Below are our token contribution and resolved to the ongoing debate on the review of the 1999 constitution (as amended). In discussing the issues under reference, we, the concerned citizens of Nigeria, have adopted the following methodological approach of responding to the issues given therein by the National Assembly’s terms of reference:
(a) Providing brief account of each of the issues under consideration; and (b) Proffering solutions.
(1) THE FEDERAL STRUCTURE AND POWER DEVOLUTION
Limit the federal power exclusive list to: defense; external affairs; communications and digital economy; currency and coinage; railway; civil aviation; waterways; shipping; harbors and all maritime and continental shelf matters; designated trunk A roads (which should be spelt out in the federal constitution); immigration and customs; energy and mineral resources; coordination of special scientific and research activities (also to be clearly spelt out in the constitution); federal policing to deal with only inter-state crime, cybercrime, and international crime; states creation; boundaries adjustments; appropriation of all revenues deposited into the federation account by national assembly,determination of revenue derivation formulae for the three tiers of governments, and salaries, allowances as well as retirement benefits of the elected public servants by the RMAC; determination of minimum threshold levels of the salaries, allowances as well as retirement benefits of regular workers (i.e. for both Private and Public establishment) by the Wages and Salaries Commission; the selection of INEC boss and any other government ministries, agencies and parastatals that falls under the purview of the Federal Government; and the strict retention of federal character principle.
There should be only one Federal Court (The federal Supreme Court) with nation-wide jurisdiction on all matters. The Federal Supreme Court should be made up of an equal number of judges from the states, to be appointed from the list of three qualified experienced judges submitted by the states. The post of Chief Justice of Nigeria should be held on regional rotational basis and each to serve for five years. There should be Federal Appellate Courts with two separate wind of equal jurisdiction namely Sharia and Common law, situated in each states of the federation with nation-wide jurisdiction to entertain all matters; and Specialized Courts and Tribunals such as the Industrial Arbitration Courts, Election Tribunals, Sharia Courts, Customary Courts etc. Also, there should be Lower and High Courts, with wider jurisdiction to cover all matters except that reserve for the specified specialized courts above.
Limit the concurrent list to: agriculture; industries and commerce; education and social services; health; power; mining on land/onshore; judiciary; state policing; culture and tourism; taxation (clear cut categories of the type of taxes belonging to federal, state and local government areas should be spelt out in the federal constitution to avoid cases of overlapping and or multiple charges). Sustained the residual list as it is.
System of governance: The Presidential System of Government should be sustained in juxtaposition with Unicameral legislature, while sustaining the two terms tenure of the President and Governors.
Given the outcry against the huge cost of the governance with any system, some government agencies with same or similar mandate should be merged for effective performance and cost reduction. To mention but few of such agencies include: ICPC, EFCC, Code of Conduct Bureau, etc.
(2) LOCAL GOVERNMENT/ LOCAL GOVERNMENT AUTONOMY
Under the 1999 Constitution, it is clear that Nigeria’s federal arrangement provides for three-tiers of government: federal, state and local. The same argument presupposes that each level of government is relatively independent, autonomous or use complementary to each other. However, amongst the tiers of government, local government is the most bullied by both the federal and state governments, and fully controlled by the states in flagrant violation of the provision of the constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria. Local Government is, therefore, completely subordinated in the entire aspects of inter-governmental relations, particularly in the distribution of power and resources as provided for under the second schedule to the constitution, there exists the Executive and Legislative lists for the federating states and local government councils.
Fundamental issues bordering on law and constitution shed light on some controversial assumption of the federal government over primary education despite the Supreme Court ruling on the matter. Thus, the launching of Universal Basic Education (UBE) as well as the establishment of the National Primary Health Care Development Agency means unambiguously that the federal government has unilaterally taken over the conduct and management of primary and secondary education as well as primary health care delivery.
The appointment of sole administrators to man the affairs of local government to manipulated extensions or otherwise of the tenure of the elected offices in local government councils by the National or State Assemblies were not in the spirit of the constitutional provisions. Hence, “the system of local government by democratically elected local government councils is under this constitution guaranteed” (Nigeria, 1999).
