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Policy, semantics beclouding devolution of powers

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THAT Nigerian political leaders are living in denial of the mounting socio-economic challenges tearing the fabric of the nation apart is merely saying the obvious. Perceptive observers of the critical issues of government would feel disenchanted at the cleaver and subtle manipulation of words and nomenclatures by the federal government in a covert bid to evade the calls for effecting a substantial devolution of powers from the centre to the states or the envisaged six geo-political zones to reinvent Nigeria.

According to an elder   Yoruba personage, Chief Ayo Adebanjo, who has been vocal in the clarion calls of well-meaning Nigerians on the categorical imperative of restructuring the lopsided country or  substantial devolution of powers from the centre to the states, in line with the recommendations of the 2014 National Conference, “You can’t solve the problem of this nation in any form until you restructure the country”.

Unarguably, the nation may not register impressive and sustainable growth and development without implementing the recommendations of the 2014 National Conference. In his solemn admonition, former Senate President, Chief Ken Nnamani, said: “I was part of the 2014 National Conference and very important points were raised at the conference, which had the best and brightest brains in Nigeria in attendance,

“Their suggestions and contributions were quite amazing. I urge the government to revisit the recommendations because it would benefit them a lot. Many good points that will hasten the development and strengthen the unity of Nigeria are contained the report”.

It is exhilarating to observe that President Muhammadu Buhari has come to re-align himself with his party on the imperative of actualising true federalism and restructuring the federation. While many well-meaning Nigerians are happy over the declaration, they are nevertheless in a hurry to see the helmsman ‘work’ his ‘talk’, as it were. Let us examine the semantic or deceptive application of the phrase ‘diversification of the economy’. In a federal arrangement the world over, the entire sectors of the economy and governance is diversified, given an elbow room for the federating units to explore and exploit natural and mineral resources within their areas of jurisdiction.

Of course, it is not a new thing in Nigeria because that was the setting in the first republic which was backed with the 1960 Independent Constitution and the 1963 Republican Constitution.

But what does the APC-led federal government believe and chorus as diversification of the economy? To the best of the knowledge and ability of the government, diversification of the economy is only in the agricultural and solid mineral sectors. They are wrong because the large deposits of the identified solid minerals buried in the bowels of the earth in the various states are not being exploited, while the country is bedeviled with unemployment scourge, even as millions of people are wallowing in grinding poverty and penury.

The exploration and exploitation of these mineral deposits would jumpstart the country’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP) and net billions of foreign exchange into the Federation Account.

It has become imperative for the laws banning the exploration and exploitation of these solid minerals to be abolished because there is discrimination in the exploitation of some of these solid mineral resources in some states of the federation. In Zamfara State for instance, the federal government granted mining license to the indigenes and foreigners and the proceeds are not channeled into the Federation Account for distribution to the tiers of government as the oil and gas proceeds are being done. The exploitation of the expensive solid minerals in some states in the northern part of the country by individuals and foreigners who are given license was a ploy to empower the section of Nigeria, hence, the deceptive and selective policy of “diversification of agricultural sector and solid minerals sector” only while placing ban on the exploration and exploitation of other expensive solid minerals by the people of other states.  Why is it difficult for the abrogation of the laws preventing state governments from exploiting all the mineral resources within their domain?  Why rely on oil and gas from the Niger Delta for the country’s revenue and a source of the Federation Account? Justice demands that the proceeds from Zamfara solid minerals should be channeled into the Federation Account.  Who is fooling who? One may ask. In a nutshell, diversification of the economy should be wholesale as Nigeria is operating a quasi federal arrangement. What political pundits described as “Federal-Unitary” contraption should be jettisoned forthwith so as to return the country to the glorious era of the first republic where all the federating units made up of ethnic groups were happy and progressing at their respective paces.

Another juggled nomenclature is ‘Community Policing’ instead of decentralized security architectures, aka ‘State Police’ in the recommendations of the 2014 National Conference as obtained in countries that practice federal system of government. Of course, it was in practice in the first republic. It was grossly abused by the northern regional government because of the vaulting and vaunting ambition to rule the entire country irrespective of the democratic ethos and practices and constitutional provisions.

