According to an important Igbo adage, if a child is crying and pointing at a particular direction, you can be sure that if his mother is not there his father is there. That action of the child is, therefore, a dependable indicator with which something invaluably valuable can be found for him. Nigerians are crying and pointing in the direction of Restructuring. Crying because we are badly hurting in a systemic bondage where aridity and ineffectuality greet our every hard effort, because all efforts are exerted in a system that is a blighted template. Pointing, it seems we are doing, at the direction we believe our salvation dwells and waiting for us to arrive. But we have to diligently find our way, to get there. We require appropriate knowledge, ardent desire and requisite diligence. Any of these should not be found missing.
The Present Situation
We are presently in a quicksand we stepped into and which has been steadily sinking beneath our feet portending mortal danger.
What is settled, and not negotiable, is Nigeria not continuing as a quasi federation, being called “Federal Government of Nigeria” whereas it is, practically, a “Unitary Government of Nigeria”. A unitary government is defined as “characterized by or constituting a form of government in which power is held by one central authority” (WordWeb). This is what Nigeria is now and the greatest danger in this system is that all the units go to the centre to share a common wealth. There has to be a formula for the sharing and it can never be satisfactory to all in such a heterogeneously constituted and configured country like Nigeria – different sizes, different ethnicities different cultures, different religions, different attitudes different needs – heavily bedeviled by unwholesome, systematically injected systemic sentiments. There will be unending conflicts that will keep on creating animosity between the units, and encouraging the deadly quest for the control of the unduly attractive centre that cannot run away from nepotism.
The injustice in the Nigerian situation is that the wealth being shared is generated virtually solely by the Niger Delta with a little contribution by a few other viable states and virtually nil contribution by majority of the states, as they are, incidentally, non-viable. No state can be non-viable in a Nigeria that is a true federation because the states have no choice but work hard to prosper, are motivated on discovering the great potentials really available for them and are encouraged to do very much for themselves and pay commensurate tax to the center for taking care of its fewer, but essential and national, responsibilities.
Nobody quarrels as a result of central revenue-sharing in a Federation because there is none, and the federating units get on well in a healthy, strong competition as they work hard to create resources and have the right to control and harness their units’ natural resources. Every part of Nigeria is richly endowed with natural resources and strong hard-working people who are, however, not empowered and not encouraged to be reasonably productive. Today, natural resources are not tapped, agriculture and industry are badly neglected as all units scramble for, and quarrel over, oil revenue derived from the Niger Delta which, most unjustly, suffers terrible environmental devastation and shameful infrastructure deprivation.
Marginalization seems to be unavoidable in the present unitary system of government in Nigeria that is prone to foul manipulations, nepotism and other forms of corruption.
There are other biting issues that make life difficult for us in the present Nigerian set up and can be easily avoided if Nigeria is restructured into a true federation where the federating units are developing without being tied to the dependence on a Center, and so are not affected by the demeanor of that Center, good or bad, towards any of them.
How We Got Here
The way we got into this situation is reflective of the nature of it. It happened right from the inception of this country, way before Independence and even before the time of amalgamation of Southern and Northern Protectorates, in 1914, to form a federation called Nigeria.
The Eastern part of it brought along their republican, adventurous, progressive nature, their love for Western life and Western education and aptitude for industry, commerce, community development and communal self-help. The Western part brought with it zeal, organization, creativity, love for Western education, selflessness, superb tradition and culture with constructively-styled monarchy. The Northern Part brought with it the predominantly “Far North” agenda of an advanced administrative system, zeal for Islamic religion and Islamic education and the relegation of Western education, great energy and productivity of the people in agriculture including a gigantic animal industry, crafts and sundry artisanship, a highly developed monarchical system that predominantly consists of Emirates and run by Emirs as oligarchies that are essentially hegemonic. This hegemony is the source of the mystery water that entered the flute of the pumpkin.
The relegation of education drastically set the North back educationally and their emphasis on Islamic education produced the Almajiri system that has produced monumental deprivation that is the lot of the majority of citizens in the North. The South advanced in all spheres of life and occupied most federally available posts and even most of the regionally-available posts in the North were occupied by Southerners, especially the Easterners, to the envy and hostility of Northern leaders for a problem they created themselves by relegating Western education and promoting Islamic education the wrong way: why make it look as if Western education has innate evil or incompatible with Islam? Who says one cannot be an ardent Moslem and be highly Western-educated?