The, local governments have always been constrained, in the performance of their duties, by a variety of financial and other factors largely due to the overbearing influence of the state governments through abuse of the provision for Joint Account spelt out in the constitution. The disbursement of the share of the LGAs statutory revenue from the federation account (FAAC) is made to them vide their state governments, who often cart away substantial part of it leaving them with, in most cases, small amount to service their personnel cost.
One of the important functions or duties of the local governments is to generate funds with a view to increasing or augmenting their revenue base fortune so as meet their financial and developmental obligations. The local government capacities to generate and manage funds have been constrained by the kind of leaders imposed on them by the State Executive Governors, who often lack initiative and critical thinking capacity to turn things around, other than being totally subservient to their Governors. Consequently, these so-called elected leaders ‘or handpicked leaders’ are mentored or teleguided to be over-dependent on what is being given to them by the states, which is hardly not only sufficient, but hardly given to them as at when due to execute annual budgets and implement development plans.
As a hedge against such unhelpful interference, is for national assembly to pass a law on disbursing local government appropriated amount directly to them, while enforcing the state legislatures and other government agencies saddled with oversight responsibility to supervise the utilization of such fund. Doing so will avert shortchanging the local governments and avoid corrupt or sharp practices.
Also, the idea being bandied by some pressure groups that states be allowed to create LGAs which could be recognized by the constitution and have access to the federation account is not realistic, considering the fact that the LGAs are also used for distribution of access to national resources and for distribution of political party delegates to their national conventions.
(3) PUBLIC REVENUE, FISCAL FEDERATION AND REVENUE ALLOCATION:
The clamour for review of public revenue, fiscal federation and revenue allocation has its roots from perceived deprivation of access to the derivable benefits arising from the exploitation of the resource endowments of each state by the people. This will continue to occur and over heat the polity. By law, the Nigerian state owns all mineral deposits in Nigeria, including crude oil. This ownership is established through a series of statutes that govern the all mineral deposits, dating back to the colonial period. The central/federal government controls revenues from all mineral deposits and sets up a formula for distributing to itself and to the other tiers of government namely, States and Local Governments.
Oil revenue allocation has been the subject of much contention well before Nigeria gained independence. Allocations have varied from as much as 50%, owing to the First Republic’s high degree of regional autonomy, and as low as 13% during the military dictatorships. The Revenue
Allocation Act provides for the distribution of federation funds. Section 1 of the Act provides that, “the amount standing to the credit of the Federation Account, less the sum equivalent to 13% of the revenue accruing to the Federation Account directly from any natural resources as a first-line charge be set aside for distribution to the beneficiaries of the derivation funds in accordance with the Constitution, and the balance left be distributed among the Federal and State Governments and the Local Government Councils in each State of the Federation.” The current Revenue Allocation Formula and distribution of Federation Account Revenue among the three tiers of Government are represented as follows: Federal Government 52.68%, State Government 26.72%, and Local Government Councils 20.6% (Source: NEITI, 2020).
The oil-producing states have continued to press hard for increase derivation payments to 50% of revenues amidst dwindling revenue fortune occasioned by vagaries of international happenings. This gave rise to what has come to be called the struggle for resource control.” In response to this recurring agitation for upward review of revenue derivation, the Federal government’s insistence that their entitlement is to revenues derived from onshore, not offshore, of petroleum production and related activities. The FGN position drew its stance from the verdict of the suit it filed on February 8th, 2001, where it filed a case against eight oil-producing states in the Supreme Court with a view to finding a legal solution to their persistent demand for resource control. The FGN sought for a declaration from the Supreme Court to the effect that: “It is only the Federal Government of Nigeria and not the government of any of the States, that has the power to exercise legislative, executive and judicial powers over the entire areas designated as territorial waters of Nigeria, and wanted a determination of the seaward boundary of a littoral state within the Federal Republic of Nigeria for the purpose of calculating the amount of revenue accruing to the federation account, directly from any natural resources derived from the state pursuant to the proviso to section 12(2) of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria”.