The federal government should bestir itself and start governing by a systematic implementation of the recommendations of the 2014 National Conference. The so-called ‘Community Policing’ is a diversion because it ties them to the apron string of the central police office at the Federal Capital Territory, Abuja. In other words, the APC-led federal government won’t let go the centralised security architecture which has proved grossly inadequate in the protection of lives and property of Nigerians and foreigners in the country.

State Police, as the federal government calculates, will prevent the alleged northern establishment from controlling the country directly and indirectly. It is also to continue the impunity and lawlessness of the supposed foreign herdsmen from Sahel region which the federal government is reluctant to stop. A situation where the wellbeing of indigenes of a country would be compromised for the welfare of foreigners is unheard of the world over. When state police is in place, these murderous invaders will rush back to their county while the displaced people will go back to their communities and resume their disrupted socio-economic life. Many of the displaced people, especially in Benue State are dying in refugee camps while others are deteriorating in health and incapacitated for any meaningful economic life and activities.

Another semantic nomenclature by the federal government is the change of name of Nigeria Prisons Service to Nigerian Correctional Service. Facts speak boldly that the federal government has been unable to fund prisons, hence prisons in Nigeria are eyesores; a far cry from what is seen in sane polities the world over. Prisons are dilapidated, even as many were built during the colonial days. Bad governance prevented the rebuilding and rehabilitation of the structures and effecting correctional facilities ostensibly to change the mindset of the inmates to be good citizens when they might have served out their prison terms and reintegrated into the society.

The supposed change of name means nothing because the federal government does not show readiness to manage prisons adequately to align with the global standard. According to Abdulllah Abdulganly, the correctional facilities play a vital role in determining its variance. There is consensus among criminologists that there are three important aspects of criminal justice system. They are: the police, the trial court and the correctional home. Thus, correction occupies an important place in crime discourses, specifically crime prevention and control.

I maintain that there will be no improvement in prison services in Nigeria unless the country faces the stark reality of restructuring the federation and governance. Prison services in the country has deteriorated to the basest level which prompted the former Governor of Akwa-Ibom State, Godson Akpabio, (now a minister) to spend the state’s fund to build modern prison which he handed over to the federal government and bet me, the federal government cannot effect the maintenance of the facilities because of poor budgetary provisions. The modern prison will register progressive deterioration like others because of the pseudo federalism in place where the federal government swallowed more that it can chew.

Prisons are to be established by the federating units in a federal system of government the world over. State governments are in better positions to establish prisons, hence the imperative of radical revenue sharing formular, pending the reinventing of fiscal federalism as recommended in the 2014 National Cofab.

Another semantic nomenclature is RUGA. Instead of facing the stark reality of keying into the global practice in rearing cattle and other animals through ranching, the federal government came out with brazen deception tagged, RUGA which is another name for ranching. Laughably, the facilities in the supposed RUGA are the same with ranching viz: schools, health facilities, water supply, modern facilities for preserving meat, milk, hides and skin, etc. Who is fooling who in the semantics? It is believed that the ruse behind RUGA is the implementation of Islamisation agenda and “throwing the Koran into the Atlantic Ocean”. It is nothing but the alleged Fulani expansionist tendencies and base exploits.

As indicated earlier, RUGA is on all fours with ranching. The puerile gimmick of the nepotistic federal government is to use Nigeria’s funds in the annual budgets to fund the establishment of ranching which ought to be the private business of cattle dealers, just like every other private business of other Nigerians. It is the usual pampering of the northern Moslems to use the common wealth of all Nigerians for a favoured ethno-religious group to have material edge over other ethno-religious groups in the country.

Other semantics on RUGA are: Cattle colony, routes for cattle as it was done by the colonial masters, military cattle colony, rangers for herdsmen, AK47 for herdsmen, even when the law prohibits such, MACBAN Vigilante all over the state, etc. Who is fooling who in Nigeria of “different strokes for different folks in governance? May the Almighty God rescue us from overt and covert agenda of those who have gross and scoffing disregard for Nigerian unity where justice, equity, fair play and respect for the law and the constitution reign.

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