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NIGERIAN FEDERAL SYSTEM AND THE CLAMOUR FOR RESTRUCTURING: IMPLICATIONS FOR PEACEFUL COEXISTENCE AND NATIONAL DEVELOPMENT

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NIGERIAN FEDERAL AND THE CLAMOUR FOR RESTRUCTURING: IMPLICATIONS FOR PEACEFUL COEXISTE AND NATIONAL

CHAPTER ONE

1.1      BACKGROUND OF THE

The process of evolution/attainment and development of nation/statehood is not achieved overnight – mistakes are made, lessons are learned; considerations, concession, compromises, sacrifices, loses, and gains are made; symbiotic, parasitic or commensalism relations and co-habitation occur and do change with time and circumstances; conflicts of different dimensions occur and never end, while controversies trail some other issues, even wars are sometimes fought and reconciliations made in the long or short run. This is typical to the Nigerian state, and her evolution and development process. Characteristically, Nigeria, according to Orewa (2012) is a calabash floating on a lake and although it may not sink, it has no definite direction/destination; and all chances to fix the Nigerian state at different times are missed, despite the efforts made by her leadership despite the importance of the leadership to every state, society and or organization (Wooi, Salleh & Ismail, 2017). Thus, Amuwo, Agbale, Suberu, and Herault (2013) admit that Nigeria’s political development has been dislocated and disrupted and hence, the needs for both structural and institutional coherence. For the longest part of Nigeria’s political history, calls/agitations/clamor for constitutional reviews, amendments, conferences, national questions, restructuring, among others, have partly dominated the public discourse. The political atmosphere also remains heated from time to time with military interventions and transitions, elections, opposition parties, marginalized elites/politicians/the public, and geo-regional, ethnic and groups, among others. These have prompted various constitutions making and re-making; constitutional conferences and amendments; establishment of tituent Assemblies, MAMSER, National Political Reforms Conference, Oputa Panel, various Revenue Allocation, and Minority Commissions, and National Reconciliation Commission (NARECOM), among others. All the instances identified above have remained manifestations of restructuring/realigning the Nigerian body polity (Suberu, 2015). While some of the challenges are not new, for they have been there since the pre-independence era, but manifesting in different forms and dimensions, in the recent, substantial part of such have consistently come from the South-Western Region of Nigeria, being one of the three major regions that make up the Nigerian entity since the colonial amalgamation of January 1, 1914. Such calls/agitations have, however, been simultaneously defied and resisted by the other parts of the country, specifically, the Northern Region/part until recently. After what may be partly regarded as previous insistence on status quo maintenance, hide and seek play (calls for National Conference and or Sovereign National Conference, General Abacha’s titutional Conference, 1994, Obasanjo’s National Political Reforms Conference, 2005, Jonathan’s National Confab, National Reconciliation Commission), virtually every region of Nigeria is now responding to and accepting (willingly or because of political pressure) the quest/calls for the restructuring Nigeria. This restructuring is, however enveloped in fear, anxiety, hope, despair and desperation, and the elite interests in continuous access to power and resources, with firm control and consolidation of the same. The Northern Region of Nigeria, which had in the past resisted virtually all these calls/agitations for the restructuring is submitting to same, but still with mixed feelings and emotion – feelings among some Northerners that whatever may fall from the heaven, it is time stop the hide and seek and face bull by the horn and let whatever happen. All the same and with whatever motive, for the restructuring to be meaningful and functional, there are critical issues that must be addressed. This study explored Nigeria’s restructuring dilemma and the critical issues, which must be the focal point of the restructuring for those who have been both the unifying and thorny issues in the unity and prosperity of the Nigerian state. The study explored those issues, which form the bedrock of any restructuring/geopolitical alignment and balance, and are the determinants of Nigeria’s future in relation to unity, cohesion, and stability among the component parts of the state. The personal worth of any national government is the attainment of the qualitative level of development as it is a crucial aspect of any nation’s drive to self-reliance. Lawab, (2011), posited that development is a vital necessity to the growth and sustentation of any vibrant nation. Thus, for development to be ensured, socio-political and economic stability must be guaranteed at all levels of government as this will promote citizen’s natural attachment to the governing process. In as much as development is vital to any nation’s progress, despite all the development plans by the Nigerian government, a lot of setbacks have been encountered in the developmental process. Thus, the efforts made by various governments have not been as worthwhile as unemployment, poverty, and inequality is still on the increase. According to Ibietan & Ekhosueh, (2013), the lack of coordination and harmonization of programs/policies both within the tenure of an administration and those succeeding it has been the impediment to development. The character of Nigerian leaders are nationalists in the day and ethnicism by night, as they only advocate federalism in name, but actually worked to accrue advantage to their ethnic units. The restructuring has acquired widespread usage, particularly in Nigeria’s public space within three years of Buhari administration (www.sunnewsonline.com). It should be noted that this is not the first time restructuring have found their ways into national consciousness and reckoning. Between now and then, much water has passed under the bridge as far as nation-building is concerned. Some groups openly canvass for disintegration in the country, as its peoples cannot stay together; everyone is worried about likely consequences (Sharma, 2012). The consequence is that various nationalities inhabiting Nigeria have not welded into a nation in which all of them would have a stake rather it provided an environment for mutual suspicion and distrust among disparate groups in Nigeria (Bello, 2012, Adetiba, 2013). It has been noted that the chorus of restructuring has been sung when resource control was in vogue; to achieve the same objective as the current debate. The only difference this time is that resource control captured the imagination for the people of oil-producing states in Niger Delta, but this time around restructuring is pitting the elite of north and south, as may be segmented to represent the South-East; South-South and South-West geopolitical zones on the firing line. This research will clarify restructuring as instruments of association for various communities into a nation-state and specify the positive factors of the federal set up that might have been compromised; this will give rise to the clamor for restructuring. A succeeding section shall be devoted to underscoring the positive and negative outcomes of restructuring, should restructuring gather momentum beyond the feature of open and credible democratic discourse in the public space of a polity.

