© Dr Ogaga Ifowodo –
Being Text of the Keynote Address at the Annual Law Week of the National Association of Seadogs (NAS), Rainbow Anchor Point, Warri, in Commemoration of Independence Day, on Tuesday, 1 October 2019.
I must begin by thanking the Warri Anchor Point of the National Association of Seadogs (NAS), also known as the Pyrates Confraternity, for the honour of the invitation to give the keynote address at their chapter’s annual Law Week. My good friend, Austin Emaduku, ensured that I converted the original “agreement in principle” to an irrevocable commitment by calling me every day for a whole week. As you can see, I did, just so as to stop the daily morning wake up calls! I call him a “land-dog” or “land-sailor,” not in retaliation, mind you, but just because I’ve never seen or heard of him and his fellow seadogs ever sail at sea! Moreover, their Anchor Point is nowhere close to a water body, never mind the sea! That assured me, however, that this event would take place on land, making it even easier for me to accept the invitation to share a few thoughts on the ever-worrisome state of our nation with you. The topic I was given is “Terrorism and Emerging Threats to Democracy, Good Governance, Development and Security in Nigeria.” It reflects the palpable anxiety widespread across the land and, perhaps for that reason, is a mouthful. I have, therefore, rephrased it into the title of this address.
It is obvious that without security—in other words, without peace—no nation can have good governance, nor development and prosperity. A nation in turmoil, beset by internal divisions and lurching from one crisis to another, lacks peace and stability which are vital to thoughtful planning and development. That country will most certainly not be the coveted destination of investors. We don’t have to search for proof of this claim; we can just take Warri as a case study. Government neglect apart, it can be said without any fear of contradiction that Warri began its downward spiral from the western hub of the all-important oil and gas sector and a budding petrochemical and metallurgical zone into a petty-trading and okada economy in the wake of the inter-communal crises of the late nineties and early 2000s, mainly between the Ijaw and Itsekiri, over land, oil royalties and political recognition. By the time the agitation against environmental degradation and for resource control took a militant turn with the Movement for the Emancipation of the Niger Delta (MEND), taking on hostage-taking as one of its strategies, the flight of the major oil exploration and service companies—Shell, Chevron, Exxon-Mobil, Schlumberger, Agip, etc.—from Warri became feverish. It should be noted that they did not flee from Nigeria—there’s far too much hydrocarbon wealth in the Niger Delta for them to do so—but began to focus more on off-shore production. But, first, they fled to Port Harcourt, which was relatively more peaceful than Warri at the time, and then Lagos, always the big winner of the Delta’s violent conflicts, due not only to its advantage as the former political capital of Nigeria but also for its image as a haven of peace, something desired by international finance capital and investors. I recall with nostalgia my days as a boarding student at Federal Government College, Warri. Shell’s Western headquarters were directly opposite our campus and its industrial or operations base just a little further down the edge of the Warri river in Ogunu. That was when Warri could probably boast of not carrying last!
We can all agree: There may be dependable, even admirable, leadership in a time of civil war or perpetual unrest, but no one could claim that this is conducive to democracy (which requires civic participation and functioning institutions), development or good governance. If anything, the resources meant for development, for strengthening civic institutions and enhancing the capacity of citizens to be informed or knowledgeable participants in democracy and economic development end up being deployed preponderantly to the task of winning the war. And, after the war, to the equally massive effort at rebuilding and healing the wounds of war. So vital is peace to nation-building that it is the highpoint of our national anthem whose two stanzas end by urging all Nigerians to “serve with heart and might / One nation bound in freedom / Peace and unity” (first stanza) and to “build a nation where peace /And justice reign” (second stanza). Our motto, since 1978, re-echoes the same sentiment: Unity and Faith, Peace and Progress.” It is a slight modification of the old motto: Peace, Unity, Freedom,” still the pairing of peace and progress is unmistakable.
Unquestionably, the greatest threat Nigeria has had to democracy, good governance and development was the Civil War of 1967-70, first for the obvious reason that it was the closest to national disintegration that we have come with the secession of Biafra. And, secondly, the sheer human tragedy, estimated at two million civilians dead (almost all on the Biafran side and mostly through starvation) as well as one hundred thousand soldiers, not counting those wounded and scarred for life, nor the massive damage to infrastructure and property. But there is more to that war that should be of concern to us. Though the fault-lines were already there, it was, nonetheless, precipitated by the entry of the military into governance—in other words, by the first military coup of January 1966, and so the abrupt truncation of the fledgling democracy that had gone from a robust period of pre-independence regional governance to the proper federalism of the post-independence years, even with the creation in 1963 of Mid-West Region out of the old Western Region. Indeed, many point to the singular most damaging act of Major-General Johnson Aguiyi-Ironsi which laid the precedence for all future first acts following a successful military coup: the Constitution (Suspension and Amendment) Decree no. 34 of 1966, better known as the unification decree because more than suspending the basis of a democracy, it did the unthinkable: it abrogated the federal structure in our clamorously multi-ethnic nation-in-the-making in favour of a unitary state beholden to a military top-to-bottom command system.