The Northern leaders themselves acquired Western education and their elites mostly sent their children overseas to acquire same Western education and come back to use this as a tool to further their drastic hegemony that made their people look up to them as divinely ordained controllers whose words were law unto their lives and whose commands must be obeyed without question, a frame of mind they got into as a result of lack of education. How many of the almajiris are children of those Northern leaders and elites,let alone the Cabal? They could easily be programmed, indoctrinated and radicalized according to the whims of these elites. A situation like this could not happen in the South where everything was interrogated.
There exists a terribly evil cabal in Nigeria which originated from the ranks of those Northern elites. They are responsible for most of the atrocious activities happening in Nigeria. There are succeeding generations of this Cabal and they have kept on transmitting their legacy and agenda down these generations. Some of them are highly-placed learned people, who were said to have met and got inducted at some exalted institutions overseas, where they acquired very high quality education. They are in charge.
Ahmadu Bello was the champion of an Authentic Northern Wisdom. That wisdom was responsible for the superb form of government Nigeria had at Independence in 1960 – True Federalism. That wisdom was also responsible for breaking the power of the Cabal that impoverished and educationally deprived northern people over the years. Ahmadu Bello paid heavy attention to the education of Northerners and produced lots of educated Northerners who took over the positions he created with the Northernization Agenda he started and continued until he died. Then, the faceless but powerful and evilly clever Cabal took over again and continued the marginalization, impoverishment and educational deprivation of Northern youths and children till today.
“- – – in 1952 when I came here, there weren’t 10 northerners in our civil service here…and I tried to have it northernized and now all important posts are being held by northerners”. the Sardauna had said in an interview with a white man1. Those posts were being held, not by uneducated Northerners but by suitably qualified educated ones.
That Authentic Northern wisdom was responsible for the true federalism of the first republic. When Chief Anthony Enahoro moved a motion in the House of Representatives in 1953 for Nigeria to become Independent in 1956, and it was opposed by Northern members by a counter motion from Ahmadu Bello, substituting “in 1956” with “as soon as practicable”, the fall out was the Kano riots of 1953 when Akintola and his group came to Kano for negotiations, a reprisal for the insults the Northern representatives received from Lagos public after that meeting of the House of Representatives. After this crisis that followed, Ahmadu Bello’s Northern Peoples’ Congress issued an “Eight Point Programme” as a condition for the North not to secede from Nigeria:
(1) That each region shall have complete Legislative and Executive Autonomy with respect to all matters except the following: External Affairs, Defense, Customs and West African Research Institutions;
(2) That there should be no Central Legislative body and no Central Executive or policy making body for the whole of Nigeria;
(3) That there shall be Central Agency for all regions which will be responsible for matters mentioned in paragraph (1) and other matters delegated to it by a Region;
(4) That the Central Agency shall be a neutral place preferably Lagos;
(5) That the composition and responsibility of the Central Agency shall be defined by the Order-in-Council establishing the constitutional arrangements. The agency shall be a non-political body.
(6) That the services of railway, air, posts and telegraphs, electricity and coal mining, shall be organized on an inter-regional basis and shall be administered by public corporations. These corporations shall be independent and covered by the statutes under which they are created by the board of experts with a minority representation of the regional governments;
(7) All the revenues shall be levied and collected by the regional government except Customs revenue at the port of discharge by the Central Agency and paid to its treasury;
(8) The administration of the Customs shall be so organized so as to assure that goods consigned to the region are separately cleared and charged to duty. Each region shall have a separate public service.
These are the very tenets of True Federalism, the other regions adopted all of it, and it worked very well. But it was jettisoned when the Army took over in 1966.
The infamous Cabal, which had already entrenched itself as a deadly Spoiler Virus, maneuvered itself to begin to call the shots and would, subsequently, be responsible for Nigeria never getting it right in governance in spite of her plethora of exceptionally gifted first-class brains and a variety of very valuable natural resources, Nigeria being perennially on edge, Nigerian citizens ever helplessly going through the very disheartening disappointments due to the geometrically progressing decadence in all spheres of life, and recurring decimals of systemic failures, Nigerians finding it difficult to achieve at home but shinning like a million stars in other climes and contributing enormously to progress in their host lands. The Cabal and their cronies are not letting go, in spite of the glaring evidence, for they (and only they) are benefitting from the rot.
