Best restructuring model for Nigeria, by Nwodo

By Vincent Kalu

shaper President General of Ohanaeze, Chief John Nnia Nwodo, has advocated the devolution of power with states as federating units in regional governments as the best restructuring model for Nigeria.

The former Minister of Information and Culture spoke as a guest speaker at the 2022 Annual Conference of The Nigerian Guild of Editors, in a paper entitled: “Mobilizing Citizens For Sustainable Democracy in Nigeria: The Power of Editors.”

In the paper, he went on excursion into Nigeria’s political history, touching different aspects of the polity.

He noted that the current constitution was fashioned by the military, and so not autochthonous, emphasizing that: “In law it has no validity. It was neither a product of an elected assembly nor that of a public plebiscite. Nobody voted for it except a group of military unelected officers.

“Its character is based on distribution rather than production of wealth. It collapsed the pre-independence agreement of the component parts of this country (represented by their elected officials) as the basis of our Federation. It relied on dependence on oil wealth as a basis for our common existence.”

He called on the editors to focus attention on the views of candidates on restructuring.

According to him, “whenever restructuring is raised, some erroneously thinks that the whole essence is to regionalise the control of oil resources and deny non-oil producing areas of the revenue accruing from oil. Far from it. It was never so in the past. The Federal Government still had, in the past, a percentage of all mineral production from the regions. Besides, a model based on sharing of government revenue must give way to a new structure that will challenge and drive productivity in different regions across the country. This new model must take into account that the factors driving productivity in today’s world are no longer driven by fossil oil but rather the proliferation of a knowledge-based economy.

“The restructuring of Nigeria into smaller and independent federating units and the devolution of powers to these federating units to control exclusively their human capital development, mineral resources, agriculture, and power (albeit with an obligation to contribute to the federal government) is the only one way to salvage our fledging economy.

“Restructuring will devote attention to the new wealth areas; promote competition and productivity as the new federating units struggled to survive. It will drastically reduce corruption, as the large Federal parastatals, which gulp government revenue for little or no impact, dissolve and give way to smaller and viable organs in the new Federating units.”

Those campaigning against restructuring in Nigeria, he said, have painted “an unfortunate and untrue picture that those of us in support of restructuring are doing so in order to deny the Northern states who have not yet any proven oil reserves of the ability to survive.

“This is unfortunate. The new model we propose for Nigeria recognizes that revenue in the world today is promoted by two main sources namely, human capital development leveraging on technology to drive the critical sectors of the economy and agriculture.

“This brings me to the question of what form Nigeria will assume under a restructured arrangement and how its restructuring can be brought about. Two basic models have been canvassed for restructuring in Nigeria. A conservative model aimed at maintaining the status quo has been proposed to mean simply a shedding of some of the exclusive powers of the Federal Government, like issuing mining licenses, permission for construction of federal roads and shedding of regulatory powers over investments in critical sectors of the economy like power and mineral resources. This model merely scratches the surface of the problem. It avoids the fundamental issue of devolution of powers.

“The second model calls for a fundamental devolution of powers to the states as federating units and a lean Federal Government with exclusive powers for external defence, customs, immigration, foreign relations and a Federal legislature and judiciary to make and interpret laws in these exclusive areas .

“This second model proposes states as the federating units with two different approaches. The first approach simply wants the states as the Federating units and a Federal Government with limited powers. It wants the states to control a percentage of revenue accruing from their areas and contribute an agreed percentage of such revenue to the federal government.

“The second approach proposes the states as the federating units with a region at each of the six geopolitical units whose constitution will be agreed to and adopted by the states in the geopolitical region. The regions will have the powers to merge existing states or create new ones. There will be regional and state legislatures and judiciary dealing with making and interpreting laws made in the respective political entities. This approach proposes a revenue sharing formula of 15 per cent to the Federal Government, 35 per cent to the regional government and 50 per cent to the state governments,” he noted.

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