This was the end of federalism for Nigeria and we have yet to recover from its malevolent repercussions. We are all witnesses to its lethal legacy, perpetuated by a long and brutal epoch of coups and counter-coups—starting with the “revenge” coup of 29 July 1966, a mere six months after the Chukwuma Kaduna Nzeogu-led coup of 14 January 1966 that propelled Ironsi to power. Subsequently, the first decree to roll down the hot barrel of the coup-plotters’ gun would be the Constitution (Suspension and Modification) Decree no. so-so of the year of the coup. Indeed, as the need for ever more concentration of power and control in a few soldiers’ hands grew according to the degree of civil resistance to military rule, even that would soon be reinforced by a new kind of decree: the Federal Military Government (Supremacy and Enforcement of Powers) Decree. I believe the first appearance of this decree was in 1984, but even though suspending the very basis of democracy and good governance, note that its rationale is stated in Section 1(2)(a) and (b) as being “efficacy and stability for the government of the Federal Government of Nigeria” with “a view to assuring the maintenance of the territorial integrity of Nigeria and the peace, order and good government of the Federal Republic of Nigeria.” And as many will recall, a staple, indeed the raison d’être of that superfluous exercise, was the draconian provision, better known by lawyers at the time as the “ouster clause” (by which is meant the prohibition of judicial review of administrative action, an indispensable ally of the rule of law as a curb on the abuse of power):
2(b)(i): no civil proceedings shall lie or be instituted in any court for or on account of or in respect of any act, matter or thing done or purported to be done under or pursuant to a Decree or Edict, and if any such proceedings are instituted before, on or after the commencement of this Decree the proceedings shall abate, be discharged and made void.
(ii) the question whether any provision of Chapter IV of the Constitution [the 1979 constitution] has been, is being or likely to be contravened by anything done or proposed to be done in pursuance of any Decree or an Edict shall not be inquired into in any court of law and, accordingly, no provision of the Constitution shall apply in respect of any such question.
And so it was that military dictatorships whose very existence spells the suspension of constitutional order, good governance, social equilibrium and peaceful co-existence—which is what constitutions guarantee—claimed nevertheless to be after stability and efficacy in the delivery of good governance.
Yet, the second most serious threat to our national existence was the long-drawn out and deceptive transition to civil rule of 1987-1993, culminating in what has been painfully seared into our memory as the June 12 (1993) tragedy. We are all familiar with the tortuous details of that sad epoch of our history: after many arbitrarily set and changed dates of election and handover to a civilian government—including the alchemy of two barrack parties, one a little to the left and the other a little to the right, fabricated and handed over to the people for enlistment as equal founders and joiners—an election adjudged locally and internationally as the freest and fairest in the troubled history of elections in Nigeria finally took place. But rather than honour the clearly expressed wish of the people, General Ibrahim Babangida annulled the election, thereby prolonging the ordeal of military rule through the emergence of General Sani Abacha. It would take six years of resistance by civil society groups, broadly described as the human rights and pro-democracy movement, for the country to return to civil rule, but not before the acclaimed winner of the election, Chief M. K. O. Abiola, had died in captivity and Abacha, a month later, had followed his prisoner in ignominious circumstances.
