Federalism is the answer, after all – Part 40
In other words, the time for restructuring and redirecting the ship of state is now. Even as these calls are being made, self-interested state actors are plotting and repositioning themselves for the next electoral circle, disappointingly. It is in this context that concerned Nigerians and organisations are calling for the right step to be taken to re-focus the ship of state and avoid a shipwreck.
The National Consultative Front (NCF) through its National Secretary, Mr. Olawale Okunniyi condemned successive governments for subverting the constitutional desire of Nigerians in preference for circles of elections while neglecting constitutionalism for embedding justice and equity in the polity. He noted that unity and stability would be elusive if the National Assembly failed to invoke its powers under Section 4 of the 1999 Constitution as amended to enact a law for the good governance of the country to pave the way for concrete political dialogue and negotiations for a better Nigeria.
Similarly, Chief Afe Babalola, founder of Afe Babalola University, Ado-Ekiti (ABUAD), and Senior Advocate of Nigeria (SAN), has added his big voice to the groundswell of popular opinion that a new constitution is imperative at this time to avoid the circulation of failed leaders in the forthcoming general elections. The eminent legal practitioner made this remark at the fifth Ife Institute of Advanced Studies, Obafemi Awolowo University, Ile-Ife. He pointed up a new federal constitution underpinned by a parliamentary system of government as the remedy. With a great deal of optimism, the new constitution would expand the coast of governance, underlined ethical values of patriotism, selflessness, and commitment in ways that the people can enjoy the dividends of democracy.
In his words, “Those who wish this country to remain an indivisible entity, and I am one, must unite to ensure that we replace the present 1999 Constitution with a truly federal constitution and a parliamentary system of government, which is more involving and less expensive…It is my considered view that a new constitution must be in place before the next election, otherwise, we will be recycling the same failed leaders that have brought Nigeria to where it is today.”
On his part, Dr. Hakeem Baba-Ahmed, spokesman of the Northern Elders Forum, took a swipe at the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) for mismanaging the country. Baba-Ahmed, who spoke on the platform of the Channels Television’s ‘Politics Today’, noted that without remediation there would be no country before 2023, when a change of baton is expected to take place. He put the blame of the country’s predicament on leadership failure while banditry and kidnapping are the pathologies of the former.
From offshore came the strident voices of Nigerians in the diaspora who besieged No. 10 Downing Street to urge the British to assist in the dissolution of the contraption called Nigeria. The mammoth crowd noted that the amalgamation of 1914 had expired with the reversion of sovereignty to the peoples of Nigeria. This reality for them is the basis of the clamour for a referendum to reconstitute the country.
These increasing echoes of dissent and rejection of the lie of the Nigerian state signify a bottom line, that is, all is not well with the federation as it is. In the definitional wilderness of federalism, there is the place for bargain or negotiation. In dealing with Pierre-Joseph Proudhon’s ‘‘dialectic of antinomies’’ that abound in the Nigerian state crisis, namely, the quest for liberty and the rejection of domination, in other words, liberty versus authoritarianism, it is important for the leaders to listen to the voices of reason to save the nation. Nigeria’s federalism mediated by the British in what may be called holding-together for administrative convenience was ab initio path-dependent because the exit of the colonialists would necessarily provoke a new deal or bargain to balance the interest of the parties in the colonial marriage. This is what is at stake: it is what the clamour for a restructured polity is all about.
Indeed, experts have underlined the logic and utility of bargain in federations. They indicate the fact that boundaries between state and federal power can be negotiated on scales, large and small, and on an ongoing basis. The soft underbelly of the Nigerian reality is in those elite, actors, and promoters of the backward status quo, who are recalcitrant to change.
Much of the clamour indicates a continuity of the union called Nigeria but not on the basis of the prevailing contradictions of the system manifest in negative sovereignty by virtue of the fact that jihadists and terrorists lay claim to the territorial sovereignty of the state; killings by Fulani terrorists who are laying claim to the land of the indigenous people of Nigeria and undermining the local agro-based economy; skewed federal structures; mismanagement of the national economy; impunity and absolute disdain for the rule of law among other ills. It is obvious that there is wisdom in the call for restructuring in order to re-birth a modern nation with the creed of justice and equity. In the main, the times are auspicious for a choice. This is the 40th issue in our weekly message to the authorities to listen to a clarion call anchor on Federalism is the answer, after all, mantra –for a nation talking to itself.
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