On Anyaoku’s call for a restructuring of Nigeria



WHEN Emeka Anyaoku, elder statesman and former secretary-general of the Commonwealth suggested the other day that Nigeria must be restructured if the country is to make progress, he could not have chosen better words. Although his specific recommendation of a return to the regional structure that the country left behind, albeit by force of military intervention, half a century ago is not ideal, his submission appropriately reinforces the general call for restructuring which the nation urgently needs.

There is, of course, nothing wrong with a regional structure. It worked quite well for Nigeria while it lasted. The governments of the first three regions –Western Region, Northern Region, and Eastern Region – engaged in healthy competition in all the key areas of  development with the  positive result that each nurtured and expanded its economic base to in turn support the establishment of as many schools as it could afford, a university to develop high-level manpower,  print and electronic media of  public communication to inform, educate and entertain its regional citizens, and road and other infrastructure most necessary to further growth and development in all areas. And the 1966 military coup d’état happened.

Nigeria has since moved on first, to a different federal structure and second, a different, presidential system of government. The argument about the appropriateness of a regional or a federal structure for Nigeria or in another respect, a parliamentary or a presidential system of government for this country is neither here nor there. Each has been proven to work well in other climes either similar to or different from Nigeria. What makes the critical difference are the operators of each system, the human element that determines the success or failure of any structure, system, or process. Alas, the quality, in every meaning of the word, of the operators of the Nigerian federal structure, and its presidential system is, generally speaking, too poor to nurture growth and development in the country. Indeed, the quality of political leadership of the nation has fallen with time. Naturally, this infects other facets of national life.

Chief Anyaoku may have proposed a return to the regional structure because of his disappointment with poor progress of this federal republic. To the extent that there is never a perfect structure for a country, it is appropriate to say that the fault is not in the structure but in the way it is being run.  This is to say that, if the political leadership does not change its ways, it will similarly mismanage any other structure of government. Therefore, elders of the land should concern themselves with getting, by moral suasion, and every other forms of pressure, political leadership to run the affairs of Nigeria with the utmost personal integrity and pan-Nigerian patriotism.

If the cost of governance informs the call to return to the regional structure, the question is: must a system be inefficiently expensive to be effective? Certainly not.  Rather, a system will only be as expensive to run as the level of greed and unconscionableness of its operators. For example, the cost of running Nigeria’s presidential system as a percentage of the national budget is shockingly different from that of the most advanced democracy in the world.

It is a shame on Nigeria’s elite generally, and particularly successive political leadership that, more than five decades into self-governance, the structure for Nigeria continued existence remains a matter yet to be settled and the appropriate system of government still open to debate. It simply means that, contrary to both the  letters and spirit of the constitutions, and in brazen violation of their respective oaths of office, the managers  of  Nigeria at different levels failed to do their duty. It suggests too, that in terms of the values and priorities that foster development and progress, Nigeria has grown only a little in more than half a century. It is this leadership failure, with the terrible consequences all over the land, that senior and respected citizens must worry about, address, propose and, if possible impose by the force of their influence, a solution.  Otherwise, this country may remain merely one of great potentials perpetually waiting to be achieved.

A multi-ethnic, multi-religious Nigeria has long settled for a federal structure and since 1979, for a presidential form of government. The case for a federal structure for this nation of nations is so obvious it needs not be rehashed.  Unfortunately, the Nigerian version is ‘unitary federalism’ which, first, is an intrinsic contradiction, second, in its working, subverts the principle of subsidiarity and other basic rules and intendment of federalism.

The urgent, burning Nigerian question should be how to make the present structure and system work best for Nigeria and its people. The answer, this newspaper insists, can be found in an incremental implementation of the more than 600 consensually reached recommendations of the Report of the 2014 National Conference. Given the number, calibre, and diversity of participants at the conference, on the one hand, and the breadth of issues addressed and agreed upon on the other, it is believed that the Report has assumed the stature of a pan-Nigerian document devoid of party or any other coloration.  Besides, it was endorsed by both the then Executive Council of the Federation and the Senate of this republic.

