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Nigeria is a federation in name and not in practice – Ben Nwabueze

By Emeka Mamah and Dennis Agbo
Enugu – The Chairman of both the Patriots and Project Nigeria Movement, PNT, Professor Ben Nwabueze has said that Nigeria is a federation in name and not in practice and called for the restructuring of the country to reflect its true status to ensure a new beginning.

Nigeria cheer during the 2018 FIFA World Cup qualifying football match between Nigeria and Cameroon at Godswill Akpabio International Stadium in Uyo, southern Nigeria, on September 1, 2017. 

He also said that the widespread clamour among Nigerians was not aimed at breaking up the country but to ensure fairness and equity for all irrespective of tribes or religion, just as he condemned the unilateral proscription of the Indigenous People of Biafra, IPOB, without engaging in dialogue with IPOB.

This was contained in a statement he issued in Enugu Thursday.

Nwabueze, in the statement entitled “Press Statement on Restructuring to mark our 57th Independence Anniversary,” said, “The object of re-structuring for which there is a widespread clamour among Nigerians, is not to break up the country or to enable agitators to secede from its sovereignty and territorial integrity.

“Far from that, the object is, by reforming the governmental structures and attuning them to the needs and wishes of the people, to ensure that the immense diversity of ethnic nationalities comprised in the state will continue to co-exist together in peace, prosperity and progress as citizens of one country united by common interests, common aspirations and a common destiny.

“The clamour for re-structuring must therefore be seen as a clamour for the setting up of appropriate platforms or fora to renegotiate suitable governmental structures for the pursuit and realization of our common needs for development, good governance and national transformation.

“In short, the clamour for re-structuring is more than a clamour for the reform of our governmental structures. This is only its primary focus. In its wider, more fundamental focus, it is a call for Nigeria to “make a new beginning” under a new Constitution approved and adopted by the people at a Referendum, a new politico-legal order that will cleanse the country of the rottenness that pervades it and enable to “chart a road map for its destiny” or what has been referred to as “re-structuring of the mind.”

“This aspect of re-structuring, which is as necessary as its primary focus, will need to be led by a President, as the elected Leader of the people, imbued with an ardour for national transformation.

“The governmental structure that needs particularly to be reformed by re-structuring is our federal system. Federalism is commonly agreed to be a compelling necessity for the maintenance of peace, stability and development of Nigeria as one country.

“The 1960/1963 Constitutions of Nigeria established a federal system with three (later four) regions each invested with sufficient autonomy to govern itself in matters that concerned it alone – internal self-government – without undue control by, or interference from, the centre, thus giving each region the impetus and incentive to develop optimally in healthy competition with the others.

“The federal system under the two Constitutions (1960 and 1963) may fairly be described as a model of true federalism.

“Regrettably, the intrusion of absolutist military rule for 28 years after 1965 has brought about the accretion of a vast amount of additional powers to the Centre, over and above what they were under the 1960/63 Constitutions, resulting in the system being turned virtually into a unitary system; the system is still tagged federal, but it is so largely in name.

“There are certain matters involved in this, undue concentration of powers and financial resources at the Centre that need to be specifically mentioned, viz

“It is a manifest contradiction to conceive of a government, whether in a federal or unitary system, without a constitution. There is just no such thing. The very notion of a government necessarily implies a constitution. Separate governments, as required by federalism, necessarily imply a separate constitution for each of the governments.

“The contradiction of a state or government without a separate coercive force of its own and under its independent control to maintain its existence and authority as a government and to enforce its laws. States exist, says D’treaves, according as they have a coercive force to exact obedience to their commands.

It is certainly incompatible with the notion of a separate government for each of the constituent units in a federal system that the only coercive force for the maintenance of their existence and authority as a government and for the enforcement of their laws is placed under the control of the Federal Government. The federating units in Nigeria need to have their separate and independent police force to conform with the requirements of federalism.

“The incompatibility with the autonomy of a constituent unit in a federal system that the election of its political functionaries – governor, members of its legislative assembly and local government councils – should be conducted by an organ of the Federal Government.

“The extension of federal power to the control of land. Land title is now largely exclusive to the Federal Government, for not only is the Land Use Act 1978 entrenched in the Constitution (s.315(5)), but also its provisions are to “continue to have effect as federal enactments and as if they related to matters included in the Exclusive Legislative List set out in Part 1 of the Second Schedule to this Constitution.”

“Aspects of local government are now also brought within the purview of the Federal Government. The extension of federal power to aspects of local government offends against the principle that local government is an example par excellence of a matter of local concern which places it squarely within the exclusive competence of the Regions or States.


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