-By Prof. Adegbola Akinola
My great concern is not whether you have failed,
but whether you are content with your failure. – Abraham Lincoln
The unexamined life is not worth living. – Socrates
This country belongs to all of us. It is therefore imperative that we must not indolently standby while the country dangerously totters into a failing state. A state where there is no sense of urgency in governance and the infrastructure is rickety; no enduring core industries to induce job creation and promote key infrastructure, no sustainable manufacturing base to respond to national emergency and mitigate poverty; education, health and other municipal services that combine to define welfare provisions in a nation are in tatters. There is no level playing field for our educated/trained youths to compete in a decent manner for jobs; rather, they are compelled to vote with their feet to go become second class citizens in foreign lands. We are in a country where it is different folks different strokes, and law enforcers cannot be trusted to maintain equity thereby propagating perfidy. We cannot just afford to wait until “Boko Harram” is duplicated in every part of the country, only to result in running helter-skelter: Yoruba would say, Agba ti ko kehun soro, aa ketan sare [an elder that failed to talk sternly at dawn, will end up pell-mell, or in a chaotic haste, at dusk (this usually is in child upbringing or society building)]. We all need to deeply, mentally engage this state of asphyxia in our body politic and speak up now!
Meanwhile, this is a country whose citizens constitute one of every four or five in the Continent of Africa; and, by implication, on whose shoulder is reposed the hope of salvaging the dignity of the black race, through good governance and provision of respectable welfare and security to its own citizens. We are talking of a race which continues to be the subject of perpetual brutalisation, subjugation, dehumanization, plundering and exploitation. This is even after going through the initial period of about 400 years of slavery experience, followed by another 100 years of absolute colonization, before the reprieve of political independence crept into the Continent from 1957! Then, the question beckons: Is enough not enough for liberation, now?!
After the promising developmental strides of the 50’s to early 60’s, one is tempted to chuckle and ask, what has befallen the country particularly in the last three decades? Is it that we have gone back into the default state, which obtained when the white-slave-catchers (Portugal, Britain and Spain) invaded and plundered Africa circa 1444-1833? It would be recalled, in that era of slave trade they visited us with grave dehumanization, plundering and degradation of the land in a dare-devil magnitude of savagery of unimaginable proportion in the annals of human history; and the dominant class of Africans were after all devoted collaborators in that heinous and ignominious act. In fact, it is on record that these white slave merchants largely stationed on the Coasts, while the “black elites” raided the hinterland to rake fellow Africans as commodity for “sale” to the white marauders; to sustain their bogus appetite for primitive accumulation and domination over fellow blacks. Is it not the same slave-hounding mentality that is now afflicting our rulers and holding us down from development? Meanwhile, Nigeria is being looked-up to, to provide the lead for the black race to break out of the vicious circle of poverty, ignorance, exploitation, victimhood and underdevelopment? Is it that our subjective mind (or tabular rasa – the nurturable component of the conscious mind) must remain perpetually untrained, underdeveloped, un-nurtured? Otherwise, why would a set of people, in the appellation of rulers, prefer primitive accumulation to the welfare, security, development and human dignity of his/her race?
Even, defective as it is, the basis of the 1999 constitution is welfarism. This is so by virtue of provisions in the constitution specifying the fundamental obligation of the Government on democracy, social justice, security and welfare to the citizens. The pertinent sections in reference include section 2(14)(2b), taken together with sections 2(17)(3) and 2(18)(1-3), in spite of lack of justiciability in law or otherwise of the later subsections. By dint of thrust of the constitution being welfarism, it is incumbent on the government to provide infrastructure and industrialise to ensure manufacturing thrived, so as to enable provision of jobs for citizens both in the formal and informal sectors, in sufficient and sustainable extent. But this is not so. It is thus astonishing, indeed surreal that the government has been so bogged down!
Really, prior to the events from 10th June, 2015 to date in Nigeria, one had always wallowed in the illusion that the prime problem ailing the country is corruption. But now, one knows better: the core problem why Nigeria refuses to develop and grow, and adamantly remains a toddler, not able to maintain proper security and cater for the welfare of its teeming vibrant population in spite of endowed enormous resources and even despite the constitutional provision 2(14)(2b), is dishonesty. As may be more appropriate, this virus/malady can transmute into or manifest in any of the synonym-spectrum: treachery, nepotism, greed, deceit, mendacity, hypocrisy, dubiousness, duplicity etc.
