Anyaoku Calls for Restructuring of Nigeria

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A former Secretary General of Commonwealth of Nations, Chief Emeka Anyaoku, Tuesday advocated the restructuring of Nigeria’s political system to speed up the nation’s growth.

Anyaoku, in his speech at the 3rd Goddy Jidenma lecture in Lagos, called for the adoption of a political structure in which the six geopolitical system will form the federating units instead of the present 36-state structure.

According to him, Nigerians should seize the opportunity of the national conference being proposed by President Goodluck Jonathan to renegotiate the nation’s structure.

He said: “Clearly, many of our political leaders, including those who are aspiring to get into the corridors of power, and even some of our most talented media commentators, are all living in denial of the seriousness of the systemic challenges facing our country at this time.

“It is undeniable that there is political tension throughout the land, and continuing devastating insecurity involving the killings, almost daily, of so many of our fellow citizens in parts of the country.  It should be clear to all objective observers that to proceed to the 2015 general election  without first resolving the political crisis that presently shrouds Nigeria, would be fraught with serious dangers to the future cohesion, peace and stability of the country.

“While it is tempting to say, as indeed many people have been saying with some credibility, that our country’s underdevelopment and poor performance is a result of poor leadership and misguided conduct of the political class, I would like to submit that most of our country’s current problems are primarily systemic.  I believe that the problems can be more effectively tackled if we review and modify our present structure of governance.

“In my view, the most appropriate structure of governance for  Nigeria should be a return to a true federation of six federating units with each developing at its own pace, and the proceeds from “God-given” national resources i.e. minerals resources both liquid and solid, shared equally among the federating units after the deductions to be agreed for the mineral producing communities and the federal government whose exclusive powers will be limited to such national institutions as defence, foreign affairs, monetary policy, immigration, national security, Customs, among others.”

Anyaoku recalled that Nigeria fared better during the period between  its independence and the first military intervention in 1966 when there was healthy competition among the regional governments.
He, however, expressed regrets that the intervention of the military in politics distorted the political system and introduced a unitary structure that reflects the command system of the military.

He added: “There can be no doubt that Nigeria was developing faster during the period between its independence in October 1960 and the first military coup d’état in January 1966 when it had four economically viable regions and a federal structure of governance that encouraged the majority political leader, Sir Ahmadu Bello, to choose to remain as the Premier of Northern Region while sending one of his lieutenants, Sir Tafawa Balewa, to go to the central government as the prime minister of the federation.

“Our present  federal governance structure retards our national development, and breeds instability and conflict within the country. With 36 federating units and the federal capital territory, each with its full paraphernalia of administration, the country will continue to spend disproportionate amount of its resources on recurrent expenditure, thereby leaving little funds for its capital development. This will continue to mean inadequate funds for roads, education, health and the other infrastructure needed for the development and welfare of the citizens.

“And at the same time, the control of the all-powerful centre, i.e. the federal government, will continue to fuel destabilising competition among our ethnically and religiously diverse peoples.  The syndrome of “it-is-our-turn-to-produce-the-president,” which is at the root of the current tension and conflict in the country will continue to exacerbate the perceptions abroad, and reality at home, of Nigeria’s instability.”

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