BEING TEXT OF SPEECH BY PASTORTUNDE BAKARE AT THE PUBLIC POLICY FORUM BY BUSINESS HALLMARK ON THURSDAY, MAY 19, 2016

AT BANKERS HOUSEVICTORIA ISLAND, LAGOS, NIGERIA

THEME: THE CASE FOR A NEW NIGERIA

Introduction

I commend the organizers of this forum for their unquantifiable contribution not only to policy discourse but also, by implication, to the pragmatic task of nation-building. Through this forum, the editorial board of Business Hallmark is bridging the gap between the knowledge industry and the policy roundtable and contributing to the attainment of the developmental aspirations of our nation, considering the seeming and ironic dearth of capacity in the polity. I believe that, through this forum, rare insights from highly experienced policy makers, corporate executives and resource persons in a vast array of industries and sectors are being warehoused in a national solutions pool.

I must state that I feel highly honoured to be adding to the wealth of wisdom and knowledge that has already emanated from this forum in furtherance of our developmental objectives as a nation. Over a year ago, in October 2014, I had been scheduled to address this platform on the theme, “God, Faith and the Challenges of Nation Building”. However, due to other engagements, that invitation could not be honoured. I also recall that, at that time, Nigeria had just achieved the feat of containing and eliminating the Ebola Virus Disease through a well-coordinated public sector-led effort that demonstrated our capacity as a people to combat challenges even with little or no external input. That problem-solving potential necessitated my earlier use of the term “ironic” in reference to the seeming dearth of capacity, for it is indeed ironic that a nation so blessed has so far been unable to marshal her strengths in addressing the broader challenges of nation building. My focus in the October 2014 address would have been a clarion call to our people to rise up in faith as co-labourers with God to build a new nation. I hope that this address will inspire us to take on that challenge of nation building.

First, let me point out that a panoramic view of the state of the nation reveals a severely unsatisfactory and undesirable status quo. At the beginning of the year, in a State of the Nation address titled “Roadmap to Successful Change”[1] broadcast from The Latter Rain Assembly where I serve as overseer, I highlighted the indicators of our ailing economy. From the dwindling GDP growth rate to the plunge in market capitalization, from the mounting debt burden to the dip in crude revenue, from the growing inflation rate to the staggering job losses, and from the dwindling foreign reserves to the persistent budget deficits, the state of the nation leaves much to be desired. With income stagnation in the midst of cost-push inflation, purchasing power has diminished and income inequality has heightened with a widening gap between the rich and the poor. This macroeconomic disorientation has further resulted in socioeconomic dissonance characterized by severely inadequate supply of utilities such as energy, power and telecommunication services. It has worsened access to, and quality of, amenities such as education and healthcare. The social fabric has further unraveled as evident in increasing waves of abductions and reported marriages to minors[2] even as the nation continues to grapple with intertribal tensions and violence[3]. As asymmetric complexities such as suicide bomb attacks seem to blur gains in the war against Boko Haram, the vestiges of the corrupt order have adapted to the new political environment and our bureaucratic lexicon has been enriched with such phenomena as “budget padding”[4]. Our civil service has been asphyxiated by inefficiency and haunted by hundreds of thousands of ghost workers. Meanwhile, allegations of judicial complicity in the corruption conundrum have given Mr. President a headache[5] that seems to defy anti-corruption aspirin.

Against this backdrop, and with resolve to ensure that Nigeria seizes the momentum created by the emergence of new leadership towards resolving her national challenges with precision and accuracy, I shall examine the case for a New Nigeria.

Some of the statements I will make in the cause of this lecture are a reiteration of the positions I articulated on the 3rd of April, 2016 in an address titled “Championing the Cause of a New Nigeria”[6], which I delivered on the occasion of the 27th anniversary of The Latter Rain Assembly. Given the thematic commonalities between this address and that, permit me to refer copiously to that address in this lecture, reproducing aspects of it where necessary. Nevertheless, in the course of this address, I will lay greater emphasis on certain aspects, particularly on the imperatives of a new constitutional order.

Three Schools of Thought in the Call for a New Nigeria

Broadly, at least three schools of thought may be identified:

i) The Conservative school of thought, which opines that the state of the nation, however dismal at the point of analysis, represents the desired or much talked about “New Nigeria” merely because of political changes such as the return to civil rule in 1999.

ii) The Reformative school of thought, which holds the view that, where previous governments had institutionalized misgovernance, a change of government provides an opportunity to create a new nation, through the replacement of old attitudes with new ones and through the introduction of reforms in institutions, policies and investments, nevertheless, without fundamental or foundational changes.

iii) The Revolutionary school of thought, which contends that the fundamental factors necessary to guarantee the promise of new nationhood have been lacking even since the return to civil rule in 1999 and that, by a fair preponderance of the credible evidence, the state of the nation calls for a revolution – a revolution that transcends politics or policies; a revolution that means far more than any change of government; a revolution that means a radical reformation of values as they impact upon the social, economic and political landscapes of our nation.

You may refer to the April 3rd address for an elaboration of various calls for a New Nigeria and possibly locate each of these calls within the three broad schools of thought.

The Nigerian Problem and the Pathway to a New Nigeria: Different Perspectives

The conservative, reformative and revolutionary schools of thought tend to consider the Nigerian problem and the required resolutions from broadly different perspectives. I term these perspectives the five hypotheses on the path to a New Nigeria.