In fact, one now knows that nepotism can be more ramifying than corruption. How else do we interrogate the current fashion whereby allocation into posts or jobs is by slots? This, Jide Oluwajuyitan of The Nation qualified as Elite conspiracy against the youths! What about when appointment into key government positions is skewed in favour of a particular ethnic group in power? Probably, someone would christen that as Government conspiracy against ethnic groups! Is this the change that (progressives, patriots, civil rights movements, etc.) all yearned for, and expended energy and resources to herald in 2015? The paradox of helplessness on the Herdsmen’s menace is inexplicable. How do we contextualize the pre-covid19 declaration of President Buhari in favour of the jumbo pay for Legislators (and by implication for the executive as well), whereas many States barely pay even the previous minimum wage of eighteen thousand Naira (#18,000.00) not to talk of the new thirty thousand Naira (#30,000.00)? [http:www.themarketforideas.com/nigerias-senators-and-their-jumbo-pay-a408/]. What of the issue of Nepotism staring us in the face, all over?
So, how in the aforementioned circumstance can patriotism be preached to citizens, and ethos of public good and nationhood maintained? How do we maintain discipline, diligence, sensibility or any such attributes? How do we build a society with sufficient cohesion and focus to be able to harvest the enormous investment over the years since independence on education? How do we build enduring infrastructure, create industrial base that ushers in manufacturing – a sine qua non for meaningful job creation, sustainably? All the post independence giant strides, be it in education, health, agricultural produce, light-manufacturing and others have virtually evaporated. We are now a monoculture economy (safe the weak informal sector), leaning on rent-seeking and rent-collection from foreign oil companies to whom we have contracted our oil fields and wells. Atop of this, we have no correct record of quantity of crude exploited and lifted at any time. Whereas, this is in total contrast to what obtains in other countries having coherent policy, say Saudi Arabia where every pint of oil is electronically monitored from well to pipe, to jetty and up to lifting into the ship and on the sea. Can Nigeria continue this way? Definitely, NO!
Howbeit, one gives credit to President Muhammadu Buhari (PMB) for his enormous political will, mustered to implement the TSA and BVN regimes which have shrunk the sphere of primitive looting. This has definitely reduced some form of (institutional) corruption. Also to be noted was the golden era of “body language”, when for instance: electricity supply was stable without any increase in power generation (June – October, 2015); and the swift recovery of the swathe of territory (many Local Governments) earlier seized by Boko Haram. That was then!
Recent events, marked by virtual descent into state of atrophy, have almost overshadowed all those achievements. They have pointedly brought to the fore, the question of nationhood. Beckoning on us in this governance conundrum is the crucial question: post-PMB, what happens? Or what becomes of Nigeria?
What constitutes good governance?
In tandem with the foundational works of the Socrates-Pluto-Aristotle schools of taught but leaving the detail to the political scientists in the subject matter, good governance should be one that provides: security, justice and equity, atmosphere for vibrant industrial production /manufacturing, basic and enduring infrastructure, functional municipal services and resilient welfare structure, benchmarked by the level of human development index (HDI) for the country.
From the background so elaborately illuminated and elucidated above, it becomes imperative for any altruistic and attentive player/observer of Nigeria today to know that restructuring is the peaceful and decent way out of the present chaotic polity. It is only the modality of how to achieve this that needs interrogation, which would be discussed in the sequel.
It must be emphasized, the restructuring being espoused here is not in the whimsical sense. Neither is it envisaged to be a tea-party nor the almighty solver of every conceivable problem that ails the nation.
Rather, it is a product of sober reflection and a process for reengineering the architecture of the country for functionality; a devise that serves as a call-to-duty for citizens and especially for prospective leaders; that demands for both moral and political rectitude; that challenges for good governance; that tasks for accountability, transparency and sense of service. It is meant to distribute centrally concentrated power and responsibility to a number of pivot action/power centres, each of which would be viable and strong enough to engage in socio-economic activities to support development in its jurisdiction. It constitutes the potent instrument to engender healthy competitions amongst these centres, such that in the process two or more would emerge as a model in good governance and cultural-socio-economic development, which unavoidably will naturally stimulate others to emulate, at least due to cheer awareness of citizens of cognate centres that would have been aroused.
Philosophy behind Restructuring – The principle of concentrated force/distributed force The philosophy underpinning restructuring being proposed here has its scientific justification rooted in the concept called principle of concentrated force or energy (alternatively referred to as, principle of distributed force or energy). In applied mathematics or engineering designs this concept is referred to as Saint Venant’s Principle.
This is encapsulated in a layman’s language:
To mitigate premature failure of a structure, avoid loading it with a large force concentrated at a point. Rather, replace that intended large force with a set of smaller forces whose sum is equivalent in magnitude but distributed over appropriate surface area of the body/structure.
To prevent a premature failure in a body/structure, replace any intended large force to be concentrated at a point with equivalent smaller ones, distributed over a region about that point.