It is now twenty years since our return civil to rule, but the threats to our national existence have persisted. While there is a regional specificity to the crises, they all come together to form a perfect storm of instability that has many, citizens and foreigners alike, genuinely fearful whether Nigeria, cobbled together by the British purely for their colonialist interests, and so planted on a shaky and treacherous foundation, is not now very close to disintegrating into its many seemingly non-adhesive parts. In short, according to a purported American projection that inflamed passions not long ago, Nigeria should have finally fallen apart and ceased to be a nation-state in 2015! We have proved to be more than our disparate ethnic nationalities—or, as the independence anthem put it, merely differing “tribes and tongues”—still, the crises loom, assuming more worrisome dimensions daily. In the Niger Delta region, given the political and awkward description of South-South—you only need to describe the rest of the country similarly (North-North, East-East, West-West to see just how tautological and meaningless it is)—the upheaval is centred on the mindless exploitation of its oil and gas wealth accompanied by the massive pollution of its waters, land and air, resulting in the unpardonable impoverishment of its people. The cry was and remains that of fiscal federalism or a just derivation formula and resource control. This lofty cause is now and then smirched by the deadly cult wars of Rivers State. In the East, the Biafra flag has been hoisted again to raise the cry of the exclusion of the Igbos from the power equation of Nigeria; to them, it is as if the civil war never ended. As with the Niger Delta, there is also the purely criminal source of instability in rampant kidnapping. The case of the West is the restructuring of Nigeria into a true federation, one that would enable them repeat the acclaimed achievements of the old Western region under the inspirational leadership of the visionary Obafemi Awolowo; this, however, is also complicated by cult wars. The case of the West is similar to that of the Niger Delta or nine South-Central states: (true) federalism implies resource control as each federating unit must have significant control over the resources in its land, the wealth derived from economic activities within its domain and, to a certain extent, its economic direction and security within its borders. The North, by which is meant here the twelve “core” northern states, presents a problem of a different sort in that it is almost wholly based on religious ideology. First, it came by way of agitations for a wholesale application of Sharia law soon after the return to democracy in 1999. Then a fringe Islamic sect, Jama’atu Ahlis Sunna Lidda’awati Wal-Jihad or People Committed to the Propagation of the Prophet’s Teachings and Jihad, was transformed into a bloody Islamic fundamentalist group, as the narrative goes, by the extra-judicial killing of its leader, Mohammed Yusuf. For the purposes of my argument, the crucial thing to note is not only that the people of the North-East of Nigeria understood the sect’s mission perfectly and nicknamed it “Boko Haram” or Western education is forbidden but also that they are opposed to the idea of Nigeria as a secular state. In other words, Boko Haram is more about the jihad, the religious imperialism of establishing through terrorism an Islamic theocracy over all of Nigeria, starting with the North-East enclave, than the teachings of Prophet Mohammed. In the Middle Belt are unending battles over land, characterised mostly by clashes between sedentary farmers and nomadic herdsmen, many of these herdsmen, as we are repeatedly told, not even Nigerians. Lately, the North-West has entered the fray, with kidnapping and cattle-rustling as its special province.
Naturally, all of this has led to a situation of almost total human insecurity. As has been shown in studies and reports ranging from those by individuals to the United Nations and international human rights organisations, Africa is plagued by all seven forms of insecurity: food insecurity, health insecurity, environmental insecurity, economic insecurity, political insecurity, personal insecurity and communal insecurity. Bearing in mind that the 2017 United Nations Development Programme’s report, which chronicles Africa’s journey to extremism, ranks Nigeria as number one in the Global Terrorism Index, it is no surprise the various dimensions and alarming costs in lives and property that insecurity has taken in all the states of the country. There is hardly any part of the nation that is not reeling from one crisis or another. Not that we require experts to tell us what we already know, still it is worth hearing briefly from them. According to Gabriel Efe Otolorin in a paper entitled “Determinants of Human Insecurity in Nigeria and their Impact on Economic Growth,” findings by those who have studied the problem show that “the key causes of insecurity were predominantly unemployment, poverty, ethno-religious violence, terrorism, corruption, lack of specialized skills/sources of livelihood and unresolved agitations.” Note the last phrase, “unresolved agitations,” as I shall return on it. He reports further that “Comparative analysis showed that the proportion of the share of government expenditure appropriated to security was more than twice the non-oil revenue generated in Nigeria for the period under study” and that the “regression result further revealed that total expenditure on security had a negative impact on GDP in both the short run and long run respectively.” The point here is that when government is forced to devote more and more resources to fighting insurgencies and policing the state, then crucial areas of service delivery that impact directly on the welfare of the citizens suffer from commensurate decreases in budgetary allocation. Simply put, the money used for buying more and more arms and ammunition, for kitting soldiers, fueling and maintaining vehicles, not to mention other logistics, cannot also be spent on schools, hospitals, roads, pipe-borne water, electricity, etc. Here I will quote Otolorin who backs his claim with statistical analysis of the period 1994-2016:
A key developmental consequence of insecurity in Nigeria is the increasing government expenditure on security, which is crystal clear when assessing annual spending (budget) on security . . . the total expenditure on security was twice more than non-oil revenue generated and IGR of all the states of the federation and FCT combined expect (sic) for some years . . . Resource that should have been channelled to job creation and infrastructural development are traded off due to the increasing security challenge in Nigeria.
