Discussions on the need to restructure the federation is becoming increasingly a necessity in the opinions of many who see it as the right path to developing the country.
Many debates and arguments in favour of restructuring has in the recent past, been tendered by well-meaning Nigerians who are strongly of the view that certain issues and policies must be addressed in order for things to move forward and to have a positive and meaningful end.
Just recently it was reported that John Nwodo, former president-general of Ohanaeze Ndigbo, has joined the numerous clamours of some political leaders that Nigeria must restructure to avoid a boycott of the 2023 elections.
In his address during the 17th Gani Fawehinmi annual lecture organised by the Ikeja branch of the Nigerian Bar Association in Lagos, on Friday 15th January 2021, the two time minister gave this advice and insisted on the importance while it needed to be done.
The event themed ‘The Constitutional History of Nigeria’s Dysfunction: Any pathway to indivisibility and common progress?’ was attended by other prominent figures and dignitaries such as, Babagana Zulum, governor of Borno; Femi Falana, human rights lawyer; among others.
Nwodo continued disclosing that in the past, most policies of the federation worked perfectly well under the regional government system as the regions enjoyed sovereignty over their national resources while acknowledging and paying taxes to the federal government.
Amidst other imminent problems that may arise in the foreseeable future especially for the economic growth of the nation, is the fact that the next elections are also gradually approaching. The ex-minister who is seriously concerned about all these, has hereby warned that to prevent “the coming catastrophe”, Nigeria must restructure and divert attention to agriculture. Nwodo enjoined that the restructuring process must be concluded before the 2023 elections to avoid a boycott by some sections of the country.
“There was only one reason why things worked so well then. We had a regional system of government that allowed regions to enjoy sovereignty over their resources whilst paying royalties and taxes to the federal government. Our domestic security was independent and uncontrolled by the federal government,” he said.
“Suddenly, the army came to power and abrogated our constitution, turned us into a unitary state and imposed a unitary constitution on us. They seized our natural resources and donated them to the federal government to share without adequate respect for derivation.
“Nigeria must restructure and give its component units sovereignty over its natural resources provided they pay royalty or some form of taxes to the federal government to maintain federal responsibilities like external defence, foreign missions, customs and immigration.
“Emphasis must return to agriculture and education. Domestic security must remain in the hands of the federating units because living safe in Nigeria today is by luck. The secularity of the Nigerian state must be respected. These irreducible minimum conditions are not negotiable. If it does not happen, we will have no alternative but to go our separate ways.
“Processes to begin our restructuring as a nation must be concluded before the 2023 elections so as to avert a situation where sections of the country may boycott the elections and present the country with a constitutional force majeure.”
Most Nigerians are not particularly sure of how this whole discussion on the restructuring process will eventually pan out as such, they are very reserved but wish for the best and anything that would work. Meanwhile, others especially socio-political and economic analyst, who have drawn a feasible map on how the federation should go about such restructuring, are confident that that’s the only way things would be brought back to normalcy and the country would be known for his greatness in past.
Gift Joseph Okpakorese