True Federalism, Resource Control & The North


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October 3, 2007 - December 2, 2007



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True Federalism, Resource Control And The North




Itse E. Sagay




culled from VANGUARD, June 23, 2005

The Northern position regarding True Federalism and Resource Control has undergone an unbelievable and monumental somersault since petroleum became a major source of income to Nigeria. Prior to independence in 1960 and the emergence of petroleum as the mainstay of our economy, the northern elite only accepted conditions amounting to confederalism rather than federalism for associating with South as one country.

When a constitutional crisis erupted in 1953 over the Southern demand for immediate independence for Nigeria, the minimum demands of the North for continuing to remain as a part of Nigeria were:

*“Each region shall have complete legislative and executive autonomy with respect to all matters except the following: defence, external affairs, customs and West African research institutions.

*That there shall be no central legislative body and no central executive or policy making body for the whole of Nigeria.
*There shall be a Central Agency for all Regions which will be responsible for the matters mentioned in paragraph one and other matters delegated to it by a Region.

*The Central Agency shall be at a neutral place, preferably Lagos.
*The composition and responsibility of the Central Agency shall be defined by the Order-in-Council establishing the constitutional arrangement. The Agency shall be a non-political body.

*The services of the railway, air services, posts and telegraphs, electricity and coal mining shall be organized on an inter-Regional basis and shall be administered by public corporations.

These corporations shall be independent bodies covered by the statute under which they are created. The Board of the Coal Corporation shall be composed of experts with a minority Representation of the Regional government.

*All revenue shall be levied and collected by the Regional government except customs revenue at the port of discharge by the Central Agency. The administration of the customs shall be so organized as to assure that goods consigned to the Region are separately cleared and charged to duty.

*Each Region shall have a separate public service.” (See Daily Times, Friday May 22, 1953, pp1&3. Copy reproduced below on this page.)

The only explanation for the extra-ordinary u-turn of the North in favour of a strong, almost unitary constitution, in which the Federal Government owns everything including the mineral resources in my backyard, (and we all know that Federal Government means the Arewa North) is what Professor Omafume Onoge has aptly described as “Niger Delta's Oil and Gas proceeds cupidity”.

This obsessive love for the proceeds of the Niger Delta's Oil and Gas proceeds has to be curbed and strongly restrained.
Nigeria is a federation. I know of no other federation on planet earth in which some federating units (states) rely solely on other federating units for sustenance, resulting in a total dependence syndrome, hinged on a delusive and distorted belief in co-ownership: “What you have is ours; what I have, I keep”.

It is now time all the states in this country looked inwards to their own resources for self-sustenance. Otherwise, not only shall Nigeria continue to practice distorted federalism, our development will remain stunted.

In any case, the burden of carrying other states on its back has become too much for the Niger Delta, and we must return to federalism before the Niger Delta Camel's back is broken.



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This page was last updated on 10/27/07.