By Joyce Daniels
It is impossible to have a building with no foundation. The longevity and durability of structures depend on the quality of their bedrock. When there is a deviation from the original structure and a tweak in purpose, it is wise to align the bedrock to bear the weight of the proposed structure.
On 29th May 1999 we switched from the militarist structure to a civilian structure but retained the same building plan (our constitution) from the past. That has been the cause of the agitations across Nigeria for decades.
Recently, the Nigerian Senate committee on the review of the 1999 constitution instituted a nationwide public hearing on the need for a new constitution, owing to the several inadequacies the present constitution contains at the Edo, Delta and Bayelsa States held in Asaba, Delta state.
I was privileged to join stakeholders across sectors; cultural groups, NGOs, the press, clerics, labour and other unions, numerous other delegates to express our concerns.
A few of the points raised were as follows:
- The constitution’s preamble here quoted in part; “WE THE PEOPLE of the Federal Republic of Nigeria having firmly and solemnly resolved to live in unity and harmony as one indivisible and indissoluble sovereign nation under God … DO HEREBY MAKE, ENACT AND GIVE TO
OURSELVES THE FOLLOWING CONSTITUTION”, was questioned.
The dictatorial and masculine nature of the constitution drafted was foisted on the “…people…”
- Constitutional amendment will not be as effective as crafting a new constitution.
- Removal of all Christian and Islamic terms as well as the abolition of Sharia law from the constitution to reflect the secularity of the Nigerian State.
- Maximum age to run for office (pegged at 65) be enforced as well as putting a clause on the immunity of government officials while in office on grounds of corruption and other related offences.
- A young Nigerian isn’t deemed fit enough to give consent until having attained the age of 18.
- Resource control and land ownership of sites containing natural resources should be 100%
managed by the State and a stipulated percentage be remitted to the federal government.
- Stakeholders stressed the need for internal security, state and local police as well as funding and welfare for the armed forces and veterans.
- The enactment of free primary, secondary and tertiary education as well as adult literacy programs for all, especially Persons With Disabilities [PWDs] and representation of young people and PWDs across sectors, including public offices and government agencies for inclusion.
Riding on the understanding of what Nigerians wanted and as a staunch advocate for the writing of an entirely new constitution, I expressed these desires at the Governor Seyi Makinde National Democracy summit.
My submission was “TOWARDS A MORE EFFECTIVE FEDERALISM IN NIGERIA”.
Federalism is defined as a mixed or compound mode of government that combines a general government (the central or federal government) with regional governments (provincial, state, cantonal, territorial or other sub-unit governments) in a single political system.
True federalism in Nigeria can be made more effective if approached from four (4) angles, in no particular order;
- ACHIEVE BUY-IN OF THE PEOPLE
Sell the rewards of true federalism – customised laws, increased productivity, healthy competition amongst Federating Units, improved education and more via communication, education, demonstration, modelling, persuasion, teaching, training, mass enlightenment, sensitisation, national orientation of the entire populace.
- THE RIGHT CONSTITUTIONAL FRAMEWORK
The law should be clear on the powers that belong to the federating units (States) and how they contribute to the centre. The centre should maintain responsibility for foreign affairs, social security, industrial relations, international trade, immigration, currency and defence, while the States should be responsible for health, education, state security, income and revenue generation,
as well as contributing their quota to the centre. The laws have to change to win the total and complete buy-in of the Nigerian people.
A major area for inclusiveness is STATE OF RESIDENCE. Decisions will need to be made based on the State of residency, not origin.
- Income Generation & Economic Growth of Federating Units via beneficiation of natural resources, agriculture, industry, trade and human capital development.
- THE RIGHT LEADERSHIP COHORT
We need representatives who are of diverse interests, yet consistent in a vision of working together to gather and motivate mass, willing followership of the Nigerian people, towards shared prosperity and belief in Nigerian greatness. It is therefore imperative that the representatives insist and ensure that the wishes of the Nigerian people are not swept under the carpet.
This is a wake-up call for every stakeholder in governance (every Nigerian) to be part of the engineering that will birth the New Nigeria. We must be involved in the electoral process and decision-making that produces quality leaders. We must be involved in the education of the uneducated amongst us, ensure that order is maintained and development is sustained.
When we have a crop of our leaders who are empathetic, visionary and excellent, coupled with a guiding document (constitution) that aligns with our shared visions, we will truly experience exponential growth and unmatched development.
Joyce Daniels is a Social Engineering Practitioner, nation builder, mindset coach, speaker and compere with 14-years of experience. She is the founder, TALKADEMY – Africa’s Premier training school for Masters of Ceremonies, and author of two books “MASTERY” and “Before You Speak, Read This!” Joyce has trained over 8000 individuals, organisations and companies.
She is the Executive Director of the Joyce Daniels Organisation, a human capacity development company, which offers mindset, confidence and courage coaching in raising and equipping an educated, developed, and orderly citizenry. Her passion is to lead citizen-led development and inspire more Social Engineering Practitioners.
Joyce advocates social justice, political and economic reforms through various media channels, reaching over 10,000 readers and listeners each week. She educates on actions citizens can take to ensure a greater Nigeria.
She is an associate at Women in Business, Management & Public Service (WIMBIZ), a mentor at Women in Successful Careers (WISCAR); member, Institute of Strategic Management of Nigeria (MISMN); member, Women in Energy, Oil & Gas (WEOG); fellow, Institute of Management Consultants (FIMC).
Join us at the Democracy Day Conversations, June 12, 2021.