Restructuring Nigeria for a more perfect union – Perspectives by Professor Babs Onabanjo

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The year 1914 is very important in world’s history. It was the year the First World War broke out when Archduke Franz Ferdinand of Austria was assassinated which tumbled the world into turmoil until when the war ended in 1918.

On the other hand, another epoch event happened in the same year. It was the year when a man called Lord Frederick Lugard, who was the governor of the northern and southern regions of Nigeria, had a brainwave and amalgamated the two regions which had few things in common in terms of religion and ways of life.

This ‘unequal yoked’ union of the northern and southern regions of Nigeria has been the major cause of the challenges bedeviling Nigeria. The independence of Nigeria from British did little to create a perfect union between the north and south.

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Even as we celebrate the 60th independence of Nigeria, it is important to have a sober reflection on the nation called Nigeria.

Unfortunately, no matter the angle one desires to look at the union called Nigeria, the country at the age of 60 is a failed state. Anyone who thinks that Nigeria is a democratic institution with democratic values is either daydreaming or in denial.  

The country is more divided more than ever in history. While the Eastern part are determined to secede, some elements in the Western part of the country are agitating for their own independence. Whereas, there is an uneasy calm in the middle belt.

Indeed, for this union to continue to exist, Nigeria needs to be fixed through restructuring into regional autonomous six geo political zones (North East, North West, North Central, South West, South East and South-South).

I was part of the Washington (NADECO) conference of Nigerian which came up with the six geo-political zone during Abacha’s reign of terror.

Abacha adopted our recommendation for his own political interest but rather than creating six-geo autonomous zones, he adopted six geo political zones to sustain himself in power as a means of becoming a civilian president. 

He needed the unitary system to retain absolute power and control.

In developing the six geo regional zones, there were three assumptions from the Washington (NADECO) conference of Nigerians:

1. The decision must be based on what is best for the unity of Nigeria and her people.

2. The decision cannot be based on personality, selfish interest and emotion but must be based on fact, data and analysis of historical and future trends and aspiration for Nigerian economic productivity, development and sustainability.

3. The new thinking must be regional economic viability, resource control, economic and entrepreneurial growth and development with full autonomy, where regions decide the number of states within their regions and the number of local governments and structures, The unit is only one sixth of the federation in terms of resource allocation sharing, creating equity, fairness and balance.

3b. Each region will have a vice president with a portfolio at the center. The presidency will rotate between the Northern and Southern regions. The center will control the military, fiscal policy, customs and immigration, ports, aviation. There will be regional police, state police and local police. The regions will control their resources and pay federal tax, state tax and local tax to sustain the system. Any Nigerian citizen can live and own property anywhere in Nigeria and can contest for political positions of interest as long as they meet residency requirements without violation of citizen rights.

If President Buhari fails to heed this wise counsel to restructure Nigeria during his tenure, then history will not be kind to him,

President Buhari’s administration has failed Nigeria miserably but there is hope for redemption through genuine restructuring into regional autonomy- the only hope to keep Nigeria one and united.

The political elites in Nigeria do not want restructuring. However, the political elites will become inconsequential in the struggle for the preservation of life and property of the indigenous people of Nigeria. A good general does not fight a battle he or she cannot win. Should ethnic war be declared in Nigeria, the Yoruba soldiers will not fight against their own skin, the Hausa and non-Fulani will eliminate the Fulani who have dominated them for far too long and marginalized them. 

The Igbo will not fight the Fulani war neither the remaining ethnic groups in Nigeria.

Buhari should be aware that his Fulani administration will suffer unbearable defeat in a battle he could have prevented. 

There is an adage which states that “those the gods will destroy, he first make them mad”. So is the story of pharaoh /Moses and many power drunk leaders. This is a time for reflection and action to redeem Nigeria by restructuring or break up.

A word is good enough for the wise – take it from millions of Nigerians who are marginalized and are yearning for freedom to rule themselves and never again be enslaved by the Fulani oligarchy. Sixty years of enslavement is enough. The time for action is now! We must be freed at last. The time is now!

Prof. Babs Onabanjo, President: Nigerian Alliance for Democracy (1993-1999) and currently the President and CEO of A.D. King Foundation, Georgia, USA.  

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