The report has solutions to a wide range of problems that afflict Nigeria – from  devolution of power,  revenue sharing, national security, and  political restructuring to  politics and governance,  religion, grazing reserves and many more other issues. Just a few examples: On revenue sharing, it recommends that ‘ the [vertical]  sharing of the  funds  accruing to the Federation Account among the  three tiers of government should be … Federal Government – 42.5%; State Governments – 35%;  Local Governments – 22.5% to replace the existing formula of : Federal Government – 52.68%; State Governments – 26.72%;  Local Governments – 20.60%’.  Furthermore, a new horizontal sharing formula is also proposed. It recommends independent candidacy for contest into political offices, the removal of the constitutional provision of immunity from prosecution of certain political office holders,  and proposes that spending public  funds on religion matters such as pilgrimages be stopped.

To reduce the cost of governance, the Conference recommends that elected legislators should serve on part-time basis, that the number of political appointees and aides be ‘drastically reduced’, and proposes for the country ‘not more than 18 ministers from the six geopolitical zones.’ It agrees on a two-tier police  structure of a federal police and state police for states that can afford it and that police officers of the ranks of  deputy superintendent (DSP) and below should be  deployed to their states of origin where they can better relate  to the  socio-cultural setting.

Even on the issue of cattle grazing and the attendant social disturbance,  the Conference suggested that ‘on the long term,  cattle routes and grazing reserves be phased out to lay emphasis on ranching …’

At least two reasons fuel the persistent agitation for a restructuring of Nigeria namely:  the  desire for the control of natural resources by the owners of the land, and the inequitable distribution of power among the ethnic groups that constitute the federation. These discontents affect the stability of the country and even the ability of the leadership to concentrate on the urgent tasks at hand. If, the sole purpose of government is to ensure the security and welfare of the country and its people, this newspaper again urges the All Progressives Congress and its government to study the 2014 Report of the National Conference and begin to, it bears repeating, an incremental implementation of its pan-Nigeria recommendations.

  • AA

    “What makes the critical difference are the operators of each system, the human element that determines the success or failure of any structure, system, or process.”

    Unfortunately, the editors of this august paper have also bought into this lie. There is NOTHING wrong with Nigerians, there is EVERYTHING wrong with the fraudulent system.

    Even if u bring Jesus into the current Nigerian system, it will not work. We need a changed system. Human beings will always be a problem anywhere in the world, that is why we need a system with checks and balances to curtail human excesses.

    • chrystz1

      The Nigerian system is ran by the Nigerian operators. If the system is not running on autopilot, it is time we overhaul the operators. This same system works in other climes and Nigerians when they travel abroad conform to whatever system they found themselves in. Nigerians have excelled in various fields internationally, why can’t we replicate such success in governance? If you want a change in the outcome of the system, then change the human factor!

      • AA

        “This same system works in other climes”. I’m not quite sure what you mean by this. Which “same system”? The kind of system in Nigeria? Like the same kind of political, governmental, and fiscal systems?

  • igboham

    A serious restructuring must answer the national question first and honestly. Jonathan had ‘No go Areas’ and therefore cannot be taken seriously.


    A Restructuring that would empower the regions not for selfish self rule ,but for pure resources management and developmental purposes,we can remain a united Nigeria with more economic power to the regions and tax to the center alongside , we share sports,culture. etc.,but the author all along have been eating three course meal with power that be,while now?

  • Fuzio

    Systems matter a great deal. Take the case of Korea, you have the North and the South. Same people but different systems. While the North is at the verge of mass starvation, the South is at the verge of becoming a first tier country. Nigeria should return back to the regional system with appropriate autonomy for the regions and let them develop at their own pace. Let the federal government take care of security, external affairs and inter region communication.

  • AriseNigeria

    The agitation of IPOB is quite in order, should be encouraged and sustained. The time of politics is over, the dream of a great Igbo nation cannot be realized under the current system that is lopsided against the Igbos and there minority brethren. The inherent imbalance in the allocation of resources that mainly flows from our region is unacceptable. The people of Nigeria do not like each other, so why live together in a bloodbath relationship. We have linguistic, cultural and religious difference that even education has not been able to eradicate, so why pretend we have a nation when we discriminate against each other, so what is the reason to have a nation. If we are progressing and living at peace with each other then no one will be clamouring for an independent nation. People are being deported to the region of origins because of their Ethnicity, people are being massacred because of their religion and ethnicity, Federal projects has been systematically denied to the Igbos because of their ethnicity, so what is the basis of One Nigeria. The fight to liberate Igbos from the strangulation of One False Nigeria is now, so, I support the agitation of Biafra BY ANY MEANS NECESSARY, SOLDIERS ARE MEANT TO DIE FOR THEIR NATION, NO BLOOD IS WASTED FIGHTING FOR FREEDOM. BIAFRA, I HAIL THEE!