They started by introducing a unitary of system of government to help them rule through the Army. They floated a blame that persists today, that the unitary government was introduced by Aguiyi Ironsi, the first military head of state; but the fact is that Ironsi left the autonomy of the regions and the other aspects of federalism the way they were only that the regions were governed, in the interim, by appointed Military Governors and the center by the Supreme Military Council. The unitary system of government started when Yakubu Gowon through whom they were running the country, created 12 dependent states from the 3 autonomous regions. .
They continue to work against return to true federalism till today, frustrating this beautiful product of an authentic Northern wisdom which Ahmadu Bello championed, which is at variance with the present Cabal-controlled invalid Northern wisdom of senseless solidarity that profits no part, not even the North.
It seems, however, that the Cabal was able to positively manipulate Ahmadu Bello into a jihadist stance on top of his hegemonic character, probably by playing on his ego and on the fact of the nature of his ancestry which is connection to a great successful jihadist Uthman dan Fodio. They are so powerful and clever that they easily get even very educated and highly respectable northerners to fall in line with their views and go on to propagate and defend those views as their own. The magic seems to lie in linking such views to a “defense of the North” attitude in the “defending the maligned and derided North” mentality which many of these enlightened Northerners buy into, in the spirit of an unalloyed Northern solidarity they believe they are called to.
Anyone in Nigeria who is not supportive of Restructuring is, probably, linked to the Cabal either directly or remotely or inadvertently, perhaps. A proof of this assertion of successful manipulation of the Northern intelligentsia by this Cabal is found in the following facts:
Many distinguished Northerners who participated very articulately in the 2014 National Conference and were party to all the decisions taken were evidently made to turn back 180 degrees to oppose their own marvelous handiwork, perhaps unknown to them that they were being led by the nose by the Cabal.
APC manifesto was also supportive of these decisions, but when APC won the Presidential elections in 2015 and took over the government, the elite cabal took over the control of governance to the chagrin of even the First Lady, Aisha Buhari, who spoke out publicly and the unsavory drama followed in which the President said her place was “in the kitchen, the living room and the other room”. APC also turned 180 degrees against its own manifesto thanks to the Cabal-controlled Presidency.
Other Northern elites and leaders quickly joined the Presidency to campaign against Restructuring without knowing why they did so except, perhaps, that the opposition to Restructuring had been made a Northern agenda by the Cabal and Northern solidarity must be observed. Why do they not know they are stabbing themselves on the feet by backing this view that benefits only a very minute number of Northerners to the disadvantage of millions of other Northerners?
No tangible argument was heard from them. Their tutored response to the question of Restructuring back into True Federalism is that “Restructuring means different things to different people” and this is usually followed by rigmarole discourse from them.
There was an argument which seems to have been put into their mouth by some other Nigerians, which is that they felt the North was not ready. The north is even readier than other parts, having more untapped resources and having benefitted more than other parts in the location of requisite infrastructure such as dams and irrigation facilities, and would develop a great economy in many spheres, in a restructured Nigeria, even more than it was in the 1960’s.
Happily, increasing number of Northern elites are recognizing and condemning the activites of the Cabal and increasingly Northern elites are supporting, and even championing, the Restructuring agenda.
Who Benefits from a Unitary Government?
The Cabal rejected the 2014 National Conference and the Call for Restructuring, without ever saying what it had against any of the principles in Restructuring.
The only persons who benefit from a unitary system of government where wealth, power and authority are in one source, are the self-centered and selfish, despotic, evil men who do not have the interest of anybody at heart. Being very powerful, they easily position themselves at the door of the store of the common wealth, help themselves to their fill and manipulate the flow the way they please, which often sees wealth, power and authority distributed in a provocatively inequitable manner, causing chaos and conflicts in which environment they thrive in their art. True federalism bye-passes such persons as wealth, power and authority thus reside in the units on which The Center rather depends. The Centre is significantly rendered unattractive, stemming the murderous desires and moves to acquire and control power at the center and the attendant serious consequences.
