16th November, 2017.
The Senate President, Federal Republic of Nigeria, Abuja.
THE FOLLOWING REPRESENTS THE POSITION OF EDO STATE PEOPLE ON THE DEBATE ON RESTRUCTURING, VIA ITS FOREMOST SOCIOCULTURAL BODY, THE EDO FORUM OF PATRIOTS (EFP).
Following the extant national discourse on the need for Restructuring of the country for more equitable, peaceful and progressive co existence, We, the good people of Edo State, through the Edo Forum of Patriots, EFP, hereby adopt the understated position as the most expedient position for ourselves.
Nigeria was brought together by a recommendation from the Selbourne report of1898, which followed the signing of the Niger Convention of the same year that secured the territories of present day Nigeria to the British against the French. Lord Lugard merely implemented the recommendations in 1914 by amalgamating the northern and southern protectorates. The report was the first attempt at Federalizing the territories. A uniform self sustaining administrative system, a uniform railway system, an army, that is, the West African Frontier Force, were put in place. Of all this, the most pertinent to us of the developments of that period was the revenue resource system; Custom union was made a common external taxing system. Also, revenue derived from richer territories were used to finance poorer territories. The north of Nigeria has no seaports, revenue from the Southern part was then used to support the north. It was the beginning of our inequitable revenue sharing formula in Nigeria, which till date is enshrined in the Nigerian Constitution as a sacred principles.
Post independent Nigerian Constitution did not offer a much radical departure; rather, it merely offered a modified travesty of the extant practice. In 1960, Nigeria became independent with a Parliamentary democracy and a tripod structural arrangement of North, East and Western regions. Power was held at the center by a coalition of the NPC and NCNC/NEPU coalition. And the Ag, which was the opposition . They also governed the northern, eastern and western regions respectively.
There were inherent problems with the period from the outset. The oversized north was an unequal member in the political tripod and threatened domination of the national polity. It was not long before also ethnicity made political competition to be marked by protectionism at the regional levels and a bitter political battle for the federal government. Politics became very parochial and primordial. Opposition parties were victimized and oppressed. Councils controlled by opposition parties were dissolved and left out in the distribution of social amenities, if allowed at all. Parties became mainly regional. The census of 1962/63 was another opportunity to expand regional fortunes and further polarize the regions. for instance, it reflected the north to be over 50% of the country’s population. It was rejected by the eastern, western and mid western regions if course. A new one was repeated in 1963. This was also rejected for the same reasons. This was the setting that brought the Military into Nigerian politics in the coup of January, 1966.
It is a naked fact that since the first republic, Nigeria had never had the opportunity to sit together to negotiate the bases for its corporate existence.
The military incursion dislocated the already failing democratic experiment of the First Republic in many irreversible ways.
The Military introduced a unitary system of governance into a Federal nation and concentrated too much power at the Centre.
The military created States to decimate the regions and make them more tractable for governing. This is one of the permanent legacies of the military. This effectively established a unitary system of governance pretending to be federalism.
The 1999 Federal Constitution merely inherited the distortions to the 1963 Constitution via that of 1979 done by the military and has since been trying to operate Federalism on its distorted template.
Such distortions like the imbalanced revenue sharing and allocation formula, Federal Character, unwieldy Centre in control of all the items on the Exclusive Legislative list are mainly responsible for the long agitations for Constitutional change. And part of the context for the current renewed agitations for Restructuring.
The new and strident call for Restructuring of any kind is fuelled by a long tiresome history of bad governance, corruption, fear of Fulani ethnic domination and a general feeling of discontent with things.
Observed positions of various groups across the country engaged in the Restructuring discourse are reactions to the stated scenario above. Such groups include, but are by no means limited to the Oduduwa Republic, Rondel Republic, the Midwest Movement and IPOB etc.
Oduduwa advocates a return to federalism of the 1960 and 1963 Independence and Republican Constitutions, with the modification of the current six geo political zones forming the federating units.
Rondel Republic threatens a declaration of Independence in 2018, if they do not perceive equity and justice in the Nigerian nation. Resource Control by regions is at the heart of what they term, Justice.
IPOB wants an outright secession from the Nigerian State. Ohaneze Ndigbo, the foremost socio cultural group in the South East wants a restructured Nigeria with greater Igbo representation at the Centre.
The Midwest Movement thinks that the problem of the dysfunctional system foisted on us by the military is manifest in the endless agitations in the country. Government should therefore deal with it or face the consequence of its failure. Midwest will not be part of any seceded group, but will remain on its own, in the event of any break up of the country.
From the foregoing, it should be clear that certain identifiable factors caused the renewed agitations in the country today. And they are:
a. A unitary system of governance that is being superimposed on a federal structure and therefore producing strains and tension in the nation. So far, it has been badly managed.
b. Unbridled and perennial corruption has led to disillusionment and frustrations by component units and populace of the country.
c. Mutual distrust, especially between the south and north, or, should we say, the Fulani ethnic race of Nigeria and the rest of us.
It is also obvious that in the sectional agitations for restructuring the country, non of the major ethnic groups has given any altruistic roadmap for integrating its contiguous minority, a fact that probably informed the Midwest movement’s uncompromising position of non alliance with its contiguous major ethnic groups, like the Oduduwa and Biafra.
We are of the considered opinion and therefore declared position that:
1. Breaking up the country into fractions does not show any potential of solving the current problems. Nigeria should therefore remain one indivisible entity.
2. The current structure of the Nigeria nation remains as it is with 36 states as federating units. It solves no problem to keep flip flopping with the structure. it will only create more problems.
3. That Edo State is better off situated within the current Nigeria nation and structure.
4. That Nigeria’s “Restructuring” should be clearly understood to mean the practice of FEDERALISM: meaning that we are convinced that at present what we practice is a unitary system of governance being super imposed on a federal structure.
The agitation therefore should be united strongly to foster the practice of Federalism. There is nothing like “True Federalism”. It is either Federalism or it is not Federalism.
5. Government at all levels be held by the citizenry to accountability and good governance and find sustained ways to degrade corruption.
6. That a revenue sharing formula that will be concomitant with the new responsibilities that will become incumbent on the federating states be worked out.
7. A Parliamentary mode of federalism be adopted to cut down on cost of governance.
1. The National Chairman, APC
2. The National Chairman, PDP
3. The Speaker, House of Representatives.
4. The Secretary to the Government of the Federation, Presidency, Abuja.
Aiyamenkhue Edokpolo, Chairman, Interim Management Committee, EFP.
Rt. Hon. Bright Omokhodion, Member, Interim Management Committee, EFP.
Hon. Austin Atakpu, Member, Interim Management Committee, EFP.