The polity has been awash with pro and anti-restructuring calls as a way out of the structural imbalances in Nigeria. For the records, Vanguard presents the report of the All Progressives Congress (APC) Committee on Restructuring led by Governor Nasiru El-Rufai of Kaduna State.
1.1Reasons for the committee
Under the aims and objectives of its article 7, the APC Constitution commits the party to firstly, promote and foster the unity, political stability and national consciousness of the people of Nigeria, and secondly, to promote true federalism in the Federal Republic of Nigeria.
In the foreword to its vision for a New Nigeria (page 3, second paragraph), the APC Manifesto commits the party to ‘implement efficient public financial management strategies and ensure true federalism” as well as “restructure governance in a way that kick starts our political economy so that we can begin to walk the path of our better future”. Also, in its manifesto (page 7), APC entered into an “Honest Contract” with Nigeria to create a federalism with “more equitable distribution of national revenue to the states and local governments because this is where grassroots democracy and economic development must be established.”
In its Commitment to Restore Good Government (page 29, last paragraph), the APC Manifesto again stresses reliance on enhancing federalism through a two-pronged approach that consists of i) devolving control of policing and local prisons to the states and giving the right to nominate State Police Commissioners to Governors; and ii) Expanding the role of the Council of States to act as a consultation and negotiating forum between the Federal and State governments to agree on joint economic and social initiatives.
Finally, under its promised Reforms and “a Government You Can Trust” (page 37, last paragraph), the APC Manifesto pledges to “devolve more revenue and powers to the States and Local Governments so that decision making is closer to the people” and pledge to “bring the government closer to the people through political decentralization including local policing”.
From the foregoing, then there are enough assertions both in the party’s constitution and manifesto that commit the party to true federalism and the necessary structural reform to bring it about in the Nigerian State.
Nature of demand
Some of the proposals being canvassed by various interest groups include the following ideas.
- Devolution of powers i.e. reallocating the duties and responsibilities contained in the exclusive and concurrent lists of the Constitution to take decision making, in critical areas, closer to the people.
2.Review in favour of states, the current revenue allocation formula to reflect the added responsibilities of sub national units i.e. state and local governments.
3.Constitutional reconfiguring of the federation into the present six geopolitical zones as federating units. The idea is that the geopolitical zones will convert into federating units that are strong enough to drive the train of economic diversification with a less domineering federal government.
4 Review of the report of the national conferences that recommended far reaching constitutional reforms.
5.Review of the power of states over the extractive natural resources within their jurisdictions which are currently an exclusive preserve of the Federal Government, otherwise called resource control.
As a democratic party and government that have strong resolve to promote democratic values of free speech and promised in its manifesto to ‘listen” and “deliver”, the APC owes it a duty to engage the people in this debate. It is the view of the Party that any perceived resistance to debate and adoption of popularly demanded “true federalism” can equally undermine national stability and integration.
An engagement and open debate with the protagonist of restructuring according to the APC National Chairman will lead to the arrest of the agitation for ethnic nationalism and divisive conflicts within the polity and channel their energies to constructive dialogue. It is for these reasons that the Party constituted this Committee to carry out the tasks listed in terms of reference below and make recommendations to the National Working Committee of the Party.
1.2 Terms of reference
The Committee’s Terms of Reference are as follows:
i.Examine the Party Constitution, Manifesto and other publications to distill the true intent and definition of the “true federalism” promised by the Party in its Manifesto and during the Presidential campaign.
- Review all various ideas being promoted in the current public debate on national restructuring.
iii. Take a studied look at the report of the various National Conferences and in particular that of 2014, its recommendations to identify areas of congruence with the Party’s promise in (1) above.
- Arising from (i- iii) above recommend a Party position and propose appropriate mechanism for implementing same if adopted.
- Make any other recommendation which in the opinion of the committee advances the unity, national integration and collective well-being of the country.
- Committee membership and meetings
The party initially constituted a 10-member Technical Committee to advise it on the five-point agenda set in the terms of reference. The committee, however, after deliberations on the nature and scope of its assignment, recommended to the party an expansion of the membership of the committee for more inclusiveness to ensure stronger representation for all stakeholders particularly women and young people. The key consideration of the committee for its recommendations on the composition of the committee are as follows;
1.3.1 Public perception
There was a growing public debate on APC’s actual desire to restructure the country, partly because history has shown that no matter the source or initial agitation for restructuring and 9 true federalism when in opposition, the allure of the centralised Federal might as it is, is too enticing to forgo when achieved. There is a public perception that APC is no different. The Committee’s first task it was decided, would therefore be to demonstrate a sincerity to listen and make open, honest recommendations to the Party and the Federal Government and that its existence is not a ploy to buy time or bury the agitations.
