Lawmakers need to understand that Nigeria needs true federalism

by Wareez Odunayo

Federalism is a system of government in which governmental powers that exist in a country are shared between central government and component region. It is the system of government in which governmental powers are divided between the central government, i.e. the federal government and its components; state and local government.

Federalism has been present in Nigeria since the former British colony was reorganized into a federation of three regions in 1946. Regionalism was introduced to the Nigeria system by the Richards Constitution. Federalism is patterned to accommodate diversity so that no part can override others politically, religiously and historically.

Among other strong features of federalism include the powers of the constituent units to substantially control their resources. For example, any state that has oil should be in charge of the oil, determine who mines it and under what conditions, fund the revenue and donate a maintenance allowance to the federal purse.

It is obvious that Nigeria practices a unitary system in which most powers are vested in the hands of the central, instead of true federalism. Overtimes, different groups in Nigeria, especially in the southern part, have been agitating for “true federalism” i.e. restructuring, but many corrupt politicians don’t want the country to be restructured because they are benefiting immensely from the current system government.

During the 1999 Constitution amendment at the National Assembly, the Senate and the House of Representatives rejected power devolution to the state. This is a huge setback in the quest for national rediscovery when the country is on the brink of collapse.

It is nonsensical that while many Nigerians are clamouring for the centre to divide its weight and make it less attractive for corruption, the parliament is moved to giving it more powers.

Giving more powers to the centre is ridiculous. It means that the current revenue formula of 52.6 per cent for the Federal Government; 26.72 per cent for the states; and 20.6 per cent for Local Government Areas will continue in its favour.

We cannot continue to live in denial. Nigeria needs to be restructured and should be run in accordance with the basic principles of federalism.

Therefore, we need lawmakers that appreciate the current political situation and make moves for “true federalism”

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