Hypothesis 1: The current problems of the nation are due to global economic cycles which are outside domestic control and will self-reverse in due course

This assumption, which is hinged on the notion that local economies are not immune from global economic vicissitudes, fails to realize that countries, by plugging regulatory leakages[7] with the two-pronged valve of integrity and skill, can ensure that their economies wade through unfavourable cycles unscathed or with minimal losses as did Singapore[8] during the Asian economic crisis of the ‘90s and as did Australia[9] in the 2008 global financial crisis. This is why I insist that Nigeria’s problems are not the result of global economic cycles but the consequence of counterproductive national paradigms and self-limiting frameworks of state. How else does one explain the fact that Algeria, which produces fewer barrels of oil[10] than Nigeria, and with a population of approximately 40 million,[11] boasts of a foreign reserve[12] of about $155 billion while Nigeria is struggling to meet her foreign exchange needs with reserves hovering at $27 billion?

Hypothesis 2: The state of the nation is an unfolding transformational process and requires patience

When Nigeria returned to civil rule in 1999, the conservatives attributed our national problems to the “nascent” state of our democracy. Sixteen years down the line, our democracy is still in the so-called “nascent” state with the perpetuation of electoral violence and irregularities as well as endemic corruption. To underscore the fact that there is, as yet, no evolving transformational process, I ask again the same questions I asked in the aforementioned address: Where is Vision 2020 today? Where is the Seven-Point Agenda? Where is the Transformation Agenda? I dare say that if bold decisions are not taken at this time to do the right things, few years from now, we may find ourselves asking: “Where is the Change Agenda?”

Hypothesis 3: The state of the nation is merely symptomatic, requiring curative policy initiatives

In recent history, Nigeria has experienced astute economic management through such policy initiatives as the National Economic Empowerment and Development Strategy (NEEDS) facilitated by the economic team of former President Olusegun Obasanjo. However, the futility of this hypothesis is evidenced by the fact that the macroeconomic successes and rapid economic growth midwifed by that team yielded a dismal microeconomic and human development performance that saw over 84 million Nigerians living below the poverty line, aside other woeful indicators[13]. I maintain that if mere policy initiatives without foundational structural changes could not deliver the promise of a New Nigeria at that time when the economic climate was favourable, such a symptom-focused curative approach to our national challenges is predictably insufficient at this time of economic downturn.

Hypothesis 4: The national challenges are systemic, requiring reformative interventions such as institutional reforms and constitutional amendments

This assumption is based on the recognition that policy and investment intervention in governance are insufficient in dealing with the Nigerian problem. It recognizes the role of leadership in institution building based on the rule of law. However, it argues that the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria 1999 (as amended) suffices as the basis on which the rule of law can be guaranteed. This position assumes that, barring the need for a few amendments, there is nothing essentially wrong with the Constitution and that the problem is largely with the operators of the document and the bureaucratic systems by which they operate.

Once again, while I cannot fault certain aspects of this assumption, I wonder why our attempts at institution building have fallen like a pack of cards upon the exit of the spearhead or chief promoter; I wonder why our budget office metamorphosed from an office of “due process”[14] to an office of “budget padding”[15]; I wonder why, till recently, the EFCC has been the equivalent of a “toothless bulldog”[16]. I wonder why the Obasanjo administration bequeathed to us a legacy of lame and limping successor governments; I wonder why attempts at constitutional amendments have been ineffective.

Hypothesis 5: The state of the nation is due to fundamental flaws and requires a complete rebirth of nationhood and a rebuilding of the frameworks of state

The inadequacy of the four assumptions we have so far considered is simply a clear indication that there is something fundamentally wrong with the very essence of our nationhood. This fundamental error in our national configuration has consistently manifested as defects in the framework of state; it is an error in value configuration, the end product of which has been structural deformation, institutional degradation, constitutional aberrations and governmental incapacitation. For Nigeria to overcome her limitations, her nationhood must be reconfigured and the framework of state restructured.

Value Mis-configuration: The Root of Nigerias Problems

To understand the error in our current national value system, we must first take a look at the premise upon which the nation was engineered. Despite the pointers to the destiny of our nation, the colonial masters – who became instrumental in the union of the hitherto separate entities that constitute the Nigerian nation – had a different agenda. To them, the area around the Niger was a piece of real estate which had been purchased from the Royal Niger Company in 1900 for £865,000[17]. This commercial premise for the concept of an amalgamated Nigerian geopolitical entity determined the priorities of the colonial government. Consequently, although the British government established local structures and programmes, its concept of Nigeria as an instrument of British imperial interests shaped its policies, which were aimed at serving the British economy as against integrating and developing the budding nation. From its political system of indirect rule to its infrastructure projects, most of its policies were targeted at strengthening the British economy. More devastating was the educational policy which focused on raising clerical officers for the colonial government rather than training technical experts for national development. Even more devastating was the deliberate imbalance in access to social development programmes in order to divide the nation, maintain control and maximize economic gains for Britain, resulting in socio-economic disparity, distrust, and eventually discord. Since then, that seed has been transmitted from generation to generation. Some manifestations of value misconfiguration are as follows:

