BLUEPRINT FOR A NEW NIGERIA
As Nigeria move irretrievably towards fundamental changes occasioned by recent events-a sick absentee President, a Constitution that is self contradictory leading to a vacuum in power despite the fact that there exists a willing Vice President and a National Assembly with hands seemingly tied; a ruling party unable to rise above sectional interests in resolving national problems and failing state unable to abide by the multilateral and bilateral agreements with the international community, the strident calls for change resounds.
As it is customary, many schools of thought are emerging by the day as to what the outcome of protests in the street, hedging of the ruling junta will bring to a fragile nation. Some surmise that Nigeria will disintegrate into tribes; others think the military will intervene once again to forcibly keep her together, Still a section prefers that the President continue ruling in absentia rather than envisage the unknown consequences of change. Fear has become the game changer. But it need not be so. .
Why can't our intelligentsias spend more time designing a win- win situation out of this quagmire instead of giving fuel to those outcomes we fear and loath. I will take the lead here but I invite all others to debate the new that will emerge with a view to making it even better. Remember that we have to design a nation where: “Though tribes and tongues may differ, in brotherhood we stand. Nigerians all are proud to serve our sovereign mother land…where no man is oppressed”
Let us go to work immediately. The outlines of our work are clear. We need a nation standing within today's borders, under same internationally accepted foundations at peace with itself and the world and prospering competitively in every sphere within the comity of nations in today's global world. Any other design may spell confusion.
Now let us take a peek at the New Nigeria that will emerge from the present rubble. It will be inclusive of all cultural, religious, ethnic, nationalities and sundry interests at the primary and secondary levels of organization and governance. However, at the tertiary level organization will be secular. Only performance will get you to the tertiary level. Yes, performance in tune with the realization of the national vision; the tenets of the union, goals of the “brotherhood”. Without performance Nigeria cannot compete with other Nations for scarce global resources.
It is important that these tenets will not be at variance with the internationally accepted legal basis for the rule of law as enunciated in 1960 during Nigeria's independence from Britain. No Nation can exist in isolation in a global world. The component units must be capable of resolving their differences only at the lower levels of governance. The units will relate positively with the centre. The Nigerian brotherhood will be sustained at the top not by sharing but rather by vigorous input from component units.
The criterion for the constitution of units will be the ability to contribute something uniquely to the brotherhood, to the union whether it is food, money clothing, land, tourism, power, etc, It must be voluntarily and cheerfully given up to the whole. Every unit must be self sustaining materially but seeks union to further boost its advantage of scale. Every input to the federation must be quantified and quantifiable vis-à-vis the input of other units in cash or kind.
The units, in putting themselves together must work out ways in line with prevailing religion, culture or ethnic requirements to fulfill its tax obligation to the federation. Whether it would allow federal tax agents to tax its citizens or prefers to pay en-block while on its own taxing the people will be a matter of style.
On the other hand, federal government must work out, in line with international standards and values, inputs of units and therefore whatever commensurate returns may accrue to the units annually, monthly or weekly for proper for proper administrative devolution. This formula must differ from unit to unit in accordance with input.
The other dimension is the attainment of citizenship. The new Nigerian citizenship must be merited by all who seek it both Nigerians and immigrants. For instance, to qualify to vote in a general election will entail having two levels of citizenship is expected. The first level of citizenship must pass through the units. You may be a citizen of Nigeria but you are subject to the unit you belong if you are not rated by performance level, as capable of voting at the National level. To be capable of voting, you must have attained a requisite education and training to enable you appreciate what you are doing; you must not be bound by religion, ethnicity or retain cultural inhibitions in performing your duty at national level.
You must hold an 'A' Nigerian passport or papers or identity and you must have a skill or you have a job; a Housing permit and tax papers. With this you can live in the designated federal urban areas or reside abroad with dual or single citizenship .For those with 'B' passport, they can be unemployed or employed within the units; engage in social, political, cultural or religious roles in line with the culture or administrative convenience of these units designed to achieve efficiency within the unit so that each locality is enabled to contribute competitively to the whole.
Residents of the units without a passport may be required to obtain identification papers when traveling outside their unit to other parts of Nigeria. For instance before a Moslem Shari a adherent travels to predominantly Christian neighbor hood or unit, he or she may obtain and sign papers accepting to abide by cultural or socio-economic requirements of the place he or she intends to travel or stay and these data are valuable for security and welfare also to prosecute him or her where such a situation arises. Conversely, when a Christian practitioner wishes to visit or live in a Muslim neighbor hood, he must agree to abide by demands of the Shari a law in this place and subject himself or herself to appropriate punishment in case of a breech of the legal codes here. However, the down side is that any unit that closes itself by employing rigid draconian laws may also obtain less tourism revenue as its price for undue internal restriction and may also become less competitive among other units.
The federal Government will be responsible for External Affairs, Environment, Economy, Law and Order, Immigration, etc. On the other hand the units will have both concurrent as well as exclusive list of functions. The unit for instance may be responsible for law and order within their jurisdictions, both judiciary and enforcement arms. Every citizen will be offered two levels of security. First level is individual-all citizens with the Nigerian 'A' passport can apply to carry firearms. On the collective level, a well trained, educated and trained police Force will be maintained at the Federal and unit levels. Other
Responsibilities of the units include: Economy, sanitation and environment, land and transport, Education, Taxation, Power, Trade and Industry.
If for instances, a unit specializes in power generation, it may be required to supply power to the federal Government and its urban centers as its contribution, quantified and paid for as if it is competitive with international market situation. In addition, its 'citizens' will pay tax for which a percentage goes to the centre in like proportion. Furthermore, the Federal Government may chose to conduct International Affairs through a particular unit if such a step would reduce cost and also for other advantages this decision may confer on the socio- economic system as a whole.
In a general election, Open ballot voting will be conducted electronically especially for Federal positions such as the legislature and for Executive positions. Qualification is in terms of higher education and spiritual maturity [secularity] for those who will vote and be voted for in this election. Staggered election dates and continuous opinion polls together with parliamentary system of government will ensure free and fair elections as well as good governance at both the centre and in the units.
In the new dispensation, such absurdities as a Minister abandoning duty to pray 5 times a day or proceeding on pilgrimage will never occur. Anyone who abandons his duty is sacked and the waiting list activated, while those who are very passionate about their religion or traditions will not progress from the units into Federal positions because mankind the most important stakeholder of today's configuration expects efficiency from the Federal Government and its officials plying their trade in a global world.
Mr. Nworisara, Presidential Aspirant of the defunct Social Democratic Party [SDP] wrote from Port Harcourt.