The reason this restructuring to true federalism will not be allowed by the elite cabal is their firm resolve to run Nigeria as a hegemonic oligarchy to further their born-to-rule doctrine and their determination to prevent the Resource Control component of federalism from dispossessing them of whatever they improperly acquired through direct central control of every part of the Nigeria they are in charge of running in their own way. They seem to be irreversibly committed to that agenda voiced out by Ahmadu Bello, that “Nigeria is a plantation bequeathed to the Fulani by Allah and that the Fulani will milk it until it dies”2. The plantation will not be in their direct control, for them to continue milking, if Nigeria is restructured into a true federation.
There is a very loud desire in many parts of Nigeria for self-realization and self-determination. Unfortunately this consciousness is being awakened and fueled by the badly frustrating years of misrule sadly occasioned by ineptitude, nepotism, manipulative marginalization of parts and oligarchic hegemony that seems to be benefitting the dubious few.
Very many people innocently champion the error that Nigeria would fare better as one nation where ethnic, tribal, religious, regional and other differences should never be acknowledged or recognized. They envision a Nigeria that is a homogenous nation in every sense. You may begin to be able figure out the error in this envisioning when you pit it against wisdom derivable from some quotes of three founding fathers of Nigeria frequently used over many years. This Day newspaper brought them together in a statement saying that sometime in colonial Nigeria, Dr. Nnamdi Azikiwe said to Sir Ahmadu Bello: “Let us forget our differences…” and Ahmadu Bello replied: “No, let us understand our differences. I am a Muslim and a Northerner. You are a Christian, an Easterner. By understanding our differences, we can build unity in our country.” Chief Obafemi Awolowo wrote that: “…Nigeria is not a nation. It is a mere geographical expression. There are no ‘Nigerians’ in the same sense as there are ‘English’, ‘Welsh’ or ‘French’….” 3
The fact is that Nigeria is a very diverse, multi-nation, multi-ethnic, multi-tribal, multi-lingual, multi-religious, multi-cultural country and a unitary government, which is best suited for a country that is a true nation, is in force in Nigeria. The type of government that is suitable for Nigeria, supportive of the nature of Nigeria, is True Federalism. True Federalism recognizes the individuality and the uniqueness of each federating unit and forges a unity in diversity that is always renegotiable, always open progressive interrogation and more stable than any other type of government for our own type of amalgamated conglomeration. This special conglomeration has created a unique authentic identity that is amazing. It is graphically narrated in one of my books4.
The authentic Nigerian Identity is like a stunning image availed through the instrumentality of a superb, properly functioning kaleidoscope. Colourful entities link with each other, sharing their individual colours in their different layers of interaction as they move towards the center to make vital contributions to it.
The co-operating spheres maintain their splendor, in shape and colour, link up with each other and enter into a network of relationships with each other, sharing colours and shapes, producing more different colours and more different shapes as they happily converge to contribute commensurate percentages of their properties to the center which equitably radiates gratitude to the federating units at the periphery.
The properties of each unit are unique to it but interactions produce a complex mix that is a beautiful eye-catching whole pattern. The more you look, the less you see differences and the more you discover beauty.
The splendor converges to the central focus and is regularly and radially reflected back to the sources.
You are actually seeing goodness moving round and round in a broadening gyre that shall have no end.
Who would not want to be part of this exquisite beauty, and who would not want to identify with this unity in diversity? There is this esthetic dazzle that, though easy to behold, is really not easily explicable. The endowments are unique, severally and also jointly in the mosaic. Shouting out glaringly are the charming colours but together they do not run riot. Principalities and powers ponder and wonder – not many dominions possess such natural attractiveness and obvious prosperity. There is a palpable display of great might, perhaps vigour, and potency, all in an unfathomable resplendency also encompassed in a kaleidoscopic complexity that is a simple beauty.
The more diligently it is dispassionately studied, the more is exposed, greater diversity, yet much greater unity, more beauty, visible strength and stability:
The fact, however, is that this ideal can only be as depicted if the kaleidoscopic view is not from a faulty instrument or a sick eye, in which cases the image is still the same but the viewer’s perception is distorted due either to the false image served him by a spoilt instrument or by what he sees with his faulty eyes. Faulty instrument and sick eye: what can become responsible for any of such situations?