1.2      STATEMENT OF PROBLEM

Although, federalism has being practiced in Nigeria over the years, the agitation for restructuring to achieve resource control or what some scholars termed “true federalism” including secession is not a new phenomenon in the country’s political history. Hence, it is not surprising from recent issues; that there are agitations by certain component units of Nigeria. In fact, it is clear that some parts or indeed all parts of Nigeria are not comfortable and satisfied with the present federal arrangement. Mostly agreed is that the central and the other components of the federation of Nigeria heavily rely on revenue allocation from the federation account with greater percentage coming from the oil revenues (Ojakorotu, 2008). Within the context of the political economy of oil in Nigeria’s federation, the question of control as some scholars termed it “resource control” (Babalola, 2016; Madubuike, 2015) is not totally surprising. To put it specifically, Agbu (2004) had earlier maintained that agitation in Nigeria’s federal set up has fundamentally manifested itself over the quest for access and control over the political power to federally collect revenue. More disturbingly is that, there has been a failure of governance at all levels of democratic governance structure mostly due to bad leadership and corruption over the years (Abbas, 2013). In fact, most indicators of under development are still present in the country regardless of its varied geo political regions. While the idea of true or fiscal federalism, resource control, and restructuring are aimed at ensuring balanced national development, unity and peaceful co-existence have been debating the big question therefore remains “what is wrong with Nigeria’s federal system in view of its current challenges?”Similarly, “can the current agitation calls through restructuring agenda” as pushed by some interest groups address the contemporary political and economic challenges in the country?”

1.3AIMS OF THE

The major purpose of this study is to examine Nigerian federal system and the clamour for restructuring: implications for peaceful coexistence and national development. Other general objectives of the study are:

1. To examine the nature of the Nigerian federal system.

2. To examine the factors responsible for the consistent call for restructuring in Nigeria.

3. To examine the effect of restructuring on the peaceful coexistence and national development in Nigeria.

4. To examine the challenges of leadership towards achieving good federalism and restructuring.

5. To examine the relationship between restructuring for peaceful coexistence and national development in Nigeria.

6. To examine the best ways and strategies to go about restructuring Nigeria’s federalism politically and economically.

1.4 RESEARCH QUESTIONS

1. How is the nature of the Nigerian federal system?

2. What are the factors responsible for the consistent call for restructuring in Nigeria?

3. What are the effect of restructuring on the peaceful coexistence and national development in Nigeria?

4. What are the challenges of leadership towards achieving good federalism and restructuring?

5. What is the relationship between restructuring for peaceful coexistence and national development in Nigeria?

6. What are the best ways and strategies to go about restructuring Nigeria’s federalism politically and economically?

1.5 RESEARCH HYPOTHESES

1

H0: There is no effect of restructuring on the peaceful coexistence and national development in Nigeria.

H1: There is a significant effect of restructuring on the peaceful coexistence and national development in Nigeria.

2

H0: There is no significant relationship between restructuring and peaceful coexistence and national development in Nigeria.

H1: There is a significant relationship between restructuring and peaceful coexistence and national development in Nigeria.

1.6 SIGNIFICA OF THE

The national question has remained an intractable challenge to Nigeria’s existence. The debate revolves around the demand for restructuring of the federation and the elaboration of governmental structures in the country. The pattern of restructuring advocated has tended to follow closely the way the national question is framed. Federalism, the governmental framework of the Nigerian state, has been the subject of constant demands for tinkering or fundamental reforms since 1954 when it was first adopted, but these demands have been shaped by the underlying discourse on the national question. Thus this study will help the Nigerian government and students in further research.

1.7SCOPE OF THE  

The study is based on the Nigerian federal system and the clamour for restructuring: implications for peaceful coexistence and national development. A case study of River State

1.8 LIMITATION OF

Financial constraint- Insufficient fund tends to impede the efficiency of the researcher in sourcing for the relevant materials, literature or information and in the process of data collection (internet, questionnaire and interview).

Time constraint- The researcher will simultaneously engage in this study with other academic work. This consequently will cut down on the time devoted for the research work.

1.8 DEFINITION OF TERMS

Federalism: Is the mixed or compound mode of government, combining 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. Its distinctive feature, exemplified in the founding example of modern federalism by the United States of America under the titution of 1787, is a relationship of parity between the two levels of government established. It can thus be defined as a form of government in which there is a division of powers between two levels of government of equal status.

Political:  Relating to government, or the conduct of government, concerned with the making as distinguished from the administration of governmental policy.

Restructuring:  Bringing about a drastic or fundamental internal change that alters the relationships between different components or elements of an organization or system.

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