On April 5, 2002, the Supreme Court of Nigeria delivered a landmark judgment on the suit against the states’ persistent calls for resource control. Substantively, the judgment favours the Federal Government’s assumption that the littoral states have no legal claims to revenues from offshore oil, although it declared unconstitutional the federal government’s practice of using first charge special accounts and joint venture cash calls, to draw funds from the Federation Account (Cited in Jega, A. M. (2007). Democracy, Good Governance and Development in Nigeria; Spectrum Books Ltd, Ibadan, Nigeria. 204-5). In actual eye of the law, none of the littoral states is entitled to offshore oil revenue on the basis of derivation as a right. This is because, the Supreme Court in Attorney General of the Federation vs Attorney General of Abia State and 35 others, 2002 ruled without any ambiguity that: the maritime territories of the federal states in Nigeria do not extend beyond the low water mark of the shoreline in each state. That implies that the territory and resources seaward of the low water mark belongs to the Federal Government and the revenue there from should accrue to the commonwealth of all federal states.
Following that ruling seven years ago, tension mounted in many of the oil producing states of the Niger-Delta region. Reading the situation correctly, the Federal Government moved swiftly to calm frayed nerves by opting for a political solution. It took the wise decision to apply derivation to offshore oil revenue up to 200-meter isobaths from the low water mark of the shoreline of each littoral state. That political decision which is embodied in that Revenue Allocation (Abolition of Dichotomy in the Application of Derivation) Act, 2004 by the National Assembly, staved off a possible backlash in the volatile region.
However, some derivation States like Rivers and Bayelsa have made the case that while the onshore/offshore abrogation law grants them oil and gas revenues within their baseline and 200 meters isobaths, they suffer severe environmental impact, and are accountable for the immediate security of some oil fields just beyond that distance (NBC, 2010:3). The state required accommodation in revenues accruing from such field and they were referred to the National Boundary Commission (NBC) and Revenue Mobilization Allocation and fiscal Commission (RMAFC) for advice. Some of the reasons advanced by Rivers and Bayelsa State governments are relevant and the Federal Government have set up a committee to look at the prayers of the states as appropriate in view of the environmental degradation and volatile security situation that the states may have to contend with if the said oil fields are to be secured and guaranteed.
Other states of the federation have argued that the deprivation principle negates equity principle due to several factors. Central to the criticisms was the lack of accurate statistics on the regional distribution of imported items (other than tobacco and motor fuel) on which duties were imposed. Indeed; it was reported that figures for regional consumption of the affected items were based on broad assumptions and approximation. More so, the country at its stage of development then, did not possess the capacity to effectively handle the calculations required from time to time. Thus, to share revenue generated from customs duties to the states on the basis of the amount of imported goods consumed represented a blatant violation of the principles of equity and fairness. The point has also been made that the application of derivation promoted regional hostility and disunity because it supported uneven development. It was expressed that derivation principle tended to favor wealthy regions at the expense of the poor ones; and so, it is not only antidistributional, it negates the macro objective of rapid growth and development. Thus, it was common for a region not favored by it at one period to oppose its use.
However, much as the judgment may have resolved a number of outstanding legal matters pertaining to the demands of Southern Governors for resource control, though not to the total satisfaction of all the parties involved in the suit, it has even, more fundamentally, made clear the necessity of devising creative political solutions, as a complement to the imperatives of legality, in the resolution of some of the most persistent problems associated with the Nigerian brand of federal system of government. Fundamentally, the fiscal terms governing some operational and revenue or production sharing aspects of mineral resources and petroleum fiscal systems in Nigeria are mostly predetermined through national legislation. On the other hand, the non-fiscal instruments are subject to negotiation and here lies some of the political risk and uncertainties to be quantified.
The challenges facing Nigeria may perhaps be quite difficult to resolve constructively without an amendment to the 1999 Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria. The key elements of these challenges include resource ownership and the exclusive rights of the national government to grant the permission to its sub-national entities to explore and develop their mineral resources in Nigeria. Thus, this could be amended to allow states to equally partake in the exploration and exploitation of resources beneath their territorial boundaries side by side with the Federal Government, while paying appropriate taxes to the Federation account. In other words, mining should be assigned to the concurrent list with the on-going land mining under the federating units and off-landing mining under the control the government of the federation.
