RESTRUCTURING, A POSSIBLE WAY TO TRUE FEDERALISM IN NIGERIA
The study was aimed at examining restructuring: a possible way to true federalism in Nigeria. The survey research was used in this study to sample the opinion of respondents. This method involved random selection of respondent who were administered with questionnaires. The target population of the study comprised residents of selected areasof River state in Nigeria. The questionnaire administered was one hundred and ten (110) copies and one hundred copies retrieved which constitute the sample size. The descriptive and analytical approach was adopted using Chi-square to test and analyze the hypotheses earlier stated. The findings revealed that there is a significant impact of restructuring on true federalism in Nigeria and that there is a significant relationship between restructuring and true federalism in Nigeria. It was therefore concluded from the findings that the gains of true federalism and restructuring are enormous and are a desirable path to effective compromise, protection of self-determination and identity. True federalism remains a viable option to solving the myriads of challenges confronting Nigeria. It was recommended that restructuring should be geared towards solving the leadership problem in Nigeria. Real attention should be given to good governance which would lead to poverty reduction and better distribution of wealth affecting Nigerians, and not necessarily the divisibility of the country, which is not feasible or viable.
1.1 BACKGROUND OF THE STUDY
It is evident that Nigeria as a nation State no doubt a fortune country. Although, the political history of the country is characterized by incessant violence, political contestation leading to coups and counter coups, under development, widespread poverty, mass unemployment and the near collapse of social infrastructures to human survival, corruption and moral decadence and alarming problem of insecurity, yet the Nigerian people have been described as the happiest on the planet [Odofin, 2003] .The country passed through violent electoral politics and unstable parliamentary democracy between 1960 – 1966; experienced coups and countercoup, which degenerated into a bitter civil war fought between 1967 – 1970; went through a prolonged military rule culminating into agitation for secession. Against the backdrop of these problems Nigerians even though suffering are still smiling. Despite the call for restructuring of the Nigerian federalism, Nigeria is an emerging complex and sophisticated nation-State densely populated with an intimidating size and wealthy in terms of human and natural resources. The country occupies a large geographical space with a land mass of about 924,000 sq. km; four times the size of Britain [Odofin, 2003, Oyobaire, 1985] . In terms of economy, it is essentially an agrarian economy because inspite of the dominance of crude oil as the main source of revenue, agriculture still remains the main source of employment, food consumption and livelihood. The country is blessed with crude oil, cocoa, palm oil, cotton, textiles which form the major export crops. Furthermore, there are other mineral resources such as oil gas, lead, zinc, coal, iron stones, bauxite etc. located in various parts of the federation. However, the country is deficient in terms of appropriate technology and stability in terms of agitation for resource control in some quarters. Thus poverty is still widespread and the State continues to experience decline in terms of its capacity to meet the basic needs of Nigerian people. Contemporarily, there are problems associated with the call for restructuring of the existing federalism due to some deficient in the system, which tend to weaken the resolve of Nigerian political leadership. It is also a point to note that, the agitation for restructuring in Nigeria polity has been recurring one, particularly in 2015 through 2017 when the Nigerian State witnessed economic recession. People from different quarters more especially from the political class chanted for restructuring the Nigerian federalism, which become a national discourse. Similarly, structure of Nigeria federalism started crystallizing with the establishment of different Constitutions. It was the 1992 Clifford Constitution that endorsed the division of Northern and Southern provinces. Other Constitutions of Richard (1946) and Macpherson of 1951 contributed in giving Nigeria different shades of structure of federalism. The Lyttleton Constitution of 1954 gave rise to a true structure of federalism, which was effective on October 1, 1954. The Constitution guaranteed the sharing of power between the centre and the regional component units. Exclusive and Concurrent list power was entrenched in the Constitution. This followed the Independence Constitution of 1960 which conferred independence status in Nigeria incorporated the federal structure earlier established by the Lyttleton Constitution. Nigeria was divided or rather compartmentalized into three regions, and four in 1963 where the Mid-western region was coined/created. The Ironsi’s region introduced a unitary pattern of government and abolished federalism, whereas Decree No. 34 otherwise known as the unification decree was enforced. The counter coup on the Iron’s junta produced General Yakubu Gown as the Military Head of State, and Nigeria was turned to federalist structure with 12 States. The agitations for restructuring continue to be on course up to 1990’s when more States were created, to the present 36 States.
In most instances of federalism there is a single national government – federal government, which exercises its particular powers across the whole country. In addition there are multiple regional governments, often referred to as “provincial” or ‘state’ governments, which exercise their powers within their particular regional territory. Each level of government usually has its own particular jurisdiction, i.e. areas of public policy in which it and only it, may exercise authority or have the final authority. The federal government will normally have the final authority over national issues such as defence, foreign policy, treaty making etc. the regional government will have power over more regional issues, such as establishing local governments; issuing licences (driver, hunting marriage etc.); providing for public health and safety; primary education; agriculture etc.
