The Country Needs Entirely New Constitution
WHILE many appear on engrossed in what may largely translate into filial desires, former spokesperson of the pan-Yoruba social cultural and political group, Afenifere, Mr. Yinka Odumakin, wonders at the spate of how Nigerians are taken for a ride, easily forgetting that they have gone through the same “diversion” by those in government and wanting to remain in power at all cost.
Speaking on the National Assembly public hearing on Constitution Review, Odumakin declares: “It is depressing the National Assembly has embarked on yet another hollow ritual of constitutional review jamboree partly to expend money budgeted for the exercise but more importantly to execute some sinister agenda, which only those who have their ears close to the ground can pick at the moment. That even should not be too difficult to decode by an average student of political manipulation who was attentive enough in the days of the former President Olusegun Obasanjo’s third term gambit.
Again, whispers are all over that the current exercise is primed to achieve the tenure elongation agenda, which was the first agendum Mr. President, Dr Goodluck Jonathan, put on the table upon his emergence in 2011”.
He said it is being alleged already that a single tenure of 7 years to start with the incumbent is being packaged for the President and other elected officials across board. “But like every smuggler of illicit drugs, the salesmen of tenure elongation who are pulling the emotional blackmail of wanting to avert American prediction of a break-up of Nigeria over elections in 2015; the dope is being packaged inside legitimate items like state creation, local government autonomy and devolution of powers, Odumakin said. Adding that the alacrity with which the Governors Forum opposed autonomy for Local Governments, which have become their cash cows lends credence to this.
“However, no matter the hidden agenda of the promoters of the current exercise we must not be bored of sounding the alarm that the country has virtually broken down under the present structure and without restructuring its just a matter of time before it broke up. Given that reality attested to by the burgeoning anarchy in the country, magnification of corruption, total collapse of infrastructure and disappearance of ethics and values, we need a national dialogue, which even a well-intentioned constitutional review exercise cannot handle.
In short we need a brand new constitution to avert the descent into abyss and give the country a fresh breath of air”.
Pressed to offer suggestion in most critical areas, Odumakin offered the following:
A Truly Federal Constitution
THE country, Nigeria, ceased to be a federation from the moment Major General JTU Aguiyi-Ironsi promulgated the unification decree. We have been a unitary country perjuring as a Federal Republic of Nigeria ever since.
The attendant consequences of running a multi-ethnic state along unitary lines contrary to the immutable counsel of proponents of federalism are the very issues rushing Nigeria to the untimely death today.
The country has too strong a centre without real and discernible federating units. The 36 states are arbitrary creations of the military government and they are too weak to function as building blocks of a federation .The centre has cornered all the resources that should give them stamina and it now doles out to them whatever fancies it.
The over-concentration of resources at the centre has led to a humongous corruption to the point that we now meter corruption at the centre in trillions of naira. Every affliction that ails the nation today flows from this malaise as most of the resources that should have been used to make life meaningful for the vast majority of the people have been quaffed by corruption.
The establishment of anti-graft agencies like the EFCC and ICPC has done nothing to corruption because the nationality question remains largely unresolved. The big thieves quickly resort to ethnic appeals when they are called to account for their deeds. That would have been difficult for the thieves with each region having its own anti-graft body in a proper federation. It would be well with us if the existing six geo-political zones are recognized as the federating units with each region being free to self-determine but all cooperating for agreed common services at the centre.
Each region should control the resources under its soil and pay appropriate taxes to the central government unlike what operates at the moment.
This will release the generality of the people from the allocation mentality, which has destroyed the culture of work, enterprise and creativity. The exclusive list should be minimal while the residual list should be enlarged to leave issues that are crucial to the people in the hands of people they can handle in their localities.
The various zones should then be left to address their form of government.
Decentralisation of Police
IN line with the principles of Federalism, police should be decentralised so that states and local governments should have their own police. A central police system has failed the country and the nation cannot continue to pretend about it.
Apart from the corruption that has eaten up the centralised police, crime has its cultural dimensions and posting men randomly without cultural suitably removes half of the capacity to nip crimes in the bud by ‘stranger’ policemen.
Size of Government
THE country at the moment spends about 74 percent of its earnings on over-head. A restructured polity will ensure that we have a lean government with better outputs.
For instance, the old Western Region, which stretched from Lagos to Asaba and Chief Obafemi Awolowo ran with better deliveries based on 11 member-cabinet, is this day under 8 governors each with an average cabinet of 22 with very little to show for it in terms of governance.
The National Assembly has become casino chambers where paupers become overnight multi-millionaires and even billionaires. The presidency is about the most profligate in the modern world .A restructured polity will shed a lot of these burdensome weight and reduce a lot of parasites feeding fat on the system.
THE Immunity clause must be expunged from the Constitution, as it is only an incentive for criminality in government and the system harbours so many criminals at the moment.
The presidential system is about the most powerful anywhere in the world and adding immunity to the office is making monarchs out of elected officials.