“founding fathers of Nigerian nationalism and independence were not illiterate or daft to have wisely recommended a federal system of government given the diverse socio-cultural background and large expanse of the country’s territory. They did not recommend unitary system of government since it is anti-thetical to the well-researched principles and theories pertaining to the realities on the ground in pluralistic societies that adopt a federal system of government. Unitary system of government is adopted where there are homogenous socio-cultural realities and worldview of the people.“
GOING through the comments of some people who are expected to convey the truth about the affairs of our seemingly beleaguered country, one begins to wonder how the country will join the league of civilised and enlightened countries of the world. It is sad that supposedly knowledgeable elites deliberately distort issues ostensibly to pander to the dictates or to satiate the bovine cravings of their ethnic and religious preferences, which would clearly be detrimental to nation building and realistic development of the policy.
The comments of the leadership of the umbrella labour body lamentably on Monday, February 4, this year, betrayed the porous intellectual content of most labour leaders in the country who were often grandstand as if they are the custodian of wisdom to an Eldorado in Nigeria.
The masses have been disappointed with the labour leadership believing that they are very articulate and enlightened people as workers in the high echelon of both the public and organised private sectors of the economy. Since it is given that what the president of NLC says represents the official position of the labour organ, it implies that “Nigeria at 52 is a huge continental embarrassment and national disgrace” according to a cerebral newspaper columnist.
It is sad and lamentable that the leadership of the NLC cannot differentiate between federal and unitary systems of government as operated in others parts of the world. It is naïve and plain mischief for Comrade Abdulwaaheed Omar to threaten the national assembly to provide for full local government autonomy in a supposedly federal structure of government in Nigeria.
Nigerians can no longer tolerate or afford to have a different definition of federalism quite distinct from the global concept applicable in countries that adopt the system of government.
The founding fathers of Nigerian nationalism and independence were not illiterate or daft to have wisely recommended a federal system of government given the diverse socio-cultural background and large expanse of the country’s territory. They did not recommend unitary system of government since it is anti-thetical to the well-researched principles and theories pertaining to the realities on the ground in pluralistic societies that adopt a federal system of government. Unitary system of government is adopted where there are homogenous socio-cultural realities and worldview of the people.
In a federal set-up the world over, there are only two levels of government: The central and the regional or state governments. The regional or state governments have the exclusive privilege to organise the administration of their jurisdictional areas called local and municipal government according to their respective peculiarities. It is no longer feasible for national leadership in Nigeria to continue with the muddle of pseudo federalism or what Chief Emeka Anyaoku helplessly described as “unitary-federal” operation in Nigeria. The contraption was crafted and unilaterally imposed on Nigeria by the northern establishment through the military regimes and brazenly sustained by the largely teleguided surrogate civilian administrations on the pretence that Nigeria is an evolving and fledgling democracy.
It is this monstrous aberration and administrative faux pas that has retarded the socio-economic and political growth and development in spite of the humongous petro-dollar generated from the sale of crude oil for over five decades. The bastardization of the principle of federalism has adversely affected the usual outcomes and expectations, which are manifest in countries that practise federal system of government. It is impossible to realise the assured outcomes and expectations when principles and component are flagrantly violated.
The most lamentable dissonance is the intractable and pervasive insecurity and terrorism all over the country. It is out of sinc with federal system to operate a centralised security system, prison service and justice delivery system. Nigeria’s security architecture is in a shamble; prison service is a mockery of human welfare while justice is for the rich and well connected. It is laughable to observe the recommendations of the resource persons in the security summits organised by the VANGUARD newspaper in collaboration with the Nigerian police and the recent NBA security summit. The supposed communiques avoided mentioning the realities of federalism as it applies to security. One had wondered whether the supposed resource persons did not know anything about federal and unitary systems of government and levels of authority and operation.
Probably it will be necessary to teach the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) president that in a federal system of government, industrial relations reside with the federating units. In the United States, for instance, all the states do not pay the same salary to workers. The constituent units in the federal system have their own constitution, scheme of service and salary chart for their workers. It is, therefore, naive if not an absolute display of crass intellectual deception for the National Assembly legislators to engage on the so-called constitution amendment; a constitution imposed on the country by the military deceptively couched as being made by the people. For instance, the silly debate on the desirability of state police, autonomy of local government councils, legislative lists etc. should not have been countenanced.
The country needs a fresh constitution through a national conference of all the ethnic nationality and it is either to adopt a unitary system of government with its principles and components or adopt a federal system with its clear-cut principles and components. It is plain stupidity to continue to mix both principles and components since the process had led Nigeria to the path of self-destruct if not a failed state status. The deceptive gambits of the National Assembly in the supposed Constitution Amendment is nothing but the script written by the northern establishment who remotely controls the national leadership so as to continue to maintain their suffocating stranglehold on the entire people in this accursed country. The northern establishments are not likely to succumb to the establishment of State Police for fear that it would put a stop to the crass impunity of Fulani cattle herdsmen in driving their cattle into the farms in the North central and southern parts of the country and mindlessly killing people without being arrested or prosecuted by the police. The average cattle rearer believes that he is above the law under the false impression that the Police are secretly under the control of his kinsmen.
The stark reality for Nigeria to join civilised countries of world is for well meaning Nigerians to rise in protestation against pseudo-Federalism and embrace true federalism. The fact remains that no amount of security summits covertly sponsored or teleguided by the conservative phalanx and pseudo intellectuals, in addition to the panel beating of the military imposed contraption called 1999 constitution can lead the people to any meaningful existence in the globalised and technology-driven world. The imperative of true Federalism can no longer be ignored in this country; and it is believed that the recent meeting of political and ethnic leaders in the south is a wake from the age-long deep slumber.
Onwubiko, an author and public affairs analyst, wrote from Awka, Anambra State.
“Opinion pieces of this sort published on RISE Networks are those of the original authors and do not in anyway represent the thoughts, beliefs and ideas of RISE Networks.”