In a nutshell, Concentrated Force initiates premature failure in a system. This will even be true the more in the case of a pre-stressed body/structure. This same principle guides the design, construction and loading in structures such as buildings, bridges, railway lines, etc. By extension, it is not happenstance or fortuitous that sharp edges and corners (often, connoting some concentrated force) are avoided in structures, devices and construction designs – it is a key assessment criterion in declaring a product as of good finishing or not.
Even nature abhors concentration of force. Hence, the phenomena: flooding, volcano, earth quake, tsunami (underwater quake due to a burst of shear force concentration between tectonic plates), etc. In fact, it is known that a pointed straw flying at a very high speed will defeat a sandbag while a huge but blunt metallic bar (or stamp-rod) will not compromise the integrity of the sandbag.
Concentrated Force in Polity
The question is asked, what constitutes concentrated force in the Nigeria polity?
The winner-takes-all character, which politics in Nigeria has assumed, made it to be a do-or-die (courtesy, General Obasanjo) affair. Indeed, politics at a point became so lucrative, even more than cocaine pushing and less risky than the later; to the extent that, at the peak of dancing naked in our proverbial political market square, even a local government chairman that almost had no means of livelihood prior to getting to office within few months begins to own choice properties such as any or all of exotic car(s), house(s), hotel(s), petrol station(s) etc., and frequent oversea trips, including medical pilgrimage to boot (which obviously covid-19 may not support at the moment!). The higher you are in the political hierarchy (especially in the executive arm, Governor to President) the more the magnitude/dimension of your affluence, power and absolute power. So, politics is devoid of service-sense and institutional-sense. Main objects in politics become primitive accumulation and service to self; and at best to familymembers, friends and cronies. The need for urgent development of the society and welfare of citizens is totally lost in the polity, notwithstanding the aforementioned fundamental objectives stated by the constitutional provisions of sections 2(14)(2b), 2(17)(3) and 2(18)(1-3). Another complication in this quagmire is the belief that a good number of our senior civil servants have developed deep talents of collaboration with the politicians in the act of fleecing the nation; and some public servants are not left out in the malfeasance.
At the level of Governor and the President the constitution is so skewed that power becomes virtually absolute. Coupled with this is the immunity clause in favour of these officers. The fact of too many provisions in the exclusive list, to the benefit of the Federal but to the disadvantage of the States that share superintendence with the Federal, over very few provisions in the concurrent list, makes power to be enormously concentrated in the hand of whoever is the President. Hence, concentration of power in Abuja; and the contest to occupy the seat is a do-or-die one, subsequently leading to the tremor of the fault lines earlier enumerated above which include religious, ethnic/tribal and cultural, which in turn hibernate nepotism, corruption, indolence, perfidy, loss of integrity, transparency, accountability, mistrust, equity and justice. In such a dire circumstance, everyone is ultimately a looser!
A nation is pre-stressed if there exists any form of irreconcilable ethno-cultural, socio-economic or religious incongruence inherent it; and for which operative constitution is incapable of addressing (i.e. ameliorating/mitigating/alleviating).
In respect of the subject matter at hand, it does not require clairvoyance to know that Nigeria as constituted today is an enormously pre-stressed nation. In truth, it is pre-stressed by the yawning gulf of complex and convoluted differences: cultural, religious, ethnic, socio-economic set-beliefs that manifest in nepotism, corruption, indolence, lack of patriotism and general mutual-suspicion, all of which have become cancer, bogging down the country from developing. What is more, the level of corruption in the land is mind bogging, so much so that virtually all institutions of governance are either compromised or outright in coma. Consequently, it is mis-governance galore in the land. For an instance, how do we get selfless committed patriotic people to govern if elections are so dangerously monetized? Alternatively put, can any Party in Nigeria now win an election without a gigantic war chest? In this, the influence of the national body of any of the Parties is so enormous; implicitly, they decide processes and outcomes at the lower levels as well. Meanwhile, the institutions like INEC, ICPC, Police, Judiciary and others, constitutionally empowered to prevent or moderate the processes, are often compromised or incapacitated. Thus, the only surgical operation for remedy out of this logjam is restructuring. But it is of general knowledge, and well documented, that any operation for cancer-cure is helpful only when it is performed early enough. Without doubt, the cure to avoid eventual unraveling of Nigeria is a timeous restructuring into true democratic federalism, as one finds in India (a federal parliamentary republic), Canada (a federal parliamentary democracy), USA (a federal presidential republic) and similar democracies.
