We, the Government and people of Nigeria should stop pretending that we have no serious problems affecting our corporate co-existence as a nation. I understand there are over 250 ethnic nationalities in Nigeria. This writer happens to come from a microscopic minority ethnic group within Nigeria. Let us face facts. “All is not well with Nigeria.”
In 1966 when the military first struck, we all thought that the idea was to wipe out corruption and other vices in the society. Fifty-one years after, the situation has become even worse, with public officers carting away trillions of naira into their private pockets. Unemployment is worse than ever before, poverty has assumed unprecedented dimensions and the educational and health sectors are nothing to write home about. More often than not, these calamities are attributed to military incursions into the political system and lack of good leadership. One would recall that in 1966, the late Gen. J. T. U. Aguiyi Ironsi was murdered because, (according to media reports), he tried to introduce a unitary system of federalism in Nigerian. After Ironsi’s death the Yakubu Gowon military regime sanctified the very unitary federalism he and the northerners were opposed to. Subsequently, Nigerian administration (military or civilian) rightly or wrongly, now avow it as an indispensable system of federalism for Nigeria. This is indeed, the bane of nearly all Nigerians problems. Thus political instability, secularism (Sharia), marginalization, economic stagnation, social degeneration, rise of ethnic nationalism, unemployment, poverty etc. have been the order of the day since 1966.
Since independence, Northern and Southern Nigerian politicians have had divergent views and interest on the continued co-existence of Nigeria as one nation. Mutual suspicion, tribalism, nepotism, despotism, sectarianism, graft and god-fatherism got embedded in all aspects of our national endeavours. The political crisis of 1964-65, the civil war of 1967-70; the annulment of the land mark June 12, 1993 presidential election, the unending struggle between the north and the south for control of the central government and the plan to Islamize the country are all pointers. Every one now knows that the simmering crisis of Sharia is a mere façade, a smoke screen by some underground agents to outstand exterminate all southerners from ruling or make the country ungovernable.
Before the amalgamation of northern and southern protectorates in 1914, all ethnic nationalities (as many as they are today) had existed and lived together in harmony. The subsequent colonial manipulations backed by feudal and oligarchial interest groups tilted equilibrium in favour of one section of the country to the detriment of all others.
For the first time in the political history of Nigeria civilian southerners – Chief Olusegun Obasanjo and Dr. Goodluck Jonathan were elected by popular voters to take control of the affairs and governance of Nigeria. Their ascension to that exalted office did not go down well with a number of people from the usual predominant ethnic group in Nigeria. The ethnic group had envisaged Obasanjo and Jonathan as puppets on their string which they could manipulate at their beck and call. Alas! The duo proved to be completely different from their dreamed puppets. Just fancy what happened in Nigeria recently in the name of Sharia. It appears that Nigeria is the only nation in history which miraculously has gone directly from barbarism to degeneration without the usual interval of civilization. We are hiding under a smokescreen. We must come out and tell the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth.
The Buhari government must accept the realities of the current situation that we must sit together and determine our future co-existence as a nation and that he should realize that the so-called inviolable sovereignty may not even last if we do not get together now to put the Nigeria House in order.
My humble opinion is that the answers to our persistent problems are easy to find. First, 1979, government as enacted in the constitution of the United States of America. U.S.A., with minor adjustments mutatis mutando to suit our peculiar circumstances. We deliberately or willingly (to suit interest groups) ignored the ways and means by which U. S. A. government carries out the practical operations of their presidential system of federalism. USA Entrenched real federalism in their constitution while Nigeria entrenched unitary federalism in its constitution. Can’t we see where we went wrong? The type of restructuring this writer has in mind would not affect the sovereign existence or operations of the present government, federal, state, or local governments. The re-structuring should be designed to embody the wishes and aspirations of all Nigerians to be reflected in a new draft constitution to take effect from the date the next civilian administration assumes office. I am convinced that we do not need a sovereign national conference or confederation to achieve these objectives. The national assembly as now constituted along with a select or elected group of personalities from each ethnic nationality, namely, professionals, opinion moulders, industrialists, religious leaders, trade unionists, students etc. should be summoned under the umbrella of a national conference on the restructuring of the Nigeria federation. The present government can fix a period of time limit within which a new constitution should be produced by the group. The draft constitution so produced should thereafter be presented to the national assembly to pass into law in accordance with the provision of section 9 of the 1999 constitution relating to procedure for the amendment of the constitution.
In the alternative, the final document (draft constitution) so produced by the conference can be referred to the entire Nigerian people on a referendum (yes or No) to give validity as well as accord constitutional autochthony to the document – as an indigenous constitution.
Finally, there is need to preserve Nigeria as an entity, need to have peace, harmony and prosperity in Nigeria. Above all, there is the need to have a real true federation with distinct and defined federating zones or units in each with its constitution under the supremacy of one Nigeria where the zones or units well sustain the federal government instead of the other way round.