Recall process: No dinner yet for Dino
Arewa Follow-Follow! For that is what we are, or have become. Oodua and Ohanaeze have since beaten us to it! Well, as they say ‘better late than never’, the Northern States’ Governors Forum (NSGF) met the other day with Northern Traditional Rulers to chart a way for Arewa on the current restructuring agitations. We hope other kindred spirits such as the Arewa Consultative Forum(ACF), Northern Elders Forum (NEF) and Ahmadu Bello Foundation (ABF) and even those Arewa Youths of October 1 are carried along.
The Oodua States led by Afenifere and its sidekick OPC had since sat and risen with resolutions for what they want. Individual states among them have published their own submissions. Needless to say, Ohaneze and its militant arms MASSOB and IPOB were long on the road to restructuring, nay, secession, including the violent solution being presently enacted by one Nnamdi Kanu.
While the Ibos, if IPOB represents them (and it seems so), are keen on leaving the Nigerian entity, Arewa leaders - political, traditional, spiritual - are hoarsely shouting on us that this nation-state of Nigeria is unbreakable and our being together non-negotiable. Indeed, we have seen ‘non-negotiable’ in the way ‘Awusas’ are being hunted down, one motorcycle, one bus and one truck at a time.
For the Yorubas, we are fortunate that the Afenifere ilk are NOT the political leaders of the South West; they are only the tribal jingoists. In 2003, Obasanjo dealt them a severe blow from which they had hardly recovered when Tinubu dealt them the second upper cut (mahangurba) in 2007, and consolidated his coup with APC merger and Buhari election in 2015. Therefore, Afenifere is all talk (but what a voice); politics is in the hands of Tinubu and his ‘boys’.
The equivalent of Afenifere in the North is the ACF; OPC’s counterpart should be those greenscarf wearing Arewa Youths of the October 1 Kaduna Declaration. In the South East, IPOB is more than that. In this kind of political agitation, it is sad to say the South South is a non-starter, and that’s why the South East takes advantage to include them in Greater Biafra (even though they have their own rabble to deal with).
So, then, the Northern Governors have empaneled a committee on ways forward on this vexatious matter. Most skeptics fear that the committee, as well as the main body, can never go far enough in their recommendations for a way out - call the bluff of the others. They have the handicap of thinking that the Oodua and Ohanaeze threats are existential to Arewa. No. The threats are only a danger to the nation-state called Nigeria - Arewa had been there long before 1914.
Just before the NSGF convened on the issue, the country’s ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) also advertised a Call for Memoranda (Daily Trust Tuesday September 5 page 35) announcing in effect that it had constituted a “Committee on True Federalism with a mandate to review all the ideas…tc, and articulate and align the public position with the party’s manifesto and campaign promises.” The APC then proceeded to list thirteen topics on which it seeks memos. Well done. Thursday September 14, the APC came out (Daily Trust page 27) with a timetable for Zonal Consultations.
One fundamental step the APC must take is to prevail upon President Muhammadu Buhari to convene his own National Conference. Regional and Zonal Consultations will just not do. We need another National Confab to obliterate and annihilate the horrible Jonathan 2014 Confab Report. That’s the only way to shut up Afenifere and Ohanaeze.
So, for APC, as well as for Arewa when they come round to asking for memoranda, the following are suggestions (based on the APC’s 13-item list):
1. No new state should be created, forever. It is suggested that States and Local Governments should be abrogated, and the six GEOPOLITICAL ZONES shall constitute the new Federating Units (same as Oodua). Zonal Capitals shall be situated at a present state capital which approximates the geographical centre of the Zone (Gusau is perfect for the North West as Gombe is for the North East). In place of states, within each geopolitical zone, let every two million chunk of population, to the nearest two million, constitute a PROVINCE. Therefore, while the present Nasarawa and Bayelsa states may become just Provinces automatically, the present Lagos and Kano states may have multiple provinces each (based on the 2006 Census). Provinces could negotiate away (or in) their extras.
2. Let derivation be 20% instead of the present 13%. And it should include not only minerals but hydro and food and animal resources. And VAT should not all be in the name of Lagos. All banks and telecoms and other such workers should be taxed and the monies credited where they work and live. After all, they enjoy the roads and the water and the atmosphere and the peace.
3. Let the Zones be self-governing and take care of policing, prisons and other such. The Federal Government should concentrate on defence and finances and other national commonwealth.
4. As suggested in 1, the six GEOPOLITICAL ZONES shall constitute the new Federating Units.
5. Fiscal Federalism and Revenue Allocation: A future lean Federal Government should take 40% of all revenues; Six Geopolitical Zones 35%; and Provinces 25%.
6. A hybrid is suggested. Let there be no more a single President; let there be a Presidential Council of six honourable people, one from each Geo-Political Zone. Each Member shall be elected from within the Zone and sent to the National Capital for a single six-year term. Chairmanship (earning, therefore, the title His Excellency, the President) shall be in rotation alphabetically by Zone (NC, SE, NE, SS, NW, SW) and by region (North, South) for a period of a single twelve-month term. Should a Member become otherwise incapacitated, or dies, a bye-election shall be held for replacement in the particular Zone for the period remaining. And if by that time the Zone is Mr. President, it will go to the next Zone and return to the bye-electee at the end of the tenure, to conclude their Zonal term.
7. there should be.
8. There are too many killings in the name of land. Farmer-Herder and Communal Crises are increasing by the day. Land Use Act should be a matter of the Constitution and managed from the Federal Level with input from the Zones. (And Yes, just imagine; were the South East, which is land-challenged, bordering on ‘Awusa’-land, they would have said we took their land ab initio.)
9. There should be no more Local Governments. Zones should be autonomous. So should Provinces. 10. As suggested in 6.
11. As in 2. Minerals and other resources are owned by the hosting Zones and Provinces to the extent of 20% Derivation. The Federal Government should retain regulatory functions.
12. We can’t afford a bicameral legislature. A unicameral chamber to be called The National Assembly should suffice. There should be one representative per one million, to the nearest million. With the current population estimate of 180 million, there may then be a National Assembly of 180 members to sit part time.
13. Yes, PMB should convene another National Conference. This time around, in the spirit of Change, let there be one representative per one million, to be determined by the National Population Commission and INEC. That’s fairness. That’s equity. And PMB should subject all decisions to a referendum.
And may Allah make it easy for the President and all of us.