Wednesday, 27th September 2023

Five-federating/learning levels Nigeria needs

By Francis E. Ogbimi
23 February 2021   |   3:01 am
Today, Nigeria has a three-tier federating federation – local government, state government and the federal government. To some scholars, it is an aberration

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Today, Nigeria has a three-tier federating federation – local government, state government and the federal government. To some scholars, it is an aberration! Why? It is because someone said there can only be a two-tier federation. No! That is not scholarly. Why not a one-tier federation like the former Union of Soviet Socialist Republic (USSR)? Our guide should be: how does the structuring of a federation affect its viability, which activities must a federation carry out to promote rapid industrialization and democratization, how does the structuring of a federation affect the viability activities? etc. This article is written to explain that by adopting a five federating/learning levels federation – mayoral, local, state, regional (zonal) and federal governments, Nigeria will promote intensive learning and achieve rapid industrialization and democratization.  

Learning is the primary activity that builds a good individual and a good society. It is not the endowment of natural resources like oil and gas, solid minerals, etc., that builds a nation. We are all familiar with the belief that the Nigerian oil and gas endowment has become a curse for Nigerians and Nigeria. So it is for lack of knowledge of the human development process that Nigerian intelligentsia/intellectuals have been claiming that some states in Nigeria are not viable.

Every human being is born as a crying baby. The baby soon begins to babble (learns how to talk) and acquires the capabilities for talking. A baby who could not babble grows up to be a dumb adult. Every other capability is acquired through learning. If a nation manufactures automobiles and other scientific products, the citizens must have acquired the necessary knowledge, skills and capabilities. Similarly, if a nation plans to manufacture certain products, it must educate and train its citizen to acquire the relevant knowledge, skills and competences for producing the products. In the learning process, learning intensity determines the rate of progress. High-intensity learning leads to rapid growth and development and vice versa.

It is also through intensive learning that societies achieve rapid industrialization and rapid democratization. Federalism is indispensable to rapid democratization in a multi-ethnic society. Federalism is a factor Nigeria must manage well to promote rapid industrialisation and democratization. Our curiosity-driven research showed that there are three aspects of federalism. They are:
1) fiscal federalism(FIF),
2) political federalism(POF), and
3) administrative federalism(ADF). FIF is concerned with the allocation and spending of resources among federating tiers. POF is about the structuring and division of powers among the federating tiers. ADF is about the delegation of functions to lower tiers. This article is largely about POF.

Federalism is a call for interactions and learning at many levels. A society may learn at family (most primary), clan, ethnic/tribal, provincial, regional and national levels, six levels. The more the learning levels, the higher is the learning intensity and the higher is the rate of progress of the federation. The mayoral system (towns or a combination of villages) will form thousands of learning centres, the local government system gives us over 700 learning centres, the states give 36 learning centres, the federal government is one learning level. However, five seems most appropriate. These are mayoral governments, local government areas (derived from tribal and ethnic groups), state governments (derived from provinces), regional government and the federal government. The benefits of rapid growth far exceed the cost of running a working federation. The costs of learning in a society increase in an arithmetic progression, whereas the benefits increase in a geometric progression. Thus, Nigeria needs to make the six geopolitical zones functioning governments to strengthen the Nigerian federation. While the federal government coordinates development activities at the national level, the zonal governments would coordinate development at the regional level. The different levels of government should be independent of frivolous controls of a higher-level government.

Usually, it is ethnic/tribal units that develop and integrate to form a working federation/democracy. The integration process may be likened to that in which the skilled blacksmith/gold-smith converts many structures of different shapes into one whole structure with different patterns and sizes within it. The integration process may also be likened to that in which the spider converts many of its silk-threads into its web. More importantly, our conception reminds the reader that transformation is an attempt to integrate units of people. Creating a stable federation demands skilful leaders like the skilful goldsmith/blacksmith who needs to be skilled to create beautiful jewellery and structures. Federating skilfully creates a whole (a federation) whose strength exceeds that of any of or the sum of the federating units, just like the spider’s web is more useful than any single silk-thread of the spider to the spider. Building a functioning federation benefits all federating units.

The fact that the federating units are composed of human beings has several implications. Any human being has a name, family name, clan, ethnic/tribal group, etc. Human beings have feelings, religion, language and other cultural traits they do not part with easily. Federalism is a call for interactions and learning at many levels. Our conceptual framework of the industrialisation and democratization process showed that it is through learning and association that ethnic groups become converted into ethnic society.

There are four aspects to learning in promoting industrialization and democratization. They are education, training, employment and research. Through education, an ethnic society is converted into an educated society. An illiterate and poor society will not achieve rapid industrialization and democratization. The second learning variable for promoting industrialization and democratization is training. A wise leadership trains the educated people to acquire complementary practical skills and competencies so as to create an educated and skilled society. An educated people not trained to acquire complementary practical skills will experience mass unemployment, high crime wave, poverty, corruption and other evils. This type of society does not promote industrialization and democratization. This is the type of situation in Nigeria today.    

The third learning aspect Nigeria must emphasize to promote rapid industrialization and democratization is full employment policy.  Full employment policy is critical to promoting rapid industrialization and democratization. This follows from our researched position that: industrialization is a learning and capability-building process. Employment is the blood of the economy. In the absence of a full employment policy, the positive impact the economy receives from the efforts in educating youths to acquire fundamental principles and training them to acquire basic practical skills cannot be realized readily. The result is mass unemployment and poverty. Emphasizing education, training and full employment policy will accelerate development for many reasons. Indeed, more recent research results suggest that Nigeria can mobilize all the citizens for learning and industrialisations and achieve industrial revolution (IR) and democratization in a few decades. As the citizens of a nation learn and acquire scientific knowledge, skills and capabilities (KSCs), a point is reached on the technological ladder where all the KSCs acquired by the citizens form an invisible KSCs-network or a problem-attacking front and the nation achieves IR. Productivity increases dramatically, the nation becomes transformed in all aspects of life. So, it is the learning-population that makes a nation or region or state viable not oil& gas or solid minerals as many Nigerians think.

There is a general agreement that the existence of some institutions is important and indeed indispensable to the promotion of democratic principles.

However, many authors of democracy do not know how institutions can be developed and sustained. Human beings and the groups they form, their activities over time, are the fundamental promoters of institutions. Physical structures per se, do not constitute or develop institutions.

When knowledgeable and skilled people become employed, they form knowledge-based groups which together become institutions. The process through which knowledgeable and skilled people become employed to form groups and develop institutions related to education, science & technology, social, economic, production, politics/government, language, human rights, legal profession/judiciary, the press, the military, police, the family, religion, etc., is known as institutionalization of society. It is the knowledge-based institutions that regulate the behaviour of citizens in functioning federations and democracies and prevent them from doing what they should not do. The institutions are built rapidly when educated and skilled citizens are employed in a nation. Mass unemployment frustrates the development of institutions.

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