    • Onyekachi

      Thank you for the simplification of the issues. One of the major issues that bother me a lot is the fact the as an Igbo boy, our parents spend all their earnings on us to gain the best available education. In my class, currently we have engineers, physicians, bankers, economists etc, but about 95% of us work outside the south-east zone. The current system invariably deprives of the zone a large pool of skilled and well-trained workforce requisite for progressive development. I wish Biafra can be actualized so that we can have an economically-viable zone that will continue to produce but also retain the highly-skilled workforce.

      • Mockme

        Tell your governors to do well. Tell our brothers to invest within. You work outside the SE zone because we lack investors. It’s not caused by the FG or any other zone. It’s our own problem. SE remains the most criminalized zone with armed robbery, assassination and kidnapping leading the way. Nobody will invest in that environment. Our sons and daughters will continue to seek work elsewhere and enjoy living there.

        • Correctness

          Where did you get those lies?


      Was the dream of igbo actualized under Jonathan? when the igbos dominated all the juicy ministerial office?

  • Marshal Johnson

    Nigeria should be allowed to dissolve.

    it is a state that breeds hatred and tribalism. Nothing good will ever come out of a state like Nigeria precisely set up to cheat and oppress people so unfortunate to be referred to as its citizens.

    All these prescriptions for restructuring in order to save Nigeria is now too little too late.

  • Mukhtari

    structure begets function and conversely, function begets structure. a defective functionality requires a close check on the structure. the APC categorically stayed out of the conference , sadly declared they would have nothing to do with its report and were still voted in. so what is the editorial board asking for? spilt milk?


      Brilliant response.but no one really reject the conference just that Jonathan could not implement it withing the available time frame is absord and cowardy. He would have waited in the first place to win the election before declaring the conference open. Not to have spent seperate money for the conference and spent another before implementing it

      • Mukhtari

        You are right in some sense but if people wanted the conference recommendations, they should have put their votes where their hearts lay. not in the Change they couldn’t tell how it would be delivered.

  • Uzoh63



      Under Jonathan your people also ganged up against other ethnics by taking all the juicy ministerial post .

      • u r sounding like a broken record. say somtn else plz

  • Two by Two

    A very diplomatic way of asking for Biafra.

  • Brown Eredia

    The 2014 National conference answers our National questions. Therefore, it is imperative on President Buhari and his apc to do the needful for a better Nigeria.

  • New Nigerian

    Chalk this one up as part of those hum-hum, so-so posturing that was whipped up under Jonathan. This script has been written before – go back to region, then the regions would determine if they want to be part of Nigeria….same tune from the Biafra script of wannabe Oligarchs. What is new? Yawn!

  • vang comment

    this prescription is a good drug for sickness , but it is expired drug , we biafrans are talking independence from the zoo.
    we for a referendum to be conducted by the united nations

  • OkwuBndu

    Very unfortunate that the Editorial failed to realize that it is the structure that prevents “good and relevant leadership” to rise up in Nigeria. If we continue failing to be honestly objective in our analysis of Nigerian issues, then the nation and her citizens are doomed to perpetual mediocrity. A nation perpetually cheating itself.

  • Mockme

    This article is just a pure rambler’s work. Everything is wrong with the structure and system. The constitution is wrong and designed for unitary federalism. The whole structure is wreaking with wrongness.

  • Stella James

    Why is it that nobody is talking about the bogus fraudulent constitution giving to Nigeria by the fraudulent military juntas which they have successfully taken turns to exploit for their own selfish ends?

  • Objectivity View

    Ben Nwabueze harped on national conference, but docked when Jonathan heeded the senseless call to suit his tenure elongation agenda. This time, Anyaoku is out for restructuring Nigeria. I see both men as lacking basic understanding of the issues, as the country’s constitution and structure have nothing to do with the rubbish going on. Rather, the problem is non-implementation and non-enforcement of our constitution and laws respectively. Unfortunately, we turn round to blame the very constitution and laws. Can Anyaoku say which of the vices (stealing, killings, kidnapping, terrorism, vote rigging, insecurity, abuse of office, judicial tyranny, executive lawlessness, police brutality, illegitimate allowances of political office holders, etc.) the structure of the country currently allows?

