Nigeria Conference: Core Issues To Resolve Or It Fails

For the so-called Nigeria National Conference to work, core issues namely: foundation, states' recreation and revenue generation (not allocation or sharing), which wraps into true fiscal federalism must be discussed honestly, fairly and justly resolved to be the basis for a new constitution. Corruption also has to be made a criminal offense and public, private sector officials prosecuted and imprisoned if indicted and found guilty. That is, they will pay all stolen public money back and still go to jail for a long time, but not the death penalty. Also, the illegal military constitution of 1999 has to be banished.

Past conferences or jamborees refused to take seriously these core issues. Therefore, the endless crisis and conflicts we've witnessed alongside clamors for more conferences, especially Sovereign National Conference (SNC), which the government and cabal keeps avoiding. This one will equally fail if these core issues are played around to protect the status quo. Injustice and inequality (oppression) and conflicts will continue. Meanwhile, let's look at the core issues.

(A)Foundation: Revisiting and restructuring the old foundation to work for and benefit all is crucial. Nigerians must note that discussing and restructuring the foundation of the country, which means its formation doesn't imply automatic breakup nor will it change the country's name. Rather, doing so is to acknowledge and appreciate the nation's history, which though negative and saddening shall open way for honest discussions aimed at finding lasting solutions. This will break the so-called No-Go-Area theory that is dictatorial and counterproductive. Why must certain Nigerians, including Goodluck Jonathan and the cabal be scared of discussing the unity or disintegration of the country if there is nothing to hide?

Why must unrelated, unwilling peoples, who don't speak the same language or have anything in common but held at gunpoint by few continue to be forced to live in fear and like one people when they aren't? Anyway, Nigerians could afford to live peaceably together if they so wish. The precolonial independent ethnic nations still have to decide. If they must live together, it must be by renegotiating and agreeing on the terms on which a free will co-existence should be. It must not be by force, but on equal, fair and just terms contrary to the British imposed foundation. The option to opt out must also be included else it shall boil down to the same British imposition, hence disagreements and conflicts.

Such terms must respect and protect the rights of every individual, ethnic independent nations unlawfully forced into the so-called Southern and Northern protectorates and the 1914 illegal amalgamation, which was for the economic benefit of the colonial masters. The idea behind this amalgamation suffices today's kleptomaniac mentality, which institutionalizes and celebrates national theft, particularly of oil and gas resources from certain ethnic nations to benefit and develop and others, while these oil bearing nations become victims of their wealth. This rogue mentality must stop or change!

(B) Dissolution of current states: the current 36 states must be dissolved and recreated based on viability and demand. These states were created by military fiats; mostly expand Hausa-Fulani, Yoruba and Igbo ethnic groups into multiple state arrangements for economic and political gains to the detriment of others. Evidently most of these states aren't working; they aren't viable, but mainly tools for aggrandizement, corruption, regional and national laziness, thus the bloody competition and killings which creates insecurity across the board.

No country, not any company can survive if all it does is share revenues from other regions or sectors and not create any to assist the source or flow. Any new state which shall emerge from recreation must be able to generate revenue, contribute to the center certain agreed upon percentage in form of taxation (25 or 35 percent) for efficient and effective governance. This includes occasional help for temporary states' needs, which could be small forgivable grants or repayable loans.

There is no reason to create or keep states, which can't generate revenue to pay their workers and dues to the center. No economic theory supporting Nigeria's kleptomaniac, broad-day robbery mentality exists anywhere in the world except in unitary, dictatorial, crisis-ridden and failed states such as Nigeria. On the other hand and to be humane, all 36 states may stay as they are, but measures must be put in place to make them generate revenues and create their budget or voluntarily dissolve and merge with viable states. Under this model more states must be created to bring development and happiness to areas or ethnic groups (since most states in the country are created on ethnic basis) such as Ogoni, Ikwerre and others in South-South. Some non-Hausa-Fulani ethnic groups in Northern Nigeria, which are demanding states as of right to self-determination like others, and may be viable deserves attention. A viability test must be completed to bear positive result. No new state should be created from the Hausa-Fulani, Yoruba and Igbo ethnic groups since they've most of the 36 states, except they have proof of viability and not waiting to suck out oil money from South-South or Niger delta.

Nigerians must be honest and stop the games; these people must stop the cheating because the country can't continue on the principle of robbing one region or people to pay or develop another. No matter how long those stolen from and oppressed shall react. Such reaction as we've seen could pose threat to national unity. Of course, disintegration remains a great option at the conference, and we've read how one Northern delegate, Dr. Muhammadu Barkindo Mustapha threatened that his people might walk away and find their new home in Cameroon. That is if they couldn't get their way or pushed to the wall. So more wonders, threats up to real disintegration may come, since no group, region or individual is a monopoly of this breakaway threat. There is, of course, room for understanding based on honesty and fairness-justice.

(C) True fiscal federalism: Such high-demand restructuring mentioned above must follow the theory and practice of true fiscal federalism, which allows for greater autonomy to the federating units-states or regions. Power is devolved from the center so more action, impacts on the people happens within the units. This model is working in America and other federations many Nigerians/Africans run (and many still dreams) with the hope to meeting their dreams. The center isn't weak in this model, but strong. Responsibilities are shared between the units and center. Strong and working federations allows for imagination and innovation-creativity-competition at unit or regional level to strengthen the center.

As such the burden and power of the federal government at the center lessens yet strong. Power devolution permits checks and balances alongside collaboration, cooperation for the common good. Citizens don't have to lump and struggle in the cities and national center as the case in Nigeria to succeed. They can succeed at local government, state or regional level. They also can advance to the center for business, political offices or as states' representatives who have positive people-interest, leadership or local development qualities/record that could be traced.

Where the conference settles for regional system of government, which worked in the country before, and because Nigeria is a country of ethnic nations, these groups or nations must not be compelled to join any region (or state) against their will. They'd have the right or option to decide which region to join or where to go. Groups may as well form new regions. If, for instance, Nigeria has 6 geo-political regions, no law exist or should exist to deny the formation of the 7th or more regions. People must be self-determined. It's natural and human/international law to be self-determined. Failure to guarantee this level of free will shall amount to the same experience when people are forced to live in a concocted expression that is Nigeria.

In conclusion, where the leadership of the conference is serious and not playing to any book, it will stop discussing Jonathan's speech and get to the people's business. The leaders will stop censoring free speech or dictating to delegates what words not to use-genocide and mass-killings, for instance. Bolaji Akinyemi, Deputy Chairman of the conference and the chairman Idris Kutigi declared last week that delegates should be cautious of such words. The leaders should have known better how the United Nations or International Criminal Court (ICC) they fear might probe Nigeria on hearing such words at the conference, works.

If the leaders stop arrogating delegates' power to select committee members, the conference might work against the calculation of the establishment or cabal, and other special interest groups such as corporations, up to foreign influence. The delegates should do the people's business and add measures such as referendum for implementation of recommendations, instead of allowing the National Assembly, which the conference technically nullifies to be the final arbiter and possibly subject its work to partisan chaos and mockery.

The citizens also have a responsibility to support, protect and ensure the immediate implementation of recommendations/new constitution that may come from the conference, if it meets the expectations herein which shall make all others easier. This might be that overdue citizens' revolution! Anything contrary to the above shall amount to protecting the status quo and so a waste of time and money. The country shall be buried in same problems with heightened oppression or inequality, injustice, crisis and conflict levels.

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Articles by Ben Ikari