Constitutionally Pre-stressed Polity
The defective structure of the constitution constitutes main source of pre-stress in the body polity. Such forces that pre-stress the polity includes but not limited to
- not being sufficiently secular; otherwise, why would pilgrimage be the business of government at any level? More so that, religion and security apparatus are nothing more than elements of subjugation, often used at the conscious level to prevent tabula rasa of citizens from being filled-up or trained;
- not making some fundamental provisions in the constitution justiciable in law; such as in the lacuna created on the responsibility of government to provide education, job, municipal services or so;
- not being consistent on which tier of government should have the responsibility to create Local Government Councils, in a federal democracy;
- not being consistent on which charges ought to belong to the exclusive list and which to the concurrent list, in federalism? Should control over Power, Road,
Railway, Mining, etc. be exclusive or concurrent or residual; and
- not being sufficiently mindful of over-centralization of control/regulatory authority of some agencies, leading to inefficiency.
Distribution of the Concentrated Force
Now, knowing that political power is enormously concentrated in Nigeria with attendant instability tendencies, the consequent question is how do we ameliorate or attenuate this? Really, having seen that winner-takes-all syndrome, hence concentration of power, is the principal element that predisposes our politics to a do-or-die mentality, it is only fit and proper to distribute that power, so that it is no longer concentrated. Then, what and how is the concentrated force or power to be distributed? This would be done at three levels: a. segmentation of the country into Zones/Regions as the federating units and devolution of power to the Zones/Regions; b. redistribution of provisions in the exclusive legislative list (68) and concurrent legislative list (17; 30-13) to now include residual legislative list; and c. tenure of President, Governor, Council Chairman, Senator or House Representative. To effect this distribution of power, it would be recognised that a new constitution is imperative.
a. Federating Unit
The constitution will segment the country into federating units of Zones/Regions. The starting point here is to invoke the existing 6 Zones as a default mode and template; using as much as possible criterion of homogeneity in terms of: ethnicity, culture, religion or a combination of these; with congruent communities having the benefit of choice of where they wish to belong, through a referendum. Principle of peaceful-coexistence will play a prominent role here; border alignment and re-alignment, including some section/community of a currently existing State may decide to join another State within the Zone or in another Zone, again by plebiscite. The existing States will convert to Provinces into which most one way or the other previously belonged in the distant time, when actually the drive for development elicited sense of urgency which was quite palpable then.
Why is federating unit the Zone and not the State? Virtually all the States, except two or so, are largely economically unviable and too weak to stand alone, in terms of capacity to generate revenue internally to fund recurrent and capital expenditure and sustain development, any meaningfully. What is more, this will ensure overhead cost is drastically reduced. Politics will gradually gravitate away from being a goldmine and consequently, a do-or-die phenomenon. Also, it affords grouping together for peace and peaceful-coexistence homogeneous populations in terms of religion, language, tribe, culture or otherwise. Another benefit here is that this will stimulate healthy competition amongst the Zones/Regions; and we are likely to get some Zone(s)/Region(s) that would be efficiently well run and become model for some others to emulate. Interestingly, and without arrogating or claiming the power of clairvoyance, it may even happen that ability to become the model would not necessarily be attained/exhibited by the Zone(s)/Region(s) with purportedly high material resources; but will emerge purely on quality of management leadership in respect of selflessness, capability, prudence, accountability, transparency and integrity.
b. Legislative Lists
Under the dispensation in view, most of the provisions in the exclusive legislative list (presently, about 68) will have to move to the concurrent legislative list (presently, 30 but in reality about 15) while some may best fit in the residual. For example, some of the provisions to be examined include Police, Road, Railways, Power, Agriculture, Mining, etc. This will allow federating units the capacity to take initiatives and be more enterprising; to express themselves in terms of revenue generation, innovation and development. This in turn will enhance overall growth of the country. The experts in the field of legislative matters will need to be engaged to do diligent job in this respect.
STRUCTURE OF GOVERNANCE:
The structure of governance should remain constitutional federal republic, which at the federal level could be either Parliamentary or Presidential, bearing in mind that parliamentary system is less costly and makes the executive to be directly responsible/accountable to the legislature. But at the level of Zone/Region and any lower levels, governance structure should be parliamentary.
Irrespective of whether the system eventually adopted at the federal is Parliamentary or Presidential, conscious efforts, with strong determination, must be made to de-monitise politics. This is to discourage all shades of kleptocracy and ensure that competent patriots with sense of service are attracted and recruited into governance; which will consequently engender good governance and pave the way for the rapid development of Nigeria, which the black race is earnestly yearning for.
If the preference is to go Presidential, then to reduce cost of governance it is imperative that the National Assembly should operate on part-time basis such that members would earn honorarium and sitting allowance only. But if it becomes impossible to operate on part-time basis, then each Member of Parliament should enjoy emolument/allowances not exceeding that of a Director General, but must not be entitled to any pension.
