How Should a Restructured Nigeria Look Like?

by Ossai, Tony Osborg,
For those of us who do not know what true federalism is and how a restructured Nigeria will look like, I have have taken out time to draw up twenty basic rules which summarizes what true federalism means and how a restructured Nigeria would like.

These rules explains how responsibilities would be shared between the federal and state/regional governments under a true federal system?

These twenty rules highlight the basic principles of true federalism.

1. There should be only two tiers of government created by the federal constitution; a federal and state or regional government. Each of them should have a separate constitution. The creation of another tier should be the decision of the state/regional government.

2. The federal constitution should create not more than six or twelve states or regions. The present thirty-six states structure can be retained and even more stats created but this must be based on the proven viability of such states.

3. The federal constitution should limit the federal government responsibilities to only national defense, finance (monetary policy), foreign policy, customs, immigration, etc.

4. The federal constitution should be written by the people (indigenes and residents) of Nigeria while the state constitution should be written by only the people (indigenes and residents) of the states.

5. The federal constitution should state clearly that all responsibilities not covered by the federal constitution should be the exclusive duties of the state.

6. Ownership of all federal owned assets and institutions that are no longer under federal duties should be transferred to the states where they are regionally located.

7. The federal government will no longer build and manage roads, hospitals, universities, rail lines, refineries, power plants, etc. These shall become exclusive duties of the state governments.

8. The federal constitution shall guarantee the autonomy of the states in all ramifications and shall ensure that whatever tier is created by the state (be it community government, LGA, Provinces, Divisions, etc) shall have the same autonomy as the state in its areas of duties. It is the state constitution that will create LGAs, provinces, etc., if necessary.

9. The federal constitution shall forbid both the federal and state governments from embarking on business ventures and shall limit their sources of revenue to only taxation and royalties.

10. The federal constitution should recognize the right of ownership of land and natural resources as belonging to communities and individuals and should therefore forbid both the state and federal governments from upturning this right by any form of legislature. This will put the power of resource control in the hands of communities and not state nor federal government. Governments (federal and state) should only collect taxes and allow communities make profit from their natural resources. There should be a democratic government at every community level to manage the community wealth and community public services. This community government should be created by the state constitution.

11. The state and federal governments should have two independent judiciary with each having up to its own Supreme Court.

12. Right to secession should be enshrined in the federal constitution. Communities/towns should have the right to secede from a state and seek membership of another state within Nigeria while states should have the right to secede from Nigeria and seek membership of another country or form an independent country of their choice. The process of doing this must be by referendum.

13. States should be entitled to receive irregular annual grants from the federal government in the same way communities/towns should be entitled to receive irregular grants from their state governments upon meeting certain strict conditions. There shall be no more monthly allocations.

14. Parliamentary democracy could be adopted to replace the present presidential executive system. The House of tribes (House of Reps) should be abolished and a single federal parliament retained comprising of tribesmen, professionals, and town/city/state representatives.

15. The federal constitution shall guarantee the decentralization of the civil service.

16. The federal constitution shall recognize indigeneship and residency as qualification for occupying public offices in both state and federal offices.

17. Taxation shall be the major source of revenue for both the federal and state governments. Federal taxes shall be limited and deducted from the state governments while state taxes shall be unlimited and deducted at source.

18. Both basic and tertiary education shall be the exclusive rights of the state governments, power generation and distribution shall also be the exclusive rights of the state governments. Cities and towns should be allowed to generate their own electricity. There shall be no more national grid. The federal constitution shall guarantee the need for federal, state, community and institutional police system.

19. Federal regulations should be unlimited on matters of security, environment, power, economy, etc., while state regulations should be limited to issues allowed by its constitution.

20. Issuance of licenses (whatever kind be it mineral exploration or social license) should be the exclusive right of the state governments while regulations of such licenses should be jointly done both the state federal governments.

The above twenty rules are what I consider as fundamental principles of true federalism as may be applicable to the Nigerian society. Once we are able to legalize these rules and they become law in Nigeria, Nigeria has become a true federal state.

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