And the quest gathers steam

Sultan of Sokoto, Alhaji Sa’ad Abubakar III


That the quest for a truly federal Republic of Nigeria is fast taking on the appearance of a raging hurricane is further illustrated by the gathering of Nigerians from the western zone of the country at the Liberty Stadium in Ibadan the other day.The summiteers may not have agreed on all issues and not a few of them may have been possessed of a certain exuberance that removed from the nobility of the quest, their meeting at all remains an indication that the call and the need for the federation to function as one is an indisputable fact of Nigeria’s life today.

Before that summit, many eminent Nigerians had come round to the idea that the nation’s current political structure holds it down and prevents prosperity for the states and the people. The last notable voice was that of the Sultan of Sokoto, one of Nigeria’s foremost traditional rulers, who joined the debate on federalism and its benefits with a submission at the Niger State Investment Summit the other day.

Alhaji Sa’ad Abubakar had then called on Nigerians to focus on “the devolution of the economy rather than the restructuring the country.” He opined that the nation is blessed with human and mineral resources needed to achieve greatness and advised that the Shiroro Dam in Niger, Goronyo Dam in Sokoto and others across the country should be used to start all-year farming as the proper utilisation of the nation’s dams would enable farmers to produce food crops for both local consumption and for export.

Therefore, beyond the agitation for the restructuring of the country, the Federal Government, he said, should be called upon to “release dams across the country to state governments for massive participation of Nigerians in all-year farming seasons.”

Even though he concentrated on devolution of economic assets to the states, this impressive presentation of the benefits of a true federation, that the Federal Government should devolve powers over water resources, agriculture and indeed mineral resources to the states with a view to enhancing their powers to create wealth for themselves and the nation at large, was an echo of what this newspaper and many others had earlier expressed.

And it is a good thing that many Nigerians, including eminent persons who gathered in Ibadan, have continued to point out the way forward for Nigeria without any iota of doubt that the unity of the country is best guaranteed with a political structure that suits its diversity.

These engagements by all citizens from all parts of Nigeria certainly raise the hope that the appropriate understanding of the idea would soon gain traction and the manipulative machinations of some mischief-makers who often chose to deliberately distort the idea and mislead Nigerians about the benefits of a proper federation would be defeated.

Needless to say that no one wants the division or balkanisation of Nigeria. That is not what those in search of a proper federation want and that is not what it will ever be.

As this newspaper has repeatedly explained, making Nigeria run on its destined structure of a proper federation would bring decision making closer to the citizens of the country irrespective of where they may be or their origins. The lack of economic progress in the polity is a direct result of the failure to address the main political issue that is responsible for such retardation: over-centralisation of powers.

Since the military struck in 1966 and destroyed the federal structure that triggered monumental growth of all the regions of old, Nigeria has not recorded any tangible development in any economic or political sense. If anything, it has been woe upon woe even as the nation enjoys the longest stretch of so-called democracy from 1999 till date.

The constitution is not the people’s constitution and the system of government is not one that recognizes their diversity with a view to harnessing such for unity.

The structure of governance that propelled Nigeria to enviable heights in the first republic must, therefore, be returned to. The reign of crass opportunism and leadership by small minds that has taken an otherwise great country to the precipice of destruction must end.

Once again, all Nigerians, including those who profit from misleading the people about the many benefits of restructuring must know that all parts of the country are blessed with different resources and none would be at a disadvantage to the other in a properly run federation. No region can ever be subservient to the other as all can only be inter-dependent in unassailable unity.

Nigerian leaders of today only need to work to be visionary, place less emphasis on self and harness these vast and diverse resources in different areas for the prosperity of the nation as a whole.

Nigerians, through their National Assembly may wish to start by taking a look at the recurrent and exclusive legislative lists with a view to taking necessary or critical matters out of the exclusive central control and devolving more powers to the federating units. Those who wield federal powers now should also be reasonable and understand that Nigeria would not be broken or hampered by the practice of federalism. If anything, a properly organised federal structure will strengthen democracy and make the country prosper economically.

The federating units in whatever form should be allowed to exploit the natural endowments in their domains, develop ideas for their progress and implement same in the interest of their people within the context of a federal but united Nigeria. This is the only way poverty of the states, all of which are now mere appendages of the government at the centre, can be banished.That is the only way the creative energies of the different peoples of Nigeria can be liberated and their manifest destiny of prosperity in abundance realised. All Nigerians must never be tired of shouting on top of their voices until that clarion call for a country where justice, peace and prosperity reign is answered by those in power.

In this article:
Alhaji Saad Abubakar


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