Connect with us

Opinion

Is Nigeria Truly A Federal State?

Published

on

There are different forms of government practised all over the world. Some of them include federal, confederal, and parliamentary systems to mention just a few. Taking a close look at Nigeria, one is confused on the system of government we are currently practising. Is it federalism or unitary system?
There are so many factors that necessitate people to choose federalism as a form of government. They include landmass, ethnic diversity, language heterogeneity, natural endowment and population. With due respect to the principle of federalism, Nigeria meets all the above requirements. But the question is; why is Nigeria’s federalism not a success?
Compared to some other countries of the world that practise federalism, which include Brazil, Australia, Germany and United States of America, Nigeria has not recorded a success story in its practice of federalism.
Well, some people say we are operating on a political spectrum of federalism in which we are now at a point of aspiring to get to our destination. I totally disagree with them. Federalism is not developmental, it is not like economy, politics or perhaps, a living thing. It is not a product of gradual growth. It is a form of government, a system or ideology.
Federalism as K. C. Where authoritatively puts it, is a situation where the central and constituent units constitutionally “are not subordinate to one another, but coordinate with one another”. Therefore, in a typical federal state, there is no master-servant relationship. Since both the central and constituent units derive their powers to exist or operate directly from the Constitution, no government in such a union arrogates undue powers to itself or act as leader.
However, in Nigeria, the reverse is the case. Nigeria is a federation of an excessively strong central government, accompanied by a ridiculously weak 36 states and 774 local governments. In Nigeria, Abuja calls the shots and dictates the pace for the “servants” to follow.
Furthermore, in a true federal state, the constituent units do not surrender ‘all’. They retain some degree of independence economically and politically. This will make the federating units viable and develop at their own pace. In Nigeria, since the central government is superior to other governments, it distributes national resources to others at its own whims and caprices.
Again, the states are over-dependent on the federal government for their resources, even when some of them contribute nothing to the national treasury. It is heart-breaking that the situation has degenerated to an extent where some states depend on the centre for about 95% of their monthly revenue. Recently, the Federal Government had to give bail-out to about 27 states before they could pay their workers. In truth, fiscal policy of Nigeria federalism does not regard the principle of fairness, equity, justice and obligation.
Moreso, federalism is a framework for the coexistence of unity in diversity. It bridges the differences in ethnicity, economy, religion, education and other factors. Again, the story is not the same in Nigeria. The concept of unity in diversity is a mirage to our federalism.
In other federalism, it is “united we stand, divided we fall”. But in Nigeria, it is the other way round; “united we fall, divided we stand”. Nigeria is the most divided federalism I have ever seen, where regionalism, statism, ethnicity and religious sentiments are exalted at the expense of national interest and consciousness.
True federalism does not over-emphasise diversities but strives to identify, accommodate and manage them. Indeed, a state is federal to the extent that it is managing its diversities. A federal formular is, therefore, geared towards translating diversity into unity. But in Nigeria, we have failed woefully to harness the potentials of our pluralism as a nation.
Another peculiar issue with Nigerian federalism is the inequality of the federating units or states. A true federalism should be predicated upon some degree of equality among the federating states. For example, right from when Nigeria was divided into regions, the northern region is made to feel superior. Any federalism that is predicated on dichotomy of superiority and inferiority or whose factor of inequality is irrationally over-pronounced cannot endure.
Though Nigeria meets the necessary conditions to operate as a federal state, the manner with which the country was amalgamated by the British remains questionable. It forms the basis for the argument that “Nigeria is not a nation, but a mere geographical expression”. Consequently, the very foundation on which Nigeria’s federalism is built is shaky.
In conclusion, the experiment with the Nigeria state and the lip service to federalism, must stop. This is because the experiment has made it impossible for our nation to harness the political, economic and other numerous benefits attached to federalism.
Benjamin wrote from Nsukka.

