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NIGERIA: Parliamentary System of Government As Solution

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Fellow members of Pan African Federalist Movement , the raging debate now in our countries as to which way we should go to maximize the use of our resources to enhance the quality of life of Africans, whether within the Five Regions on the African Continent and the Sixth Region in the Americas or wherever Africans are, on the globe, has assumed very disturbing dimensions. Unfortunately there are no clear poles (Ideologies) pulling the ideas that will, based on where we are coming from , what are the characterization of where we are now and that will take us to preferred destination.

Here at home, Nigeria, though we had the interlude of Nigerianism during the six months Administration of late General Murtala Muhammed, the muddling through approach has been the order of doing things since 1967. It will be recalled that, during the First Republic, the focus of government was massive development of the human resources and national institutions that will sustain the social engineering of a United, strong, peaceful federal Republic of Nigeria. The governments were Welfarist. There was healthy competition between the Regions. There was true Federalism. The Regions had their constitutions while the Federal Government had an omnibus Constitution controlling the Constituent Regions.

From 1966, when the Unitary Federalist system of Government was introduced, which introduced a command system of administration to the country, the smooth development of the Federal Republic of Nigeria has been adversely affected. The results so far has not produced the expected results , that is a well ordered Just, Peaceful, United, Strong and developed country ready to lead the African people in all ramifications given her economic geography and vibrancy of her people.

Today, the indices measuring the levels of the development of Nigerians are abysmally disappointing despite the fact that since 1957 when Crude Oil mining started at Olobiri, Nigeria has realized over $600billion from this sector alone.

The contribution of the other monitored accounted for sectors of the economy has been more than this. The unrecorded or unaccounted productivity of the economy is far more than the sum total of the recorded and accounted sectors of the economy. The natural resources identified and yet to be tapped or worked upon and integrated into the mainstream of economic activities are innumerable.

We took over the management of this country from 1960, this is about 58 years ago. Few days ago I heard a report from one of the United Nations Agencies that 152million Nigerians out of 180million are living below $2 a day. About 15million school children are out of school. Unemployment and disguised unemployment is around 20 million. The aged population ie those over 60 years is increasing and they are forced to depend on themselves because their children have no job or means to keep themselves fit not to talk about helping their aged parents or family members.

Nigeria continues to develop as a bell shaped society without the middle class, with very robust handle, just about 10,000 Nigerians controlling over 95% of wealth of the country. It is increasingly becoming too difficult and untenable for this group to continue the manipulation of the octopus like base. I strongly hope the energy( Youth) of Nigeria will rise this time around with moral authority to salvage the situation before Nigeria turns into an unbridled society where only revolutionary activities will reorder the society to the path of peaceful coexistence , growth and development.

Ladies and Gentlemen, members of the media, Nigerian elites’ interactions (politically, economically , socially ) have landed us back to early 1950s when we were negotiating the terms of our togetherness. Now we have divisive security, religious, economic and cultural challenges all over the country that could lead to dismemberment of the polity to different sovereign groups.

The primordial interests of the predominant groups must be consigned to the dustbin of history for this federal republic to stand as one. It is in our collective interest.

Federated nations normally do not come with the same quantity or quality of resources or attributes. One will have more than the other. The beauty is the desire to see each person in the country as a fellow citizen that must be uplifted to play significant role in fulfilling the Mission of that country in the comity of Nations. Every Nigerian has a responsibility to every person of African descent. We have all been cheated in the dispensation from 1966 to the present by those elites. We need to note and guard against this. That is why the peaceful restructuring of the country should take place early

In the study of the indices of power configurations of countries and value placed on their people: territorial size, population, level of literacy, natural resources, technological development, level of manufacturing, quality of the market( population) etc are very important.

Balkanization – Not a Viable Option

Balkanization of a country along ethnic lines leads to diminishing the dignity and value of the people of that country. No ethnic group should delude itself that it will survive after separation from Nigeria without problem. Somalia is still smoldering though the country is composed of one ethnic group.If after all, FUGA would lead to the establishment of collection of many sovereign authorities under one umbrella to shield the people of Africa on the continent and those in its Sixth region from the vagaries of international relationships. There is need for Nigerians to start living together in harmony. Extrapolating this thinking to the continental level, the value and dignity of the citizens of FUGA will be automatically enhanced once we reach that goal.

Youths have always play significant roles in governance.

You are called to note that the Youth have always been involved and participated in the governance of this country. The late Mbu, Maitama Sule, Rotimi Williams, Etc; the Nzegwus , General Gowon, and the various military officers that worked with him and took over from him, many of them are still around were Youths when they got involved in the governance of this country. Their involvement terminated the very carefully constructed true federal system of government for the strategic management of the Federal Republic of Nigeria. It was this abrupt termination, amongst other things, that led to the civil war. The process to end the civil war led to a command structure of unitary federalism which has not helped us and in fact negated the very spirit of federalism that encouraged the country to be one.

