‘It is time to re-configure Nigerian federation’


Akin Oyebode

Professor of Law and Chairman, Office of International Relations, Partnerships and Prospects University of Lagos, Akin Oyebode, responded to 10 questions sent to him by AJIBOLA AMZAT via e-mail on the recent visit of President Muhammadu Buhari to the United States of America. 

This is somewhat unusual and a definitive imprimatur of his credibility and support as well as collaboration by the world’s leading power.Coming as the visit was just before Obama’s trip to Kenya, it was designed to smooth roughened feathers regarding the accusation that President Obama had tended to sideline and ignore the world’s largest Black Country and to assure that Nigeria now has a leadership it can and is ready to do business with.

Significance of Buhari at Blair’s House  Well, putting Buhari in Blair House is another indication of the esteem Obama has for Buhari. The residence is usually reserved for the most highly honored guests of the White House. It is very symbolic of the high prospects for US-Nigeria relations; bearing in mind that the last Nigerian leader bestowed with such honour was Alhaji Abubakar Tafawa Balewa.

Exploring new frontiers in US-Nigeria economic relations The US has long-standing business relationships with Nigeria, although hitherto concentrated in the oil sector. Now that the US has virtually ceased from oil imports from this country, it would not want to lose out from participation in an emerging economy that claims to be the largest on the African continent.

Besides, there are able competitors from elsewhere that would like to take advantage of investing in the Nigerian economy. As Nigeria begins to look beyond the oil export market, there are tremendous opportunities available for those willing to take the risk of venture capitalism in what is, perhaps the most vibrant economy in the developing world.

Return on investment is as rosy as can be found anywhere and American businessmen having a nose for profit would definitely not wish to be excluded from investing in very profitable ventures here.

I honestly believe that the times warrant a re-configuring of Nigeria’s federation. It is simply unwieldy and untenable to have a coterie of 36 mostly unviable states, in different levels of financial distress. We now need to revisit what Senator Ekeremandu once called “feeding bottle federalism” by collapsing the states into 6 or 8 geo-political units in order to give our country a new lease of life.

Aspiring Nigerian business people here too, should be ready to export goods and merchandise to the US market, more so on account of the African Growth and Opportunities Act.

Non-inclusion of lawmakers on the trip   The non-inclusion of members of the National Assembly in the President’s entourage is to me a reflection of Buhari’s discomfort with and distaste for a Legislature that is unorganized, disorganized and appears to be perpetually at war with itself.

I believe it is about time the National Assembly got its act together and start functioning as a credible, effective arm of government instead of assailing the nation’s sensibilities with inanities symptomatic of a theatre of the absurd. Nigerians, I believe, are getting sick and tired of this odious spectacle.  Tackling insurgency and terrorism Insurgency and terrorism generally are a global phenomenon.

Even as we speak, the US has its hands full in Afghanistan, Syria, Iraq, Yemen and elsewhere but it has to be acknowledged that it is in a provision to furnish Nigeria with much needed counter-insurgency know-how, expertise, intelligence and more especially, military hardware and materiel.

Providing us with, say, drone assistance, training and satellite pictures would go a long way in stemming the tide of the gravest challenge Nigeria has faced in recent times.

It is heart-warming that Uncle Sam has now agreed to supply the Nigerian military with things like Apache helicopters but a lot more is needed if we have to turn the tide against these heartless enemies of the fatherland masquerading as religious zealots.

The Boko Haram challenge    Not being a military person, I am afraid I may not have much to add to the literature on insurgency and counter-insurgency.

However, if history is anything to go by, we have to adopt a multi-pronged approach in confronting the situation on our hands. Luckily, we have some of the finest officers and men on the continent.

All we need to do is provide them with the wherewithal and they would surely deliver the goods.  Negotiating with Boko Haram   I am aware that President Buhari has declared that he has not foreclosed the option of negotiating with the BH but he needs to be most careful in sitting with the murderous gang as the road to hell, it is said, is paved with good intentions  Expected change in Nigeria’s foreign policy The Buhari government, I agree, rode on the crest wave of change but it is too early to discern its policies.

We do not even have a list of the high functionaries of government, including the SGF, CoS, not to mention ministers and other prime movers. So, it seems precipitate to talk of a paradigm shift in foreign policy.

What we know is that foreign policy usually follows the thrust of domestic policy and Nigeria cannot be an exception in this regard.  Priorities of states in a new global economic order I honestly believe that the times warrant a re-configuring of Nigeria’s federation.

