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|SHOULD NIGERIA RESTRUCTURE ? - By Professor Obiora Okonkwo by Newsletter01: 12:54pm On May 05, 2023
SHOULD NIGERIA RESTRUCTURE?
The above is a question that several Nigerians have asked and answered before now. I am sure many in this hall have their own opinions on whether Nigeria should restructure or not. However, going by the political trend since 1999, there seems to be only one answer to this question and that is a resounding yes. For me, however, I will like to raise more posers which will guide us towards an answer.
Like many other Nigerians, I will like to know why the southeast, for instance, has only five States while the northwest has seven and all others have six each. We may all not be convinced about the import of this but in a representative democracy, it means a lot. Five States for the south-east translate to 15 Senators for the southeast. On the other hand, seven States for the northwest means 21 senators for the northwest while other geopolitical zones have 18 each. Is this the meaning of equity and balance? Do not forget that States are the basic units for sharing national revenue.
Let’s go further a bit. I am also at a loss as to why of the 774 constitutionally approved local government areas in Nigeria, the southeast has a total of 95 while the northwest has 186 local government areas. The northeast has 113 while the south-south region has 125 and the south-west has 137 and the north-central region comes in with 112 local councils. Thus far, no one has explained to the southeast people why this sort of structure exists. Also, no one has been able to justify this reality. The pain of this situation comes home when one realizes that revenue allocation and development planning are often times, based on population. The simple explanation for the skewed revenue allocation that we currently have will be that the population is more in places where there are more local governments.
It, therefore, means that if each local government in Nigeria were to get a primary school, the Southeast will get one that is not proportional to what the northwest zone gets. Yet, our Constitution opens with the statement “we the people of Nigeria having agreed to…” I ask, did the southeast agree to subjugate itself in this manner or some people agreed to subjugate it?
Let me bring this home further. In a recent recruitment exercise into the Nigeria Police Force, each local government in Nigeria was allowed only 10 recruits. The implication of this is that while Bayelsa State had only 90 recruits, Kano had 440 recruits.
If the numbers are pruned every year at 10 persons from each state, in nine years, Bayelsa State will have no person in the Police while Kano will still have some 350 persons. Why wouldn’t Kano have more candidates for consideration as IGP than Bayelsa? Do you see why we must restructure?
Has it ever occurred to us that there are more natural resources buried under the soils of the north-central zone of Nigeria? Imagine if we restructured Nigeria such that each State will mine and harness resources endowed on it by nature and then pay royalties and taxes to the centre. If we think in that direction, we will begin to see the opportunities that nature has given us to develop. Northcentral will become the new bride for solid mineral exploitation and development. The value chain it will create will make the north-central the new industrial hub in Nigeria. The potentials for job creation will be huge. But we are not yet thinking in that direction.
Further, I am yet to understand why, despite high secondary school enrolment figures from the Southeast, only 12 unity colleges are built in the region against 24 in the north central and 15 in the northeast. North West has 18 unity colleges same as Southwest while South-South hosts 17. The reality of this is that a state like Imo State, which has high secondary school enrolment figures, hosts only two unity colleges while the Federal Capital Territory plays host to five and Anambra State houses three. You may not know the implication of this until you relate them to allocation sharing.
Excerpts From The Value of Diversity: Restructuring To Save Nigeria.
Delivered by Professor Obiora Okonkwo, OFR
May 15, 2018
Extracted by Uloka Chibuike
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