 

Samson Benjamin

Continue Reading

Opinion

Hitting At Serial Killers 

Published

on

Lately, there have been unpleasant happenings in Rivers State. Young girls have become victims of serial killings in hotels in Port Harcourt. This is happening at an alarming rate.
Reports had it that three women were killed in three different hotels. Two among them died by strangulation with a piece of cloth hanging around their necks. Investigations revealed that the ladies were drugged and killed using the same techniques.
This is an indication that women are not safe anymore in Port Harcourt. Their killings have brought panic amongst people in the state. It is now the talk of the town. There is a saying that the product which is consumed is known to be the agent that is imbued with risk.
In prostitution, it is the women who are being consumed just as a commodity is at great risk.  Although prostitution is sometimes described as sex between consenting adults, other times it occurs under duress, sometimes to avoid being harmed or even killed outrightly.
Women who prostitute are mostly single. I think rather than go into prostitution, ladies should look for better things to do to avoid the risk they are exposed to daily. As a prostitute, a woman deals with someone she knows little or nothing about. They may just be meeting for the first time. That may be dangerous given current developments.
In prostitution, men can remove women’s humanity. Buying or paying a woman gives men the power to turn such women into a breathing, living or lifeless beings. He can strip her and those qualities that define her as an individual.
Women, from time, have always been victims of sexual violence and physical assaults. This act against the women occurs anywhere including hotels. But the truth is not all women found in hotel rooms are prostitutes. That is why drastic measures have to be taken to curb this menace.
Recently, the deputy commissioner of police in the state, Chucks Enwonwu, while addressing a group of protesting women at the police headquarters in Port Harcourt said, “The police received complaints about the serial killings of women in the state. Women need to be educated and advised against prostitution because they are targets”. But the truth is that there are still several killings which are not even reported. Even if these persons were sex workers their lives matter because they are humans too.
The police should not be quiet about these recent killings in the state. They should carry out proper investigations into the heinous crime which has gone viral. The hotels where the incidents occur must be interrogated. Questions must be asked in order to arrest those who have committed these terrible acts in the state. I am happy with the arrests made so far. But more need to be made.
I admonish young women to be involved in productive ventures rather than sell their bodies to people whose medical history they don’t know anything about. They have to do this in order not to be victims of sexually transmitted diseases and be killed. Learning skills could enable them to make clean money for themselves.
Also, women should be involved in businesses because whatever service they give will return to them by way of making money. Ladies should know the location, address, name and phone numbers of the persons they are going to visit. Such information shouldn’t be kept to themselves. Rather, they should disclose it to someone else to be traced easily should there be an eventuality.
The government needs to be committed to anything that will enhance the protection of women and other citizens. On the other hand, women should develop the mindset that they can do other legal and legitimate things which are considered right before God than hawking sex.
I am in support of the installation of Closed-Circuit Television (CCTV) cameras in all hotels in the state. This shouldn’t just be a policy but has to be made a law. Any hotel that defaults should be closed down or penalized by the government. Photographs of customers who lodge in these hotels should be captured in order to identify who exactly rented the room, purpose and what the person would do in the hotel.
In all, laws should be enacted to protect women from discrimination and violence including rape, killings, abuse of all kinds, torture, etc. The authorities should strengthen women’s ability to earn money to enable them to support their households by providing skill training for them and money to help them start a business.
Harry is a freelance journalist.

 

Favour Harry

Continue Reading

Opinion

Patriotic Persons And Criminality

Published

on

“All’s not offence that indiscretion finds And dotage terms so.” King Lear; II: iv (200).