Tenure of Office for President and Governor
A Five-year single term only in office is strongly recommended for both the President and the
Governor. This, mutatis mutandis applies to the office of the Vice-President and the DeputyGovernor. The office of the President will then rotate on zonal basis, while that of the Governor will rotate on provincial basis. The five-year tenure allows incumbent to use the first year to set agenda and learn the rope, next three years to execute programmes, while the fifth year is to round-up, fine-tune projects/programme and prepare to hand over to a successor.
This single-term arrangement helps eliminate second-term syndrome and its concomitant encumbrances. It also addresses and ameliorates the vexatious issue of marginalization (real and unreal). Furthermore, it in a way tempers the propensity to indulge in nepotism; as it would be sure that any untoward precedence could be repaid after 5 years, if not for 25 years, by others. What is more, it dampens any effects of nepotism, where it still occurs, since Zones/Regions are expected to be strong now. The challenge of getting credible national census will become less burdensome. Internal security will improve tremendously in terms of integrity, effectiveness and cost effectiveness.
With this, in the period of 60 years, the office of the President would have gone round the Zones twice, while the office of the Governor would have gone round the Provinces twice as well. This then would be a convenient juncture to assess the workability and efficiency of the Nigeria project; and then decide whether to re-examine for a review or rollover the system.
Tenure of Office for Members of Parliament
The tenure of office for a parliamentarian either in the Senate or in the House should be for a term of five years, renewable for another single term only, by election. Any citizen who has previously held an executive position either as President, Governor or Minister should not qualify to stand elections to the parliament either at the Federal or Zone/Region.
Given that the parliamentarians will hold office on part-time basis, then the Senate should be composed of 61 members, being 10 from each of the six Zones/Regions and 01 for the Federal Capital Territory. On its part, the House of Representatives should be composed of 146 members where 72 members would be on equal representation of 12 per Zone/Region, 72 members would be prorated population-wise, while 02 members would represent the Federal Capital Territory.
Tenure of Provincial Government Chairman
It is recommended that a Provincial Government Chairman should run three-year tenure, renewable for another single term only, which should be performance based, even at that. Note here that, the current State would become a Province, while the Local Government Council/Area becomes say, Local Administrative Unit. With true federal system in place, all issues pertaining to Local Government or Administrative Units seize to be in the federal domain; they now become residual matters, as would be entrenched in a pertinent new constitution.
It is also suggested that at the provincial level, just as with the Zone/Region, the system of governance should be Parliamentary, which will make the executive to be responsible/accountable to a legislature. This, in real terms, will reduce cost while participation will be enhanced, broader, grass-root friendly and more penetrating.
MISCELLANEOUS and CONSTITUTIONAL ISSUES
Here we highlight some of the salient intrinsic issues that may need to be rigorously interrogated in the ensuing dialogue and envisaged new constitution that will herald Restructuring.
Revenue Allocation and Commonwealth Resources
As in every true federal system, the federating units will control resources on its territory and pay agreed taxes, on first charge, to the Centre (Federal Government). An appropriate revenue allocation/sharing formulae must be worked out. However, going into true federalism just now in our chequered history, there is need to take special cognizance of and an agreement reached on appropriate payment refund or taxation, over a given period of time (say, 50-100 years), to compensate the Centre in respect of federal investments that had been committed to develop some assets/projects to be transferred to a given Zone/Region, having used commonwealth resources. No commonwealth/natural resources must not be in the hand of any individual.
Chief of Staff Office
The creation of the office of Chief of Staff to either the President or the Governor is anathema and unconstitutional. It is alien to a democratic system; as it smacks of importation of Monarchy, Militocracy through the back door. It is implicitly personalizing a public office, which the position of President or Governor is. In fact, it contradicts and undermines the principle of democracy as a collective decision making system. What is more, the office of Chief of Staff undermines the constitutional position of Secretary to the Government. As a public office, the President or the Governor should not have anything to hide or be personal in the running of government business. Yes, for personal matters, the President or Governor is free to appoint a Personal Secretary and name him/her Chief of Staff, but who cannot be a Cabinet Member.
The restructuring being espoused here portends reengineering the configuration of the country for true federalism. Hence, there will be a Provincial Police to handle provincial internal security matters while the federal Police provides co-ordinate on national internal security matter. Mechanism for check-and-balance to forestall abuse, particularly at the Province and Council levels, should be worked out.
Oversight Legislative Function
There should be a constitutional provision that strictly forbids and immunizes the legislators from brown envelope syndrome during legislative oversight assignments over the executive, the judiciary, the bureaucracy and the corporate world.
