Dr Akin Fapounda
For the Yorubas of Western Region, presented at the National Restructure Actualisation Summit, holding at Abuja on February 25, 2021.
It was one of the most illustrious and gifted sons of Oduduwa: Bola Ige (of blessed memory) that posed these two crisp questions for and to Nigerians:
Shall we live together?
How do we live together?
The refusal or inability to proffer satisfactory answers to these two questions has been the bane of our existence since the mutually agreed order of governance was set aside in 1966. It is to the extent that all members of Nigeria territory feel comfortable with the answers, juxtaposing them with their respective worldviews and aspirations that the possibility of peace and harmony hinged on justice can reign.
The Restructure Actualisation Movement (RAM) Summit is a good event to search for answers with all sincerity of purpose. The time has come to face the reality of our existence, through bold thoughts and searches for points of departure from the abyss of disaster staring all in the face.
Shall we live together?
The Yorubas of Western Nigeria are reasonably comfortable to say yes to the first question. But in doing so we hereby affirm our desire to be afforded the space and framework to live our dreams and aspirations as friendly and accommodating neighbours to
all other ethnic nationalities. We seek for a mosaic of sub-national flags of many colours as we project our capabilities and capacities out of Africa as a proud segment of human race.
How do we live together?
It is to the second question that we need to ponder and be sincere in negotiating for a framework that will accommodate each and every one, inclusive of the citizens of the smallest of the ethnic nationalities within the territory of Nigeria. The 1999 Constitution is not working. It is not workable. It was not enacted or consented to by all stakeholders. It is better replaced forthwith.
The Yoruba of Western Nigeria therefore desire a new attempt to negotiate the fundamentals of living together in peace and prosperity with the other nationalities within the confines of the subsisting territorial space of Nigeria. A new article of association has become imperative because what we presently have is no longer sustainable.
Regardless of the subtle quest, by some elements, to network for political trophies in anticipation of 2023, the overwhelming desire of Yoruba people is to refrain from any further participation in the process of elections unless and until a new constitutional order is negotiated and enacted. Recent events of insecurity across our lands affirms the correctness of this posture, as only the living can exercise voting rights- not the dead.
Justification for Change in the Polity of Nigeria
The reality of the present is the paucity of resources upon which the political configuration of Nigeria was predicated. The era of easy collection of rent from crude oil is receding and never to recur again.
It is evident and quite rational to state that our polity can no longer sustain the magnitude of public funds expended on recurrent cost heads (about 80%), as against capital expenditures for infrastructural development (about 20%). It is no longer sustainable to maintain the large paraphernalia of office and bureaucracy at the expense of the masses of the Nigerian people. Debts are piling up astronomically.
At the Federal level are the following sources of unproductive expenditure that are no longer sustainable:
109 Senators, with 64 Committees
360 House of Representative Members, with 89 Committees
42 Ministries and indeterminable number of Departments and agencies, all with headquarters at Abuja, but most with administrative offices headed by Grade Level 16 to 17 officers in every of the 36 State Capitals and some other cities across the country. A fleet of vehicles with FGN plate numbers are all over the country.
The Federal Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development is illustratively typical of most federal Ministries. It has 11 Technical Departments at Area 11, Abuja. Nine of these
departments have offices in the 36 States + Abuja: over 300 offices in all. Yet the Ministry has no hectare of farmland. It does not maintain fish-ponds, nor rear chicken anywhere across Nigeria. The bloated bureaucracy merely gulps funds just to advice State Government on how to farm. Should the Federal Government continue to farm from Area 11, Garki, Abuja
At the Level of the States
At the State level, there are 36 government bureaucracies comprising MDA’s ranging from 15 to 50 in many cases. The level of profligacy at this level of governance leaves much to be desired.
There are almost 1,000 State Assembly members, elected based on constituencies that were created using the LGAs numbers. These State Assembly members, with full time appointments are imbued with all the paraphernalia of office. The Question is: how much laws and oversight functions are undertaken as to justify the drain on public funds? These contraptions need to be rolled back in a restructured Nigerian polity.
At the Local Government level, the 773 LGA’s (Bakassi LGA is gone to Cameroon) are unsustainable contraptions for just doling out funds from the centralised crude oil sales inflows. Very few will doubt that the LGAs as configured have been of no developmental benefit to the generality of the citizenry across Nigeria.
The manner in which organic communities were just artificially divided up is evident in the listing of the names of LGA’s in a few States. Cities and villages that are better efficiently run as unified development centers were carved out merely to provide proliferate political positions of Chairmen and Councillors, with LGA Legislative houses to boot. The Legacy of the Ibrahim Dasuki Committee on the Review of Local Government Administration in Nigeria is no longer sustainable economically.
