FEATURE ARTICLE

Alfred AisedionlenWednesday, September 21, 2016
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London, UK

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RESTRUCTURING MOMENTUM (PART 2)

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estructuring of the country is not just a mere Government/Political restructure but with the general reorganisation of the disjointed angles of the country. Within the new government structure of the Federal and Local Governments, rotational leadership is imperative in the country. If you examine the main reason for discontents in the country, you will trace the genesis to leadership. That is who leads at a particular point in time and from which section of the country the leader comes. Official rotational leadership is one of the key answers to the problems. The adoption of rotational leadership at Federal Government level would minimise political tension, division and spread qualitative advantage to every part of the country. It would create political stability and promote confidence in our country as a stable place in which to invest and conduct business. Rotational Leadership must, therefore, be enshrined in a new constitution.

From 2019, such four federal leadership rotational zones delineated on grounds of compatibility are as follow:

  1. South South, South East (This comprised the proposed Mid-West, South East and South South zones) or (the current South East and South South geo-political zones).

  2. North Central (This comprised the proposed Middle Belt West, Middle Belt East zones and Abuja) or (the current North central zone and Abuja).

  3. South West (This comprised the proposed South West and Lagos zones as above) or (the current South West geo-political zone).

  4. North (This comprised the proposed North West, Mid-North and North East zones) or (the current North West and North East geo-political zones).

Ahead of 2019, each of these proposed zones had provided leaders for the country for disproportionate number of years since independence on October 1960 - May 2019 as in the following:
     Table 2

As in table 2 above, the South South, South East area had ruled the country the least, ahead of 2019, in the past 59 years. Therefore, in fairness, from May 2019, the official and permanent rotation should start from the area as follows in the new five year-term of office of the Government and two consecutive terms for each rotational zone.

     Table 3

This means in 2019, APC and PDP must zone their parties' Presidential candidates to the South South and South East geo-political zones. Even if the present Federal Government did not carry out all the required restructuring or did not restructure at all, the President or Prime Minister from any of these two zones will carry out the required restructuring of the country.

Nigeria should become a two-party state of APC and PDP. Within this, there should be permission for individual independent candidates of not more than two per elective seat. The term of office of the Government should be 5 years. The system of the government should be Parliamentary, subject to the peoples' approval in a referendum. Parliamentary system is the system of government that suit our type of society. It is more economical. It does not make democratic dictatorship. It does not provide atmosphere for rampant corruption as in the Presidential system of government. The elected Prime Minister would not serve for more than two terms of office. The Local Government Councils would also adopt the same Parliamentary system of government.

The Local Governments would be elected during the mid-term of the Federal Government while the Federal Government will be elected during the mid-term of the Local Governments.

In the new government structure, there should be a clear definition of duties between the Federal and Local Governments. The Federal Government would not again be empowered to usurp the duties of the Local Governments. What to be centralised would be centralised. What to be decentralised would be decentralised for the Local Governments. For example, the Ministry of Transport should be exclusive Federal Government issue. The Ministries of Agriculture, Works, Housing, Water and Welfare that generally depend on the area and vary according to local need should be exclusive Local Governments' matters.

The Federation Account should comprise revenue from Natural resources, Corporation tax, Unincorporated business tax, PAYE, Value Added Tax, Capital Gains tax, Excise Duty, Petroleum tax and the profit or surplus of all National/public establishments such as the Central Bank, Nigeria Ports Authority, Nigeria National Petroleum Corporation, etc.

After prior charges on Federation Account and Federal Government allocation, the balance of the allocable fund will be allocated equally to all the geopolitical zones. Within each zone the Local Governments therein would share the allocation together with the derivation fund allocated to the zone in accordance with their sizes. The fund from which derivation would be paid and at a new higher rate would now include PAYE and VAT and not just only Natural Resources.

A form of weighted average should here be used for the allocation to be equitable. If the largest Local Governments carry a weight of 3units each, larger ones would carry a weight of 2units each and the smallest would carry a weight of 1unit each. This would come to a total weight of 6units. If you have N120 to allocate; the allocation will come to N20 per unit (N120/6 = N20). The three units Local Governments will take N60 (20 x 3) each, the two units Local Governments will take N40 (20 x 2) each, and the one unit Local Governments will take N20 (20 x 1) each. With this there is not a section of the country that will again get inequitable allocation nor grumble of having fewer Local Government areas. All these will be done at the Federal Fund Allocation Office and the allocation would be sent directly to each Local Government.

In the restructuring, contracts at the Federal Government level, at the Federal Government corporations and other establishments would be awarded on federal character basis equally to the capable contractors from each geo-political zone of the country. The only exceptions will be those contracts that are meant to award to foreign contractors to which the indigenous contractors do not have capability.