It is simply unwieldy and untenable to have a coterie of 36 mostly unviable states, in different levels of financial distress. We now need to revisit what Senator Ekeremandu once called “feeding bottle federalism” by collapsing the states into 6 or 8 geo-political units in order to give our country a new lease of life.

While agreeing that all politics was local, it is glaringly dysfunctional and counter-productive to continue pretending that the states as constituted at present can be the building blocks of a viable Nigerian federation. It is only after this is done that we can then begin to seriously consider the role and place of the federating units in the context of globalization and emerging markets in the 21st century.

Recovery of loot stashed abroad The recovery or repatriation of our stolen wealth abroad has become a lot easier as a result of the UN Convention against Corruption, 2007 which has since been transformed into the municipal law of many countries.

Countries such as Switzerland, which used to be the haven of such loot have since done away with their secrecy banking laws and offered to repatriate foreign-owned loot in their vaults. All Nigeria has to do is to trace such loot and demand surrender and return of same.

Receive News Alerts on Whatsapp: +2348136370421

  • Mazi JO

    The Hon. Professor, the time warranted the Regions, the time warranted the States and now you are postulating another system in re-configuring our Democracy? How long and how often should we be mired in these experiments and their attendant costs? We still have the same people, the same landscape, same tribes, same ethnicities and same wish for a tranquil and blossoming Nation. The whole resource and ingredients to be that Country of our wishes abound. Our only set back is ourselves. What does it take to love this Nation? Until we answer this question in a resounding unison and conviction, we will be perennially using and dumping systems. There is exclusively no perfect system of governance because governments are run by people. People get miffed when you compare the US to Nigeria for the wrong reasons. They are humans like us who are running a Republic that can boast of all ethnicities on the planet and are still the envy of all that breathe the free air. We have to copy their idea of Nationhood – unflagging individualism but a singular national identity. One Nation under God; if ours might be one Nation under God/Allah. Before I lose your attention my friends, what I am saying is we can adopt any system and work it to excellence. That whatever system we chose should be a reflection of all of us as Nigerians. No one makes it succeed for us but ourselves. You know if you are 30 years or older, your production possibility curve in our politics is set to dwindle. Think about those 40 years and older who are in charge as we speak. The point is we are not focusing on Youth for progressive leadership and as such precipitously losing on strategic probabilities. You educate our youth? How many times have you reached across the Nation with your colleagues on inter-tertiary forum on leadership for our Youth where you focus on marking out special groups of talents for the Country? Start one tomorrow encompassing our universities across the board. Do this consistently for a period, having them develop a working relationship that fosters a national synergy in our endeavors. That is the kinds of proposals that build systems than scrapping a framework and starting from day one again. The success of any system hinges particularly on the love, dedication, the willingness and the sacrifices of the people charged with running it. Search your hearts and build one Nation. It is an appeal to those who wield and are in position to advance the National causes.

  • Arthur Nwokeike

    One of my Role Model, I wonder why people fail to harken to your sincere take on National issues? GMB, this Man is more than qualified to be either Minister of External Affairs or any suitable Office, I have been following his articulates and approach to issues, he is well versed in all ramifications. GMB, you promised in one of your media chats to use seasoned people, for me here is s good example as I have already recommended Pastor Tunde Bakare as well. God Almighty will continue to guild and protect you.

  • emmanuel kalu

    we don’t need to reconfigure the states again. we certainly don’t need to create more. what we need with states, are credible innovative and willing leaders. each of nigeria state is able to generate enough income to operate and not have to depend on allocation. Those allocation could be then used to save for rainny days or invest in long term economical and social project. We have to many state copying each other, one state is not the same as another state. a state with 2 million people should not copy a state with 15 million people. until we get proper leaders as governor and the federal govt uses the allocations of money properly, we would not have a viable states.

  • larr

    I beg to defer with your accessment on Buhari visit to the USA and his stay in Blair’s house. Blair’s house has no significance, do not deceive Nigerians. Buhuri was received on entry to the USA by an ambassador, this is humiliation. No arms deal was made neither is arms embargo lifted. The USA has not changed her on not buying our oil. So where is the high esteem you referred to? What did the visit achieve? other than go there for photo opportunity.

  • Sal Yarima

    It is time to re-configure this moron’s brain. He needs anti-psychotics. Useless hungry chickenhead.

  • IskaCountryman

    we voted for change of leadership…not restructuring…

  • amador kester

    Its getting late.But the nation will still be east of danger if it wakes up now.Today