Pegging Interest on Bank Loan
If any country has been ignorant or feigned ignorance of the role of production, industrial production/manufacturing in shaping the socio-economic life of a society, then the challenges thrown up by the ragging covid-19 pandemic underscores this bitter truth, howbeit in a very pungent way especially for countries with remiss-leadership. Consequently, citizens must be encouraged go into production in the real and informal sectors. As such, to underscore the urgency in this the interest rate on loan for industrial production/manufacturing including agriculture must not exceed 3-5 percent. Every effort must be made to discourage the current portfolio, rent-seeking, rent-collection economy.
Minimum Educational Qualification for Political Offices
In a world today ruled by knowledge in science and technology and dominated not just by ICT (information and computer technology) but largely now by AI (artificial intelligence), it is only fit and proper that the minimum educational qualification for any would-be occupier of a chief executive position such as the President, Governor, President of the Senate and Speaker of the House and their respective deputies shall be a University degree of not less than second class from a recognized University. It is strongly recommended that a new constitution should set such a minimum standard.
Tax Rebate on Obligatory Industry and Research Institution Collaboration
The bedrock of any industrialisation is science and technology development. This does not come by happenstance. It requires leadership intellect, political will, policy focus and investment, persistence and discipline to walk-the-talk to make this happen. A key component in this is creating the environment for Industry and Research Institution to collaborate intensely. A deliberate government policy is required to engender this. It is therefore being suggested here, beyond the usual local content concept, that there should be a provision, Tax Rebate for Industry in Obligatory Research Collaboration with Tertiary Institutions.
- Research Cooperation Between Companies/MDGs and Academic Tertiary Institutions
There should be a government policy on Research and Development Unit; and Research cooperation between Companies/MDGs and Academic Tertiary Institutions. This will be a bill that seeks to make it obligatory for any organization (of a defined capacity) domiciled in Nigeria to (i) have a Research and Development (R&D) Unit, (ii) make an x% budgetary allocation to R&D and ensure that y% of the x% is expended on research cooperation with a local tertiary academic institutions. This will then attract to a complying organization a z% tax rebate strictly dependent on the expended y% on R&D. The spending and administration of the x% shall be executed strictly by the individual organization. But a controlling body to ensure compliance and veracity of claims shall be put in place by the Government, to consist of members from the academia, private sector and Inland Revenue representatives.
The essence of this provision is to promote industrial production and manufacturing with local content and build capability for benefication of raw materials, technology and production. By implication this will grow local institutions, reduce joblessness and minimize crime in the society.
One recognizes the current attempt at resuscitating the Ajaokuta Steel Complex, with the
Inauguration of the Ajaokuta Presidential Project Implementation Team (APPIT) on Monday, 11th May, 2020 by the Secretary to the Government of the Federation. It is hoped that the government will, with all sense of urgency, do all not only to bring the dream on functionality of Ajaokuta to fruition but also ensure that pertinent instrument for local capability for replication is built into the arrangement.
Citizens Data Base, Election and Census
The Government should make it mandatory for every citizen to be enrolled on the National Identity Scheme. This should be the principal national database for Nigerian citizen, such that it will harmonize any ancillary databases which include, birth record, international passport record, voters’ record, census record. Recall that non-availability of a “reliable database” provided the capricious ground on which Donald Trump recently imposed a visa ban on categories of Nigerian. Anyway, for our own purpose a reliable central database would provide the urgently needed veritable platform for
(i) Electronic Census Enumeration and (ii) Electronic Voting.
Course on Consciousness – Common Humanity Principle
The common humanity principle will develop and propagate, amongst other things, the process of putting into the consciousness of citizens, especially those that found themselves in positions of leadership the need to always strive to imbibe and promote the aspiration: Salvaging Black Race from persistent brutalisation, subjugation, exploitation, profiling and other vicissitudes, rampant almost everywhere in the world today. Citizens and leaders must strive to promote developmental governance that commands the respect of others for Blackman and his dignity; and ameliorate the current phenomenon of everywhere I turn the rain beats me (apology, Kofi Awoonor). A point in time must come when blacks should no longer express or experience victimhood!
In the spirit of mould-them-young, our primary and secondary schools curricula should include the teaching of History, while the Social Study should be reinforced with topics on moral rectitude, patriotism, ethos of public service and humanity.
- Philosophy to guide governance – Industrial Social Welfarism
Following the credo of Socrates (circa 470 B. C. – 399 B. C.), often referred to as the intellectual midwife and oracle of the western philosophy: any deserving philosophy should achieve practical result for the greater wellbeing of society; what is more, human choice is motivated by the desire for happiness. Really, even insects, vertebrate animals and invertebrate animals alike do provide for their colonies! That of Termites or Bees is one to behold!!
