By Remi Oyeyemi
The issue of restructuring this unfortunate country called Nigeria is once again on the front burner as a means to meet the freedom fighters of Oòduà Nation in the middle. It is being waved as a solution to prevent the balkanisation of Nigeria.
Restructuring remains one of the promises made by the APC and President Mohammadu Buhari that they have refused to fulfill. In fact, at all levels of the APC as an administration and political party, restructuring has been denied.
Before then, former President Goodluck Jonathan organized a National Conference to discuss this issue. The recommendations of the Conference, even though not perfect, has been thrown into the trash by President Buhari and his goons. This ought to have been the starting point to save Nigeria from perdition.
However, because of arrogance of power, no one in the corridor and “oza rooms” of power has paid any attention until it is about to be too late.
But if there is still room for Restructuring, which I do not think there is, then the following guidelines must be non-negotiable. It would be the only conditions on which Nigeria must be considered or we must be given our independence as Oòduà Nation.
The itemized issues below are not exhaustive in any way. The suggestions also are not written in stone. The bodywork could still be tampered with in terms of details. But the highlighted issues must be dealt with, honestly, sincerely and genuinely to build trust, sense of belonging, if we all think we still need the country, a thought about which I have serious doubt.
THE POLICE – There is urgent need to give control of the police to the localities. The Political Units (PUs) should have their own police side by side with Local Government, City or Township Police Forces. This would make oppression more difficult and reduce abuse of power and usage. It would democratize law enforcement and facilitate citizen involvement. It would also enhance security, effectiveness, and efficiency.
The argument of abuse no longer holds water since we are all witnesses to the constant abuse of the police by the unitary Federal Government.
EDUCATION – The Federal Government has no business in formulating and controlling the educational system. Elementary Education is absolutely for the control of local people to create a social foundation via curricula for their children. Such curricula shall, as agreed to by the locals, be imbued with their desired philosophical world view. Same goes with secondary, high schools or grammar schools.
“Government”, communities and private entities can compete to have universities, colleges, polytechnics and other forms of post-secondary institutions.
I put “government” in quotes because the FEDERAL government should be totally out of business of owing universities, controlling admissions, appointing Chancellors and Vice Chancellors among others. The Federal Government shall not and must not have any scintilla of power or responsibility in determining admission policies or criteria for such in all post-secondary institutions.
It should be made UNLAWFUL and ILLEGAL for FederalGovernment to interfere in the internal affairs of post-secondary institutions of which the most important is admission policies and contents of teaching. The Senate Council of such institutions should be given controls and powers subject to the internal democratic control of members.
HEALTH – All health policies and infrastructure management shall be an exclusive responsibility of the PUs. The Federal Government shall not have any power to interfere in such matters, no matter how remote. Any arm of Federal Government that has Health issues as its concerns, shall be related to the PUs purely on an advisory basis and shall have no power whatsoever to compel any PU against its will.
AGRICULTURE – The Federal Government shall not have any power directly or indirectly to determine agricultural policies in the PUs. This shall be an exclusive responsibility of the locals and their PUs. There shall be no Federal Ministry of Agriculture under any disguise for that matter. It shall be unconstitutional to use the common purse for agricultural development in any PU to the detriment of other PUs.
TRANSPORTATION – There shall no longer be any road within the borders of the PUs designated as FEDERAL ROADS. The PUs shall have the full power to develop it’s road infrastructures without let or hindrance. Airlines, Railways, Waterways, and other forms of transportation shall be the exclusive management and administration of the PUs. The international laws guiding transportation of all genre would be adopted to guide transportation relationship between the PUs.
RESOURCE CONTROL – The political units (PUs) should have total control of its resources of all kinds whether on the ground, under the ground or in the sky. Each PU must be free to determine the exploitation or otherwise of such resources. Each PU should and must be free to enter into local and international agreement on how to manage it’s resources.
Such PUs should determine its taxes and rates of importation to as well as exportation from its territory. All the resources must be deployed to the development and progress of the PUs as determined by its people.
All the PUs that are constituent units must agree at a percentage of their resources not lower than 2.5 and not greater than 5.00 percent as contributions to the Federal Government. The percentage, when agreed upon must be uniform and not discriminatory.
ECONOMY – The management of the economy of the PUs would follow the same format as in the management of the resources in relation to the Federal Government. Each PU shall determine its own economic policies and have its own CENTRAL BANK to protect it against hostile action by an antagonistic, vindictive, quarrelous and envious Federal Government. Each PU would decide its economic relationship with other PUs or other Nations of the world as well as international bodies.
TAXES – The Federal Government shall not and must not have the power to tax any citizen or PU. A situation where VAT or Value Added Tax on liquor, for example, is taken from Oyo State to support Kano State that hates such is an injustice. The Federal Government shall and must solely depend on the mandatory 5℅ maximum contribution from the PUs.
TRADE AND COMMERCE – All regulations and rules that govern ethics, practices of commerce and trade shall be jointly put in place by the Federal Government and the PUs. Where there is a conflict of rules, the PUs shall have the final say or superior authority. Each PU shall not need or require the Federal Government’s approval or authority to enter into bi – lateral or multi – lateral trade deals with any country or international bodies in the world. The PU shall have the freedom to determine what is in their best interest and pursue such without let or hindrance.