All the diverse ethnic nationalities beamed in their real identities on a Nigeria screen would surely present a breath-taking kaleidoscopic beauty, all things being equal. How this would look like can begin to be appreciated by recalling any of the national Art and Culture festivals and noticing the endless run of assorted captivating displays showing a country blessed with a rich diversity that happens to be the source of beauty and strength.
There is a great effect on a population, by their football team of highly-skilled footballers meritoriously selected, as in our national team, and containing diverse names such as Ekong, Obi, Etebor, Abdulahi, Balogun, Musa, Iheanacho, Onazi, Idowu, Simon, Ighalo, Agu, Sadiq, Iwobi, Akpeyi, etc., instead of being given nameless identities such as A6, C4, Y9 K5, etc., perhaps in a bid to play down their ethnic identities. When Musa scores a goal, Emeka, Kayode, Asuquo, Efosa, Onoja and the rest of Nigerians rejoice from the heart. What they do is work very hard individually, then collectively, to win for Nigeria.
The Senate of Nigeria can portray this Kaleidoscopic splendor, most accurately, having equal representations from every state. Imagine a senate meeting where all senators are present, all adorned with the regalia native to their respective ethnic origins, speaking with their native accents and mannerisms but speaking in the same English language and with one purpose of ensuring equity, probity and good governance in Nigeria although they might be coming from different angles, their views having different personal, regional and ideological colourations.
True Federalism has such a flavour and even better. Naming of the federating units must be given the most intelligent consideration. The units should be encouraged to choose names they are proud of, and to which they have sentimental attachment to, such as the famous ancient names of their famous homelands that are now involved in this Nigeria federation. Some of these names are involved in agitations for self-determination and may not seem suitable to the undiscerning many. The truth is that this is actually going to be rather a panacea because they participate as autonomous units in a true federation where the conditions that prompted their agitations cannot exist. In a truly federal Nigeria they are practically countries of their own and still part of a big country, Nigeria, instead of much smaller standalone countries they had envisaged to get with secession – double advantage for everyone. I daresay that what most of our people want is to be part of the kaleidoscopic beauty that is the diverse but united, strong, equitable Nigeria Federation as autonomous federating units.
Let the federating units in a true federalism in Nigeria be identified by West Biafra, Edo, Oduduwa, Kebbi, Zamfara, Bornu, and the like, which are reminiscent of our past great States worth being identified with, and related to rich histories which must be preserved. A standard set-up would be a four or five regional outcome. Already decided are West Biafra and Oodua, Arewa could be ready too and middle Belt will duly follow. Edo and Delta may become part of Oodua, Edo alone may become, Delta may want to join West Biafra or Oodua that includes Edo, Edo and Delta may stay together under a good name. The states, as we have them now, are retained in the various regions as federating units of the regions which are the direct federating units of Nigeria. West Biafra contains nine federating units.
I am from West Biafra. We are Biafrans of Nigeria. Our geopolitical region is, specifically, West Biafra. It is like naming some of the autonomous regions (states) in the USA, as North Dakota, West Virginia, North Carolina and South Carolina, and the reason some countries are known as EastTimor and South Sudan. All these names are full of history. I believe the country we founded in 1967 and lost in 1970 should have been more correctly named West Biafra as we share the Biafra name with three other countries – Cameroon (Central Biafra), Gabon (South Biafra) and Equatorial Guinea (Equatorial Biafra).
What Nigeria needs is a True Comprehensive Federalism. True Comprehensive Federalism means that each of the four units shall remain autonomous and federate to form a union as a platform for greater economic growth, socio-cultural advancement and political positioning that will give Nigeria a most enviable place in the comity of nations. It is the most workable form of government and the easiest to run with the least of conflicts, in such a complex diversity like ours and is recommended for the individual states in the federation and their components, the Local Governments, down to the least unit – the communities.