The current clamour for the upward review of revenue derivation formulae being made by the oil producing states to 50% of the accruable revenue derivable from onshore oil exploited should be granted to them, whilst the balance of 50% to be applied to the development of Federal Government special projects like the Liquefied Natural Gas (NLNG), Steel, Joint venture cash calls with IOCs, HYPREP to cater for ecological and environmental requirements of the region, etc. However, the Federal Government should exclusively retain the totality of derivable benefit secured from offshore oil exploited in line with the constitutional provision of Nigeria and as per the Supreme landmark judgement given above.
(4) NIGERIAN POLICE AND NIGERIAN SECURITY ARCHITECTURE
The nation security workforce comprising of the Military, Police, Civil Defense, DSS, NIA, Immigration, Customs, Prison Service, NDLEA and other para-military formations, too numerous to mentioned. Their roles are the effective maintenance of law and order and protecting the territorial integrity of the nation from internal and external threats. Currently, there are serious problems with Nigeria’s law enforcement agencies. The greatest of all the challenge is lack of synergy or organic collaboration amongst the agencies. This is exacerbated by lack of effective coordination and control by the overarching National Security Adviser (NSA) to assertive his powers on various core security agencies. Thus, the NSA is often left having to grapple with the too powerful ‘Service Chiefs’ of all the agencies under his domain that are involved in unhealthy competition amongst themselves. In fact, it is not an exaggeration to say the bitter truth that some of the security agencies chieftains are finding it somewhat difficult to subordinate themselves to NSA Office because he cannot discipline, hire and fire them.
The result is the persistent failing to protect lives and properties as well as to ensure the liberty of the citizens adequately. Consequently, all sorts of sophisticated crimes ranging from Boko Haram insurgency, terrorism, kidnapping for ransom, communal clashes, banditry, farmersherders clashes, cattle rustling, drugs abuses, robbery, cultism, communal clashes, corruption, impunity, etc, are not only ravaging the nation but worst of all on the increase at an alarming rate on daily basis.
Clearly, one is left with no option than to conclude that nation security architecture appears to be totally overwhelmed or incapacitated by their unhealthy rivalry coupled with moles and deep-seated corruption marring their capacity to confront the daily emergent security challenges and threats. This myriad of problems was allowed to fester leading to systematic institutional decay over a longer period of time arising from government neglect to nip it in the bud. Beyond the inter-security collaboration and synergy, is obsolete equipment or lacking sophisticated equipment to match or outplay that of the criminals they are hired to fight, subdue and apprehend appears to be of major challenge.
Inadequate number of personnel alongside their training, recruitment, supervision, are badly coordinated and or haphazardly done under sordid deplorable conditions and worst of all carried out by ill equip personnel. Also, their offices and barracks/housing are in shamble or dilapidated; allowances, salary emoluments, and pension are hardly paid as at when due or even when paid, lives much to be desires. In a nutshell, there is total breakdown of discipline in all aspect of police operation.
Narrowing our observation to Police. It is in the public domain as reported by public commentators in various media that the police formation has a total workforce that is put to about 450,000 to oversee a population of over 200 million people. Worst of all, a substantial number of these personnel are carted away by the people in power, elites and corporate establishments to guard them at alter of total and exclusive benefit of the protecting the nation. More so, police outreach stations are grossly starved of funds to meet its operational logistics. Most of the times, the police are being compelled to commit some minor crimes like extortion of money from criminals and innocent citizens to not only survive but to carry out their constitutional challenging obligations. The result of this sordid and unbearable condition is what gave birth to what might be termed ‘police brutality’ amidst rising wave of crimes. The end result is what culminated into nationwide ‘endSARS protests’ leading to loss of confidence and gruesome destruction of police facilities, attack and harassment of the police personnel whenever they were by the populace.
It is not surprising that virtually all the broadcast and some print media carried the news in the recent times about the massive resignation of police officers, even though the Inspector General of Police swiftly rejected such resignation and launched a conceited effort to persuade them to stay put with assurance to rejig the force for better welfare and performance. The question that is begging for answer is that ‘will such demotivated personnel be compelled to remain in the force, to serve with utmost dedication, loyalty and to give their best under duress?’ The answer is emphatic ‘no’. The solution lies in not only redressing the above identifiable problems but in in reviewing the conventional means of dealing with security challenges. There is need to effectively empower the NSA to deal with all security matters and personnel irrespective of their status and overbearing influence over the President. Also, there is the need of reviewing the security modus operandi to accommodate and amplify intelligence gathering via community policing should have to be adopted. In this regard, the policing should be assigned to the concurrent list with only inter-state crime, cybercrime, and international crime be under the jurisdiction of the federal police. The States should operate their police structure, either based on individual states desire or regional basis, based on their own state legislative frameworks.