  1. Patronage Networks as against Patriotism: We readily create economic and political power blocs with the aim of cornering the nation’s resources and ensuring unequal distribution of power;
  2. Spectatorship as against Stakeholdership: We have been indifferent to the interests of our nation due to the absence of a sense of ownership. In the extreme, Spectatorship has degenerated into Sabotage due to a feeling of alienation;
  3. Preservation of narrow sectional interests as against the Pursuit of sublime national interests: We have failed to commit to the arduous but necessary journey in search of a unifying national ideal;
  4. Emphasis on Consumption and Commerce as against Capacity-building for productivity: From the public budgets which are skewed in favour of recurrent expenditure to the personal habits of Nigerians, there is an excessive inclination to consumerism to the neglect of capacity-building for productivity;
  5. Devouring as against Discovery:It has been said that if Isaac Newton had been a Nigerian when he saw the apple fall from the tree, he would have thanked his god, eaten the apple and returned for more the next day. If, after waiting a while, no other apple fell, he would climb the tree, shake down all the apples including the undeveloped ones and cart them home. After a while, he would cut down the tree and light a fire from the wood without contemplating the processes at play. If you doubt this comparison, consider the reaction of the Nigerians who found a dead whale on the shores of a Lagos beach[18];
  6. Imitation as against Innovation: Imitation is good only when the right things are imitated and when adaptation is contextualized. For instance, when the Japanese first encountered the European gun, they “[commissioned] metalsmiths to produce replicas” and subsequently “made technical improvements”[19]. In contrast, the local chiefs within present day Nigeria traded human resources for dane guns[20]. Our excessive consumption culture makes us quick to imitate and adapt rather than discover and develop innovative processes. This absence of an innovation culture has inclined us towards the bandwagon effect or the “pure-water phenomenon” and is the bane of science, technology and industrialization in Nigeria;
  7. Mediocrity as against Meritoriousness: The shoddy standard of service in the public and private sectors is an output of the lack of stakeholdership in the Nigerian project;
  8. Inclination to Opportunism as against utilization of Opportunity: The average politician sees public office as a chance to recoup investments for self and cronies while the average citizen tramples on fellow Nigerians in the scramble for crumbs from the proverbial national cake. Meanwhile, law enforcement agents such as the police and traffic wardens are on the lookout for offenders, not with a view to maintaining law and order but with a view to extorting and exploiting the situation for personal gain. This trend, which emanates from an absence of stakeholdership, pervades the Nigerian psyche from sector to sector. Prophet Ezekiel described our situation more graphically:

Ezekiel 22:2331 (NKJV) –

23 And the word of the Lord came to me, saying, 24 “Son of man, say to her: ‘You are a land that is not cleansed or rained on in the day of indignation.’ 25 The conspiracy of her prophets in her midst is like a roaring lion tearing the prey; they have devoured people; they have taken treasure and precious things; they have made many widows in her midst. 26 Her priests have violated My law and profaned My holy things; they have not distinguished between the holy and unholy, nor have they made known the difference between the unclean and the clean; and they have hidden their eyes from My Sabbaths, so that I am profaned among them. 27 Her princes in her midst are like wolves tearing the prey, to shed blood, to destroy people, and to get dishonest gain. 28 Her prophets plastered them with untempered mortar, seeing false visions, and divining lies for them, saying, ‘Thus says the Lord God,’ when the Lord had not spoken. 29 The people of the land have used oppressions, committed robbery, and mistreated the poor and needy; and they wrongfully oppress the stranger. 30 So I sought for a man among them who would make a wall, and stand in the gap before Me on behalf of the land, that I should not destroy it; but I found no one. 31 Therefore I have poured out My indignation on them; I have consumed them with the fire of My wrath; and I have recompensed their deeds on their own heads,” says the Lord God.

Constitutional Aberrations: The Seal of Nigerias Problems

According to foremost statesman, Chief Obafemi Awolowo, “three factors combine to produce political stability, the type of constitution, the form of government, and the calibre and character of political leaders in and outside government”[21]. I believe that an aberrant constitution is the seal of all political errors. Those who claim that the current Constitution is sufficient as the national Grundnorm fail to recognize the multifarious gaps in that document. If one looks carefully, one will find that these constitutional aberrations have their root in the misconfiguration of values as I have just described. I shall now categorize the fallibilities of the 1999 Constitution.

  1. Constitutional False Premise

Contrary to its claim that “We the People” gave ourselves the Constitution, the 1999 Constitution was designed without the participation of the Nigerian people. This non-inclusion of a people in a process by which they supposedly resolved to give themselves a constitution is unrivalled in the history of political deception and it laid the foundation for a culture of fraud in the democratic dispensation.

According to an insider report by Eric Teniola, a former director at the Presidency, the committee that produced the 1999 Constitution “visited just few states, stayed most of the time in Abuja, held public hearings just for a few days, compiled its report and submitted”, doubting that the government of the day would even approve it[22]. However, in complete denial of this exclusion of the people, the Promulgation Decree by which the Constitution came into effect claims that the Constitutional Debate Co-ordinating Committee “benefited from the receipt of large volumes of memoranda from Nigerians at home and abroad and oral presentations at the public hearings at the debate centres throughout the country…”[23]; a claim that cannot be backed by any evidence. A Constitution preambled by such an unpardonable falsehood is rendered a moral fraud. It was John Adams who observed that “the only foundation of a free constitution is pure virtue”. The absence of virtue in the 1999 Constitution is a fundamental flaw in the current framework of the Nigerian state.

