BRITISH nations participating in the ongoing European football competition, Euro 2016, have given ample insight into how Nigeria can also restructure politically if we are to truly develop.
In France, there are three of the four British nations participating — England, Wales and Northern Ireland. The only home nation that didn’t qualify for the championship is Scotland.
One good this about this is that all these British units are under one government, and they share the same military; however, the police, education, health, sports, among other sectors of the economy, are under the units. This is why we can have three teams from the same ‘country’ participating in the same competition.
In the case of Nigeria, we have been talking about the need to restructure politically for many years; the current Federal system that we are practicing is not working, since we are a multi-ethnic country.
Today, all the Federating units rely on the central government for survival, and that is why we have states not being able to pay their workers’ salaries.
Most of our states don’t bring anything to the table, since it is believed that the central government will sell crude oil, and share the proceeds at the end of the month.
Apart from crude oil, Nigeria is so blessed in mineral resources that it can survive solely on these extractive resources, and according to geological experts, Nigeria has in commercial quantities resources like gold, bitumen, iron ore, bauxite, coal, among others.
In agriculture, we used to be one of the largest producers of cocoa and oil palm in the world, but our political set-up has ruined everything for us, particularly since the discovery of crude oil. Do we even know that a larger number of Indonesian and Malaysian billionaires made their fortune in oil palm plantations? This is just to tell us what we can achieve with agriculture alone, but let me repeat it that our present political set-up is our problem.
Instead of Federalism, which we are currently practising, we can switch to Confederalism, which will definitely bring the best out of the geo-political zones that we have now.
One thing is certain, there is no geo-political zone in the country that is not blessed, but the over-reliance on crude oil has made the other non-crude oil producing regions to be lazy.
When the South South region focuses on its crude oil, the South West can focus on agriculture, as well as some extractive resources, as it is common knowledge that gold is even found in commercial quantities in Osun State. The South East is blessed with coal, while the North Central, North West and North East are also blessed with extractive resources; they can also develop their agricultural sector.
Now, each region will be contributing a certain percentage of their annual earnings to the central government, which will use it to service the military, police, sports, and other sectors that unite us.
One of the benefits of this political system is that it will reduce pressure on the central government, and everybody will have a sense of belonging.
The ongoing secession bids in some parts of the country will also end, as the resources in each zone will be used for the development of the zone, while only a tiny percentage is contributed to the national government.
It is high time we took the bull by the horn if we truly want a country that we can be proud of; unfortunately, one zone today feels it is not being respected enough in this country, and that is why it wants to opt out, while another feels its people are not enjoying their God-given natural resource since the Federal Government takes all the proceeds and sends just 13 per cent to the states.
We can rewrite the history of this country if we restructure politically, and I hope the National Assembly can bring this up. There should also be a referendum on what we truly want, if it is Federalism or Confederalism. The people should have a say in how they are governed, and that is why I want to commend the United Kingdom government for allowing the Scottish people decide last year if they wanted to remain part of the UK. This week, the people will also be voting if they want to remain in the European Union, or they want to leave. Nigerians should also have the chance to decide how we want to be governed.
- Dr Taju Alalade,
Ilorin, Kwara State.