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Issues at stake on true federalism

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The Nigeria Flag: SHUTTERSTOCK

There is nowhere in the world where the white man accepts domination from another white man in perpetuity. The communists tried dividing society into Brother Union of Soviet Socialist Republics (USSR), all collapsed while the two capitalists and proletarians, deluding themselves that they’ve killed ethnicity.

What followed: the communist edifices in Czechoslovakia, Yugoslavia and Big Germanys that are of the same ethnic origin were reunited. Such is the power of ethnic nationalism.

Thereafter Czechoslovakia on January 1, 1993, peacefully broke into its two natural nation states the Czech Republic and Slovakia. Two captains cannot lead the same boat. Yugoslavia in 1991 broke into six countries all along ethnic lines.

What Nigerians need to know about true federalism, restructuring or what you will, is that it is achievable peacefully. Nigerians have experienced it before. Its prototype exists in many other places in the world. The United States of America had experienced the situation we are before. When the USA started its journey on the Democracy Highway it had problems and still does. These problems were tabled and discussed. The literature referred to today as the Federalist Papers was a summary of the arguments put forward by those who believed in a federal structure for America.

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The Federalist Papers were written between 1787 and 1788. They were written in several newspapers to persuade New York voters to ratify the federal constitution that had been proposed for the country. The federal structure was eventually adopted. And the choice more than two centuries ago did not undermine the true autonomy for the states. True federalism for America replaced confederation which failed disastrously. In the same way we can replace this unequal system with a more humane and just system.

Other countries that have changed their inherited system of government to new ones include Myanmar, a country currently engulfed in turmoil due to a military junta which seized power earlier this month. The British named it Burma; they renamed it by themselves Myanmar. The British named them Upper Volta, the people restructured it and named it Burkina Faso, Land of incorruptible people. The British named them Southern Rhodesia, they restructured it and named it Zimbabwe.

The British named them Tanganyika and Zanzibar, they restructured like others mentioned earlier, from Parliamentary system to the American type Presidential system. They renamed it Tanzania. But the British named a bunch of people Nigeria, they rather kill themselves to preserve than restructure and give themselves a just and equitable society. What is annoying is that we’re averse to following what is proper and true. For Nigerians in Diaspora, living in Europe: Can you show me one multi ethnic state in Europe where one group dominates the rest that hasn’t broken up? Namely Bosnia and Herzegovina, Croatia, Macedonia, Montenegro, Serbia and Slovenia. For Big brother USSR, today your fingers are not enough to count the countries that emerged from the USSR. As a preacher of unity, I assure you regionalism is the solution to the ethnic cleansing now going on in Southern Kaduna. There, illegal but officially condoned arms are in the hands of bandits and killer herdsmen roaming the country.

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You are best informed that the genocide in Kaduna is the result of a flawed constitution. Let us go the way of the United Kingdom which permitted regional autonomy to the Irish in Northern Ireland, the Scots who have a regional Assembly of their own, while the English are influential in Westminster. There is nowhere in the world where the Caucasians allow the domination of their group by another group. In conclusion, let the warring factions join together to lobby the national Assembly and the state assemblies to create six regional governments as the federating and autonomous units.

We should retain the three tier system of the Central government, the regional government and the state government.  The current local government should be controlled by the Regional government and should be administered administratively without elections. The regions should also fund and create new ones if necessary. The regions should also control the resources within their territories. What we now know as House of Representatives will become the legislative houses of the regions with the senate becoming the unicameral legislative house of the federal government.

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How we effect the changes is very easy if we have the political will. It doesn’t have to start and end immediately. It could be gradual. The most credible forum is through the Council of State as provided for under section 153 of the Constitution. The proposal should be laid before the Council as a memorandum.

The President will justify the reasons for change. After informing the Council formally, the Federal Attorney general will prepare necessary documents reflecting the changes needed and through the Senate President and the Federal Speaker submit them to the National Assembly without debate.

The governors of the states will forward the documents to their houses of assembly for endorsement. Section 9 of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria 1999 settles the procedure for doing it.

This necessary change is feasible because the United States had experienced constitutional failure like ours between 1781 and 1789. Then, the US operated under the Articles of Confederation. The lesson should not be lost on us that currently the Nigerian states are too weak to protect themselves. This forecloses the creation of more states as being proposed by the apostles of domination.

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