(5) COMPREHENSIVE JUDICIAL REFORMS
The service delivery of the nation’s judiciary lives much to be desired. Most of the Nigerian’s courts are obsessed with legal technicalities thereby hampering their ability to deliver credible and substantive justice as at when due. Consequently, there has been loss of confidence on the nation’s Judiciary cum government, especially as relate to campaign and fight against corrupt practices in the polity.
Furthermore, many of the Nigeria’s policies and laws governing the environmental, oil and gas industry are outdated and fragmented and not composed into a single document to the capture emerging challenges. Example of such outdated policies and laws that are fragmented in Nigeria include the Water Works Act 1915, Public Health Act 1917, Civil Aviation Act 1964, Antiquities Act 1915 (1958), Live Fish (Control of Importation) Act 1965, Explosives Act 1964, Territorial Waters Act 1967, Exclusive Economic Zone Act 1958, Petroleum (Drilling and Production) Regulations Act 1969, Nigerian Atomic Energy Commission Act 1976, Natural Resources Conservation Act 1989, River Basin Development Authorities Act 1987, Sea Fisheries (Licensing) Regulations 1992, Quarries Act 1969, Land Use Act 1972 and National Parks Acts 1991. In other words, Nigeria lacks a distinct environmental, oil and gas laws harmonised and compressed into one single document. Likewise, certain nitty gritty of laws such as compensation code which specifies the processes and methods that are to be used in compensation assessment under different circumstances lives much to be desired. What exists are a series of separate enactments relevant to operators in different sectors and often subject to multiple interpretations (NOSDRA, 2014:2).
Court procedures associated with determination of court locus standi of complainants (where if it is civil society that file complain on behalf of victim(s) and/or not a direct victim of negative externalities in form of gas flare, oil spills, toxic waste dumps, etc), to even determination of the jurisdiction of the court itself to hear a case, to abuse of interlocutory injunction order, and to other legal technicalities associated with prosecuting processes as well as establishing prima facie facts against oil companies responsible for oil negative externality, often than not proves difficult and resulted in unnecessary delay or prolonging of a case trail and leading to difficulty in redressing negative externality problem via cessation, compensation and restitution. Thus, these need to be looked at and redress to facilitate speedy dispensation of justice.
The solution lies in the National Assembly speedily redressing of the all but not limited to the above identifiable problems. Thus, the review of litigation and court structures and processes to remove all sorts of bottlenecks, as well as the speedy passage of petroleum industry laws are not only apt but necessary in dispensation of justice, equity and fair play.
(6) ELECTORAL REFORMS TO STRENGTHEN INEC TO DELIVER TRANSPARENT, CREDIBLE, FREE AND FAIR ELECTIONS:
Selection of INEC Boss should henceforth be made the exclusive jurisdiction of the 23 supreme court justices vide their screening and voting mechanism of three (3) suggested names by the Executives and three (3) suggested names by the Legislatures. This way the present imposition of the executive arm of government nominee or their stooge that would play the biding of an incumbent government would not only be averted, but also any unhealthy insinuations that would undermine the credibility of the electorate umpire would be avoided.
The number of political platforms that one will vie for electorate position ought to be restricted not to go beyond six political parties, while sustaining the winning formulae for presidential position to comply with getting higher electorates vote and across regional cum national spread. In this wise, INEC needs to upscale its criteria for the registration of political parties to discourage unserious ones. INEC needs to craftily find a way of pegging a uniform modest amount payable for registration of candidates in all parties to discourage godfatherism and alienating of competent persons with no money but wishing to enlist for party membership in order to vie for position. The speedy passage of the Electoral Act 2010 (Amendment) Bill, 2020 is critical to having an improved electoral system in the country.
