How Nigeria Can Avoid Another Civil War
Nigeria is a great country endowed with wonderful human and natural resources with a graceful blend of lush vegetation, beautiful climate and exportable rich cultural heritage. By the riches of its human and natural resources and avowed benevolence to its neighbours in the west Africa sub-region and the continent as a whole coupled with its outstanding representation of the continent in supra-national engagements in the comity of nations, Nigeria was easily known and recognized as the giant of Africa.
Recent events in Nigeria, in their unfolding dimensions and unchecked escalations tend to suggest that the notional posturing of Nigeria as the giant of Africa is merely a relic of its glorious past. Nigeria has battled insurgency promoted by Boko-haram since 2009 without end. The aftermath effect of the insurgency campaign against the territory of the Federal Republic of Nigeria is the proliferation of other sinister groups such as the killer herdsmen, bandits and the now prominent unknown gunmen (UGM).
The insurgency campaign waged ferociously against Nigeria is not one, ordinarily beyond the curtailment of the Nigerian military and people to halt and dismantle. It has however festered because of the perennial factor that almost derailed the agitation for independence of Nigeria from its erstwhile colonial masters; the perceived desire of one ethnic group to dominate others and the corresponding fear of domination by one ethnic group over other ethnic nationalities in Nigeria.
This apprehension has further led to the nascent emergence of the Indigenous Peoples of Biafra (IPOB) and its brain child -the Eastern Security Network (ESN) and the Sunday Igboho phenomenal. Nigeria security today is in tatters to the point of overwhelming the security forces and the will of the people. As a result, several solutions have been proffered by persons of all walks of life.
I do not share the views of those with separatist motive as I sincerely think that what we currently have as bestowed on us by history and circumstances under God can be better than all other options.
What we must do is to deeply interrogate it with open mind and honestly engage a process that engenders the collective consciousness and aspiration of all where each and every one and ethnic nationalities can safely live under the figs and vines of this colourful nation without the current fear and distrust associated with our mutual existence.
I verily believe that even the most diehard and radical separatists wish for this. They wish to live in the bigger territory of the Federal Republic of Nigeria with all the opportunities it offers. To my mind, the agitation is one for fairness and equity for all.
This piece is a modest attempt at pointing a way forward from the current national imbroglio which has demonstrable potential to tear the roof over the head of this nation, if urgent and responsible steps are not finetuned and taken.
The factual basis and foundation for my proposed model are to be found in the following –
1. Nigeria is yet a collection of tribes and not a nation because of the default fear of domination of one ethnic group by the other and the apparent domineering propensity of one ethnic group to lord it over others on a perpetual basis.
2. The socioeconomic implications of periodic general elections in Nigeria defeat growth and development which are by-product of democracy everywhere.
3. Nigeria economic productive forces cannot sustain the current cost of governance.
4. A major factor that currently fuels the default fear of domination and mutual suspicion among major ethnic nationalities in Nigeria is the concentration of powers in the center.
5. Disintegration comes with volatile issues surrounding boundaries and all connected to it.
MY MODEL FOR A VIABLE POLITICAL OPERATING SYSTEM FOR NIGERIA.
I believe Nigeria can only survive the impending economic and sociopolitical holocaust if it is returned to its hitherto productive economy on the basis of its comparative advantages. I am also of the view that the present states- based component units of the Federation is a disaster as more than two third of the present state component units are not viable and largely parasitic.
Therefore, the states- based units of the federation should be collapsed into regions or zones of the presently constituted North-central, North-east, North-west, South-east, South-south and South-west. The mooted zonal distribution should be given a constitutional verve as component units of the federation. The zones should also be made the productive base of the federation with remittances to the federation on a formula. This will lead to healthy economic competition and interactions among zones for general growth and development.
My model will incorporate a collegiate presidency made up of elective representatives from the existing geopolitical zones of North-west, North-east, North-central, South-east, South-south and South-west.
COMPOSITION OF THE PRESIDENCY.
For fresh start, a general election would be held from where each zone produces a president and running mate. Taking into account the zone that produced the last occupant of the presidency prior to the take off the new order, a representative from another zone is chosen among others as president. The zonal representative in order of succession is chosen as the vice president in council. The reason for choosing the next successive zonal representative as vice president is for continuity and consistency of development programs and policies. While the reason for the running mate is in the event of permanent incapacity, resignation or death of the president or zonal representative, he/she steps in, to avoid a situation where a zonal term or tenure would be affected or abridged.
The term of office to my mind should not be more than two years per zone and in such succession with zonal elections conducted within affected zone per time to fill zonal vacancy in the presidency.
POWERS OF THE CENTRAL GOVERNMENT.
The powers of the Central government should be limited to those powers necessary for projecting the sovereignty of Nigeria as a state actor in international relations. This may include items such as Citizenship, Currency, External defence and Armed forces control, External affairs and diplomatic/consular relations and Immigration services.
All other powers are to be banished to the domain of zonal governance which may be at liberty to, subject to certain yardsticks or considerations, determine their political, economic, security, cultural and social survival inclinations.
THE CENTRAL LEGISLATURE.
The central legislature shall be a unicameral legislature made of very few representatives from each zone. To my mind, not more than ten representatives from each zone should be elected to the federal or central legislative house. Since the legislative competence of the central legislature is now pruned down to about five items, it should be a part time legislative house and members[ remuneration is per sitting.
CHECKS AND BALANCES.
The traditional roles of approvals and law making by the Central legislature shall be retained.
However, the deployment of armed forces to any zone by the president shall be subject to approval by four zonal governments. This is to avoid a situation of abuse of use of the armed forces by a president in the internal affairs of the zone.
MERITS OF THIS MODEL.
1. The fear of domination and mutual distrust among the ethnic nationalities that make up Nigeria and associated nepotism and ethnic patriotism as the catalysts for the current ills of the country will be reduced to manageable limit.
2. We will be able to avoid an impending civil war.
3. Zonal management of security related concerns as a more effective approach would be assured.
4. Competitive growth and development among zones and necessary collaboration and interaction for advancement would be greatly restored and advanced.
5. National elections and its associated large-scale disruptions and losses in human resources and economic resources manifesting in weakened investors’ confidence and consistent threat to political stability of the nation would be confined to regional management.
6. Cost of governance is drastically reduced.
7. Equity and fairness perception will be better managed for national cohesion and stability.
I am however not unmindful of the fact that this model would be perceived as a threat to the immediate privileges of those favoured by the current system.
Nevertheless, it is my view that the current order being largely unsustainable does not guarantee a viable future for those who enjoy the privileges of the current system. It is a colossus that , if very urgent and responsible steps are not taken, will consume all of us like it is already manifesting.
Like the Tibetan admonition which says ‘ no matter how long one has travelled on a wrong road, the only sensible advice is to turn back’, our option as a people is to turn back from the current trajectory that only leads to the precipice
God bless Nigeria and may peace and progress return to Nigeria again.
– Nelson is an Abuja based lawyer and public affairs commentator. Author can be reached at :[email protected]
Disclaimer: This article is entirely the opinion of the writer and does not represent the views of The Whistler.