  1. Constitutional Shoddiness

An ideal preparation for a re-entry into the democratic era after years of democratic desensitization under military dictatorship would have been for the people to decide the frameworks by which they would be governed, prior to choosing those who would govern them. Instead, the Independent Electoral Commission, as the electoral body was then known, conducted local, state and federal elections, including the presidential elections, without any guiding constitutional framework. According to the aforementioned insider report[24], a clean copy of the Constitution was not even ready until after Obasanjo and the governors were sworn in. Can anything be more perfidious than for leaders to take oaths to govern a nation by a Constitution prepared under such circumstances and whose content they had hardly imbibed?

  1. Constitutional Failures

Upon its foundation of a false premise and shoddiness, the 1999 Constitution, in the hands of the governments produced by it, has generated a catalogue of failed promises. This should not come as a surprise because a destructive means cannot bring about a constructive end. The implication of its false and shoddy foundation is that failure, or suboptimal performance at best, is the default setting as presidents, governors and other public officials take oaths in the name of the Constitution. The promise of good governance made by Nigerian leaders in the spirit of the Constitution has been broken in many respects. However, I will highlight three broad failures which centre on national integration, national development, and national security and welfare.

a. Failure on the promise of national integration

The supposed resolution of the Nigerian people “to live in unity and harmony …”[i] as claimed in the Preamble to the 1999 Constitution has encountered significant setbacks as our country has increasingly experienced divisive fault lines manifesting in: ethnically inclined political processes, sectional voting patterns along ethnic and religious lines, sectional interests – real or perceived – in political projects and appointments, sectional bias in policy evaluation and appreciation by the governed, sectional identity and indigene-centred citizenship, direct and indirect discriminatory attitudes by citizens towards Nigerians of other ethnic groups and religions, inter-ethnic and inter-religious conflicts that have claimed countless lives and led to the wanton destruction of property, ethnic-based militarism – from the Movement for the Actualization of the Sovereign State of Biafra (MASSOB) and the Independent People of Biafra (IPOB) to the Movement for the Emancipation of the Niger Delta (MEND), and from the Oodua People’s Congress (OPC) to the Egbesu Boys of Africa (EBA). Also in this category is the Boko Haram menace by a group that refuses alliance to the Nigerian flag and whose activities have claimed thousands of lives and displaced hundreds of thousands of others. These are clear indications that the so-called resolution articulated in the Preamble of the Constitution is, as it were, a failed promise of national integration.

b. Failure on the promise of development

The Constitution has further failed in its stated purpose of “promoting the good government and welfare of all persons in our country” as indicated in the Preamble. Nigeria’s scorecard in most development parameters clearly indicates this. In the Human Development Index, which indicates the standard of living of the average Nigerian, and which is a composite of life expectancy, education and income indices, Nigeria ranks 152nd out of 188 countries[ii] with 58 million Nigerians living in extreme poverty[iii] and with the third highest population of poor people in the world living in Nigeria[iv]. Whereas the argument might be that it is the government, not the Constitution, that has failed to live up to this constitutional promise, such arguments ignore the salient fact that the Constitution makes possible the kind of government we have and that the structure of the economy, as carved out by the geopolitical structure bequeathed to us by the Constitution, fosters resource underdevelopment, capacity underutilization and socioeconomic sub-optimization.

As an extension of this failed promise, given the importance of astute financial management to development, it is necessary to point out that our excessive consumptive value system, which has plunged the nation into financial and currency crisis, is further constitutionally facilitated. By the provisions of Sections 160 and 162, the Constitution mandates allocation of all public revenue to the various arms and levels of government based on a revenue sharing formula that makes no provision for national savings.[v] For instance, Section 162, Subsections 1 and 3 state thus:

162. (1) The Federation shall maintain a special account to be called “the Federation Account” into which shall be paid all revenues collected by the Government of the Federation, except the proceeds from the personal income tax of the personnel of the armed forces of the Federation, the Nigeria Police Force, the Ministry or department of government charged with responsibility for Foreign Affairs and the residents of the Federal Capital Territory, Abuja.

(3) Any amount standing to the credit of the Federation Account shall be distributed among the Federal and State Governments and the Local Government Councils in each State on such terms and in such manner as may be prescribed by the National Assembly.

c. Failure on the promise of security and welfare

The failure of the Constitution to live up to its promise that “the security and welfare of the people shall be the primary purpose of government”, as enshrined in Section 14, Subsection 2, is seen in the fact that tens of thousands of lives have been lost, millions displaced and property stolen or destroyed due to insurgency, armed robbery and other manifestations of insecurity since its adoption in 1999. This owes, amongst other factors, to its inhibition of localization of security apparati contrary to the spirit of true federalism – the result of just one of the inconsistencies that characterize the 1999 Constitution. With this, we shall now return to the constitutional fallibilities, the fourth of which is inconsistencies.