Further, Abdus Salam (1926-1996), Professor and Nobel Laureate in Physics (1979), first of such in Science from the 3rd world, the Founder and 1st Director of the International Centre for Theoretical Physics (ICTP), in his book “Ideals and Realities”, (1989 3rd edt.) proselytized: the difference between the third world and the first world, the South and the North, underdeveloped and the developed countries is embedded in the possession or lack of science and technology. The world today is migrating to electric vehicles as the means of road transportation. The question is, has Nigeria a worthy road-network for even its gasolinepowered vehicles presently?
So, Industrial Social Welfarism should be the philosophy that drives our governance, with the fundamental objectives: welfare of citizen, economic wellbeing, security of the people and industrial development of the country, all of which must be made justiciable; and either President or Governor violating this fundamental philosophy commits impeachable offence and should stand removed from office, in a mid-term referendum.
Industrial Social Welfarism is simply, social welfarism embedded in industrialization or industrial production setting, i.e. social welfarism which is industrial production driven. Thus, it is imperative for the government to create the enabling environment for industrialization; for industrial production/manufacturing to thrive, so as to be able to practice social welfarism. This is obvious: no social welfarism can thrive where the possibility of job creation, infrastructural and municipal services provisions are impaired or limited. As such, no government will be able to deliver on provisions of the fundamental objectives, when there are no means of wealth creation or support. This choice of philosophy makes massive investment in the development of science and technology, alongside education mandatory. Now, we are in the age of artificial inteligence (AI). Good governance is of necessity here.
Socrates’ teachings, as submitted by Plato, enjoined: “There is only one good, knowledge and one evil, ignorance.” Hence, there should be a policy/rule that makes it mandatory for every politician in the executive position or in the legislature and senior civil servant to undergo a course, workshop and periodic seminar on theory of consciousness; to understand the difference between subconscious and conscious levels, and under the conscious level to distinguish the objective senses from the subjective senses, with an emphasis on the theory and development of the concept of tabula rasa, well elucidated by John Locke, an epistemology philosopher and enlightenment thinker referred to as the Father of Liberalism, who defined the three fundamental human rights as life, liberty and property.
Homo sapient, according to philosophers and social scientists, is both a social and political animal – a socio-political animal. First and foremost, his primary needs are food, shelter and clothing. This further reinforces the view that the apt political system to adopt by any human society in this modern era, including Nigeria, is Industrial Social Welfarism. This is even true the more for any country on the sub-saharan African continent, which has a lot of catching-up to do, as the HDI would indicate.
Our Leadership Recruitment Process must place a high premium on edifying attributes – such as political and moral rectitude, institutional sense, patriotism, high sense of service and integrity. Political leadership is different from business leadership. So, as much as possible there must be a code of engagement for would-be political leader, demarcating the boundary.
In fact, Chief Obafemi Awolowo in his book “Thoughts on the Nigerian Constitution” (1966), elucidated extensively on the subject of which should be the most appropriate constitution for a multiethnic and multilingual nations; while in the book “The Problems of Africa – the needs for ideological reappraisal” (1977), submitted that any would be leader must possess positive character attributes which he encapsulated as the regime of mental magnitude (RMM). I would indulgently modify these attributes as enunciated above to call it regime of mental magnitude and political rectitude (RMMPR).
Citizens Code of Conduct – Socio-economic-political conduct and rectitude:
There is the dire need to entrench in the constitution a provision that will address and tame the monster called corruption and nepotism that has been openly acknowledged as a twin-virus ravaging our society, and constituting a stumbling block preventing the country from moving forward. It is a monster which restructuring in itself is not going to wipe away automatically; rather, it can at best help tame the monster locally, depending on level of vigilance and cultural tolerance of delinquent behaviour in a given Zone/Region. Consequently a constitutional instrument must be made to clearly discourage it, which should include clauses such as
“You cannot be a civil servant and be a direct/indirect beneficiary in a contract.”
“You cannot be a public servant and be a direct/indirect beneficiary in a contract.” “You cannot be a lawmaker and be involved directly or indirectly (by proxy) in a contract.”
Resistance to Restructuring into Zones/Regions
The prime beneficiaries of current dispensation are likely to constitute stiff opposition to restructuring. This will largely be for reasons other than being altruistic; and this can include egoistic understanding, parochial considerations, transient power and pecuniary material gains. First amongst this would be some members of the National Assembly, some Governors, people that hold levers of power and have direct superintendence over the national soup-pot at all levels of the federal government, including some Ministers, Heads of Agencies and Parastatals, etc.
Really, interrogating critically the situations confronting Nigeria and the black race over the ages, it becomes imperative to do a deep introspect and retrospect, for Socrates enjoined “The unexamined life is not worth living.” The current situation in the world today in view of the raging coronavirus war is instructive: every equation in and on anything has changed, to the extent that anyone or any group claiming to be smarter than others is just only being myopic, even to the extent of self-defeat, ultimately.