For example, West Biafra will be a true federation consisting of several states therein as federating units. These are Abia, Akwa-Ibom, Anambra, Bayelsa, Cross-River, Ebonyi, Enugu, Imo and Rivers . Each state in West Biafra, big or small, will control its resources, work hard, blossom and contribute proportionately according to size and according to resources controlled and harnessed beneficially (in other words, according to the size of their internally generated revenue), to West Biafra, which will in turn contribute commensurately to the Nigeria Federation. This model is what is expected to be put in place in all the constituent states of Nigeria. The states in each of the four federating geopolitical regions will also have their constituent units, the Local Government Areas also federating into such a state, and communities federating into the Local Government Areas in a similar fashion.
A Word on Resource Control
It is an open secret that the Resource Control component of Restructuring is the major cause of difficulty. Those who own the goose that lays the golden egg want to own the golden eggs as well. That is right and just. The controllers of the goose, the golden eggs and the owner, having enjoyed the exploitation for these many years, cannot stomach the idea of relinquishing their stranglehold and manipulation especially as that would amount to losing unhindered access to very huge, practically unlimited, source of wealth which they had cornered to themselves. That is wrong and unjust.
Another reality is that some people who do not really understand true federalism believe that Resource Control by a federating unit will result in federal government receiving just a small percentage of the derived wealth which may not be enough for its enormous duties. The assumption here is that the “the bigger federal government has bigger duties” and would also need enough money to share among the states, and therefore needs a larger share, if not all, of the resource-derived revenue. In federalism states give to the Center instead and the states do most of the works now being handled by the Center. These are supposed to be done more efficiently by the federating units as they are closer to the people and understand their needs better in nature, extent and location. The greater percentage of the internally generated revenue (IGR) is therefore retained in the states for greater works and so no one loses.
It is simple: if a federating unit, for instance, keeps 70% of its IGR of N1000 and it is derived mainly from petroleum, which it is controlling, the total amount left for it for works is N700 because there is no allocation from the Center which gets N300 for its works that are now 30% of all the works while the state does 70% of all the works. In the present unitary government The Center keeps 70% and does 70% of the works – inefficiently, because it is very far from the people. In actual fact, this federating unit which now retains 70% of its IGR does not have that much excess to keep, as people imagine, because it now keeps 70% of the works to match. The beauty of this arrangement is that both government and the resources now reside very close to the people, to readily and more accurately touch their lives.
Simple and True
Federalism has been classified in numerous ways and discussed under a variety of headings but a careful analysis justifies a classification into only two aspects – geopolitical federalism and fiscal federalism. All other descriptions are so associated with these two that they can all fit into either of them. For instance, many of the canvassed items such as State Police, autonomous State Judicial System with a state Supreme Court, state constitutions, Devolution of Power and similar items, predicate their relevance and success on geopolitical federalism where the federating units are autonomous and are like bona fide nations or countries although linked to a federation. Fiscal federalism follows geopolitical federalism because such a true federal arrangement necessarily requires a corresponding fiscal architecture.
Restructuring into True Federalism is not complicated at all as some people would want us to think. If a well-crafted executive bill is sent to the national assembly for a constitutional amendment in line with these thoughts and passed to enable the institutionalization of these ideals, machinery can be set in motion for their immediate realization. Some executive orders can be issued to facilitate the process, as already hinted by Atiku Abubakar. A sovereign constitutional conference can then be called to replace the fraudulent 1999 constitution. It only requires political will with which it can fully materialize in a matter of a few months since Restructuring is actually widely desired, settled and non-negotiable – YES, A FEW MONTHS – under a visionary government that is not checkmated by the Cabal – the Spoiler Virus.
1. Brimah P., Surprising Truth: Ahmadu Bello Sardauna Was Correct In Northernisation Agenda, Every Nigerian Do Something [ENDS], http://ends.ng/surprising-truth-ahmadu-bello-sardauna-was-correct-in-northernisation-agenda/
2. Lower Niger Congress USA, Continuation of UthmanDan Fodio’s Jihad: Conquering the Middle Belt & the South, http://www.lnc-usa.org/blog/separate-from-nigeria-now-or-die-as-slaves-in-it-biafra-foundation/
3. Ebo Nnamdi, The Fulani Northern – Political Complex, This Day, December 2 2018, https://www.thisdaylive.com/index.php/2018/12/02/the-fulani-northern-political-complex/
4. Nweze C. C., Biafra Our Default Homeland,Lulu Publishing, http://www.lulu.com/spotlight/ccnweze