its consequences for governance and lack of positive outcomes for the average Nigerian has been over analyzed but with few concrete or observable benefits. We are a nation with a deep, frustrating and highly iconic understanding of its problems which can never quite find the will to solve them, simply because solving them runs counter to the interests of a few.”
The above submission is weighty especially when as we shall find out soon in this paper, the major restructuring or major reason to avoid restructuring in Nigeria is to stop our discriminatory attitude and to allow an “Igbo Man” or as popularly call, an “Ibo Man” to be the president and commander-in-chief-of the Arm Forces in Nigeria, which must be done constitutionally. Let me put it in a proper perspective thus;
- Restructuring by amending the constitution to allow an Ibo man to become president after this 2019 general election that is in 2023 general election.
- Don’t restructure but stop discriminating against a section of the country politically and the only way to comply in adherence to the constitution is by way of zoning the next presidential candidates of all the political parties to the south-east geo-political zone.
The above position, I have mechanically brought shall get themselves arranged forensically very soon for a better understanding.
Princewill, continued further by looking at the position of other countries to buttress his point in order to further convince us with respect to the position he has taken when he stated thus;
“If one considers that most countries which made the successful transition from “third world to first in a generation” (to quote Lee Kuan Yew, the First Prime Minister of Singapore who “ruled” his country for 30 years in a system of governance which has been referred to as autocratic yet successful), have been military dictatorship, then the question of why Nigeria’s military rulers did not transform Nigeria comes down to a failure of leadership. Our many ethnic groups are not to blame. Our religious tendencies are not to blame. Neither is our population. We were once quash with Petrodollars which we didn’t put to good. Actually the period of military rule would have been a good period to restructure.”
Also, the Special Adviser to the president on Media, Femi Adeshina on his own part described the ongoing calls for restructuring of the country as another form of opposition. He said the talks on restructuring should not be accompanied with disintegration, arguing that Nigeria can restructure without falling apart. He further contendedthat in the history of Nigeria, there was a time where the various people and communities lived in this space that is today called Nigeria. And then the colonial masters came, formed what is called the Northern protectorate, Southern protectorate that was restructuring of what has subsided. And then in 1914, precisely, the northern and southern protectorate amalgamated into one country, that was another restructuring.
He said the above issue of restructuring did not lead to cyber-rattling or tailspin. And then there was regionalism, and independence came, there was parliamentary system of government, today, we now have presidential system of government which is another form of restructuring. Later, unitary system of government came, we had even civilian governors at the states and military president at the centre.
From all that the Special Adviser is saying; the issue of restructuring should not lead to disintegration. It is our view that if you don’t need disintegration, then you must constitutionally stop the “discrimination” against the South-East. We will not disintegrate but let us do the needful.
THE NEED TO CONSIDER IGBO OR IBO ISSUE CONSTITUTIONALLY
The 1999 Constitution states that, there shall be for the federation a president. A further look at the constitution stated that a person shall be qualified for election to the office of the president if (a) he is a citizen of Nigeria by birth, (b) he has attained the age of forty years, (c) he is a member of the political party and he is sponsored by that political party and (d) he has been educated up to at the least school certificate level or its equivalent.
Now, for the unity of the country, the above provision requires amendment in order to provide room for the recognized ethnic group to have a sense of belonging. A look at the constitution o dealing with the issue of non discrimination states among other things that a citizen of Nigeria of a particular community, ethnic group, place of origin, sex, religion or political opinion shall not by reason only that he is such a person be subjected to discrimination.
In Nigeria, can we say, the Ibo or Igbo Community ethnic group, are not discriminated against in relation to section 130 (1) and 131 of the 1999 Constitution of Nigeria as amended? The Simple answer is they have been discriminated against for long and we need to provide them this opportunity in order to have a sense of belonging.
It is not in doubt that, Northerners, have been president and still there, South-West have been president, South-South has been president while no particular person from South-East can really be said to be the president of the federal republic of Nigeria and with all due respect this is discriminatory against an Igbo or Ibo man who;
- Are Political Party members
- Was or still our supervisor in all our educational qualifications
iii. Is or are our friend and our business partners
- Is or are our colleagues at work.
- Have established and invested all their life time activities in our localities.
- Among them are Muslims (devoted Muslims)
vii. Have inter-married with other tribes such as Yoruba, Hausa, Niger-Deltans among other tribes.