  1. Constitutional Inconsistencies

The 1999 Constitution is fraught with a number of inconsistencies such as the following:

a)    Whereas federalism is implied no fewer than 790 times in the letters of the Constitution (including its titles and headings) and expressly stated in Section 2 thereof, the Constitution is unitary in essence with 68 items on the Exclusive List and 30 on the Concurrent List[30]. There is no Residual List at all. Moreover, most key sectors of the economy are exclusive to the federal government while the state government has been technically enervated with respect to the Concurrent List by the provisions of Section 4, Subsection 5, which voids any law made by the State Houses of Assembly to the extent that it is inconsistent with the laws made by the National Assembly;

b)   Furthermore, whereas the 1999 Constitution recognizes property rights in Section 43, Subsection 1, and Section 44, Subsection 1, it validates the Land Use Act which confers ownership of land on state governors; it also takes away property rights as regards natural resources;

c)    Additionally, whereas by the provisions of Section 10, the 1999 Constitution prohibits a state religion, it makes provisions for religious courts[31] even though such matters may have been better left within the confines of religious liturgy except to the extent that they border on civil law and crime. Moreover, whereas in letter, the 1999 Constitution espouses republicanism and refuses to recognize traditional political institutions, it makes provisions for customary courts[32] which deal with matters that are mostly under the jurisdiction of traditional rulers despite the fact that such matters may have been better left within the confines of custom except to the extent that they border on civil law and crime. In line with this inconsistency, whereas the 1999 Constitution espouses national harmony, it creates a judicial dichotomy based on religion by its provisions for religious and traditional courts;

d)   Still on inconsistencies, whereas, in Section 154, Subsection 3 of the 1999 Constitution, the electoral commission is established as an independent body, the same Constitution provides that the Chairman shall be appointed by the President who, by the provisions of Section 131(c), must be a member of a political party and must be sponsored by that party, thereby setting the stage for the control of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) not only by the incumbent executive but also by partisan influences;

e)    Finally, by the provisions of Section 176, Subsection 2, the Governor of a State shall be the Chief Executive of that State, which implies that he is also the Chief Security Officer of the State. However, in the federal structure created by the 1999 Constitution, especially in regard to Item 45 of the Exclusive Legislative List which places policing in the exclusive control of the central government, the State Governor is denied the power to execute that responsibility.

  1. Constitutional Ambiguities

From the power vacuum that resulted from the lack of clarity in Section 145 in the case of late President Umaru Musa Yar’Adua between 2009 and 2010, to the confusion created in Section 29, Subsection 4b in relation to the context and application of the notion of “full age” with regard to a woman[33], the Nigerian Constitution is fraught with ambiguities.

Furthermore, although requiring public officials to declare their assets and liabilities, it is silent as to whether such a declaration must be made public as global standards demand of politically exposed persons. This ambiguity provides the excuse for Nigerian politicians who do not “give a damn”[34] about asset declaration.

  1. Constitutional Shackles

In a multi-group state, when constitutional provisions – especially the form and structure of government – hinder, rather than facilitate, the progress of subnational entities, then that constitution becomes a system of bondage. The 1960 Constitution, which has been described by leading constitutional lawyer, Professor Itse Sagay, as “the only legitimate basis of association of all the different nationalities in Nigeria”[35] had the following features:

  • “Each region had its own separate constitution in addition to the federal constitution.
  • Each region had its own coat of arms and motto separate from that of the federal state or central government.
  • Each region established its own separate semi-independent Mission in the United Kingdom headed by an agent-general.
  • The regional governments had residual powers, that is, where any matter was not allocated to the regions or the federal government, it automatically became a matter for regional jurisdiction.”[36]

Whereas the 1960 Constitution had 44 items on the Exclusive List and 28 on the Concurrent, and whereas the 1963 Constitution had 45 items on the Exclusive List and 29 on the Concurrent, the 1979 Constitution, which was the forerunner of the current Constitution, had 66 items on the Exclusive List and 30 on the Concurrent. As stated earlier, the 1999 Constitution has 68 items on the Exclusive List and 30 on the Concurrent. The contrasting consequence is that, while the federating units of the Independence and republican constitutions were viable, self-sustaining and relied on internally generated revenue, the federating units of the current constitutional order are non-viable. The current federating units lack the scale of those of the early post-independence era – they are largely unable to generate internal revenue and are barely surviving on federal government subventions that are handed to them in form of allocations. This is nothing but constitutional bondage and a tried and tested road to arrested development. And now that Nigeria is broke as openly admitted yesterday[37], the 18th of May, 2016, by the Minister of Information and Culture, Alhaji Lai Mohammed, and with 27 of our non-viable states near bankruptcy[38], is it not time for us as a nation to do a re-think and urgently do the needful? After all, surgery is better than tragedy.

  1. Constitutional Breaches

Largely because the people and leaders have no natural affiliation with it, the 1999 Constitution has consistently been breached by public officials while citizens look on as disinterested spectators. Significant cases of constitutional breach include:

  • The impunity surrounding the failure of public officials to declare assets, with the Code of Conduct Bureau reporting in 2012 that 134,717 public officers had, as at the time of filing that report, failed to declare their assets[39];
  • The impunity surrounding political cross-carpeting contrary to Section 68, Subsection 1g;
  • The impunity surrounding executive disregard of legislative summons contrary to Section 89, Subsection 1c;
  • The impunity surrounding executive disregard of court rulings;
  • Executive interference with constitutionally independent bodies including: interference with the National Assembly by, amongst other acts, manipulating impeachment proceedings involving legislative officers and using the legislature to execute stage-managed impeachments[40]; interference with INEC by allegedly[41] influencing conduct of elections by the electoral body; interference with the judiciary such as the 2011 removal of the Chairman of the Appeal Court in the midst of an election tribunal through the instrumentality of the National Judicial Council[42];
  • The blatant disregard of Section 10 of the Constitution as 12 northern states officially adopted Sharia law[43] within the first four years of return to civil rule.