So, whoever is a principal actor in Nigeria of today must endeavor to fill the cup of his/her tabula rasa and task the subjective component of the conscious mind with pertinent questions:
- Is there any race other than Black in modern human history (i.e. excluding pre-white contact circa 70,000 BC – A.D.1444) that has been so uninterruptedly visited with evil savagery, cruelty, brutalization, exploitation in perpetual slavery for about 400 years (circa 1444-1833) and subsequent colonization (1833 – 1957/1991)?
- If Obama had been a white, would Donald Trump have been so vociferous in wanting to erase or reverse President Obama’s legacy at every turn?
- If any black nation had emerged on the chart of industrially developed nations, would Trump have been so generally condescending to blacks in the world?
- What of the recent declaration of the two French Doctors proposing the trial of covid-19 vaccine in Africa, even though most deaths of this pandemic occurred in Europe and America?
- Why is it that Africa, especially Nigeria, is the dumping ground for second hand goods from Europe, America and Asia?
- Why is a Nigerian citizen target for profiling and condescension at any Embassies and international borders in the world; whilst, for example, in 1980 thereabout when Naira was virtually at par with the British Pound Sterling, a Nigerian did not need a visa to entre Britain.
More than any other democracies, it is strongly suggested that Nigeria should follow the example of India which is a large democracy that is thriving on true federalism. Unlike the USA, India shares with Nigeria two other attributes of being multilingual and indigenous in population composition. Today, India enjoys internal cohesion, is industrialised and fast approaching the status of a developed nation largely because it practices true federalism, where there is no concentrated power, which could be suffocating, impunity-driven and nepotic. For an instance, at a click of the button one can find displayed on the internet the salaries and remunerations of its government officials, federal and states. India obtained independence from United Kingdom in 1947; and discounting/barring the periodic skirmishes with Pakistan over Kashmir region, it enjoys internal cohesion and peace. Today, it is an acclaimed world centre of excellence in software development; and of pharmaceutical products, including medical services. So, this system is a thriving, functional true federal democracy which is worth emulating; on the strength of size, multilingual composition, cultural plurality and of indigenous population.
Key Elements of this Disquisition
The key elements of this treatise/disquisition on the inevitability of restructuring Nigeria into true federalism can be encapsulated as
- The invocation of the Principle of Concentration of Force in science to establish the imperative for distribution of concentrated power, which entails Restructuring into Zones/Regions.
- Five-year single term tenure for President and Governors.
- Rotation of the office of the President on Zonal/Regional basis and of the Governor on Provincial basis.
- Mid-Term election within the five-year tenure for parliamentarians at the Federal and the Zones/Regions.
- Need for transfer of pertinent provisions (legislative powers) from the exclusive legislative list to the concurrent legislative and residual legislative lists, consistent with true federalism.
- Obligatory Research Collaboration of Industry with Tertiary Institutions and Consequential Tax Rebate.
The philosophy underpinning items 1, 3, 4, 5 and 6 are sufficiently illuminated in the body of the text and may not need further elucidation. But item 2 may require some further illumination. Really, the five-year single term tenure recommendation underscores the fact that (i.) it tasks, draws out the best and infuses sense-of-service in an office holder, in view of the enormity of problems confronting the country now by the time an incumbent serves conscientiously for five years he/she would have been sufficiently tasked, drained/exhausted. (ii.) it not only behoves an office holder to deliver good governance and leave a legacy for self, but to perform as to pave the way for his/her party to be sellable to the electorate and retain power.
(iii.) it helps demystify and temper craze for political power; weans and discourages politicians from perpetuation mentality and a do-or-die politics in general. The Mid-term election for law makers also reinforces this, as it underscores Party supremacy.
The fulcrum on which a reengineering or reconfiguration of the country and its governance structure, in a ramifying dimension and magnitude being contemplated here and referred to as Restructuring, revolves would be a suitable constitution. Thus, a new constitution is imperative.
To get the job done, the President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria should constitute a Presidential cum Parliamentarian Committee: to take Memoranda and conduct Public Hearings; examine the provisions of the 1963 & 1999 Constitutions, alongside reports of previous Confabs; and to digest, distill, integrate and draw up a Draft Constitution. This is thereafter subjected to a Referendum. The outcome of this is promulgated into law as the New Constitution.
Now, opportunity beckons President Muhammadu Buhari to assume a Philosopher King, of the Plato hue. The restructuring of this country along the lines propounded in this disquisition will be the worthy legacy that the tenure of PMB can endow posterity.
-Prof Adegbola Akinola.
(Obafemi Awolowo University | OAU · Department of Mathematics)