There are so many cases dealing with the need to avoid discrimination which we are all aware of, commencing from cases among others such as; SOLOMON VS GBOBO, SALUBI VS NWARIAKU, UZOUKWU VS EZEONU II, BADEJO VS FED MINISTRY OF EDUCATION, ADEROUNMU VS ADEROUNMU, FOLARIN VS COLE
The issue of non discrimination is important and a Nigerian citizen shall not be subjected to discrimination, but shall be accorded equal treatment with others irrespective of whether the person is a man or woman.
The true democracy is the one in which the fundamental human rights of its citizens are not only spelt out in its organic law, where it is written, but given primary and paramount place in practice. Trampling on the fundamental rights of the least, such fundamental rights must be justiciable in courts.
The right to freedom from discrimination is like that of human dignity, one of the most basic rights which are the basis of the concepts of equality which is one of the cornerstones of the protection of human rights. Furthermore, the constitution stipulates that national integration shall be actively encouraged whilst discrimination on grounds of place of origin, sex, religion, status, ethnic or linguistic association or ties shall be prohibited. It has therefore been argued that discrimination based on one’s place of origin or tribe even if committed by a court of law, is condemnable anywhere and at anytime.
Islam is against, discrimination, racism, and prejudice and in its Arabic texts, the Quran is considered the primary source of authority by Muslims. The Quran states that all human are descendants of one man, Adam and are therefore, brothers to one another. See Quran Chapter 49 verse 13 which states thus;
“Oh mankind, we have created you from one male and female and made you into nations and the tribes that you may know one another. Surely, the most honourable among you with Allah is the one who is most righteous. Verily Allah is all knowing, all aware.”
There also exist Hadith on equality as Prophet Muhammed (S.A.W) said;
“Oh mankind, your Lord is one and your father is one. You all descended from Aadam and Aadam was created from the earth. He is most honoured among you in the sight of God who is most upright. No Arab is superior to a non-Arab, no coloured person to a white person or a white person to coloured person except by taqwa (piety) (Al-Tirmidhi)”
We have noticed that a lot of issues have been canvassed dealing with whether Nigeria should restructure or should not restructure but because the word “restructure” has several meanings attached to it by several people, we decided to look at the definition which will seem more understood by the people of Nigeria including drawing appropriate analysis therein.
In order to do justice to this paper presentation, we followed the style of examining the position of those who are “in favour of restructuring” and those “opposed to restructuring” as far as we could.
We were able to find out that a lot of writers, jurist and important personalities in Nigeria did a lot of work on restructuring and we commend their efforts but unfortunately, one key fundamental issue which has not been adequately addressed until now, is our sincerity of keeping the nation united without “discrimination” against the people of South-Eastern part of Nigeria who are popularly called the “Ibo” or the “Igbo”. If there is no unity in Nigeria and there are civil unrest, how can you think it is possible to carry out the lofty idea of restructuring by way of;
- Devolution of more powers to the states and local governments?
- Local government autonomy?
iii. More and better independence of judiciary?
- Independence of the press?
- Increase in derivation to 35%?
- Justiceability of the provision of chapter 2 of the 1999 constitution as amended?
vii. Creation of more states or at least one additional state for the South-East geo-political zone?
viii. Resource control?
It was therefore discovered that the first and pertinent issue of restructuring which requires urgent attention and which even the National Conference did not address is how to unite Nigeria by making sure that it become a reality after the 2019 general election, the next general election in 2023 must produce an “Ibo” or “Igbo” man or woman as president of the Federal Republic of Nigeria.
- It is recommended that in order to give effect to proper restructuring, what is necessary to first of all restructure is discrimination to non-discrimination by making section 131 to become, section 131 (1) and creating section 131 (2)(a) to 131 (2)(b) to read thus;
Section 131 (2)(a) “Commencing from the general election of 2023 only persons from south-east geo-political zone shall contest the presidential election and all the political parties shall field their candidates from said geo-political zone.”
