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Biafra @50 Discuss: A Revalidation For Restructuring —By Imo Jonathan


Yesterday, some eminent personalities Including the Acting President, Prof Osinbajo, Chief Olusegun Obasanjo, Emmanuel Iwuanyanwu and others, gathered in Abuja to discuss Biafra and the current agitation. Whatever the background is best known to the organizers. 

But the relevance is the fact that Biafra agitation is the Oduduwa agitation, it is the Niger Delta agitation and even the Arewa agitation. Whatever these agitations, they are symptoms of a more profound issue; the need for restructuring.

If there is indeed anything left for Nigeria and President Buhari to do in our current democracy to move the nation forward, it is to institutionalize true federalism. I may not support separatists and ethnic jingoists but I am in support of the call for the decentralization of Nigeria for effective management and fast tracked development.

At the heart of many agitations for secession is the issue of resource control and suppression of true federalism. Our great party the All Progressives Congress and especially President Muhammadu Buhari must find the courage to do this if we are sincere about moving the nation forward in the long run. Not because people are agitating but because it is good for us. 

History books have shown that Nigeria had her greatest moments during the period regional governance and resource control. There was healthy competition amongst the regions and each focused on their areas of comparative advantage and I’m the end we were greater together.

I appreciate the ongoing effort by our leaders to diversify, to cleans the system of corruption and to retool the nation’s workforce, but to make lasting impact we need to make the nation positively competitive and more creative by allowing potentials of our diversity to become manifest.

The greater the centralization of resources and responsibilities in a plural society like ours, the greater the opportunities for needless bureaucracy and corruption that are formidable obstacles to development. 

The more resources are concentrated in an all-powerful center, the more states and local governments are incapacitated to effectively discharge their responsibilities as agents of development.

Yet the state and the local governments are where the people live. It is when their potentials are unleashed as units of government closed to the people that any meaningful development can be recorded.

A true federal government recognizes that it is the states that give birth to the federal government which exist for their benefit and not vice versa. Such a federation recognizes that the federal government has powers which the states agree to cede to her for common convenience. 

These powers are in areas of common conveniences like defence, so a joint army and currency, so a common currency and central bank; nationality, so the question of nationality and citizenship.

Historically, politically and culturally, no form of government can better suit us than a federal system. This is because Nigeria is not homogenous in many forms. The common factors, if any in the Nigerian Federation is the diversity. 

Our development efforts must take sufficient cognizance of how to effectively carry the grassroots through federalism, because it is central to solving may other related problems.

Although some people have argued that many of our governors are corrupt and that some of our states are not viable. That appears to true, but not a good excuse for not decentralizing the country. Given, many governors are corrupt and are stifling the local government system.

But rather than see that as excuse for the continued refusal to unleash the nation’s potential we should find a way to solve the problems of corruption at the state and local government levels. And we should encourage the states to think beyond oil and to be more creative like Lagos did under Asiwaju.

There is no state in Nigeria that does not have what it takes to develop itself; the only thing missing is the creativity of leadership that is required by governors to turn seeming impossibilities into a reality.

I support the call for restructuring and true federalism.

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