Pastor Tunde Bakare And The Rest Of Us

By  Egbe Omo Oduduwa

Egbe Omo Oduduwa has read through Pastor Tunde Bakare’s “Roadmap to a successful change” wherein he canvassed Jonathan conference Report as such a roadmap. Given the importance of the issue, especially at this time when another round of Constitutional Review is in the offing, we are of the opinion that Pastor Bakare’s justification must be interrogated hence this intervention. His reasons are condensed as follows:

(1) “That promise of true federalism is contained in Article 14 of the Nigerian Charter for National Reconciliation and Integration, which was unanimously adopted and signed by the delegates to the 2014 National Conference, including myself, as the basis of our union. The APC Manifesto and the report of the 2014 National Conference are a tag team in waiting, not a thesis and antithesis”.

(2) “That report may have been produced under a PDP government but it is not a PDP document. It is a Nigerian people’s document. All the delegates to the 2014 National Conference, East, West, North, and South endorsed the report without a single vote on any issue”.

(3) “Just as this government adopted the Integrated Personnel and Payroll Information System, IPPIS, the Government Integrated Financial Management Information System, GIFMIS, and the Treasury Single Account, TSA1, which were conceived by the Goodluck Jonathan administration, the Buhari-led government should embrace the report of the 2014 National Conference”.

(4) “The need for diversification also brings to the fore the question of viability of states in relation to the need for economies of scale. Can the states, as presently constituted, maximize their endowments even if more power were to be devolved to them?”

These reasons cannot pass muster more so when the Conference report is not the only available option.

While it is true that the Conference report is not a PDP Document, it is also true that it is NOT a “Nigerian People’s document” as Pastor Bakare would want us to believe; otherwise, the Jonathan Administration, as the enabler of the document’s coming into being would also be said to be a “Nigerian People’s government”; which, if so stated, would mean it no longer enjoys Nigerian people’s confidence by virtue of its electoral defeat, hence the newly elected Government is not bound by the circumstances of the former, especially when the Conference report formed part of Jonathan’s and PDP’s campaign at least in Yorubaland where the party was also heavily defeated.

The process of selecting delegates to the Conference did not pass the minimum requirement for representation; not only did the Federal government itself handpick most of the delegates, other delegates came on board not being subjected to any form of peoples’ review which would lead a Yoruba nominee, Chief Segun Osoba, to declare that he came to the Conference NOT as a Yoruba but as a Nigerian, which brings the question: who did he represent?

Pastor Bakare then merged the APC’s Manifesto with Jonathan Conference Report by saying “The APC Manifesto and the report of the 2014 National Conference are a tag team in waiting, not a thesis and antithesis”; yet he cannot be further from the truth; for the recommendations in the report are the exact opposite of Federalism thus making them a thesis and antithesis, unless he is telling us that APC’s definition of Federalism in its Manifesto is similar to those in the report, which, were it to be so, would mean that the APC itself had no idea of what Federalism is. Of course, we know this is not the case, for as early as 2011, the then ACN, now a major part of the APC, had submitted a memo to Jonathan precisely on this issue; and the current Attorney General, as a member of the CPC, another founding member party of the APC, is in favor of Regionalism and Devolution of powers.

Besides, other Documents exist, produced by Nigerian peoples; for example, the PRONACO Document as well as previous Conferences’ documents, aside from existing ethno-National Documents, like the Yoruba Agenda or the Draft Yoruba Constitution, unless Pastor Bakare is telling us that Ethno-Nationalities are not Nigerians or that government enablement is the only condition for their being considered People’s document. To all intents and purposes, therefore, the Jonathan conference document, being only one of such documents, can only be placed alongside other documents and a Referendum fashioned out from them for the People to accept or reject.

To align the promise of True Federalism in an article in the Conference Report with the promise of same in the APC Manifesto is to beg the question. The Jonathan Government as the convener of the Conference provided an opportunity to deliberate on an agenda; it is only fair to also allow the APC to come out with its own deliberations on True Federalism, via either a Conference or any other methodology where its own Report on True Federalism may as well be totally different from what the Jonathan Conference recommended. To deny the Buhari Administration this opportunity is to deny the People themselves.

Would this be a waste of resources and time? Obviously not; for there was a reason why not only the APC but also quite a sizable number of Nigerians did not participate in the conference, a reason why the selection of delegates was restricted; in a similar manner, the APC and the Buhari Administration should be given an option of convening their own Conference, unless they are unwilling to do so, while those who were unable to participate in that conference, mainly for being left out of the process, should also be given an opportunity for such deliberations, at which point, the Buhari Administration would only be required to set up a time frame during which any Conference(s) may be organized and recommendations made.

To advocate embracing “the report of the 2014 National Conference” by the Buhari Administration because some of the Jonathan’s Administration policies were embraced failed to differentiate between bureaucratic and political necessities; not only are the embraced policies a function of a thoroughly vetted bureaucratic measure, the conference report is political in nature such that the acquiescence of the people is necessary for its realization hence the need for a Conference.

Furthermore, following Pastor Bakare’s logic would be tantamount to saying that the Buhari Administration has no purpose of its own and should simply have embedded the Jonathan Administration within itself, all translating into why an election should have ever been held in the first instance.

Pastor Bakare’s conclusion as to the viability of current states in “relation to the need for economies of scale” is at complete variance with the report he’s promoting, where increasing the number of unviable states from the present 36 to 54, all depending on allocation from the center, was a prime recommendation. Other recommendations are anchored on the same “allocation” process which is the source of all of Nigeria’s problems, with statesdepending almost entirely on federal allocations to pay their workers' salaries.

Furthermore, an additional responsibility for these states to have their own “state police” was included, to be funded from received allocations when the number of states are increased to 54 and the revenue allocation will have minimal or no change from the existing allocation structure which translates into such state police being underfunded and unable to achieve its maximum potential in terms of training and professional advancement.

Once a state police is under the control of the sole Inspector-General who is responsible only to the President, such arrangement is no different than the one that says that the federal government should fund exploitation of mineral resources in states, without any consideration for the centrality of fiscal federalism to a federal system with integrity. In spite of all of these, any decision on the allocation process was deferred and subjected to a “technical committee” to be set up at some future date. Where then is any “economies of scale” in all these, such that if it did not exist while the conference recommended it, how will it come about if it is implemented?

It is thus obvious that a surreptitious attempt is being made by participants of that Conference to impose its Report and we call on the Buhari Administration and the APC itself to reject this attempt.

For a thorough resolution of the problem of Nigeria however, more so when the National Assembly is embarking on another exercise and the economic conundrum facing the country can only be resolved by a fundamental rethink on the nature of the Nigerian State, and having had several exercises before now with nothing to show for them, Egbe Omo Oduduwa says the answer lies in each of the Peoples, constituted either as units by themselves or in “zones”, and who are the direct victims of the present structure, taking the initiative and presenting their own recommendations subjected to a YES or NO Referendum in their various territories, more so when the partisan political terrain is in favor of such an exercise, with political homogeneity in almost all of the “zones”. That is the only way to properly address this recurring issue while simultaneously solving the perennial convening of Conferences by every administration; it can then be confidently stated that the People have spoken.

Shenge Rahman Akanbi, Femi Odedeyi
For and on behalf of Egbe Omo Oduduwa

( [email protected] )

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