Section 131 (2)(b) “That the presidency in Nigeria shall rotate in the following order and continuously thereafter;”
- South-East Geopolitical zone 2023 (4 years)
- South-West Geopolitical zone (4 years)
iii. South-South Geopolitical zone (4 years)
- North Central Geopolitical zone (4 years)
- North East Geopolitical zone (4 years)
- North West Geopolitical zone (4 years)
- That sections 162 -168 of the 1999 constitution as amended should be deleted to allow for resource control. The issue of resource control will allow for a near federalism as it is very difficult to have true federalism. What ought to be is that the states should be allowed to control their resources and pay certain amount of money in form of tax to the federation account.
I disagree with the recommendation that there should be increase in derivation to 35%. What Nigeria require now is resource control and not increase in derivation. Increase in derivation is good but not too good because, no community, no state in Nigeria does not have its natural resources, which shall lead to even development in those states/communities.
- We recommend that there should be one more state to be created constitutionally and that should come from the South-East. With all due respect, we disagree that there should be “no more state creation” Accordingly, the argument that some states are not viable is of no moment. Anyone who is of the view that a state is not viable can proceed to court to ask for such declaration. The creation of an additional one state from the South-East will meet the interest of justice.
- We recommend that the APC committee on restructuring has done enough work on restructuring Nigeria, we adopt some of the recommendations of the said committee which contains several important areas of life apart from the issue of allocation of revenue. To confirm the importance of some of the recommendations of the APC committee on restructuring and the non-politicization of same, Gov. Henry Seriake Dickson the PDP governor of Bayelsa State hails El-Rufai’s panel on restructuring.
- The National Assembly have failed to live up to expectation in terms of the issue of restructuring or even the issue or constitutional conference report. It is accordingly recommended that the National Assembly can amend the constitution in line with the clamour for restructuring, by going ahead with amendment of the constitution and making sure it comes to reality. The fear of presidential veto is a lame excuse because, the power to override the veto lies with the legislature.
- The position of MURIC should be considered by the National Assembly when the act of amendment of the constitution will take place on restructuring. There should be adequate enlightment of our Christian brothers on this issue because religious sentiment may weigh heavily against the success of MURIC position. There should be more religious tolerance between the Muslims and Christians in order to have a peaceful and united country.
As we can see from the above topic, “Restructuring; can it address the problems of Nigeria”? The whole essence of definitions of restructuring is, changing from an old system to another, the most pertinent essence of restructuring, is to first restructure “injustice and discrimination” to “justice and non-discrimination” in line with even our religious callings and interpretation of sections 130 (1) and (2), 131 (a), (b), (c), (d) and 42 of the 1999 constitution. Let us start to correct this anomaly with an “Igbo”/“Ibo” presidency in the next dispensation constitutionally and the entire issue of restructuring shall all come into reality. The recommendations by APC committee on restructuring as commended by the Bayelsa State Governor, Seriake Dickson, a PDP strong man is of serious importance and we accept/adopt some and not all the recommendations of the committee for the country equally.
Though, it is being said that there was a constitution in 1989, it cannot be said to actually exist because, even the 1999 constitution as amended only recognized the 1979 constitution. See the commencement part of the 1999 constitution as amended and as introduced into being by Decree No 24 of 1999 dated 5th, May 1999.
- INTERNET MATERIALS
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- Restructuring; Business Dictionary; see www.businessdictionary.com accessed through the internet on 1/1/2019 at 2am
- Word problem defined, see; https://www.yourdictionary.com accessed through the internet on 1/1/2019 at 3am.
- Problem definition; see; https://www.coolinsdictionary.com accessed through internet on 1/1/2019 at 3:15am.
- Oxford dictionaries; see https://en.oxforddictionaries.com accessed through the internet on 2/1/2019 at 7am.
- Country definition; see; https://www.collinsdictionary.com accessed on the internet, 2/1/2019 at 8am.
- Sagay .I. (2017), History of Nigeria’s Federalism, Accessed through the net on 2/1/2019 at 4am, via www.waado.org, (essays) resource control.