(7) SOCIO-ECONOMIC AND CULTURAL RIGHTS AS CONTAINED IN CHAPTER 2 OF THE CONSTITUTION.
Subscribe to the existing arrangement therein spelt out in the constitution.
(8) STRENGTHENING THE INDEPENDENCE OF OVERSIGHT INSTITUTIONS AND AGENCIES CREATED BY THE CONSTITUTION OR PURSUANCE TO AN ACT OF THE NATIONAL ASSEMBLY.
Agencies saddled with responsibility of oversight include but not limited to National Assembly, State Houses of Assembly, Office of the Federal Auditor General, Office of the States Auditor Generals, EFCC, ICPC, Code of Conduct Bureau, FIU, Servicom, Office of National Security Adviser, Provost Offices of various security agencies, Quality assurance units, etc. These institutions have over the years became weaken due to poor funding, incompetent or corrupt drivers and weak operating procedures. The result of their systematic decay is abysmal performance in the discharge of their statutory responsibilities aggravated by impunity or lack of political will to assert and enforce the institutional extant laws, policies and rules. Again, the end result, sadly, is the country having to grapple with transparent accountability of recovered looted funds and assets resulting in public throwing banters of various unwarranted allegations and speculations on the concern agencies personnel re-looting the recovered looted items.
Strengthening those institution would require massive funding to the fullest at each point in time, review of their modus operandi to reflect global best practices and to giving them the necessary support and free hand to operate within the limit of their mandate, back with extensive periodic oversight of their activities by the relevant concern agencies. Likewise, the law guarding the selection of the aforementioned heads need to review to expand the search of credible leader beyond Police force to cover all other serving and or retired core security agencies, judiciary and or core civil servants.
(9) RESIDENCY AND INDIGENE PROVISIONS
The current practice of rejecting bonafide citizens of Nigeria, who choose to cohabit in the same location for a longer period of years beyond ten years, with the citizens that have the self-acclaimed right of indigene-ship base of their parental birth right, is a root of communal crises, cronyism, nepotism, tribalism and to some extend dissension among the generality of Nigerians. After all, all communities are settler by virtue of historical migratory antecedence.
Thus, our position is the reinforcement of ‘indigene-ship status award’ with the award of ‘citizenship certificate’ to all bonafide Nigerians based on right of place of residence so long as such citizens stay beyond ten years should to be adopted. This, if adopted will go a long way towards redressing the brewing distrust and acrimony amongst citizenry. This certificate of citizenship once accorded to person should have clear cut definition spelt out in the constitution that confers that person with all the right and privileges accorded to the person with indigene-ship status of any locality.
We subscribe to the subsisting arrangement of maintaining immunity on civil matters only for the President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, the Executive Governors and their Deputies. This is so because it is not clear whether immunity clause has aided corruption by those who enjoy immunity considering the fact that such public officers walk free in the streets and win elections despite their indictments after leaving offices.
(11) THE NATIONAL ASSEMBLY
The current bicameral legislative structure in Nigeria is expensive because of its overbloated personnel and demands. Thus, reverting to the legislative arm to unicameral structure akin to that of ‘parliamentary system’ that was experimented during the first republic, would have been the best for Nigeria because of its modest size and broad spectrum of representation. This is so because the legislative house under the parliamentary system draw its personnel from both the elected legislators and the appointed ministers by the executives’ arm of government, sitting side by side and debating over issues of national concern. Hence, it is cost effective compared to the bicameral legislature. However, a slight modification might be introduced to accommodate 5% seats of the total number of seats to be allocated to Traditional Rulers and Religious leaders due to their goodwill standing and high degree of grip of the constituencies.Thus, the entire Chairmen of the Council of Emirs and Chiefs should be enlisted in to the parliament. This would restore the eroded powers and relevance of the traditional rulers/institutions in the architecture of governance, conflict mediation and resolution, youth empowerment, gender equity and so forth.
The contention of this paper is to advocate for the sustenance of the Presidential System of Government but with Unicameral legislature. Our argument is that the problem is not with any system of governance but rather with human attitude. Nigerians are yet to adopt proper attitude which would make a parliamentary or presidential system of government work. It is also our views that some roles for the traditional institutions be spelt out by the state legislatures and not the constitution of the federal republic of Nigeria.
