Why restructuring matters part 2

The creation of states was, as far as I can tell, a “joker” deployed by the then Federal government to diminish regional identity and regional aspirations. Remember this was in the wake of the pogrom and the civil war.

We must therefore view the current idea to proliferate (non viable) states with curious eyes and vigilant minds, in so far as the states would be federating with the centre. In other words, to have more states, and no regions, is to accentuate and reinforce the powers of the centre by other means- through the back door. Having regions as federating units is the best, clean break from this pseudofederalism. Conversely, having more states will be more of the same. We should look at United Kingdom, not United States, as a model of what is best. Let’s have the regions on the basis of shared history, language and cultures, and then districts, cities and towns as constituents under those regions. This is the best option, and it would not by any means imply that the rights of minorities under that system will be weakened. The opposite in actual fact, because you will have cities and townships sending their representatives to the regional assemblies, and electing their own mayors.

A federation of regions is also a great antidote to the expensive and inherently corrupt character of Nigerian politics. Earlier today I was speaking with an Ogun state gubernatorial candidate in the last election, and he described at length how frustratingly expensive the electoral process is, and why it so dominated by moneybags devoid of any ideological substance or interest in service. For a gubernatorial candidate to maintain structures in a state’s wards, hundreds of them, he needs billions of Naira. And that is separate and apart from the other costs of campaigning, including printing posters and running adverts.

Now consider a system in which the candidate need to campaign only in his locality (local government, etc) in order to be elected to the regional or federal parliament. Or, for that matter, as his town major or chairperson. It significantly lowers the costs of electioneering, reduces the opportunity to corruption, and increases the chance for successful participation of more credible candidates in the process. For good measure, the person so elected by his local constituents can become the head of government, as is the case with the UK Prime Minister.

This is not full proof, of course. Nothing is full proof against corruption. But you’ll be hard pressed to deny that, from a practical and structural point of view, this parliamentary federal system significantly reduces the potential for corruption and money-oriented politics, the likes of which invariably throws up thoroughgoing criminals and Philistines, to the detriment of all.

For the first part of this series, please check here

Seun Kolade

July 2017

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