1.3.2 Re-composition of the committee
The Committee took a position that it needed an expanded membership to cope with the anticipated volume of work and to ensure that this expanded membership reflects subnational sensitivities as well as the inclusiveness of national demographic realities, especially concerning women and a growing young population. In light of these a 27- member committee was reconstituted and inaugurated with the following membership.
1.Malam Nasir A. El-Rufai – Chairman
2.Sen. Olubunmi Adetunmbi – Secretary
3.HE Dr. A.U. Ganduje
4.HE, Prof. Senator O.A. Osunbor
5.Arakunrin Oluwarotimi Akeredolu SAN
6.Ogbeni Rauf Aregbesola
7.HE Simon Lalong
8.HE Ibikunle Amosun
9.HE Amb. Fatima Balla Abubakar
10.Mr. Bolaji Abdullahi
11.Mr. Salihu Mohammed Lukman
12.Senator Osita Izunaso
13.HE Yahaya Bello
14.HE Kashim Shettima
15.HE Mohammed Abubakar
16.HE Sullivan Chime
17.HE Dr. Ogbonnaya Onu
18.Senator Aishai Jumai Alhass
19.Hajia Aisha Ismail
20.Ms. Sharon Ikeazor
21,Hon. Dr. Stella Dorgu
22.Mrs. Racheal Akpabio
23.Barr. Ismail Ahmed
24.Mr. Jasper Azuatalam
25.Ms. Rinsola Abiola
26.Hon, Oladele Olatubosun George’
27.Hon. Namdas Abdulrazak Sa’ad2
The methodology adopted by the committee is as follows:
2.1Desk research and secondary data analysis
This involved review of secondary sources of information which include principally the following. *Party constitution and manifesto
*Reports of previous constitution conferences
*Newspaper reports and articles
22Call for Memoranda
In its widely publicised advertisement calling for memoranda, a number of key issues were highlighted while not foreclosing other issues.
23Public engagement and zonal consultations
After exhaustive deliberations, the committee decided to carry out a nationwide consultation on a zone by zone basis. The following locations were agreed as venues for the zonal public consultation meetings.
*South South Uyo and Benin
*South East Enugu and Owerri
*South West Akure and Ibadan
*North Central Jos and Ilorin
*North East Bauchi and Yola
*North West Sokoto and Kano
Key issues and definitions
1.Creation of States: Should Nigeria create more states or not; should states be merged, if so, what should be the framework and guidelines?
2.Merger of States: What should be the legal and operational framework for states that wish to merge? 3. Derivation Principle: What percentage of federal collectable resources should be given back to their sources, e.g. crude oil, solid minerals, VAT?
4.Devolution of Powers: What items on the exclusive legislative list should be transferred to the recurrent list to enable states have direct responsibility e.g. state & community police, prisons, etc?
5.Federating Units: Should the Nigerian federation be based on regions or zones as units or maintain the current 36 state structure?
6.Fiscal Federalism & Revenue Allocation: What are the proposed changes in the current revenue allocation formula? What should be the new sharing formula between the federal, state and local governments that will reflect their share of constitutional responsibilities?
7.Form of Government: Should Nigeria continue with the current Presidential system of government or return to the parliamentary system as practiced in the first republic or develop a hybrid of the two systems?
8.Independent Candidacy: Should there be a constitutional provision for eligible citizens to contest elections without being members of registered political parties?
9.Land Tenure System: Should the Land Use Act be part of the constitution or not and what should be the right of states in the ownership and control of mineral and natural resources on and under the ground?
10.Local Government Autonomy: Should LGAs be independent of states and have direct revenue sourcing from the FG as the third-tier of the federation or should they be administrative units of states?
11.Power Sharing & Rotation: Should Nigeria have a policy of rotation of the key elected political positions on regional or zonal basis for national offices and by senatorial districts for state offices?
12.Resource Control: Should states, regions or zones be allowed to exclusively or partially own, exploit and tap the financial benefits of natural resources in their domain and just pay taxes to the Federal Government?
