Ochereome Nnanna: Discard wrong power sharing formular

by Ochereome Nnanna

From Left: Minister of Trade and Investment, Dr Olusegun Aganga; President Goodluck Jonathan and The Council Co-Ordinator, Honorary Investors Council (HIIC), Baroness Lynda Chalker Of Wallasey At 15th Meeting Of HIIC in London On Friday

For instance, it was reported that the President alone will be nominating a whopping 120 members to the Conference. That is larger than the 96 members that the late General Sani  Abacha nominated into the 1994/95 Constitutional Conference.

Those of us who declared the National Dialogue soon to be convened by President Goodluck Jonathan as a jamboree might be justified after all.

The Monday, December 9, 2013 issue of Vanguard gave an insight into what we are to expect in the coming few weeks.

For instance, it was reported that the President alone will be nominating a whopping 120 members to the Conference. That is larger than the 96 members that the late General Sani  Abacha nominated into the 1994/95 Constitutional Conference.

The paper also envisages that the total number of delegates might come to more than 300 delegates if the membership is based on the 109-member senatorial districts or about 580 if the 360 federal constituencies are adopted as units of representation.

Any which way, if the feelers we are getting will come true, then we are going to have a crowded hall, and some of the delegates might not even have their turn to present their views before the six-month envisaged duration of the conference will elapse.

I had looked into this knotty issue of representation in my past interventions on this subject, and I came out with a suggestion that will allow for a lean but efficient number of delegates who will have enough time and space to canvas the demands of the people they represent (see People and Politics, October 31, 2013 entitled: “No to tribal delegates (2)”.

For instance, I had called for representation not based on tribes or the much trumpeted “ethnic nationalities”, but rather based on the geopolitical zones. I believe that the geopolitical zones transcend the tribes and constitute more of uniting factors than the former.

In that write-up, I noted: “I call them the zones of equity. If there is representation based on equality of the geopolitical zones, we might decide to have a conference of 60 delegates made up of 10 delegates per zone.

The number could go to 80 when special delegates representing the professions, unions, women, youth, disabled, and the National Assembly are added”.

After all, Nigeria’s most enduring constitution – the 1999 Constitution – was drawn up and debated by just 49 delegates or the so-called “49 wise men”.

On the other hand, the National Political Reform Conference, NPRC, organised by President Olusegun Obasanjo in 2005/2006 had a crowd of 400 members and yet it ended up a waste of the nation’s precious time and resources; in other words, a jamboree!

The good thing about the feelers coming from the Vanguard report is that, at least, the Femi Okunrounmu Committee on National Dialogue did not recommend the selection of delegates based on “ethnic nationalities”, which has been the drumbeat of some agitators. I have made it clear that the less we celebrate tribes and tongue in nation-building the better for us.

Instead, we should have the attitude that “though tribes and tongue may differ, in brotherhood we stand”, the glorious words of our discarded old anthem.

I believe that since Nigeria gives more to all of us than our respective tribes (being that tribes are only platforms for us to demand more from Nigeria) we should approach one another based on the shared bounties that Nigeria has already blessed us with.

For instance, Nigeria gave us states and local government councils for the purpose of local self governance and revenue allocation from the federal purse. She also gave us the federal constituencies and the senatorial districts as units of representation at the federal parliament.

These are better platforms for representation than “ethnic nationalities”. However, over the years, we have realised that state, local government, federal constituencies and senatorial districts were not shared among the people equitably.

They were shared after the civil war, as if in reward for the roles played by the various ethno-regional groupings in defeating Biafra.

That being so, the North grabbed the highest number of these units, the West followed, while the former Biafrans (South East) were given a pittance on each count. Kano, Katsina and Jigawa in the North West zone alone collect more revenue from the federation account and have more at the House of Reps than all the five states the South East put together.

This inequitability was responsible for the agitation for Nigeria to be re-divided into six geopolitical zones, which more or less accommodate the various peoples of Nigeria in conformity with the principles of contiguity and consanguinity.

If the Nigerian commonwealth (or national cake) is divided equally among the geopolitical zones, Nigeria will be a happier, more peaceful and progressive entity.

I, therefore, call on the Presidency to ignore calls for delegates to be based on the inequitable formula left behind by the win-the-war military regime which benefited some groups and marginalised others.

Rather, we should begin now to give expression to the use of the geopolitical zones for power and revenue sharing in Nigeria. We must start practising that with the impending National Dialogue.

The time has come when Nigerians must accept what rightly belongs to them and not insist on stealing from the shares of others. This lootocratic disposition has always worked against those it was created to favour, because at the end of the day, they always come up the poorest, most backward and destitute, while those being marginalised soar on, on the wings of enterprise in spite of systemic odds.

We all are celebrating Mandela, with typical Nigerian hypocrisy. Mandela stood for fairness for all, irrespective of colour and race or even political roles in the past. But here in Nigeria, we insist that evil structures set up 40 years ago to feather our selfish nests and freeload on a civil war victory must become the permanent formula for national cohabitation.

That is the trouble with Nigeria!

Read this article in the Vanguard Newspapers
Op-ed pieces and contributions are the opinions of the writers only and do not represent the opinions of Y!/YNaija.

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