Professional journalists enjoy immunity from being compelled to disclose their sources of information, largely because of the risks which informants take. Audacious journalists are not immune from similar risks also, as we saw many years ago in the case of late Dele Giwa. Despite such risks, patriotic human beings are not lacking in every society who, out of higher perspectives of love and ethics, take some risks for the good of humanity.
What is known as information management in journalism is largely the skill and strategy of being mindful of what to publish even when it is true and factual, for the sake of security and stability in society. There are many issues of which a few people who know the details would rather stay their pens and let a sleeping dog lie, rather than plunge the society into chaos by being audacious.
Unfortunately, those who manage the affairs of the larger society often regard discretion as docility and silence of the masses for stupidity. Thus in politics, information management becomes a process of disinformation or bamboozlement of the masses through the use of various strategies. Sometimes this may be done for good reasons, but those who know the antics of power politics would tell us that treachery and deceit are all part and parcel of the art of staying in power.
Criminality and the prosecution of criminal cases place emphasis on intention behind the act, making it necessary to separate criminality from acts committed without “mens-rea”. We are told that children below the age of 7 do not have mens-rea and therefore cannot be prosecuted for crimes, same as adults certified to be of unsound mind. Similarly, we can add here that patriotism and love in order to save humanity from serious perils.
We live in a world where ill-disposed persons prey upon their fellow human beings, especially the weak and helpless ones they can subdue. The situation becomes worse where the preying ones lure unsuspecting victims through various clever means, including abuse of the Name of God. We have had cases where drug producers, during the testing stage, use helpless and unsuspecting persons as guinea pigs. One example is the Trovan controversy, involving litigation.
There had been cases where patriotic insiders in gangsterist conspiracies became whistle blowers, alerting relevant authorities about proposed crimes against humanity. Such cases had been quite common, even though many were never reported. In view of the dangers and risks involved in exposing crimes against humanity from quarters that enjoy some immunity, some patriotic people commit crimes in secret in order to subvert criminality.
Expectedly, people of goodwill and patriotism who commit crimes in order to forestall greater perils for humanity would not stick out their neck to be hanged. Neither would obtuse humanity understand their deeper motives or intentions. They would not enjoy any immunity from prosecution or the sympathy and understanding of the masses for whose sake they took to crime. In the past such people were called martyrs.
However, martyrdom arising from fanaticism and religious obduracy is a different thing from crimes committed with noble intentions for the sake of saving a wider populace from perils. We cannot rule out the possibility of noble Nigerians losing their lives, limbs or liberty in the course of duty, in their efforts to save the lives of others. Some of such personal sacrifices come by accidents rather than design, where as there are some who make such sacrifices voluntarily and with patriotism. Such are rare patriots.
In the university community where one is more familiar with, there are innumerable but unknown cases of unsung heroes and patriots. Old and poor office cleaners have been known to save the lives of Vice-Chancellors and others engaged in battles of leadership and supremacy. There have been cases where fetish charms and other sordid rituals had featured in mean, petty and deadly politics in the university system.
Some years of service in the Nigeria Police afforded one great opportunities to know how seekers of power and positions can hire some willing hands to plant weapons, prohibited drugs and other things to bring down opponents. Women had featured shamelessly in many of such sordid exploits, including those that would raise allegations of being raped. One is aware of many honest and perhaps naïve persons who had lost their jobs as a result of gossip peddling. Envy and jealousy have been at the root of many acts to use non-orthodox means to get even in personal combats.
Activities of the military and governments in Nigeria have been such that it becomes difficult to tell who our great patriots are, from influence, rumour and gossip peddlers. Many have been called “great men” via the instrumentality of long knives, treachery and deceit; but the really great ones via patriotic criminality would hardly be known. It is to such silent and unsung heroes and patriots that this article is dedicated. Especially in the security and intelligence services there are unbelievable examples of patriotic criminality, just as there are those who serve dark purposes.
Dr. Amirize is a retired lecturer from the Rivers State University, Port Harcourt.

 

Bright Amirize

Continue Reading

Opinion

Between BPP And N26.86bn

Published

on

No country is going to create wealth if its leaders exploit the economy to enrich themselves or if Police can be bought off by drug traffickers. No person wants to live in a society where the rule of law gives way to the rule of brutality and bribery. – Barack Obama during a visit to Ghana, 2009.