Consequently, development takes a backseat to the urgent task of securing lives and property. Yet, as espoused by UNDP (see its 1994 report), the concept of human security entails not just the achievement of reasonable or minimal levels of material needs but also “the absence of severe threats to them of an economic or political kind.” This means that citizens must be reasonably assured of security in income, health and a livable environment, as well as of personal safety or protection from crime.
This link between national security and development is underlined by the constitution. Literally every article of Chapter Two of the 1999 constitution (notwithstanding the fact that it is a military-imposed document that tells a lie against itself by claiming to have been enacted by “We, the people”) is a paean to equality, to an egalitarian society, which the Nigerian state, as may be variously constituted through its governments, is mandated to bring about and uphold. Although the provisions of this chapter are, regrettably, non-justiciable, they nonetheless underline the laudable emphasis that the Nigerian state, even in the vortex of military dictatorship, very rightly placed on the aspiration to the minimisation, if not eradication, of inequality—itself a major cause of insecurity in all societies—starting by declaring it a “duty and responsibility” on the part of “all organs of government, and of all authorities and persons, exercising legislative, executive or judicial powers, to conform to, observe and apply.” It goes further to declare in Section 14 that Nigeria “shall be a State based on the principles of democracy and social justice” and that, accordingly, “the security and welfare of the people shall be the primary purpose of government.”
If the security and welfare of the people is the primary purpose of government, and insecurity poses a direct threat to this purpose, then we must identity the fundamental cause of this thing that frustrates the state and creates a national anxiety about our continued corporate existence. I believe that there is an original sin of nation-building that has given rise to what is often referred to as “the National Question,” prolonged inattention to which has in turn spawned the many symptoms of political agitations and violent crime and corruption, combining to produce the worrisome levels of insecurity that undermine peace, development and good governance in our land today. Before turning to that, however, I will pause briefly to allude to what scholars think, generally, are the two main causes of serious social conflict and insecurity. They are the Frustration-Aggression theory of the social psychology school, and the Marxist theory of Structural Conflict. The frustration-aggression theory postulates that aggression results from the inability of individuals or groups to attain their goals in the society. Aggressive behaviour—such as ethno-religious wars, insurgency, militant advocacy, inter-communal disturbances—driven by poverty, unemployment, a sense of exclusion, powerlessness, and injustice, among others, in turn produces insecurity.
Naturally, the Marxist theory of structural conflict offers a class analysis and states that conflicts arise when power, resources, status, and value are unevenly distributed among groups in society in such a way that the ruling class and its allies are privileged and the working class and the poor excluded. The struggle of the under-privileged to better their conditions, to resolve the conflict, leads to social change. In this sense, social conflict does not only lead to a change in relations within the existing social structure (what we may call reforms or incremental change) but may also propel total or revolutionary change resulting in the transformation of society. Either or both of these theories may be used to explain the deafening ethno-regional agitations and palpable state of insecurity that characterises the nation today, the choice more likely or not to depend on one’s ideological leanings. Even when the terrorist Boko Haram’s goal seems to be purely ideological, it has to be understood that for them it is only in an Islamic caliphate that the welfare and proper moral values (as defined by them) of the people, who must all be believers, needless to say, can be guaranteed. A cause of insecurity we may not be able to readily bring within one of these two explanatory frameworks is, perhaps, the global aspect of Islamic fundamentalist terrorism. Although this phenomenon has been present in Nigeria since the eighties when the Maitatsine movement based in the Lake Chad region—incidentally, the same home of Boko Haram—caused several riots in the North, it was nothing close to what we witness now in the post-11 September 2001 Al-Qaeda attacks in the United States. With the rise of the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS), Al-Qaeda affiliates in the Maghreb and West Africa, and the pledging of allegiance to ISIS by a faction of Boko Haram, ethno-religious insecurity in Nigeria assumed a truly global dimension. An extensive but porous border with neighbouring countries and the otherwise laudable policy of free movement within the Economic Community of West African States worsens an already bad insecurity problem with the easy entry of terrorists and light weapons into the country.