The term “federalism” has come to mean different things to different people across time and space. While some see it as the answer to the challenges pose by the plural nature of their society, others see it as the limitationto their progress and development. This has created an issue for scholars in the field of political science as they attempt to capture all the nuances of the concept and present an empirical dimension of it. Early attempt at defining the concept has been met with criticism from within and outside the domain of political science. This was due to the normative and philosophical contents of these definitions which made it difficult in applying it across most countries desiring to seek union within diversity. Burgess (2006:1) argues that “while such a thing as federal theory does exist, there is, as yet, no fully fledged theory of federalism. At best there is partial theory based on rigorous conceptual analysis and the pursuit of terminological precision. At worst there is crass empiricism rooted in the failure to develop concepts and define the key terms”. This brings to question the notion of ‘true federalism’ been championed among the political class in Nigeria as a means of restructuring the country. Their argument is premise on the restructuring of the country’s federal arrangements by allocating more powers to the federating units and reducing the overbearing dominance of the centre. This does not have any theoretical bases as most of such people take their facts from the practice of federalism in the United States of America ignoring the peculiarities of the Nigerian society. This research however intends to examine the problems associated with restructuring; a possible way to Nigeria’s true federalism.
1.2 STATEMENT OF THE PROBLEM
Despite possessing significant natural resources endowment, being Africa’s leading economy and most populous nation, Nigerians are neither happy nor content with the current political structure, the 1999 Constitution as amended and virtually all the institutional governance at the federal state and local levels. Today, more powers had been concentrated at the centre manifested in a federal government assumed ever more powers and responsibilities, took the biggest chunk of national revenues (Now about 53percent) at the detriment of other tiers. The state of national dissatisfaction for a variety of reasons amongst devolution of powers, to sub-national, fiscal federalism, citizenship matters, federating units, local government autonomy, resource control, power sharing, derivations principle has led to strident calls from virtually all segments of Nigeria for restructuring.
1.3 OBJECTIVES OF THE STUDY
The major purpose of this study is to examine restructuring: a possible way to true federalism in Nigeria. Other specific objectives are;
To identify the factors affecting the agitations for restructuring. To examine the benefits of restructuring Nigeria. To ascertain the possible ways of restructuring Nigeria for true federalism. To identify possible ways of strengthening stability in a restructured Nigeria.
1.4 RESEARCH QUESTIONS
What are the factors affecting the agitations for restructuring? What are the benefits of restructuring Nigeria? Have successive governments embarked on true federalism structured? What are the prospects of a strengthening stability in a restructured Nigeria?
1.5 RESEARCH HYPOTHESES
H0: There is no impact of restructuring on true federalism in Nigeria.
H1: There is a significant impact of restructuring on true federalism in Nigeria.
H0: There is no significant relationship between restructuring and true federalism in Nigeria.
H1: There is a significant relationship between restructuring and true federalism in Nigeria.
1.6 SIGNIFICANCE OF THE STUDY
This study will help the researchers to have insight into the various factors that have led to the serious agitation by regions and ethnic groups in the country. The perceived level of injustice and inequality witnessed by some regions and ethnic groups that have led to serious agitations for the calls for restructuring; thus enable the researchers to proffer solutions the resulting problem in Nigeria. It will be of immense benefit to the government since it highlighted the challenges on issues which will enable the government to make appropriate adjustments that would douse the tensions and check the threat to national unity, while serving as a valuable tool for future research. The study will assist all the stakeholders in Nigeria to appreciate the need for the widening of the political space through integration and accommodation of the views and opinions that will enhance true federalism.
1.7 SCOPE OF THE STUDY
The study is based on restructuring: a possible way to true federalism in Nigeria.
1.8 LIMITATION OF STUDY
Financial constraint- Insufficient fund tends to impede the efficiency of the researcher in sourcing for the relevant materials, literature or information and in the process of data collection (internet, questionnaire and interview).
Time constraint- The researcher will simultaneously engage in this study with other academic work. This consequently will cut down on the time devoted for the research work.
1.8 DEFINITION OF TERMS
Federalism:Is the mixed or compound mode of government, combining a general government (the central or ‘federal’ government) with regional governments (provincial, state, cantonal, territorial or other sub-unit governments) in a single political system. Its distinctive feature, exemplified in the founding example of modern federalism by the United States of America under the Constitution of 1787, is a relationship of parity between the two levels of government established. It can thus be defined as a form of government in which there is a division of powers between two levels of government of equal status.
Political: Relating to government, or the conduct of government, concerned with the making as distinguished from the administration of governmental policy.
Restructuring: Bringing about a drastic or fundamental internal change that alters the relationships between different components or elements of an organization or system.