Critical Steps towards the Resolution of Nigeria as a True Federation (3)
By Jerome-Mario Utomi
According to the knitted document by Felix N.C. Oragwu, each Federating Unit or Regional Government was constitutionally empowered to take full and exclusive Responsibility / Control of its Land, Agriculture, Economy, Education at all levels for its Citizens and other factors of socio-economic development within its domain, without any interference, whatsoever from the Federal (Central) Government as agreed in 1951 Nigeria’s Restructuring Conference, Chaired by the then British Colonial Secretary Sir Oliver Littleton and as stipulated in the Macpherson Constitution of 1952,
The Federal (Central) Government was then required by the Ibadan National Conference to develop the existing University College, Ibadan, established in 1948 to a full University on behalf of the Three (3) Federating Regional Governments. That is why the Eastern Regional Government under the Leadership of Dr. Nnamdi Azikiwe the Premier of Eastern Nigeria Region, established its own Regional University, but named it University of Nigeria, Nsukka (UNN) in 1960,to emphasize that though UNN is a Regional University, all Nigerians are fully entitled to attend the University as if it is a National Institution.
The Western Regional Government, under Chief Obafemi Awolowo, established Apapa Industrial Estates, Illupeju Industrial Estates and Ikeja Industrial Estates in Lagos, then part of Western Nigeria to emphasize that not all the Areas of Lagos were ceded to the Federal (Central) Government in 1951 Conference, by the Yoruba Nation to serve as the Capital of Nigerian Federation. Later in 1962, the Northern Regional Government led by Sir Ahmadu Bello, established its own University, now known as Ahmadu Bello University and the Western Regional Government also established its own University in 1962 and named it University of Ife, Ile-Ife. This is True Federation in Action.By 1965 Nigeria has a total of five (5) Universities namely, University of Ibadan (UI) and University of Lagos (UNILAG), (Federal) and the University of Nigeria, Nsukka (UNN),the Ahmadu Bello University (ABU) and the University of Ife Ile-ife (UNIFE), respectively, which are all Regional Universities in Nigeria as a Federation.
The Financing of the Nigerian Federation,which is to be based on mutually / freely agreed Terms with effect from 1952-1965 are,as follows, namely, (a) Each Federating Regional Government or Unit should contribute to the National Financing Pool 50% of its Export Revenue derived from its Region to a distributive National Revenue Pool but keeping the other 50 % exclusively to its self (b) The Federal (Central) Government has no land Resources for Economic Activities but only a Capital Territory and therefore no Export Revenue as its only Revenue is from the Taxes derived from the Personnel working for the Federal Government, (c) Out of the Regional Governments Contributions, the Budget needed for the operation of the Federal (Central) Government Responsibilities will be worked out and passed on to the Federal (Central) Government (d) the balance from the Regional Governments Contributions shall be shared out to all the Governments of Nigerian Federation in proportion to the Contribution of each Government to the National Revenue Pool, and ( e) It is interesting for all Nigerians to note that in the 1954 Revenue Sharing Exercise, that the Western Region of Nigeria got 45 Million pound Sterling which was the highest for that year, the Northern Nigeria (now 19 States got 35 Million pounds Sterling, the Federal (Central) Government itself got 30 Million pounds Sterling and the Eastern Nigeria Government got 10 Million pounds Sterling the lowest for that Year , 1954,
In the mutually Agreed Terms of Union of the three Federating Regions of Nigerian Federation and as mutually Agreed during the 1951 National Conference at Ibadan, Nigeria’s true Representatives resolved / mutually agreed that all Political Parties which operate in the Nation State of Nigeria, shall be ideologically competitive and not ethnic Nationality (Hausa-Fulani, Yoruba Igbo, Kanuri, Ibibio, Tiv, Edo, Nupe, Ijaw and what have you) based, in order to avoid divisive ethnic Nationality Politics as experienced in what happened during the UK of Great Britain Treaty of Union in which some Scottish Citizens who did not want to belong to UK of Great Britain, formed what is now known as Scottish Nationalist Party (SNP), this Point was emphasized by the Chairman of the Conference, Sir Oliver Littleton,
The Federal Structure of Government, as agreed at the Conference, recognized that Nigeria, as a Nation State, has heterogenous populations with diverse Religious / Cultural Communities / peculiar Attributes, and therefore cannot / and should not operate a Unitary Government Administration, otherwise it was stated, there will be a monumental Political / Ethnic / Religious Crises. Please find time to read the Conference Report of 1951. One can now see the ongoing Agitation in which NdiIgbo (Igbo ethnic Nationality Leadership, is calling for NdiIgbo Presidency in 2023, but what of other 120 ethnic Nationalities comprised in Nigeria which have not been Prime Minister or President since 1960?This Turn by Turn Approach to President or Prime Minister of Nigerian Federation cannot be sustainable and can worsen Nigeria’s Crises of Existence as one Nation. See UK of Great Britain and Canada Federations where it does not matter which ethnic Nationality is the Prime Minister, President or Head of State.That is one of the Reasons why Restructuring of Nigeria is imperative and immediate.
Each Regional or State Government, as Constitutionally stipulated in the 1951 Conference Report, is completely independent of each other and also independent of the Federal (Central) Government, then in Lagos as its Capital but now Abuja, and only Land Area,
Each Regional Government has its own Constitution and could legislate on both the Concurrent and Residual Matters, and it is reported that Each Regional Government has Diplomatic Relations with London of UK of Great Britain, as well as the High Commissioner for the Federal (Central) Government, and all the Three (3) Federating Regional Governments of the then 1952-1965 were in healthy competition in economic development with each other, with Western Regional Government under Chief Awolowo, setting the pace in socio-economic developments, free Education for all her Citizens, establishing Western Television, the first in Africa and the Eastern Nigeria under Dr Azikiwe establishing the UNN, and the Industrial Estates in Port Harcourt, Enugu, Calabar etc. all in healthy competition with Chief Awolowo led Western Nigeria, and the Northern Nigerian Government seemed not so much interested in such industrial / Economic Development Activities.
The above Federal Structure Arrangement was swept away by the Military Interventions in Politics in 1966 and the subsequent Civil War of 1967-1970.
Step Three. Suggestions for determining theFederating Units for aNigerianFederation:
As a Normor Convention, a True Federating Unit is Ethnic Nationality or Nation specific or a Consensus Group of Nations, based. The Example of a Consensus Group of Nations is the Russian Federation, which is a Federating Unit of USSR Federation of 14 Nations of which Russian Federation is one of them. When USSR disintegrated in1993, it did so into its 14 Nationalities.
This means that a Federating Unit is Ethnic -Nationality or a Group of consenting ethic Nationalities, based. This, should serve as a Guide in determining Nigerian Federating Units to avoid the ugly Experience of 1952-1965 Nigerian Federation, for instance the Agitation by the COR States or Nations want to secede from Eastern Regional Government. See also Wilkins Report of 1958 and the Adaka-Boro Secessionist Attempt of February 1966.
In the light of the above Suggestions, National / 36 State Assemblies may wish to consider the following as Federating Units, if there is consensus of those involved.
Utomi is the Programme Cordinator (Media and Public Policy), Social and Economic Justice Advocacy (SEJA), Lagos. He could be reached via; j.[email protected]/08032725374.