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Senator Ike Ekweremadu’s Dangerous Ideas

Nigerians must keep an eye on the deputy senate president, senator Ekweremadu because he has some well- meaning, naïve and dangerous ideas which he keeps parroting at every chance he gets as panacea for Nigerian problems. He was in charge of the constitutional review commission and tried to smuggle one of his strange idea in the constitutional amendment without success.

One of his strange ideas was six-year single tenure for president and governors. He along with former president, Goodluck Jonathan wanted six- year single term so bad that they wanted it to be included in the constitutional amendments and be ratified by the senate and 2/3 of the state legislatures. Luckily for Nigeria, the senate threw away that part of the amendment.

Now senator Ekweremadu is at it again. He is now proposing restructuring of Nigeria into six governing region as solution to high cost of governance. He said that duplication of functions by the current system has made the cost of governance unsustainable.

What Mr. Ekweremadu is proposing is the recentralization of Nigeria regions. Does anybody believe that Nigeria was more developed when we had three governing region. It is indisputable that Nigeria is more developed today with 36 states compared to when Nigeria had 12 states or 19 states. Development has touched most parts of Nigeria because creation of more states has brought government closer to the people. This is not to say that more states is needed in Nigeria, but the number of states we have now is about right even though it remains to be seen if these states can stand on its own when oil revenue is no more. Nigeria needs more decentralization of government at the local level not recentralization.

Has Mr. Ekweremadu bothered to find out how a massive country like United States America came be what it is today, highly developed in all areas than any other country in the world? United States has been able to maintain peace and order and good governance because of decentralization of governance. County governments which is equivalent to Nigeria Local Government Areas and City governments which is equivalent to Nigerian Township Council maintain their own government’s structures with independent police force, judiciary, and legislatures similar to states. The structure of these institutions may look like unnecessary duplications of functions at first glance, but it has brought government closer to the people which in-turn accounted for rapid development in all parts of the United States no matter how remote the place may be. United States federal government does very little in terms of development. Local government is where all the actions is because local communities knows more about their area than anybody else.

To be fair to Senator Ekweremadu, I wondered aloud about duplication of functions I saw in United States government when I first moved to United States. I thought it is a crazy idea to have city police, county police and state police, city mayor, city council, county mayor and county councils and on and on. As time went on, I began to see the reason for having these layers of government structures. I observed that it was the best way to maintain order and security and provide effective and efficient governance. Overtime, I came to see that the benefits of having these layers of government structure far outweigh the downside. It is not perfect by any means but it is better than the alternative especially for a big and diverse country like United States which will apply to Nigeria as well.

Nigerian leadership should actually decentralize Nigeria government structure and move power to local government and Township councils which should be the fourth tier of government. Local governance and the current 36 state structure is the right approach for good government and for rapid development of Nigeria provided corruption is dramatically curtailed. The fact is that local populations knows more about their localities and will be in a better position to initiate and implement necessary development which will better their population. They should also have their local police forces because they know who the criminals are compared to federal forces who are unlikely to have the trust of local populations.

Besides, it is a not a good idea for Nigeria to revert to regional government structure since this proposition will empower regions populated by ethnic groups, such as the Yorubas, Igbos and Hausas to someday be strong and self-sufficient enough to seek independence which will lead to eventual break-up of Nigeria in the future. Nigeria today is mostly a nation state and a country in geographical terms. Creation of states has diluted not eliminated ethnic and nationalistic fervor for independence.

Ekweremadu two constitutional ideas should be avoided because Nigeria problem has little to do with government structure. Nigeria problem has to do with bad leadership at all levels and bad governance along with endemic corruption that has permeated all aspect of Nigerian life. Nigeria has one of the finest constitution in the world but if the people who are supposed to implement and carry out the law are not doing their job, change of government structure will not do a damn thing.



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