Those in government then should have returned the country back to the structure that was negotiated by the founding fathers of this country. They failed to do this because they were and still milking the nation for themselves and their children. This is similar to the myopic self centered typology of socio-political and economic dispensation that led to the collapse of the militarized elitist controlled administration of some countries in Eastern Europe in the late 1980s and early 1990s . I happened to be an observer of this events from Nigeria’s Embassy in Czechoslovakia. The lessons that should be learnt from what led to the dismemberment of these seemingly federated countries ( USSR, YUGOSLAVIA and CZECHOSLOVAKIA) were brought to the attention of the Nigerian Government in 1990 -1992. In summary, we reported that they all failed to practice true federalism.

They want to build a Nation out of Nations. They failed woefully. The various nations went their different ways. The signs of the present crisis facing Nigeria these days were already budding. A careful comparative analysis of developments in Nigeria and those countries, then,suggested that Nigeria should readjust its strategic management principles, goals and how to realize them. We recommended true parliamentary system of Government since 1992. This was done to prevent the present occurrence of the crisis we are going through, now. The burden, we knew to be on the shoulders of this country because of what we are to the continent by God is great. We wanted the governments then to do the needful and bind Nigerians together as a United country with shared vision. May be this is your lot now to do this. Let me praise Ogbeni Abdulrauf Adesoji Aregbesola of my State (Osun) for the introduction of Parliamentary System of Government in the State Local government Administration this month. It is my sincere hope that it will be managed very well.

Youth Involvement

Given the above, there is justification that the FUGA must be based and operated on the concept of true Federalism. Each of the federating units of FUGA must have and develop its identity and make contributions to the management of FUGA. Each federating unit must operate on the basis of the culture of the public that is it must be people centered in all its activities including the formation of the structures for decision making and implementation. Each federating unit must have egalitarianism as the philosophy of governance breathing/ permeating through all the directing principles of State policy. It must have territorial democratic practices whereby every part of the FUGA will feel the presence of the FUGA. The African Central Bank( ACB) will be independent of FUGA. The ACB will have its own currency that will be spent in all the territory of FUGA .

The current structure of the federal Republic of Nigeria cannot easily fit into the above construct, because it is not a truly federated country. I am afraid we have similar problems all over intending FUGA countries, with the exception of very few. The Pan African Federalist Movement must seek to ensure that there is an agreed structure / template that would be used by all the constituent members of FUGA. They would be linked through the Linking- Pin model of Public Administration for effective and efficient management of FUGA activities and objective realization of FUGA goals. Primarily the FUGA goals are to:-

(a) restore the dignity of the FUGA citizens;

(b)Protect and defend all that constitute FUGA;

(c) develop and utilize all natural, human, created procedures and know how’s and technical resources for the better living conditions of FUGA citizens; and

(d) Provide most importantly equalization of opportunities to all FUGA countries through education programs that will make every FUGA citizen useful for self , FUGA and humanity. The education should be aimed at mostly producing all round educated person who will be able to create job for himself and others and also could be employable.

Recipe

My informed view is that a country that fails to give correct education to its youth will reap social, economic, political and cultural disorientation and consequential political, economic, social and cultural instabilities. The country’s value and dignity will be on a slope downward. You have big job to do.

Nigeria template as an example

In order to re-engineer the Nigerian State, there is need for the restructuring of the strategic management of the Federal Republic of Nigeria on the canvass of egalitarianism for her to achieve just, united, prosperous and vibrantly strong Nigerian society. This became imperative cognizance of the fact that Nigeria is a country that one cannot build a nation out of her. All efforts to achieve this since 1966 has failed. The system of governance that would ensure effective and efficient management of the country for the betterment of all should be true federal and not unitary system. The threeTiers of Government shall be to some extent independent, through devolution of authority. The crucial role of the Towns, Local governments and the Six (6) Regional Governments in the complete re-engineering of Nigeria cannot be overemphasized. Indeed the Constitution will devolve authorities as deemed necessary in a truly federal system of governance to ensure that all assets of the country are used in sustainable manner with accountability, transparency, and maximum efficiency and effectiveness as the guidelines.

System of Government the Youth needs to establish for Nigeria

The interests of the federating Units ( Regions) fused together in a manner of supportive relationship will promote stability and peace for all under a true federal system of government. The new restructured governance methodology shall return to the organic Constitution that our founding fathers designed to run and manage Nigeria by Nigerians for Nigerians unlike the present Constitution that has turned Nigeria and her citizens to follow follow . The Directing Principle of the State shall be the pervading principle of developing an egalitarian society on the canvass of democratic activities informed by Market Economy Principles (MEPS). The government shall establish a Parliamentary System of Government (PSG). There will be a President, Prime Minister, and six Deputy Prime Ministers. The term of office of the President shall be one term of six years only. There will be a Legislative Organ composed of elected.

Parliamentarians from the Six Regions as well as a Council of Elders. The total number of the Parliamentarians for the Federation shall never be more than three hundred and three(303) (fifty (50) from each of the Six geo-political zones and three from the Federal Capital Territory (FCT)) while those of the Council Elders shall be Sixty one (61) (Ten from each of the six geo-political zones and one for FCT). There must be federal character within the parties in the parliamentary Ministerial distribution of portfolios and cascades of other appointments into the Federal Government of Nigeria.

Ambassador Adegboyega Christopher Ariyo, retired diplomat and former Nigeria’s ambassador to Namibia  contributed this piece from Ibala,  near Ilesa,  Osun State