Why Regional Is Bad

Posted: September 21, 2012 in Uncategorized

By Benjamin Obiajulu Aduba

According to this Day report (http://www.thisdaylive.com/articles/atiku-advocates-return-to-regionalism/125388/) the former vice President Mr. Atiku Abubakar demanded that the zones be strengthened so that they would serve as former regions. Here is a summary of ideas that came up during annual Newspaper Leadership award ceremonies:

From Atiku Abubakar: he called for a review of Nigeria’s political system with the country returning to the regional structure that obtained in the First Republic.
From former Lagos State Governor, Senator Bola Tinubu, he called for the scrapping of the Senate as a way of reducing the cost of governance
Former Minister of Defense, Lt-Gen. Theophilus Danjuma, decried the overweening influence of governors in the polity.

These men are distinguished Nigerians who had served (and still serve) Nigeria at very high levels. The common trend in each of the speakers is dissatisfaction with the Nigeria’s current status. Each one has been responsible for the Nigeria we now have and each has responsibility to right whatsoever is wrong with the country. I however think that each of them has a bad diagnosis of what is ailing Nigeria and their prescriptions accordingly would not heal the sick patient. I will address each advocate’s position and point out why I think the prescription is wrong for Nigeria

Mr. Abubakar first. He would like Nigeria to return to the regional arrangement that prevailed during an earlier era. His position assumes that what is wrong with Nigeria can be pin-pointed to the Federal Government. I will like for him to point out any sins of the FG that is not duplicated at the state levels or at any level of government. The FG’s wastes, the corruption, the impunity, greedy party government and greedier opposition, and indiscipline. I see in the state governments the very same things. A combination of the states (zones) will not eradicate any of the sins. The states are not competing for excellence but for incompetence; for who would loot the highest amounts and get away with the loot; for who is most dictatorial; and for who would ignore the wishes of the people the most. Regionalism would not alter the ambitions of Nigerian people especially her politicians. The tribes provide no succor either. The Yoruba is every inch as likely to steal as the Igbo or the Hausa, Edo, Fulani, Ijaw et al.

Mr. Bola Tinubu next. We all know of Mr. Tinubu’s administration and his role as ACN leader. I cannot distinguish his behavior from that of say Mr. Obasanjo or Mr. Jonathan or Mr. Babangida. Nor is his party any improvement on PDP or his personal life any better than any Nigerian’s. His call for the abolishing of the Senate is the most puerile of all the opinions offered. Why the senate and not the House or why not both. A sizable portion of the state’s resources are wasted on these idle bodies who take two months vacation at a stretch and come back to agitate for raises. The problem is not in the institutions but in their membership. What Mr. Tinubu should be proposing is how to elect patriotic Nigerians to the senate. Abolishing the senate makes as much sense as throwing away the baby with the bath water. Why does he not advocate for abolishing the presidency and the presidential air fleet? How about abolishing the judiciary with its dozens of Supreme Court Justices? Why not throw away over forty ministries and their duplicate responsibilities.

Mr. Tinubu would have been better off if he had suggested that the salaries of the legislators and their allowances should not exceed that of Indian legislators. This would make the Senate and the House less attractive. What is drawing people to these places is the excessive remuneration of being a legislator. We can save money by reducing the number of senators to two per sate. Where did the idea of three senators come from? We copied from US but US has two. Two senators are adequately representing California and Texas. Each of these states has a population roughly equal to half the Nigeria population and each is bigger geographically than the entire Nigerian nation. Abolishing the senate would not be the way to go to save money. Reducing the compensation would save money and will do so without the disadvantages of a mono cameral legislature as distinct from the bicameral we now have

Next Mr. Danjuma. Mr. Danjuma probably has a point on the powers of governors on the polity. Somebody in these net serves has proposed that a nation with supine lambs breeds upright wolves. We have state legislators who are supposed to be a check on the governors. We have state delegations to Abuja who also represent the state. The governors derive their power from the allocation formula; they have funds. If you cut off the comingling of Local Government allocations from the state government; if you put strong internal controls on security votes; the governors would have no powers. If you strengthen the backbone of legislators to actually dictate and control state budget process, the governors would fall in line. Why could Mr. Danjuma not see where the power of the governors come from and propose the methodology for taming them? Once more we see the enormous resources available to the governors attracting all kinds of people, without public duty calling, aspiring to be governors and spending enormous resources to win the office.

What Nigerian needs are not cry babies like Messrs Atiku, Tinubu and Danjuma. We need people who would role up their sleeves and join the government and lead by example, who would be advocating helpful solutions that may not be popular.

If there is a restructuring that Nigeria needs, it would be to go back to the Westminster Parliamentary structure advocated and then abandoned by Mr. Awolowo. It will make the Prime Minister sit with the legislators and make laws and make the PM just a regular guy.

The presidential form of government is too costly; it isolates the president from the common man; and it forces on the nation many ego maniacs.

It makes Nigeria believe that it is another America and a giant of Africa.

Boston, Massachusetts

September 20, 2012



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