Complete Memo to Committee on Political Restructuring and Forms of Government at the National Conference.
What is Federation and what are the conditions for deciding on a Federation?
Wikipedia says: A federation is a political entity characterized by a union of partially self-governing states or regions under a central (federal) government. In a federation, the self-governing status of the component states, as well as the division of power between them and the central government, are typically constitutionally entrenched and may not be altered by a unilateral decision of either party, the states or the federal political body.
In a federation, the constituent federating units called: states, regions, cantons and republics, are in some sense sovereign, insofar as certain powers are reserved to them. They usually possess no powers in relation to foreign and other policies, so they enjoy no independent status under international law.
The experts would probably convince us that a group of people with common ideals, historical ancestry, language, common cultural factors, geographical proximity/collocation, common challenges, opportunities and interests that seek special identity and attention in a national union can seek for and unite as an entity within the federation.
From experience and from the above, the states as are presently constituted in Nigeria, cannot be the federating units because whenever issues or challenges arise, group of states in the various zones and most times group of states in the old northern region, gang up to advocate for those issues and challenges they feel affect them. These group of states in the zones or old regions therefore stand better as the federating units than the military proliferated states which in many cases are very unviable.
While we are complaining of proliferation and the unviability of states, it is disheartening that some people are clamouring for the creation of more unviable states in certain zones citing equity and fair play. Whose equity and fair play? If that is the case then why don’t we create seven states per zone since the North Western zone already has seven states. We might as well have equal number of local governments in each, and better still equal representation in the membership of the legislature.
The grouping of the states into zones for whatever purpose of propagating common interests in the polity means that the groupings, in this case the zones are better as federating units than the states. Having seen the kind challenges the proliferation of these states have caused our country acting as so-called federating units, it would be, with due apologies, very senseless for anyone to suggest them as the basis for the federation. (Unless, sorry to say, the lords at the states have paid some nocturnal visits to our committee members).
When the zones, which are groups of homogeneous states become the federating units, they can be at liberty to create more states or merge existing unviable states if they so desire, as long as they can fund such states.
We can now talk of equity and fair play. Based on our definitions above, it is hereby suggested that we can modify or realign the zonal structure as is presently constituted and have them as the basis of our federation while the states in each zone become the third tier of government.
It is also suggested that the Zones should be called republics so that Nigeria can then become the Federal Republics of Nigeria.
We would therefore have the following Federating units which could be modified through a referendum held to determine which zone each of the peripheral communities would like to belong to:
(1) Arewa Republic (The whole northern parts of the present North East and North West)
(2) Benue Republic (The eastern part of the present Middle Belt including the southern part of the North East)
(3) Kwararafa Republic (The western part of the present Middle Belt including the southern part of the North West and Southern Kaduna)
(4) Oduduwa Republic (Present South West, Including southern parts of Kwara and Kogi States)
(5) Ndigbo Republic (Present South Eastern zone, including the present northern parts of present Delta State) (6) Bradecia Republic (Present South South zone – Braced states)
This means that The Federal Republics of Nigeria shall have three tiers of Government thus:
a) The Federal Government with its Executive arm headed by a President and Vice President, and a unicameral legislature made up of equal representation of 30 members from each of the six (6) republics, and practicing a Presidential form of government.
b) The Republican Governments with an Executive arm headed by a Premier and Deputy Premier, and a unicameral legislature made up of equal representation from the states that make up the republics, and practicing a Parliamentary form of government
c) The State Governments with the Executive arm headed by a Governor and Deputy, and a unicameral local legislature, and practicing a Parliamentary form of government.
Each state shall have two levels of administrative units: (i) Local Administrative Authorities made up of the present Local Government Councils, (ii) Community Development Authorities that would strengthen communities as agents of development.
This should remove the pressures and activities of governance at the Federal level by removing some to the republics. It would also remove the clogs in decision-making and reduce the high cost presently suffered through the over-bloating of our recurrent expenditure at all levels.
By this, the Federal Government would have its responsibilities reduced while the republics, which are the federating units, would have more responsibilities and some form of autonomy though regular reporting to the centre from time to time as may be prescribed in the Exclusive and Concurrent legislative lists as may be enshrined in the constitution of the Federation.
Every republic will be allowed to create more states or merge unviable states if it so wishes through a local referendum. The republics will also develop and harness their natural resources either on their own or with the assistance of the Federal Government and then pay 30% as royalties and taxes to the Federal Government and make a 5% contribution to the common purse. The republics would retain 25% for itself and 20% on behalf of the two levels of local administrative units, while the states get 20% or any other sharing formula that may be determined and acceptable at the republican level. All these are suggestions that may be modified at the National Conference. Chief M. L. Efere is an ICT consultant