  • vincentumenyiora

    I MEAN IF YOU HAVE TALKED OR WRITTEN SO EXTENSIVELY ABOUT THIS MATTER AND NOTHING IS FORTH COMING you can’t be blamed for any thing coming as a result of the obduracy on the part of the governments, folks! I mean the names and the contributions, some of which they are using already to solve problems in Nigeria and the Heads do not care even to acknowledge you they should know that the embarrassment will come and when it does, they should not blame anybody but themselves!

    [He noted that the issues, ranging from Boko Haram insurgency, Niger Delta crisis, Fulani herdsmen/farmers clashes, the Southern Kaduna crisis, wide spread kidnapping, declining cohesion among the components of Nigeria, the collapsing quality of education, and above all, the unsuitability of Nigeria governance structure, are of strong concern to him.

    Anyaoku maintained that what Nigeria needs for its governance process are federating units, because it will give the country greater capacity for development.]

    Clearly what the observation is about is in all its ramifications correct – i.e. is if you want to grow and develop, folks! Talk about boko-hram’s effect in the North I hear that THEY ARE STILL EXPANDING ALMAJIRI EDUCATION, WHICH IS CONTRARY TO WHAT THE MINISTRY OF EDUCATION IS DOING FOR NIGERIA in reality Almajiri is by extension or stealthily a subterfuge for boko-haram! Nigeria’s Independence was acquired by leaders on grounds Let us wrestle it from the Colonial Masters and then we settle down to thinker how to go about our differences hence in my observation I said rightly that:

    African leaders proposing for Self Rule first mobilized their people for such on basis of religion, tribal and ethnicity so as to wrestle Independence from the Colonial Governments, they had less/little time. even now, to practice or understand the harder part of DEMOCRACY which includes willingness/readiness to accept results after elections whether favorable or not all because of the ways and manner elections are conducted yet in the Continent! For Nigeria, it must be said that the solutions are there but you have profligates at the helm of affairs in that country – almost coming from the bush without an iota of what politicking for a country of your size and admixture is, folks! If the founding father were still around or handed over (the political baton) properly as in other developed or developing economies, obviously they would have learnt the rudiments. What you are practicing in the country is nothing more than DEMOCRAZY! And behold the solutions you you need to solve the problems you have had been handed in but for that inordinate ambitions playing on the minds of that few known to be acting on the influence of bigotry!

    The problems I think you have in Nigeria was left all these years and have now devolved into that zone of human nature of not willing to see facts and reason rationally and so leads us into the boundary of the word ‘xenophobia’ and the major culprits are seen in the leaderships which are the least informed in the actual sense of the word to deal with the kind of complex questions often thrown up in or present situation – they are not trained, for example for Nigeria, to truly comprehend what is at stake and so you are left to wallow, as it were, and living on borrowed time tell you the truth! Look at this typical example; Prof. Osinbajo is the Vice President but before President Buhari goes off into the plane he consults with Abba Kyari in that last minute bid/efforts – now tell me what that means or inference that is? When Jonathan was Head of State he had Reuben Abati no doubt and has press Secretary office but then how many Igbos, housas Ijaws and Tivi journalists were in his press office same as in the present day Head of press Shehu, how many of the other ethnic groups are engaged in that office to show that you’re all ‘One Nigerians’ as the jingle portrays it to the people!

    And you had even earlier than 2014 Conferences and Conferences about how to deal with the problems in Nigeria to no avail and behold President M. Buhari has been rightly advised to look into the last Meeting and see what can be done to alleviate the anxieties and ambitions in the people yet nobody wants to listen to the cries some of it came even from Prof. Ibrahim Gambari and Alhaji Maitama Sule; last week from the ‘Turaki’ Atiku, even from the more radical – Tanko Yakassai! It therefore, leaves you in such situation where you want ask the question: Are they all well informed Why are all these calls to restructure Nigeria falling on deaf ears and yet you have need for restructuring for Nigeria! Behold I submitted a compatible solution earlier to both the offices of (SGF) and the Senate President’s on 2nd February 2015 yet nobody has said something and you have problem in Nigeria as being observed by Chief Emeka Anyaoku in this article!

    My issue with Nigeria and their political leaders is that I have handed-in something that could help even in the obvious bad and anxious situations in Nigeria but for that deficiency in the leadership ability to comprehend prose! They probably understand what I have explained in the new solution; Yes, they are using my Option A-4 for the elections why not the new solution handed in on the 2nd February 2015? They should look up my website; http://www.virgo-enterprised.com and see what is in offer!

    Righteousness exalts a nation but sin is a reproach to any people!
    Prov. 14. 34; Pa 132. 9