(12) STATE CREATION
The clamors for state creation will continue to be agitated as tool to demand for justice, equal access to state resources, power and sense of belonging. States that are too big in terms of land mass appears to be worst hit by political marginalization, social exclusion, endemic poverty and population explosion. The result of such systematic contradictions within such states is what give birth to security challenges in form of Boko Haram, kidnapping for ransom, communal clashes, banditry, farmers-herders clashes, Cattle rustling, drugs abuses, and other social vices. Borno State and Niger State are the largest in terms of landmass in the whole of Nigeria that are badly ravaged with such vices. Balkanization of such states into two each (i.e. Savannah State from Borno, and Ndaduma State from Niger) alongside with that of Zazzau State from Kaduna, will eliminate the wave of incessant violent conflict in those enclaves and usher in peace, stability, even growth and development as well as to prune their sizes to manageable proportion for better desirable service delivery and good governance should be urgently made.
The argument often made by opponents of state creation is hammered on casting aspersion of doubts on the economic viability and sustainability of such states if ever created, which we humbly beg to differ. It is our conviction that the ‘will-be’ newly created states, like their counter parts, will have one thing or the other in terms of resource endowments that stand them out to have comparative cost advantage over others, which if harness properly for optimal use, would makes them economically viable to sustainable success given the right leadership. Indeed, there is no state in the world that does not have either water or land mass to farm, mineral resources at its disposal to exploit or human capital to use, not to talk of other immense energy resources potentials like wind, sunlight and so forth that could also to be tapped to its benefit. In fact, it is often said that it is a challenge like this of ‘state creation’ occasioned by endemic poverty, marginalization or socio-politico-economic exclusive exclusion, ethno-religious conflict and so forth, that would unlock the potentials of states to be fully tapped. After all, if the entire world would have countries like Durbai/UAE, Singapore, to have transformed their economies to success with minimal or nil mineral resources’ endowment at their disposal other than focused and committed leadership galvanizing their human capital, we see no reason why any person might want argue against state creation or doubt the capacity of the states being clamored to be created for to stand on their own. For the purpose of clarity and avoidance of doubt, it is necessary to state and emphasize that the proposed states advocated to be created above may require boundaries adjustments with their neighborhood.
This is because the basic premise upon which the demarcation is proposed is maximum homogeneity and the wish of the people concerned in every case. Therefore, whenever a dispute occurs as to whether or not any community wishes to be in (or out) any particular state, the matter should be settled by a plebiscite. In no case should any community be forced into where its people do not want to belong.
(13) ANY OTHER MATTER:
a. EX-GOVERNORS RETIREMENT PERQUISITES
The state legislative provisions approving the payment of pension, gratuity and other retirement benefits for life to their executive governors after the expiration of their term of office is not only counter-productive but draining of the state treasury.
Currently, ex-governors are being paid their monthly salaries in full as pension, in addition to other frivolous entitlements such as replenishing their fleet of vehicles after every four years, settling of all medical bills incurred by them and their wards, and purchase of a benefitting house at their home town and Abuja. Also, accorded to them is the emoluments of hiring four security personnel to guards them and their families. Most agonizing on draining the purse of the state and federal treasuries, is the fact that most of the ex-governors are either serving ministers or senators.
This implies that these public officers are collecting double pay from the purse of the government.
There is the urgent need for national assembly to enact a law that will restrain public or elected officers from collecting double pay in the name salary from the government, irrespective of the tier of government. Also, there is the same necessity to restrain states from considering the retirement benefits of such officers, talk more of approving it. Thus, the national assembly in this regard need to clearly identify, capture and spelt out the necessary retirement perquisites for such governors to allow for unanimity and avoid flagrant capture of frivolous items meant to drain tax payers monies.
b. CHALLENGES OF UNIVERSITY EDUCATION IN NIGERIA
A lot of concerns have been raised about the quality and quantity of the Nigerian university system by education stakeholders in the country. Buffeted by poor funding, administrative corruption, lack of well-defined standard, strategic planning as well as policy implementation problems, the sector has been witnessing perennial instability for decades now.
