Monday, 11 January 2016

THE NEED TO INTRODUCE TRUE FEDERALISM IN NIGERIA

President Muhammadu Buhari
For over 10 years we have posited that even if an angel is the president of Nigeria, the EFCC boss is an angel, and all the judges, ministers, service chiefs etc are all angels; fighting corruption in Nigeria will still remain a grand illusion.

Not that corruption can’t be fought and won in Nigeria. It can. But we can’t fight it on the present foundation of a unitary system in a polity that can only operate optimally on true federalism, resource control, free market economy, privatization, deregulation and no subsidy.

Nigeria is a unique case where the only system that can work and make the country to work optimally and make rapid progress is true federalism and resource control. Also because of distortions that had compromised the economy, the imperative of market becomes obvious. We are in the same situation where Russia was under President Boris Yeltsin when late Professor Milton Friedman was approached to advise them on their economy. His recommendation was market economy, privatization, deregulation and liberalisation.

Nigeria stopped working since 1966 when the military came in and introduced unitary constitution. Obasanjo’s constitution of 1979 that we are still operating is a unitary constitution though they call it federal. The country since the military came in is built on free oil money that belongs to the Niger delta people. In a free market economy, private ownership of the means of production is the cornerstone. But in Nigeria, armed military government in the fashion of armed robbers seized the oil from the individual land owners on whose land the oil was found by gun and decrees. The land, the resources on it belong to the owner of the land not the federal, state or local government. No lie like the one usually given to deny agitation for state police justifies the central government taking over oil resources from people of Niger Delta.

Anything outside that negates market economy system. And it is an outright robbery. The Nigerian ruling class can only continue to share the oil money through the unitary arrangement; hence from Obasanjo to Buhari, they are opposed to true federalism and resource control. As long as everybody gets that free money from Abuja, it can be spent any how and nobody is accountable to anything. Using EFCC, DSS, probe or investigation is only diversionary, parochial and fooling the people.

As we speak, EFCC, DSS operatives, staff in the presidency, people linked to present power configuration and other agencies are taking advantage of the war against corruption to become rich. Another set of new rich people are emerging. That is why I said that even if Buhari and his top men are angels, the present system accommodates corruption, hence stealing will still take place as usual and more than as usual too among the new power brokers.

The unitary system and centralisation makes Nigeria an exceptional country where tiny minority civil servants, soldiers, custom and immigration men, policemen, corporations’ men are superbly rich without being productive and the remaining 99.5% of the 180 millions languishes in extreme poverty. The consequence of the above can only be precisely predicted. The poverty created by few looters of the treasury, who also engage in ostentatious living in turn create armed robbery, kidnappers and Boko Haram.

What is the way out? We call on Mr. Buhari like President Ronald Reagan called on Mr. Gorbachev to pull down this wall of unitary constitution and central control of the economy and embrace true federalism and resource control. When there is nothing to share again, every local government chairman, state governor will go and sit down and come up with how they are going to run their local government and state. And Federal Government and its officials will also sit down and ask themselves whether they can maintain bi camera parliament, continue to create illegal agencies like EFCC, etc.

In Canada, we pay property tax as property owners or we pay indirectly as tenants. Because of this, the municipality authorities and officials must as a necessity carry the garbage, provide street lights, water, repair the roads, remove snow, etc. They dare not provide these services except they want trouble. They can’t say they don’t have money hence they will have to explain what they do with the taxes.

Mayors and councilors can’t share the tax money, neither can premiers (governors) nor their ministers. By implication, mediocre persons can’t go to government. Only people who have something to offer do. Government officials from the president to the legislators think and generate their salaries. Their salaries are not given. If they don’t generate revenue, they don’t get paid.

In Nigeria people seek elective and political positions because the Niger delta oil money is already there to take care of them. They don’t have to think and work. They just manage files. They take their own share of the money and leave the paltry remaining to sometime pay workers and provide services when they can. If they can’t leave anything behind everybody can go to hell.

The big and sad news today is some people ‘stole’ or misappropriate $2.1billion and they are in the news because they belonged to PDP administration. Hundreds of billions had been stolen before them and while they were stealing by APC governments’ officials; and billions are still being stolen now and will be stolen under this administration because the system is just built for that.

We don’t need angel and saint Buhari to stop corruption. We need him if he is genuine to listen to us and experiment with our solution of bringing down the wall of unitary constitution by introducing true federalism, resource control and real market economy where the economy is run by the households and firms, an independent central bank and other regulators.

After all, when  Buhari ran with Pastor Tunde Bakare of Latter Rain Assembly in 2011, he ran on the platform of true federalism, devolution of power, state police and free market economy. Some of these still featured in his APC manifesto. Therefore, it should not be difficult to put this motion as he once believed and he remains a believer; except he only deceived. (Source: Guardian)