These and other successful constitutional breaches are an indication of an evolving constitutional convention contrary to the 1999 Constitution. The sooner we address these aberrations constructively towards achieving constitutional rebirth, the better for us. Ignoring them is risking a revolution.

Pathway to a New Nigeria

In the April 3rd address I mentioned earlier, I outlined the pathway from the unsavory status quo to the desired state which we have tagged the “New Nigeria”. This pathway includes the following:

1. Value reconfiguration

2. Structural reconfiguration

3. Institutionalization

4. Creating a new Constitutional Order

Value reconfiguration necessitates a reversal of the negative national paradigms I outlined earlier with a view to creating a new national identity. This new national identity will be the value proposition of the Nigerian and it combines a new national attitude with access to the dividends of good governance. While structural reconfiguration entails bringing government closer to the people, institutionalization focuses on the need to create standardized and sustainable governmental practices. Very critical to national rebirth is the encoding of the new cultural, structural and institutional paradigm in a new constitutional order.

This new constitutional order will be characterized by the following features:

  1. Systemic Features which include:
  • The independence of election management systems;
  • The rule of law;
  • The devolution of governmental powers and responsibilities in such a manner that governance is brought much closer to the people;
  • Equitability in resource allocation;
  • Appropriately sized and efficient governments;
  • Unambiguous zero tolerance for corruption in letter and in spirit;
  • The institution of compulsory channels of accountability;
  • The facilitation of the emergence of the highest quality of leadership across the arms and levels of government; and
  • The facilitation of accurate succession in leadership;
  1. Structural Features including:
  • A strong centre integrating strong and viable federating units;
  • The empowerment of the federating units such that public goods can be efficiently delivered to end users;
  • Local governments that are democratically administered and financially autonomous albeit as channels through which the federating units fulfill the promise of people-oriented governance;
  • A judiciary that is structurally and financially independent of the executive and immune from political and partisan interference;
  • A legislature that is small enough to minimize the cost of governance yet representative enough to cater to both large and small subnational groups on the basis of equality and proportionality;
  • An executive government that is separate enough from the legislature to guarantee separation of powers yet close enough to the legislature to guarantee accountability as well as checks and balances; and
  • Recognition and optimization of regional or zonal distinguishing factors towards development and for the purpose of efficient political, economic and social interactions.

The new constitutional order will further facilitate the emergence of a new national economic order facilitated by the development of clusters. Clusterization arises from the need to factor into the value creation process the cultural, geo-economic and bio-geographical peculiarities of the various subnational entities as well as the need to create competitive economies of scale. This necessitates the formation of zonal or regional structures as earlier advocated. The zonal blocs will become distributors of governance, channeling good governance to states which will act as wholesalers. Local governments, functioning as retailers of governance, will deliver public goods directly to the grassroots. Throughout the distribution channel, the objective is to ensure that each public good delivered fulfills the value proposition as defined by the new national identity.

This new national order will culminate in a new kind of nation – the cutting-edge nation. The cutting-edge nation is nimble in structure and proximal in impact; it is knowledge-driven and wisdom governed; it is service-oriented and “glocal” in outlook. Such nations are characterized by strong and efficient local governments capable of maximizing local resources to create vibrant local economies that have global impact; economies that are value-driven rather than currency-driven, where enterprising ideas thrive through innovative financing such that no value-creating idea is allowed to die over shortage of funds.

The new order will be further characterized by a competitive public revenue system that progressively eliminates the allocation principle which only creates lazy and dependent administrative units. Instead, subnational units in the new era would be self-sustaining, generating revenue internally. Federal government, on its part, will support subnational efforts and reward subnational productivity through competitive incentivisation and the maintenance of an irreducible minimum standard of living below which no Nigerian must be subjected.

As I said in the April 3rd address, all that is required to give Nigeria such a national rebirth is the political will of a president who enjoys a great deal of respect from the Nigerian people including those who do not support him. The president may exercise this political will by creating a novel institution – a Presidential Commission for National Reconciliation, Reintegration and Restructuring comprised of a team of highly respected national influencers of high moral standing and unquestionable integrity with bridge-building antecedents. This commission should be mandated to work closely with stakeholders and power blocs as well as legislative houses to create a new national identity for the Nigerian people, promote forgiveness and reconciliation among contentious interest groups in Nigeria, foster the integration of the diverse sectional groups in Nigeria into true nationhood, facilitate the creation of an acceptable functional governmental structure for Nigeria, and midwife a process of constitutional rebirth that will culminate in a referendum by which the people will adopt a new constitution. The report of the 2014 National Conference with its Nigerian Charter for National Reconciliation and Integration should provide a ready-made operational springboard for this team.