It was a glad news, as reported in The Tide newspaper, Monday, September 9, 2019, that the Bureau of Public Procurement (BPP) saved the Federal Government of Nigeria more than N26.86 billion in 2018 alone, by revising down inflated contract sums by government contractors. It was reported that the highest saving of N22.22 billion was recorded from the Ministry of Power, Works and Housing. From the Ministry of Petroleum Resources the sum of N271 million was saved and other ministries included Transportation N1.37 bn, Water Resources N521m, Finance N143.72m, etc.
From the Central Bank of Nigeria’s initial request of N1.47 billion, the sum of N33.65 million was saved; from military contracts about N494.96 million was saved. What is vital about the afore-mentioned pruning down of inflated contract values for 2018 alone, is that the exercise is a credit to the federal government, via the BPP. If such pruning exercises and searchlight could continue and be extended to other years and other public sectors, the results would be quite salutary for Nigeria.
In 2009 during the visit of Mrs Hillary Clinton to Nigeria, Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project (SERAP) presented her with a letter of requests, which she was to mention to President Umaru Yar’adua in their meeting. The issues included the following: Explain to Nigerians how the government spent recovered stolen public funds, since 1999; Ensure full compliance with the provisions of the UN Convention against corruption; Demonstrate the required political will to fight corruption in a meaningful, consistent and effective way; Monitor and track the spending of recovered stolen funds and publish the purposes the finds were used; Establish a trust fund from the recovered stolen funds, and use such funds to address urgent developmental needs, etc.
One Adetokumbo Mumuni who conveyed SERAP’s letter to Mrs. Clinton emphasized that the spending of recovered loots was characterized by secrecy and absence of transparency and accountability. As at that time, 1.9 billion dollars was said to have been recovered from a former Head of State, late Gen. Sani Abacha, N10 billion from a former Inspector-General of Police, Tafa Balogun and 1.9 million dollars from late Diepreye Alamieseigha.
SERAP’s grouse was that there were no transparency and openness in the spending of recovered stolen public funds estimated at N600 billion then, and that such funds were relooted or mismanaged. As a human rights non-governmental organization whose mandate include the promotion and protection of socio-economic rights of Nigerians, SERAP’s insistence on transparency and accountability in public and private sectors is quite commendable.
That there are public agencies such as the Bureau of Public Procurement, the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) and the Independent Corrupt Practices and Other Related Offences Commission (ICPC) would mean that there are determined efforts to save the government from financial abuses. But the fact that government contractors can deliberately inflate contract values would also mean that such malpractices fall within the category of financial crimes.
That there are non-governmental organizations such as SERAP and other pressure groups, including the Ethnic Nationalities Movement, means that there are provisions for the protection of helpless segments of people in the society. What SERAP did in 2009 by demanding that recovered looted public funds should be accounted for properly, was commendable.
Like SERAP, the Ethnic Nationalities Movement in 2008 raised a voice of protest against statements of some highly placed Nigerians in laundering the image of late Abacha. Such advocacy and image laundering activities are nothing short of corruption as well as attempts to discourage honest Nigerians who, in spite of prevailing temptations, try to remain up-right.
It was particularly disturbing to a large number of Nigerians that three Military Generals and former Military Heads of State, Generals Buhari, Babangida and Abubakar, tried to portray their late colleague as a patriot and hero rather than a treasury looter. Such statements like: rather than malign Abacha, the later ruler deserves to be praised …”; “It is quite unfortunate and unfair to accuse the family of late Sani Abacha of looting public funds” etc, are attempts to make foul fair and fair foul.
If massive looting of public funds by highly-placed Nigerians can be defended and glossed over by friends and loyalists, then why do we demonise petty thieves? The issues of recovery of looted public funds, transparency in accounting for such recovered loots and ensuring that such lootings in various clever ways are blocked, are issues that must not be addressed by rhetoric or sanctimony, but by penalizing the culprits. Image laundering of looters is nothing short of corruption. The BPP should neither slumber nor sleep now that it is waking up to its responsibility.
Dr. Amirize is a retired lecturer from the Rivers State University, Port Harcourt.

 

Bright Amirize

Continue Reading

Trending