Shape of my ideal Nigerian federalism
“The man dies in him who keeps mute in the face of tyranny-“ Wole Soyinka.
What are you supposed to do when conflict erupts, people get killed and human and property rights are being violated? I believe any person with a heart and moral compass would be compelled to condemn the aggressors. Not doing so is immoral, and raises the risk of violent escalation of the wrongdoing. Thus, to hide behind impartiality when we’re not judicial officers is cowardly. Since to sink in silence, when we should protest, makes cowards of men.
According to the experience of the founder of the World Economic Forum, Dr Klaus Schwab: “I grew up in Germany during and after World War 11 (WW2) and among the most impactful of the moral lessons we were taught were those of Pastor Martin Niemoller. He repented for having done nothing and warned of the consequences.”
To me, his lesson was not so much about the personal price pay for not speaking up in similar situations, but the societal price we pay collectively when injustice is answered with silence. The implication is clear, personal morality is the cornerstone of a just society. This is why it is the role of every one of us to speak up when ethical boundaries are being crossed whatever our background or function. Our collective fate depends on it.
It was for these reasons that I attended the South West Zonal Public Hearing of the Senate Committee on the Review of the 1999 Constitution. In the aftermath of the rebellious Oodua Yoruba Republic championed by Sunday Igboho, and the separatist Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB) I believe the best and peaceful resolution of the Nigerian crisis is through the review of the Constitution.
In spite of the pandemonium surrounding the public hearing, I was able to register and submit my Ogunmupe Constitution Review Memo 2021. The main focus of my memorandum is the creation of six regional governments based on the six geopolitical zones. Holding the same number of legislators each region presently has in the current House of Representatives as its membership of the regional assembly. And as in the Nigerian Constitution 1963, each region shall have full control of all the resources in its domain such as oil, solid minerals.
At the same time, this fifth amendment to the Constitution should abolish the House of Representatives effective from 2023. Thus making the National Assembly a unicameral chamber of senators with each region having 21 senators as the North West currently has; and one senator for the Federal Capital Territory, Abuja. And as part of the cost-cutting measures, every legislative house from the senate, the regional house of assembly, the state assembly, and the councillors of the Local Government Councils and Area councils will operate on a part-time basis.
Only the principal officers of the legislative house shall be on full pay. Constituency projects and allowances are to be abolished. Legislators shall factor their constituency projects into the federal, regional, state, and council budgets. Local Governments shall be in the purview and control of the regional government. Regional governors shall have the power to constitute local governments by appointment or cause councils to be elected by electoral commissions. There is nowhere in the world where local governments are independent. Independence of local governments is a ploy by immigrants to seize land from indigenous peoples.
Two, revenue allocation shall be on the basis of derivation to wit, in accordance with the Nigerian Constitution 1963, the regional government pays 50 percent of her derived revenue to the federation account yearly. She withholds 50 percent. The regions shall maintain their police forces. Nigeria’s current states are too cash strapped to maintain police forces. We had local government police in the First Republic. The existence of local police as against federal police is the hallmark of true federalism.
Three, there should be a 15 member Supreme Court of Nigeria composed of at least two member justices from each region at every given time and all sitting together to decide cases as is done at the Supreme Court of the United States. I have cited the United States because it is the best example of a federation.
Four, the independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) as currently constituted should conduct presidential and National Assembly elections alone. Each tier of government namely, federal, regional, state and local government should create its own electoral body, and conduct its own elections like in the USA and Germany. The immunity clause shielding the president, vice president, governor and deputy governor should be scrapped.
Finally, the current two-term presidential tenure should be reduced to one term of six years. And the candidate of the party with the largest number of senators should be declared the winner of the presidential election. In the event of a disputed senatorial election, the court can only make the challenger and the presumed winner go for a rerun election instead of judge-made legislators and governors. Only the ballot box should determine elections. And to save the Nigerian federation from its pitfalls, add as part of the amendment clauses that a region that accepts these terms of true federalism shall be accepted.
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