National Security: Can Nigeria have a different definition of Federalism?

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IN its commendable strive to discharge its social responsibility, Vanguard Newspaper in conjunction with the Nigeria Police recently organised a National Summit on Security Challenges in Nigeria at the International Conference Centre, Abuja.

In his comments, the Inspector General of Police, Alhaji Abubakar Mohammed explained that the import of the summit was to harness ideas and strategies on how to combat the current security impasse ravaging the country.

The importance of brain- storming in such gathering to generate ideas cannot be under rated but the real fact is that the panacea for containing the pervasive insecurity of lives and property in Nigeria  is for the presidency and National Assembly to revert the country to the part of true federalism as it was in the first republic.

A critical and realistic evaluation of the comments and presentations at the national security summit revealed that the political leadership is grandstanding and wallowing in deception as a result of being remotely controlled by the ultra conservative northern Moslems who are bent on perpetuating its agenda to control the country directly and indirectly.

The political leadership has to hearken to the clarion call for a national conference where  accredited representatives of all the ethnic groups will set the modality for the country to berth a True Federalism.

The concept of True Federalism has become necessary because of the blatant violation of the principles and components of federal system of government (as practiced the world over) at the eve of the Nigeria civil war when the regional police was unilaterally abolished without weighing the frightful implications for a federal set up like Nigeria.

Federal and unitary systems of government have abiding principles and components born out of researches by political scientists. Since the outcomes of the principles and components are predictable, a nation has to adopt a system that would suit its geographical landscape and social peculiarities.

In line with the principles of federalism, the founding fathers of Nigeria’s political independence chose a federal system of government and the federating regions were in healthy competition in all the sectors like security, transport infrastructures, education, health care delivery, industrialisation, agriculture, urbanisation, integrated rural development, local government administration and parastatals.

Pervasive insecurity in contemporary Nigeria would not have attained such crisis proportion if the principles and components of federalism were continued as it was in the first republic.  At independence, the Republican Constitution had provisions for decentralised security system, prisons service and justice delivery administration.

The then Regional governments had their respective police which were up to the task with the security challenges, this guaranteed peaceful co-existence, security of lives and property necessary for economic and social activities while foreign direct investments created employment opportunities and facilitated poverty alleviation .

It is quite instructive that the Inspector General of Police alluded to the fact that the pervasive insecurity challenges has its source and spring from  the violation of the realistic federal system of government as bequeathed by the founding fathers of the Nigerian independence.

HE  said:  “Having taken this noble and courageous step, we must all endeavour to put our differences aside and focus on the voyage of championing the protection of the legacies bequeathed by our founding fathers”.

Ironically this apt comment contradicted his further postulations because as a northern Moslem he had align with the  overt and convert agenda of his people who have been doing everything possible to prevent the country from reverting to the path of True Federalism with its principles and components like decentralised security system.

Due to its self seeking agenda for political hegemony, the northern political and religious leaders in the first republic abused their regional police by preventing Chief Obafemi Awolowo’s party from holding political rallies in the northern part of the country.

The revenge action by the late political sage led to the abolition of the regional police in the country. The abolition of the regional police was a faulty and unimaginative solution to the abuse of the decentralised security arrangement since a realistic solution would have been to enact laws to checkmate the purported abuse.

This inconsiderate and unilateral action born out of fear of the growing political influence of Chief Awolowo especially in the then Middle Belt of the country was a blatant violation of the principles and components of federalism as practiced all over the world.

The military interregnum  and the consequent Decrees and faulty constitutions were crafted to favour the northern part of the country which led the country to this sorry pass and pervasive insecurity.

It is naïve for some of the participants at the national security summit to posit that Nigeria is not yet ripe for a decentralised security, prisons service; and that state governments cannot fund police.

Nigeria police could have collapsed but for the illegal funding of police by state governors which is a violation of their annual budgetary provisions for the welfare of their states. What they were saying in essence is that our founding fathers committed an egregious blunder by agitating for political sovereignty and the choice of federal system of government.

At such a summit, public servants like the Force image maker, Mr. Frank Mba should have kept sealed lips and just observed proceedings.

His comment to the effect that Nigeria was not ready for a decentralised security system, he was merely currying the favour of his boss since by his education and exposure, he really knows the principles and components of federal system of government.

The fact remains that the principles and components of federal system of government are sacrosanct, sacred and inviolate. Nigeria cannot have a different definition of federalism distinct from the universal concept; and it is this blind attempt that has placed the country on the path of self destruct or a failed state.

It is about time the political leadership of Nigeria stopped brazen deception encapsulated in supposed reforms in the police and manipulation of public opinions.

Modalities should be set in motion for a full blown federalism through a national conference; in the alternative, the presidency and the National Assembly can restructure the exclusive and concurrent legislative lists with the former having only three ministries namely: Aviation, defence and internal affairs. New revenue allocation formular should be put in place to reflect the new legislative lists.

The enduring panacea for security of lives and prosperity in this beleaguered country is full implementation of the principles and components of federalism which include decentralised security system, prison service and justice delivery system.

Anything short of this is to pander to the dictates of the northern Moslems who use centralised security system to control all Nigerians for their own end.

Mr.  POLYCARP ONWUBIKO, a public affairs analyst, wroteLagos.

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