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October 3, 2007 - December 2, 2007
Re-Structuring Nigeria - Towards Regionalism in the South-West and Ekiti State of Nigeria
Mobolaji E. Aluko, PhD
Burtonsville, MD, USA
Monday, May 2, 2005
INTRODUCTION – REDUCING ADMINISTRATIVE OVERHEAD
In a pair of previous essays, I have expressed support for a return to a uni-cameral mixed parliamentary/presidential system, with a limited return to regionalism, and concomitant restructuring of states and local governments in Nigeria. The underpinnings of my support are that for a multi-ethnic Nigeria:
1. an executive parliamentary system is generally more accountable than the current US-type presidential system, but that there is inherent goodness in having a nationally-elected presidential figure, both for a feeling of one-ness and for a measure of stability. Such a person should be chosen from a national election of candidates taken from within the parliament, from among those who have been parliamentarians for a minimum of two years, and who would then resign from the parliament and from party politics forthwith.
2. the relatively small size (in terms of population and geography) of Nigeria, as well as its economically-disadvantaged status (in terms of world economies, despite our oil wealth). 1 federal government with bi-cameral legislature, 36 state governments, and 774 local governments, each fully administered in “presidential” mode are mightily too expensive, and currently consume 70-85% of the national government expenditure. Their restructuring and reorganization (eg groupings of states into administrative regions; groupings of local governments areas (LGAs) into administrative divisions (LGDs); limited number of new states and local governments created by plebiscite to cater for ethnic and other necessities; reduction of ministerial positions) will result in significantly less financial burden and administrative overhead by as much as 50-60% – to within 35-50% of national budget expenditure.
3. for politically pragmatic reasons, the concept of states and local governments, a number of which have been hard-fought for over they years, should be preserved. However, some borders of existing states and local governments should be adjusted and even one or two new ones created through the democratic process of plebiscites.
The focus in this essay is on regionalism, using as examples the South-Western zone of Nigeria as well as Ekiti State, my own home state.
REGIONALISM IN THE SOUTH-WEST
1. Before the 1966 military incursion into Nigeria, the whole of Western Region comprised of 16 divisions governed by divisional officers. Even these included Ikeja, Epe and Badagry, which are presently par of Lagos State.
2. Presently there are six states in the South-West Zone of Nigeria – Lagos, Ogun, Oyo, Osun, Ekiti and Ondo. If, as we must, we add a seventh yet-to-be-formed new state – for convenience, we will call it Oya State (or Ooke-Oodua State) - composed from 70% (in population) of the present Kwara State (the Igbominas, the Ekitis, and ) and 42% of the present Kogi State (the Okun People), we will have a truly composite political zone comprised of the Yoruba people which is what would characterize the South-West Zone Other zones will have their own distinctive characteristic that might not be necessarily uni-ethnic, but without this regrouping, the Yoruba in Kogi and Kwara State will have a permanent marginalized political status both in the North-Central Zone and the Northern scheme of things since most things “Yoruba” will naturally be assigned to the traditional South-West zone that excludes them. Table 1 and Figure 1 (Map of Nigeria) outline the various geographic, population and local-administrative structure of this South-West Zone.
3. So for governance,
(i) the seven states shall be re-organized into a South-West Region;
(ii) the present local governments should be stepped down into local government areas (LGAs); and
(iii) those administrative areas will be next re-organized into between 6 or 9 local government divisions (LGDs) guided by the present three state Senatorial District boundaries (that it 2 or 3 local governments per senatorial district.)
4. The political administration of the South-West Region shall be centered on three bodies:
(i) The Executive Council of State Governors, with a Regional Premiership rotated on an annual basis among governors;
(ii) A 7-person Regional Ministerial Cabinet (One Representative per State)
(iii) A Joint Consultative Assembly (twice a year.)
5. Each governor shall act as the Region’s premier and Chief Executive for a period of one year, whereafter it will rotate to another governor. Thus, there will be no need to have a Regional election for Governor. The order of rotation shall be set once-and-for-all at the beginning of the exercise by an open lottery with one waiver: a nod to Oya State Governor as the starting Premier !
6. The Region’s Headquarters for that period shall be the state capital of the sitting Premier. This removes the fear of “return to Ibadan as capital” as has been expressed by some “hinterland” states, eg Ekiti and Ondo States
7. Seven Regional Ministries should be created that should not be DUPLICATED in any of the states, and will hence reduce the number of state commissioners by seven. In the South-West, this reduces the total number of ministries by 42 ( seven times seven – seven.) These regional ministries might include eg Agriculture, Commerce, Education, Energy, Trade & Industry, Transport, Works and Housing. These Regional Ministers shall also be their various States’ Commissioners for Inter-Governmental Affairs.
8. No state shall have more than ten “ministerial” commissioners and 2 assembly persons per division, from among who seven shall have portfolios to shadow the regional ministers in the state government.
9. A Joint Consultative Assembly comprising ALL of members of the state assembly members that meets in each (rotating) headquarters twice or thrice a year:
(i) once to approve regional budget;
(ii) to assent to certain resolutions (some binding) that will be passed into laws by the state
assemblies. Law passed by consensus of all state assemblies shall be called Regional Laws.
AN EXAMPLE: RE-STRUCTURING EKITI STATE
1. There are currently 3 Senatorial districts, 16 local governments and 177 wards in Ekiti State. That means 16 chairmen and 177 local government councilors and a retinue of officers, including even “special advisors” to the chairmen !
2. The present local governments, though retained, should be stepped down into administrative areas; and those administrative areas will be next re-organized into 6 local governments divisions guided by the present three state Senatorial District boundaries.
See Figure 2 and Table 2 for how Ekiti State Local Governments might be re-organized.
3. Instead of the current total of 193 councilors, we could stipulate for governance purpose that councilors be elected on a non-party basis as follows:
(i) 2 elected councilors per LGA (for a total of 32);
(ii) 5 officials per local government division LGD ie one per LGA and the rest at-large (for a total of 30);
to give a grand total of 62 local government officials, that is one-third of the original total. In summary, for Ekiti State, there will be 48 officials elected from all the 16 local government areas, and 14 at-large officials elected throughout all of the 6 divisions.
(iii) One of the at-large officials will be elected within each division as the LGD chairman. Whenever necessary, the divisional official elected from the local government area will act as the chairman of the local government area chairman.
Although it is the author’s opinion that the above re-arrangement be effected in the South-Western Region, each political zone should be accorded the federal privilege of organizing its own states and local governments whichever way its sees fit. The only conditions are that that the Federal Government should deal with these regions in an EQUITABLE manner as far as financing is concerned, so that it does not matter to the federal government how many states or local governments constitute each region.
Comments are welcome.
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