In a three-dimensional strategic arrangement, this national rebirth process can go on seamlessly alongside socioeconomic development championed by the economic team of this administration headed by the Vice President, as well as a national security and anti-corruption strategy spearheaded by the President and Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces. However, within the allowance provided by the current Constitution until it is replaced, socioeconomic development and national security strategies will be channeled in line with the “cutting-edge nation” philosophy along the lines of which the new constitutional order will emerge.

Like Abraham Lincoln who laid the groundwork for the unification of the United States of America by winning the war against the forces of disintegration and by championing the Emancipation Proclamation, President Buhari has the opportunity to leave a legacy of a New Nigeria. I pray he gets the priorities and strategies right, so that his name will be etched on the pages of history as the president that facilitated the emergence of the New Nigeria.

Thank you for listening.

God bless you and God bless our nation Nigeria.

Pastor ‘Tunde Bakare
Serving Overseer,
The Latter Rain Assembly, Lagos, Nigeria
&
The Convener, Save Nigeria Group.

FOOTNOTES

[1]Bakare, Tunde. “Roadmap To Successful Change.” Tunde Bakare Official Website. January 10, 2016. Accessed March 18, 2016. <http://tundebakare.com/roadmap-to-successful-change/>.

[2]See the case of Ese Oruru in “Ese Oruru: Police Arraign Yunusa for ‘abduction, sexual exploitation’”. Premium Times Nigeria. March 8, 2016. Accessed March 18, 2016. <http://www.premiumtimesng.com/news/headlines/199765-ese-oruru-police-arraign-yunusa-abduction-sexual-exploitation.html/>.

[3]”Residents Say Four People Feared Dead In Mile 12 Violence.” Channels Television. March 3, 2016. Accessed March 18, 2016. <http://www.channelstv.com/2016/03/03/residents-say-four-people-feared-dead-in-mile-12-violence/>.

[4]Aborisade, Sunday, John Ameh and Ifeanyi Onuba. “Budget padding: N’Assembly demands probe of minister, top officials.” February 8, 2016. Accessed March 18, 2016. <http://www.punchng.com/budget-padding-nassembly-demands-probe-of-minister-top-officials/>.

[5]Adetayo, Olalekan. “Anti-corruption war: Judiciary, my main headache, says Buhari.” Punch Newspapers. February 1, 2016. Accessed March 18, 2016. <http://www.punchng.com/anti-corruption-war-judiciary-my-main-headache-says-buhari/>.

[6]Bakare, Tunde. “Championing The Cause Of A New Nigeria.” Tunde Bakare Official Website. April 03, 2016. Accessed April 12, 2016. <http://tundebakare.com/championing-the-cause-of-a-new-nigeria/>.

[7]See, for instance, the regulatory background to the Great Recession here: Dell, Robert and Mark J. Perry. “How Government Failure Caused the Great Recession.” American Enterprise Institute. December 26, 2010. Accessed March 21, 2016. <https://www.aei.org/publication/how-government-failure-caused-the-great-recession/>.

[8]Yew, Lee Kuan. From Third World to First: The Singapore Story – 1965-2000. New York: Harper Collins, 2000. See, particularly, Chapter 5 on “Creating a Financial Center.”

[9]Alexander, David. “How Australia Weathered the Global Financial Crisis While Europe Failed.” The Guardian. August 28, 2013. Accessed March 21, 2016. <http://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2013/aug/28/australia-global-economic-crisis.http://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2013/aug/28/australia-global-economic-crisis/>.

[10]”List of Countries by Oil Production.” Wikipedia. Accessed April 12, 2016. <https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_countries_by_oil_production/>.

[11]”Algeria Population Clock.” Country Meters. Accessed May 18, 2016. <http://countrymeters.info/en/Algeria/>.

[12]”List of countries by foreign-exchange Reserves.” Wikipedia. Accessed April 12, 2016. <https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_countries_by_foreign-exchange_reserves/>.

[13]”World Development Indicators 2011.” The World Bank. Accessed April 12, 2016. <http://siteresources.worldbank.org/DATASTATISTICS/Resources/wdi_ebook.pdf/>

[14] Williams, Alabi. “Why Buhari Should Not Indulge Governors.” The Guardian. June 28, 2015. Accessed May 18, 2016. <http://guardian.ng/opinion/sunday-narrative-why-buhari-should-not-indulge-governors/?ak_action=reject_mobile/>.

[15]Udo, Bassey. “Budget Padding: Buhari removes 22 top directors from budget office.” Premium Times Nigeria. March 11, 2016. Accessed March 21, 2016. <http://www.premiumtimesng.com/news/top-news/199953-breaking-budget-padding-buhari-removes-22-top-directors-budget-office.html/>.

[16]Balogun, Sheriff. “Obasanjo: Post-Ribadu EFCC, a Toothless Bulldog.” ThisDay Live. March 06, 2016. Accessed March 21, 2016. <http://www.thisdaylive.com/index.php/2016/03/06/obasanjo-post-ribadu-efcc-a-toothless-bulldog/>.

[17]”Royal Niger Company.” Wikipedia. Accessed March 21, 2016. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Royal_Niger_Company.

[18]Haliwud. “Very Huge Fish Like Animal Discovered On Shores Of Eleko Beach In Lagos.” Information NG. December 15, 2014. Accessed May 18, 2016. <http://www.informationng.com/2014/12/very-huge-fish-like-animal-discovered-on-shores-of-eleko-beach-in-lagos.html/>.