So then what is to be done? For a problem that is both local and global, we can’t pretend to have one solution that will restore Nigeria to an ideal state of security, democracy and good governance. Besides, democracy and good governance require democrats and nation-builders while the bane of the country is that there are far too few of that breed who can enter, never mind survive, the brutal and prohibitively costly politico-electoral process in Nigeria. From the foregoing, however, the preponderant and so determining causes of insecurity in the nation are local and rooted in our troubled history. We must, in any case, first take care of the problems that are of our own making before, or while simultaneously, dealing with the foreign element. It is why the first part of my title is “Putting Our House in Order” and why the second part begins with the word “restructuring.” Beyond metaphor, by our house I mean Nigeria, so what is in need of restructuring (emphasis on structure) or rebuilding is the tottering Nigeria House which happens to be home to all of us. We all agree that if the rain begins to fall through holes in the roof of a house, that roof must be replaced. Yet, as far as many are concerned, the defects with the Nigeria House go beyond a leaky roof to a shaky foundation and wobbly pillars. What is needed to restore the integrity of the house is unpretentious, wholesale, re-engineering. Since around 1989 or thereabouts, the cry has been on for a sovereign national conference at which “We, the people,” through legitimate and democratically elected representatives, can truly and sincerely undertake the needed task of social engineering; to renegotiate and reaffirm the terms of our union and draw up new articles of association that would address the clangorous claims for inclusion and participation within an equitable federation. The first and most important step towards putting our house in order, then, is a constitution that reflects the sovereign will of the people. It is why I began by adverting to the sad fate of our constitutions since independence, starting with the catastrophic military incursion in 1966 into government. A constitution is called the grund norm, the basic or fundamental law of a nation-state, since it lays down the rules by which all must be governed, by which all subsequent laws must be validated. It is, simply put, the only solid foundation on which to build any nation. But the resistance to this call by the ruling class and those who profit from their ready access to the corridors of power has been stiff. I recall that in 1990, a people’s effort to force the issue and convene that critical national conference, led by the late Alao Aka-Bashorun and the Interim National Government group, was thwarted by General Babangida who locked up the National Theatre venue and let loose his security goons on congregants. The term by which this inevitable act of self-determination and responsible nation-building is known today is restructuring and/or fiscal federalism.
Since then, however, there has been a remarkable shift in attitudes, gratifyingly from the North which has generally been quite resistant to the idea, seeing it as a ploy by secessionist tendencies in the South to dismember the country. If the reports are to be believed, even the annuller-in-chief of the people’s will, General Babangida, has joined the bandwagon and is now all for the idea of restructuring for true federalism. And former vice president Atiku Abubakar made restructuring a key campaign issue in his unsuccessful bid to be president during the last election. But even more important is that the party in power, the All Progressives Congress, has gone beyond manifesto to policy position through the report of the Governor Nasir El-Rufai Committee on restructuring. The four-volume report submitted last year was hailed by many as a major step towards the goal of dealing with the structural defects that hamper our efforts at self-determination, that doom every fresh start at realising the immense potential for greatness with which our country, to the envy of many others, is endowed. Even more, President Muhammadu Buhari has endorsed the report, having also accepted the obvious need to set Nigeria on the true and sustainable path to nation-building. El-Rufai’s report or the APC position on restructuring and true federalism is, needless to say, not the final word on the subject. It has, however, been accepted as a critical starting point. Coming as it does with concrete proposals, down to draft legislative bills on some of the twenty-four critical areas where our unitary-state-passing-off-as-federalism is most urgently in need of devolution of powers to the states. Even the states themselves, unviable and unsustainable as currently constituted except as mere administrative units, is one of the areas where the APC position proposes urgent action. At any rate, such is the generally warm welcome accorded the El-Rufai Committee’s report, the APC position, that Governor Seriake Dickson of the opposition Peoples Democratic Party praised it. In a report entitled “Dickson hails APC committee on restructuring” in Vanguard, 26 January 2018, the Bayelsa State governor described its recommendations as “far reaching,” adding that they had “further strengthened the agitations for true federalism and resource control in the Niger Delta.” He also reiterated the obvious: that restructuring would “calm frayed nerves and strengthen the nation’s unity.” But the matter goes beyond calming frayed nerves and the unity of Nigeria; it is, also, about freeing up the energies of the people and allowing them to self-actualise with relative autonomy within an equitable federation. Just imagine where Nigeria would be now if the pace of development, much of it driven by the healthy rivalry and competition among the regions, had not been so lamentably reversed fifty-three years ago in favour of an over-reaching and suffocating central government! I dare say that we would be the equal of South Korea, Singapore, Malaysia, India and Brazil, if not even a step ahead of them given our greater endowment with natural resources and our already fairly developed and competitive middle class.