13.Type of Legislature: Does Nigeria need a bi-cameral or uni-cameral, part-time or full-time parliament?
Accordingly, and pursuant to its mandate, the Committee visited the six (6) geo-political zones to engage with APC members and members of the public in general to receive their views and comments on the above subjects matters on the best way forward.
The audience engaged at the zones included the officials and members of the party at state and zonal levels as well as the general public.
The invitations to the general public were all inclusive bearing in mind five clear categories namely 1) Women; 2) Youths 3) Faith based organisations, 4) Traditional institutions and 5) Vulnerable groups. Specifically, invitations were extended to the following individuals and organizations3 .
A total of 409 memos were received from locations, email and website feedbacks. There was also a good number of turnout in the various locations with a cumulative of over 5,000 stakeholders in attendance.
Means of outreach
*Newspapers call for memorandum
*Zonal public hearings
*Interactive social platforms including email: email@example.com, twitter: @NGRTrueFed; facebook: facebook.com/NGRTrueFed; blog: https://medium.com/@NGRTrueFed; hashtag: #TrueFederalism
The committee created active social media presence, reaching over 3 million n young Nigerians. Facebook and Twitter were the most active new media platforms during the ‘campaign’ phase. Our Facebook account has 17,000+ fans and over 1,000 comments were generated via our new media channels and over 800 people reached daily.
On Twitter, over 2,746 Tweets were generated with the dedicated hashtag #TrueFederalism with a reach of 15 million+ within the public consultations and digital campaign cycle. The social media channels were used to report on real-time basis the various activities happening in the regions, during the public hearings and inform the public on the activities of the Committee.
To sample the opinion of Nigerians, we developed and published surveys online to collate views from the general public, concerning the 12 key issues, specifically. This was carried out to harvest quantitative data on the opinion and views of Nigerians. Our initial target for the survey was 500 respondents, but we received a total of 619 respondents at the end of the campaign period. Details of this can be found in Volume 4 – Project Communications Report and Online Survey.
Approaches to consultation & indicative work plan
In view of the size of the committee and the need to cover the zones in good time, a concurrent zonal consultation approach was adopted. The 25-member committee was split into 6 sub-teams of 4 members each to take on each zone. The FCT consultations involved all members
3.0Summary of findings
3.1Creation of States
Opposition to creation of new states is strongest among respondents from the northern states and online. Northwest in particular is very strong in this regard.
On the other hand, Northeast, Northwest, Southeast and online respondents are fairly strong in their advocacy for the creation of more states. Southeast in particular is seeking the creation of an additional state to achieve parity with other geo-political zones.
The demand for regionalism exists but in a low key. The demand came up in the FCT, Northwest, Southwest and among electronic respondents. The low intensity of the demand does not warrant a major consideration at this time. It would seem that the preference in general is for retaining what we have
Overall across the country, 48% of respondents are opposed to creation of new states while 36% are in support. The demand for return to regions enjoys support from 7% respondents while only 9% are actually in favour of maintain the status quo.
Recommendation It is the considered opinion of the committee that creation of more states is not expedient because to do so will merely create new sub-national bureaucracies and their attendant costs while reducing the share of federal statutory allocation accruing to existing and proposed new states that are already grappling with the high cost of governance, payment of salaries of workers and bringing development to their people. The creation of states could further weaken the federating units and thus run contrary to popular demands for “True Federalism” which the APC stands for. The creation of new states would weaken rather than strengthen true federalism in the sense of denying federating units enough resources and ability to discharge additional responsibilities that would be thrust on them.
However, there may be need to attend to the isolated case of South-East zone where there is a demand to balance states to be equal to other geo-political zones. Since there are clear procedures already spelt out in the constitution should the need arise in future, and such demand enjoys widespread support, deserving cases cannot be ruled out. Indeed, the Nigeria constitution should and does leave room for creation of states in future provided the laid down requirements are met.
Merger of States
Three views were variously expressed here namely opposition, support and status quo. Opposition to merger of states is clearly very strong in Northeast, Northwest, Northcentral while the support was low key in FCT, Southwest and South-South. There is some support for the idea in the Northcentral, Northwest and Southwest although at low key. Some others in the Northcentral and Southwest simply prefers the status quo. In general, the consensus is clearly on opposition to merger of states.