[19]Lieberman, Victor. Strange Parallels Vol. 2, Mainland Mirrors: Europe, Japan, China, South Asia, and the Islands: Southeast Asia in Global Context, C 800-1830 (Studies in Comparative World History). New York: Cambridge University Press, 2009, p. 421

[20]Chigere, Nkem. Foreign Missionary Background and Indigenous Evangelization in Igboland. Munster: Lit Verlag, 2001, p. 109

[21]Awolowo, Obafemi. Thoughts on the Nigerian Constitution. Ibadan: Oxford University Press, 1966, p.29

[22]Teniola, Eric. “The 1999 Corrigenda.” Premium Times Nigeria. November 07, 2013. Accessed March 21, 2016. <http://www.premiumtimesng.com/opinion/149240-1999-corrigenda-eric-teniola.html/>.

[23]Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria (Promulgation) Decree No. 24 of  1999, Laws of the Federation of Nigeria. See Paragraph 3 of the Promulgation Decree.

[24]See 22

[25]See Paragraph 3 of the Preamble to the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria 1999.

[26]”List of Countries by Human Development Index.” Wikipedia. Accessed April 12, 2016. <https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_countries_by_Human_Development_Index/>.

[27]”Nigeria Economic Report.” The World Bank. July 1, 2014. Accessed February 27, 2015. <http://www-wds.worldbank.org/external/default/WDSContentServer/WDSP/IB/2014/07/23/000470435_20140723133415/Rendered/PDF/896300WP0Niger0Box0385289B00PUBLIC0.pdf/>.

[28]Gabriel, Omoh. “Nigeria, Third on World Poverty Index – World Bank.” Vanguard News. April 10, 2014. Accessed February 27, 2015. <http://www.vanguardngr.com/2014/04/440695/>.

[29]See Akinola, Femi. “Sovereign Wealth Fund Unconstitutional – Fashola.” Daily Trust. October 31, 2013. Accessed April 15, 2016. <http://www.dailytrust.com.ng/daily/editor-s-picks/9062-sovereign-wealth-fund-unconstitutional-fashola/>.

[30]See Second Schedule, Part 1, Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria

[31]See Sections 260(1) and 275(1)

[32]See Sections 275(1) and 280(1)

[33]Recall the controversy generated by Senator Yerima with his religious interpretation of Section 29, Subsection 4b. For further details, see “The Child-Bride Phenomenon.” Save Nigeria Group. July 26, 2013. Accessed April 12, 2016. <http://savenigeriagroup.com/2013/07/26/the-child-bride-phenomenon/>.

[34]See Udo, Bassey. “AU Asks Jonathan, Other African Leaders to Publicly Declare Their Assets.” Premium Times Nigeria. February 3, 2015. Accessed February 27, 2015. <http://www.premiumtimesng.com/news/headlines/176172-au-asks-jonathan-african-leaders-publicly-declare-assets.html/>.

[35]Sagay, Itse. “The Niger Delta and the Case for Resource Control”. Prof. Itse Sagay. Accessed May 18, 2016. <http://www.profitsesagay.com/pdf/THE%20NIGER%20DELTA%20AND%20THE%20CASE%20FOR%20RESOURCE%20CONTROL.pdf/>.

[36]See Sagay, Itse in Rotberg, Rotberg I. Crafting the New Nigeria: Confronting the Challenges. Colorado: Lynne Rienner Publishers, 2004, p. 90

[37]Soniyi, Tobi. “FG: Nigeria is Broke, Looks to Taxation for Infrastructure Development.” ThisDay Live. May 19, 2016. Accessed May 19, 2016. <http://www.thisdaylive.com/index.php/2016/05/19/fg-nigeria-is-broke-looks-to-taxation-for-infrastructure-development/>.

[38]Alli, Yusuf. “Bailout: ICPC to monitor cash usage in 27 states.” September 15, 2015. Accessed May 19, 2016. <http://thenationonlineng.net/bailout-icpc-to-monitor-cash-usage-in-27-states/>.

[39]”Asset Declaration: Lawless and Irresponsible Public Officers.” Daily Independent. December 20, 2012. Accessed February 27, 2015. <http://dailyindependentnig.com/2012/12/asset-declaration-lawless-and-irresponsible-public-officers/>.

[40]Innocent, Eme. “Evaluation of the Practice of Constitutionalism and the Rule of Law in a Democracy: A Case of Nigeria, 1999-2009.” Society for Research and Academic Excellence. Accessed February 27, 2015. <http://www.academicexcellencesociety.com/evaluation_of_the_practice_of_constitutionalism_and_the_rule_of_law.pdf/>.

[41]See, for instance, Izugbe, Onyema. “INEC and executive interference.” African Herald Express. June 10, 2010. Accessed April 12, 2016. <http://africanheraldexpress.com/blog6/2010/06/10/inec-and-executive-interference/>.

[42]“CPC Accuses Ag. CPA Justice Adamu Of Devious Judicial Agenda.” The Nigerian Voice. September 5, 2011. Accessed April 12, 2016. <http://www.thenigerianvoice.com/news/69265/cpc-accuses-ag-cpa-justice-adamu-of-devious-judicial-agenda.html/>.

[43]”Sharia in Nigeria.” Wikipedia. Accessed April 12, 2016. <https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sharia_in_Nigeria/>.

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