Why And How Nigeria Can Be Restructured Back To The 1963 Constitution
Since Nigeria distorted her independence structure ,in time,she is unable to reach her group goal of Peace ,unity and prosperity. Every structure is designed to grant the needed capacity to achieve set goals. It is customized to the name,the symbols like flag and coat of arms and scored into the National Anthem for wider communication to the world.The structure appears as a constitution but physically it is the organization of governance units and their interrelationship. It then goes down to the institutions - the executive, judiciary,the legislative system and the enforcement arms. It brings into being also the civil society.
Governance happens when a group of elected officials in full knowledge of the above structure maintain a balancing act of development taking into cognizance the past,present time and needs of the people. Therefore the prerequisite for good governance are already set clearly. Education is a crucial factor in governance. Imbalance arises when an elected leader is an illiterate or completely unaware of the structure he has to defend and balance,or even oblivious of the present time and needs of his people or even worse politicizes them.
The delicate system reacts to every ignorance as if it is a sabotage. A skilled leader will maintain the balance while pursuing development. Even in creation of States the balance is to be maintained. In revenue allocation,education etc. What happened to Nigeria 1964 was that the tripod balance was tampered with in the creation of Mid West. Then the imbalance led to unnecessary political competition between the units and in offering palliatives,the Military government led by General Aguiyi Ironsi further distorted the balance by suspending portions of the constitution.To add salt to injury,the next military leader General Gowon apparently unaware of history completely removed the tripod while creating 12 States. These leaders reacted to the symptoms of the problem or political expediency facing them and had no capacity to obtain the big picture nor to offer lasting solutions to the Nigerian problem.
Other military leaders followed suit each aggravating the problem in offering palliative solutions. Instead of federalism Nigeria became unitary with all the pressure of problem solving on the centre where the problems are hardly understood. To bring a semblance of balance the Federal Character was introduced which ended up becoming only a political tool to aggravate the division. Integration was misunderstood and made a forced kind of interaction between tribes with the NYSC as Modern example. Meanwhile the sound of names ,religion becomes the basic tool of Federal Character until the style completely collapsed in mutual suspicion into tribal domination of national institutions since anyone could also change his name or religion.
To offer permanent solutions to these man made problems of Nigeria,the new Nigeria idea is to return to the 1963 constitution as a basis of projecting into the future. The present States will gradually fall into the tripod regional structure. There will be no Mid West Region,just Western Region. There will be Regional Assemblies to make laws in line with the constitution. Any existing laws that cannot be amenable to align with it becomes ultra vires.The present Zonal arrangements will be recognized by the Regions as sub administrative units.So is the States and local governments. With time,each Region can make changes in line with its own internal order but not outside the constitution. Each Region has quasi autonomy with 50 percent derivation revenue allocation formula from the Federation account. It can exploit all resources within its borders while the Federal Government undertakes those things like External Affairs ,Defence,etc contained in its exclusive list. The National Assembly functions as constituted and deliberate on federal functions in a parliamentary set up. The federal executive council will be constituted by at least first degree technocrats not “politicians”. Real politics stops at the regional level where local conditions apply. Religious and tribal influence stops at the Regional level. Some urban areas can be designated as federal areas where the best practices are observed. Before one is admitted here he or she has a job,an accommodation,attained a requisite minimum education and qualified to vote. Such have attained the A-citizenship of Nigeria.
At the Regional level the B-citizenship is attained. You can practice your religion ,culture and tribe here but at the Federal areas,only the enlightened and clarified A- citizens are automatically permitted.
Every service is quantified in monetary terms and paid for by the Regions with the Federal Government as efficient middleman to effect it. For instance,If the Eastern Region requires Electricity it will pay the Northern Region for it with the Federal Government taking its own taxes and commission for effecting the transaction and ensuring the service. But on the other hands the Eastern Region can negotiate for conditions of Service and has the option to develop its own energy if it fails to agree to the terms presented. Each Region can practice its unique endowments but may be limited by pressure of competition for scarce resources to work harder and earn more money to give its people better life. Some states or Regions may introduce 24 hour work environment to meet up to national and global challenges. The same revenue formula used at the national level will be applied to the Units- zones,States and local governments in line with the constitution at the inception until national trust,harmony and unity begin to return. The true national integration arises out of mutual respect for the differences not via uniformity of the people’s.
In summary,the strength of this restructuring or better return to the only structure of Nigeria lies in its adoption of the old tried and tested units of federalism. It builds heavily on the understanding of universal human development and evolution through the epochs. It adapts the natural laws in tracking development requirements of man and society over time. So whether it is the British colonialist ,the civilian,the military that administered Nigeria at any period of her history society continues to grow and man evolves.In this light all the experiences of our founding fathers starting from the city states to colonial conquest,amalgamation up to independence are not to be discounted in decision making but they all form a steady step ladder. Looking back at that history we discovered that governance system which accords the people their best productivity and harmony was the British colonial timeline cumulating incrementally to the 1960-1963 independence constitution. Like other great Nations of the world that have stuck to their original independence structures such as the USA and UK,Nigeria can only hope to achieve her national goals by doing likewise because not only is it the wisest thing to do but also because there is no other way to do it.
The Nigerian independence constitution was customized to define the name itself and evolved after 50 years of enlightened search by the British colonialists. You may argue that they tried to use Nigeria to achieve their aim but they also achieved it. Fortunately that aim was the only means of unity for a diverse warring collectivity of disparate tribes. That aim that gave us a status in the comity of Nations remains the only aim we have today. So it is also the law of nature given for this customized existence as a nation. Unless we aspire to go back to city states where religious domination of alien cultures will still be the order of the day ,the British legacy is our best option yet. And all we need to do now is believe in it for once and implement it to our own advantage through nation building as the best step to peace unity and prosperity.
What we need to do is to keep faith with the only decision Nigeria made collectively. That is the independence constitution. All other decisions since 1963 has been sectional! All structural changes since that time were political and unbalanced our enlightened self interest. Whether it was suspending or remodeling human rights,freedom of expression,National Anthem etc all these will be ultra vires when we return to the true structure of Nigeria. There will be no point renegotiating anything because a structure goes with the purpose and we the people have not changed our purpose of living together. We still want God to help us build a nation where no man is oppressed. When we achieve that we see our efforts pulling together as one people even when tribes and tongues may differ for in brother hood we would stand. Then, only then, can we have Peace and plenty as reflected in our national flag colors,only then would Nigeria be blessed.
*Mr Nworisara aired to be President of Nigeria in 1992