• Saturday, April 13, 2024
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Nigeria’s constitution: Matters arising (Part 2)

Nigeria’s constitution: Matters arising (Part 2)

A great majority of Nigerians agree on this: that the Nigerian constitution should be discarded and a new one written to accommodate the existing political, cultural, and economic realities in the country. As a country, we cannot get it right politically and achieve economic and technological development when the administration of our country is based on a military contraption called the 1999 Constitution.

So as part of our efforts to make Nigeria better, a new constitution should be written to address our country’s multifarious problems. One of those problems is the matter of citizenship/indigeneity vis-à-vis the citizens’ right to contest for elective positions in the areas where they are domiciled. For example, an Igbo man who was born and bred in Kano and does his business there is eminently qualified to contest for elective posts in Kano.

Sadly, in the recent past, the Igbo people living in Lagos were attacked verbally and physically because they supported the Labour Party governorship candidate in the 2023 general election. Consequently, the relationship between the Yoruba people and the Igbo people in Lagos State was strained. The ethnicization of our country’s politics, which promotes ethnocentrism and insularity, cannot deepen our national unity. And unity, indisputably, is a force for development in a country.

Again, for our country to move forward and achieve her manifest destiny as the giant of Africa, matters regarding the National Assembly should be tackled holistically by the constitution. Must we copy the American type of presidentialism completely without adapting it to suit our country’s cultural peculiarities and others? As for me, I would like our country to operate a unicameral legislature instead of a bicameral legislature so as to reduce the cost of governance in Nigeria.

More so, the Nigerian federal lawmakers receive humongous pay for doing little legislative work. The wages they receive are a huge drain on our finances. Reducing the lawmakers’ wages, which will make the National Assembly less attractive to political office seekers, will reduce the cost of governance in Nigeria. Today, both the green and red chambers of the National Assembly have become the stamping ground and retirement home for superannuated former state governors.

Another matter that hinders our country’s development is election litigation. It will be in our national interest if it is enshrined in our constitution that all post-election litigation matters should be concluded before state governors and the President are inaugurated into their offices. Concluding electoral litigation matters before politicians are sworn into offices as governors and the President will prevent them from being distracted while they are leading the people.

Again, a governor who has come into office via judicial means may discontinue the programmes of his predecessor in office. And it is not unlikely that he will annul all the political appointments made by the immediate past governor. These disruptions in the leadership of a state will hinder the economic, technological, and political growth of the state.

Another vexed matter that has always cropped up during national discourse is state creation. However, the stark fact is that most states in the country are not economically viable. They depend on the centre for their sustenance, as they are always financially insolvent.

And creating more states in Nigeria will bring about the niggling problems of boundary demarcation and the sharing of jointly owned assets. The sharing of jointly owned assets and boundary demarcation can breed acrimony between the people of the two states, which may result in violence and bloodshed. So why should new states be created at this political juncture in Nigeria when the bond of our unity is tenuous and fragile? And when most of the states in Nigeria are economically unviable and financially insolvent?

So the right thing to do now is to create more local government areas in Nigeria to address the problem of the imbalance of local government areas in the country. The comparisons made between Lagos and Kano states show that Lagos state was shortchanged in the creation of local government areas. This necessitated the creation of more local government development areas in Lagos State by Bola Tinubu during his leadership of the state.

Again, in my home state, which is Anambra, Obosi town is larger than some local government areas in the state. The people of Obosi town have been agitating for the creation of the Obosi local government area for a long time.

So more local government areas should be created to correct the imbalances in the number of local government areas in the country and bring government closer to the people at the grassroots level. An efficient and autonomous local government area in Nigeria will be a flip to the rapid development of Nigeria.

Chiedu Uche Okoye; Uruowulu-Obosi: Anambra State, 08062220654. Okoye is a poet.