As El-Rufai disclosed while submitting the report to the party, the committee distilled twenty-four items from previous national conference reports and 8,014 persons who were engaged in the course of its work. Out of the twenty-four items, the committee made recommendations on thirteen, going ahead to “convert them into concrete actions that the party, government and the national assembly can take to re-balance our federation.” Among the issues that committee deliberated upon were creation of states, merger of states and border realignment; delegation principle; fiscal federalism, devolution of powers and resource control; allocation of resources among the federal government, states and local governments; federating units; state police; form of government; independent candidacy; land tenure system; local government autonomy; power sharing and rotational presidency; type of legislature; demand for affirmative action for vulnerable groups and people with disabilities; women and youth; ministerial appointments; citizenship; state constitutions; community participation; minimum wage; governance; the judiciary; secular status of Nigeria; and referendum.
Whether we go by way of a sovereign national conference—which is my preference—or a legislative process as envisaged by the El-Rufai report and APC position, the outcome must necessarily be a new constitution that reflects the fundamental changes that correct our currently warped, defective and retrogressive unitary system. At this point, what is crucial is not so much the merits and demerits of the APC position, or any other party, group or individual’s position but the consensus that our country is in dire need of restructuring into a true federation. I do, however, wish to briefly address the question of form of government in a restructured Nigeria. I will, thus, end with my thoughts on the subject expressed in response to the question of how exactly the country is to be restructured—published under the caption “More needs to be done to justify the sacrifices of martyrs, others” as part of The Guardian’s June12/Democracy Day commemoration interviews on 12 June 2019. “It would be presumptuous,” I said, “to prescribe any one way of restructuring Nigeria before the representatives of the people, freely and fairly chosen and convened for the purpose have met to decide the terms for rewriting the articles of association for a new Nigeria. This is not to say that anyone who has clear ideas and expresses them now does the country a disservice: ideas are never too soon! What I mean, however, is that we are best served, in general, to speak of the principles for a framework of restructuring. In my opinion, the general principles are what matters most for now; the rest would be the fine details of constitutional provisions to give life to them. And as for the principles themselves, they are too well known: the federating units as the primary centres of power; the radical devolution of powers and functions to the federating units; a fiscal or revenue generating and allocation formula that unequivocally respects derivation; the centre or federal government as primarily responsible for the security and defence of the nation, external affairs, currency and monetary policy, customs and excise, communications and any other functions that it may be asked to assume without derogating from the (inalienable) rights of the states, etc. This, of course, will require a restructuring of our present system of unviable states but there are calls for a return to the regional system that worked so well from 1957-1966, even if not precisely along the same lines (six to eight geo-political zones have been proposed).”
There is a sense in which one might be inclined to agree with the witticism of the English poet Alexander Pope who in his “Essay on Man” famously wrote “For forms of government let fools contest; / Whate’er is best administer’d is best.” On the contrary, I agree with the American founding father and former President John Adams, who felt that Pope “flattered tyrants too much” with his claim, stressing that “nothing can be more fallacious than this.” Thus, I added the following thoughts on the question of the form of government in a restructured Nigeria. “For me, the need to return to the parliamentary or prime ministerial system, which is far more cost effective and ultimately more flexible and dynamic, should be part of any discussion of restructuring. The fact that elections are local and governance is shared (the executive is part of parliament) reduces some of the more egregious problems of the presidential system, especially in a poor country with weak or non-existent social institutions. Furthermore, it is more flexible and dynamic: that elections can be called any time means that a suffering populace does not have to wait for four years to change a bad government. By the same token, a good government does not have to be restricted to two terms: it can be re-elected for as long as it does not betray the trust and confidence of the people. That way, visionary state/regional and federal governments with truly transformative and people-centred agendas can have the needed time to actualise their programmes or bring them to irreversible points. For the truth is that in a country like Nigeria with the most rudimentary infrastructure, eight years is hardly enough to conceive of, begin and complete the sort of massive physical and social engineering projects (railways, a network of inter-state highways, massive power generation and transmission, new and upgraded schools and universities, massive water works schemes for safe pipe-borne water, diversification of the economy from oil to agriculture and agro-business and solid minerals, etc) which alone can lay the basis of an industrial revolution. These, I think, are some of the more important ideas and principles for a framework of restructuring.”
And the foregoing, I think, is the sure way to attend to the unresolved agitations that breed the insecurity threatening the peace of the realm. It is the only act of social engineering that can put our house in order and enable us begin in earnest the vital task of rebuilding our nation for a deepening of our fledgling democracy, restoring peace to the land and engendering good governance and development. I thank you for listening.