States or Regions as Federating Units
From the foregoing, it is apparently time up for the crude oil induced profligacy of creating political entities that have turned out as drainpipes for public revenue. This state of affairs alone justifies the need to reform the polity of Nigeria. The use of the 36 States as Federating units is evidently not sustainable. Governance structures must be drastically reduced through aggregation into a smaller number of entities that now have to be organically evolved, based on voluntary choices by the people. It cannot and should not be decreed. The ethnic nationalities and all constituent communities across Nigeria must be afforded the opportunity of choice that is unfettered.
In the quest for re-configuration and downsizing, an option to consider might be to retain the present boundaries, but to creatively downgrade the paraphernalia of political administration as follows.
To introduce Regional Government with executive and legislative functions and bodies as presently being exercised by the States. Headship title shall be Premier.
The States (for example the 6 in the South West) converted to Provinces (with Federating Rights within the Region). Governance will be by Provincial Councils that
integrate executive and legislative functions: with Chairman and Support Specialist Administrative Officers.
LGA’s as Districts, with District Managers and Specialist Administrative Officers; to operate as Socioeconomic Development Institutions.
Some might wonder why rename all these political units. The message ought to be sent out to the citizenry, that the political system is being entirely overhauled as a point of departure from the subsisting order.
Our Desires for Change
The Yoruba peoples’ understanding of the concept of restructuring is that the territory of Nigeria must be reconfigured for the ethnic nationalities to aggregate and or disaggregate based on an agreement voluntarily and democratically reached to form the basis of a new Federal Constitution. Restructuring is therefore a matter of understanding among peoples on how they are to live together as neighbours, in cooperation and collaboration.
Desired Governance Framework
We are thus desirous of being in harmony with others in Nigeria under the following fundamental governance principles, amongst others:
Nigeria shall comprise Regions as autonomous self-governing entities, with rotational leadership at the centre, common currency, anthem, flag, and common international representation.
Any power not currently, expressly given to the Federal Government alone, or concurrently to the Federal and the Regional government shall be reserved to the Regions.
There shall be a National Assembly for the Federation of Nigeria. It shall be a Uni- Cameral legislature in a parliamentary system.
The National Assembly shall consist of members drawn, equally, to represent the respective Regions of Nigeria.
Each National Assembly Member shall be a representative of the constituency in the respective Region, and, as such, not be subject to any control and direction at the Federal level. Accordingly, he/she shall be elected, compensated, remunerated, disciplined and, or, recalled, only through such provisions as may have been enacted by the respective Regions.
The Federal Cabinet and its Members, shall rely entirely on the Civil Service and Civil Servants for all technical advice and support, thereby precluding the proliferation of any other parallel Bureaucracy in the form of Advisers.
All subsisting Federal MDA’s are to be rationalised in favour of the Regions, and in conformity with the Legislative List of Functions given later in this document. The Regions shall inherit associated Assets and Liabilities.
Every Ethnic Nationality or group of peoples occupying a contiguous territory are to have separate regional constitutions fashioned to suit their living and development aspirations.
Each region shall have the right to establish its sub-regional governing units: States, Provinces, Divisions, Districts and or Local Governments, as may be deemed fit.
Ethnic nationalities and peoples in each region shall have the right to maintain, reconfigure or merge; and, or establish, new administrative units, and, or adopt any suitable nomenclature, vide a referendum mounted for the purpose; without any interference by any other regional authority.
Each region shall have the right to equitable representation based on her internal mechanism of nominations and or elections in the into the national government. There would be no federal INEC, as each region will adopt her own procedure of elections. There would also be no need for federal census, as each region will manage her citizens. Each region will determine her own population profile.
The Regional members shall organise themselves towards the efficient harnessing of all their resources in pursuant to self-sustaining development as a political and economic force and be in a position to contribute stipulated share of funds, not exceeding 20%, for the cooperative maintenance of the Federal Government.
Each Region, and, or constituent units thereof shall control and retain all resources and revenues falling within its constitutional jurisdiction, but legal persons therein shall pay both Federal and Regional taxes, according to stipulated law.
For the avoidance of doubt, the entire property in, and control of, all minerals, under, or upon, any land in Nigeria, or in, under, or, upon, the territorial waters of Nigeria shall vest in the Government of the Region and the Constituent Unit bearing such resource.
Judicial Powers are vested in the courts at Federal and Regional levels.
The Federal Supreme Court shall have original jurisdiction in any dispute between the Federation and a Region, provided that no original jurisdiction shall be conferred with respect to any criminal matter.
The Regions shall establish Regional Supreme, High and First-Instance Courts. The particulars of these courts shall be determined by laws enacted for the purpose by the Regional Parliament.
The composition of the officer corps, and other ranks of the Armed Forces, Security and Intelligence Services, and such other bodies for the Federation shall be by regional territorial configuration, such that any service stationed in each Region shall, in respect of the other ranks, be exclusively composed of the citizens of that territory, while the officer corps may, for the purpose of technical speciality and operational cohesion, admit up to 10% of citizens from other Regions, provided that the Head of such Regional Command shall be an indigene of that Region.