The demand for higher education in Nigeria, particularly at the university level, has outgrown what the system can offer. For instance, less than 20 per cent of those who pass the Joint Admission and Matriculation Board (JAMB) examinations, are reportedly admitted each year into the universities. In other words, the geometric mushrooming of both the public and private universities have not actually helped in tackling the challenges. This has led to poor teaching and learning, diminishing research and consultancy traditions and questionable community services. The result is that thousands of ill-baked graduates who can barely read or write are churned out annually into a saturated labour market.
In Nigeria today, both public and private universities are funded by the federal government. Private universities are largely owned by individuals, corporate and religious bodies. With the upgrading of the Nigeria Police Academy and the Nigerian Institute for Airforce Technology Kaduna Airforce University into a Universities, as well as the establishment of Nigerian Army University Biu, Nigeria now parades a cluster of 127 universities, 37 of which are federal universities and the number is still counting; yet, out of this number, none is rated among the best 100 in Africa.
According to the United Nations Educational and Scientific Organization’s (UNESCO) recommendation, 26 percent of annual national budget ought to be dedicated to funding education of member countries. The consistent failure of the Federal government to implement this policy is one of the factors responsible for the frequent industrial disputes between university lecturers and the Federal government over the years. Presently, the university teachers under the aegis of Academic Staff Union of University, ASUU, are on strike for over eight months, the most protracted industrial dispute in Nigeria’s recent education history, to protest against poor funding, lack of equipment, infrastructure and research materials.
In the absence of adequate funding, clear direction and standard, universities remained glorified secondary schools. A number of public federal and state universities have remained on their temporary sites for several years because government has failed to back up its initial promise with adequate funding, while some private schools lack the resources required to operate standard universities.
However, we maintain that throwing money at the universities will not in itself solve the endemic problems. Poor planning, corruption and blatant erosion of values have resulted in agelong rots that will take good time to correct. These factors have particularly affected universities’ internal administration, teaching/learning, research/consultancies, as well as community service. We urge policy and law makers to ensure that there is no default in the recent agreement entered into between the Federal government on one hand and ASUU and other University-wide trade Unions, namely: SSANU, NAAT and NASU, especially in terms of funding in order to avoid any major academic crisis in the future. The major aim of establishing tertiary institutions is to build high-level manpower for national development. It is a place where people acquire the needed tools for social, mental and intellectual skills as resourceful members of the society.
One other way to handle this challenge is to compel public office holders to send their qualified children to public institutions of learning since they are the managers of the sector. This is one of the best ways to bridge the wide gap between children of the poor and rich parents. The issues of funding and effective supervision by regulatory bodies such as the National University Commission, NUC, and Tertiary Education Trust Fund, TETFUND, are equally keys towards achieving this goal. That is why the recent clamp down on some blooming fake private universities by task force should be sustained. Nothing should be spared in the campaign to properly sanitize and reposition university education in this country to a truly befitting standard.
It is our contention that this submission is neither intended nor assumed to be a panacea for Nigeria’s problems of nationhood. Rather, it is a modest contribution in that direction. As deep rooted and firmly entrenched as some of the nation’s difficulties are, there can be no quick-fix solution. What is required above all is a spirit of understanding and more voices of moderation and reason rather than those of bigotry and destruction. It may not be immediately obvious to the undiscerning how protective a bigger Nigeria has been to groups and interests within it. No section of the country is more cohesive than the whole, no matter what the proponents of balkanization would claim. If this submission contributes to capturing the wider views of Nigerians and earn appreciation, then hopefully a provoking and stimulating re-examination of the nation’s burning issues of national concern on the basis of reason rather than rashness, would have been reached in the continuing search for a stable, plural and democratic polity.
Prepared and signed by:
(1) Mallam Musa Ajiya……………………..
(2) Mall. Aliyu Dalha
(3) Prof. Paul Pindar Izah……………………
(4) Dr. Usman Abubakar Zaria………………
(5) Mall. Dauda Galadima Usman…………..
(6) Mallam Lawal Muazu……………………..
(7) Bar. Umaru Dikko…………………………
(8) Mallam Musa Alhassan…………………..
(9) Prof. Abdullahi Jibrin Randawa…………
(10) Prof. Balarabe Sani Garko……………..