- Taiwo Adisa; Restructuring; 2014: National Conference to the rescue? July 1st, 2017 access through the internet on 23/1/2019 at 4am via, https://jtown.ng
- Babangida; Time to restructure Nigeria has come; accessed through the net at 4:15am of 24/1/2019 via www.vanguardngr.com
- The idea of restructuring in Nigeria is much more tasking in terms of debate than when Nigeria was amalgamated into one single country in 1914 or when Nigeria became independent in 1960. See Prof. Nwosu; on restructuring; accessed through internet on 21/1/2019 at 3:15am via www.vanguardngr.com
- How 2014 Confab delegates want Nigeria restructured; Accessed through the internet on 16/1/2019 at 1am via www.vanguardngr.com
- Key National Conference recommendations you need to know. Accessed through the internet 16/1/2019 at 2am via www.miumtimesng.com
- National Confab 2014 resolutions; accessed through the internet on 17/1/2019 at 2am via https://www.abuja.ng.com
- Nigeria 2014 National Conference report accessed through the internet on 17/1/2019 at 3am via www.vanguardngr.com
- Key Confab recommendation; accessed through the internet on 17/1/2019 at 4am via www.guardian.org
- Restructuring of Nigeria: Muslim make six demands; access through the internet on 18/1/2019 at 2:09am via the eagleonline.com.ng
- Alhaji Tanko Yakasai, “I am opposed to restructuring of Nigeria”; accessed through the net on 17/1/2019 at 4am via https://punchng.com
- Femi Adeshina; President Buhari not opposed to restructuring: accessed through the internet on 24/1/2019 at 3am via https://www.nairaland.com and http://www.tori.ng; call for restructuring.
- Yusuf Ali, SAN; Restructuring is a new Swan Song of Nigerian Elites; accessed on internet on 27/1/2019 at 12:53am via; www.highprofile.com.ng
- CASE LAWS
- ADEROUNMU VS ADEROUNMU; (2003) 2 NWLR (pt 803) pg 1
- BADJO VS FED MINISTRY OF EDUCATION; (1996) 8 NWLR (pt 464) pg 15
- FOLARIN VS COLE, (1990) 2 NWLR (pt 133) pg 445
- SALUBI VS NWARIAKU; (1997) 9 NWLR (pt 505) pg 442
- SOLOMON VS GBOBO; (1974) 2 RSLR pg 30
- UZOUKWU VS EZEONU II, (1991) 6 NWLR (pt 200) pg 708
- Section 130 (1) of the 1999 Constitution of Nigeria as amended
- Section 131 of the 1999 Constitution of Nigeria as amended
- Section 42 of the 1999 Constitution of Nigeria as amended
- Section 15 (2) of the 1999 Constitutional Law as amended
- Ake C. (2003) Democracy and Development in Africa, Spectrum Book Ltd.
- Chinwo, C.A.J: Principles and practices of Constitutional Law in Nigeria; Vol. One; Published by Davis Printing & Packaging Co Ltd, 2006 Revised print pg 97.
- Ese Malemi; The Nigerian Constitutional Law published by Princeton Publishing Company, 2012, 3rd Edition, pg. 308
- Eshiobo Sam Shola; keynote address on political restructuring in Nigeria to true Federalism and the implication for economic development; a paper presented at the 34th induction ceremony, 15th conferment of fellows and associate members of the Institute of Chartered Economists of Nigeria held on 28th July, 2018 at the National Merit Award House Maitama-Abuja.
- Ismaeel Uthman, (Spokeperson, Committee for Defence of Human Rights, Osun State Branch) published on May 15th, 2017
- Mohammed G.D, Sulaiman M.A (2018) Federalism, Restructuring and National Question in Contemporary Nigeria; The way forward; Published in Arts and Social Science Journal 9:394
- O.P. Garuba (2004): An introduction to political theory, 4th Edition, Macmillan India Ltd
- Odofin A.P. (2003) Federalism and Government in Nigeria; The Crisis of Transformation and Challenges of Nation building… J Pol.Sc10
- Odumakin Y.; Ten reasons to restructure Nigeria, Vanguard September, 2018
- Olawale, O (2016) A Case for Political and Economic Restructuring in Nigeria; This day Newspaper of August 31st, 2016.
- Oyobaire S.E. (1985) Federalism in Nigeria: A Study in the development of Nigeria state, Macmillan Publishers, London
- Sebatine. Tar. Hon. (SAN); St. Hon’s Constitutional and Migration Law in Nigeria; Published by Pearl Publishers International Ltd; 2016, pg 615
- Nasir El-Rufai: Restructuring is a nation building opportunity for Nigeria; The Nation Newspaper; Sunday, January 20, 2019 pg 51
- Punch Newspaper (2017); Different Publications on restructuring from May – August, 2017.
- The Guardian Newspaper (2017) ); Different Publications on restructuring from May – August, 2017.