THE ARMED FORCES – Each PU should and must have as well as total control its armed forces and it’s security apparatuses. Each PU would determine the extent and size of its Army, Navy and Airforce as it deems fit. It shall be able to decide how they are trained and how much is expended on them.
Each PU shall have its own security apparatuses and determines the welfare packages, emoluments, promotions, training of its personnel.
At the Federal level, there would be a Military Advisory Council (MAC) which duties shall remain advisory in capacity. It’s decisions would not be binding except by persuasion. MAC shall advise whether Nigeria can go to war or not. Such advice shall be unanimously accepted and or agreed to through persuasion alone and not by force.
Each PU shall decide its own contribution to the war effort as it deems fit and according to its capacity and resources. A PU may be able to opt out of a war effort if it’s leadership decides so at any point in time.
IMMIGRATION – This shall be a joint responsibility of both the Federal Government and the PUs. Where there is conflict in matters of immigration, the PUs shall have the FINAL SAY as determined by its policies and its leadership.
As we have in ECOWAS, free movement within the PUs would be encouraged since it would still be the same country, but with an agreed form of identification to check crimes and protect security concerns.
BORDER CONTROL – This is expected to be under immigration. But I decided to focus on it separately in lieu of our experiences. Each PU shall have the final say on who and how people enter into, move around, work and live within its borders. It shall have the unrestrained power to expel or jail anyone that breaks it’s rules, regulations, and laws.
DIPLOMACY – As we had it after Independence in 1960, each PU shall and MUST have the right to engage in international relations and choose which countries it wants to have embassies and ambassadors.
JUDICIARY – The final arbiter of and for justice shall be within the judicial set up of each PU. Each PU shall design and operate it’s unique judicial system. At the Federal level, all PUs must agree on the structural set up of the National Court to hear cases of dispute among PUs. The structure shall not have the power to interfere in the internal judicial structure of the PUs. Judges on the Federal Courts shall not be permanent and should be on ad hoc or case by case basis. The judges at Federal level shall not earn any remunerations since they would be representing their PUs at such time. They shall not sit on more than one or two cases at most in a lifetime. In a situation of conflict between two PUs, the Federal Court shall hear such case and determine it. But such case must be subject to appeal to International Court and a clause approving this would be enshrined in the new Constitution.
POLITICAL UNITS (PUs) – It is my view that PUs should be determined based on linguistic demarcations and not on artificial regions. There are 376 languages spoken in Nigeria. Some would complain that this would be too many. But it is my view that the distinct characters of all the units be maintained. Where necessary, referendum, under the principle of SELF DETERMINATION could and should be held by any unit to decide which other units they want to be grouped with for purposes of viability.
If a country of just 93,000 (Seychelles) can survive, a constituent unit of the same population or less would survive. No PU, no matter how big or small shall have the right, no matter how infinitesimal, no matter how it is defined, to decide the destiny of others as to how and where they are grouped.
To ensure equality of responsibility and opportunity among all constituent units or PUs, the mono – camera National Assembly would have 376 members which would be far fewer than the present size of 469 members in the bi-Camera Assembly. This would mean a representative each from all the linguistic units constituting Nigeria, regardless of size in population or land mass.
The members shall be totally on a Part-time basis and without remunerations. Their membership of this Assembly shall be purely on a patriotic commitment basis. It shall not sit more than 21 days in a row and more than four times in a year. Its enactments shall be purely advisory and subject to review and acceptability by the Assemblies of the PUs.
The internal political structure of each PU shall be its sole responsibility without any interference whatsoever from any outside influence.
HOW TO RESTRUCTURE – The modality of carrying out the restructuring must be based on equality of all constituent units regardless of population size or land mass. This would mean that a CONSTITUENT ASSEMBLY of 376 members representing each ethnic nationalities would meet to discuss matters of common interest in relation to the continued existence of Nigeria. In the course of focusing on itemized issues above and others that might come up, they would unwittingly but consciously construct the framework for a new Constitution to be approved back home in the PUs.
Any PU that disapproves or disagrees with the new Constitution should be allowed to reconsider and review it’s decision or be allowed to form its own country. Regardless, the new Constitution must include a clause that allows a referendum in any ethnic nationality that seeks to leave the Union to do so as long as it is the wish of the majority of its citizens.
The operating principles of and for the RESTRUCTURING are and should be self-determination, freedom from oppression, equity, justice, balance, sense of equal belonging and equality in all ramifications.
This piece is without any prejudice to my hope, dream, and aspiration for the Oòduà Nation. This is because any discussion about a country, Nation – State or a Nation is ultimately about a people. The prime motive of and for my agitation for the coming Great Yoruba Nation is the well being of my Yoruba people.
It must be understood that on the tough and rough path to FREEDOM of the Yoruba people, their survival and well-being must be the constant and consistent denominator. This piece is purposed by that denominator.
To this end, if this is unacceptable to the owners of Nigeria and they refuse to give in, WE WILL TAKE IT from them. By the time we are forced to take it from them, there would not be any Nigeria anymore. This is because it is our lives, our rights, our freedom and our liberties on which there could not be any compromise.
“In the long history of the world, only a few generations have been granted the role of defending freedom in its hour of maximum danger. I do not shrink from this responsibility – I welcome it.”
– John F. Kennedy, in his Inaugural Address January 20, 1961