All the crude oil blocs would be redistributed on federal character basis equally to all the capable oil producers in each geo-political zone of the country except those that are earmarked for capable foreign companies. All the new crude oil and other mineral blocs would also be distributed on federal character basis equally to the capable producers and miners in each geo-political zone of the country.

The shares of the privatised Electricity, Landline Telephone and all Federal concessions would be redistributed on federal character basis equally to the shares purchasing public in each geo-political zone in the country. All further privatisations and concessions shares of Federal establishments would be distributed on federal character basis equally to the shares purchasing public in each geo-political zone of the country. You cannot continue to privatise or concession public establishments' functions to those who cannot run any business and whose business is only assets stripping, cash withdrawal for personal uses, do not bother to pay any bank loans, creditors nor pay salaries of employees. In a normal country shares of public establishments that are being privatised are first offered to the public who own the establishments in the first place.

The two tier government structure of the Federal and Local Governments would enable us to have centralised, nationwide Federal Inland Revenue Authority that would have branches in each parts of the country. Taxation should be assessed and collected only by the staff of the Revenue Authority. Third party, contractors or consultants should not be used to assess or collect taxes for the Federal Government and the Local Governments.

The Federal Government would be responsible for Education and Healthcare. It would delegate any duties of these departments to the Zonal Authorities and Local Governments. The budget for Education and Healthcare in the country would be prior charge on Federation Account.

Private education should only be allowed to fill the vacuum left out by the non-profit making organisations. Private education should generally be in areas of preparatory education such as nursery schools; a one-year school for those that are repeating their school certificate or GCE ordinary level examination; a two-year school for the general certificate of education advanced level or training. There would be limited places for private primary and secondary schools, and universities in the country.

Private educational institution ownership in the country should be a partnership and not a limited liability company. Private Education should not be entitled to public fund or grant. The owners of a private educational institution should be a minimum of five active partners. The minimum five partners should be academics with at least ten years teaching experience. In addition to this, a private educational institution especially primary and secondary schools should have adequate premises, facilities for general education and extra curriculum activities such as in music, sports, etc. All the current private educational institutions in the country that do not meet these criteria would hence cease to be educational institutions. All the current secondary schools that are owned by the Federal Government, which are generally known as Government schools or Colleges, should be privatised.

Private medicine in the country should be a partnership and not a limited liability company. A private hospital should be owned and run by a minimum of five active partners who should be specialist medical doctors of many years' experience. Sole partner medical practice in a consulting clinic should only be allowed in the related medical doctor's area of specialisation.

If you are employed in the Public or Teaching hospitals in the country, you will not be allowed to run your private hospital or clinic in abreast with your employment in the public sector hospitals. There will neither be part time employment for those that own nor work in private hospitals. Everyone knows the damages these have so far inflected on our health sector. Some of these are delayed work, unnecessary long and postponed appointments, diversion of patients, medicines, materials and equipment to their private hospitals.

In all, the formal term of education, which is normally from September to June, will strictly be the term. It will neither be disrupted nor extended because of strikes. Therefore, strikes would be banned by constitution or law in the Education and Health sectors to preserve education and healthcare of the nation. All the unresolved disputes between the Education and Health employers and employees would always be handled by an arbitration, which is jointly established by the employers and the union of employees, to resolve dispute within certain time limit. There will not be any strike action allowed as long as the dispute lasted and resolved.

Security of the nation is paramount. We should ensure that the Nigeria Police Force, which is fundamental to security of the country, is adequate and decentralised. There would be at least ten Independent Police Commands in the country. This is where every head of each Independent Command is accountable only in his area and responsible to the Prime Minister or President. The number of Police personnel and other forces in the country would be increased for optimal policing and security.

Among the major problems in our country are the awkward and sluggish ways our Judiciary operates. These create the years of backlog cases and delayed justice in the country, hence the overcrowded prisons and detention centres. The Judiciary as a body must not go on holidays, close all the Courts for months. The Judges must not take their individual annual leaves at the same time. The Courts in the country must stay open throughout the whole year.

The country will have only one Judicial system. It will be one country one law. Adequate fresh Courts cases processing and hearing procedures, and system of control will be designed. These would be for efficient cases processing and hearing, and minimisation of corruption in the Judiciary. All the Law Courts in the country from the lowest to the highest must be under the Judiciary. The Courts in the country will be: The Magistrates Court, District Civil Court, Criminal Court, High Court, Appeal Court and Supreme Court. There will not be any dual laws or Courts for and of any religious body.

For anyone to be appointed as a Judge at the Magistrates Court or District Civil Court, such must be a minimum of 35-year-old, either with a minimum of ten years' experience as a legal practitioner, law lecturer or as a civil servant lawyer. For anyone to be appointed as a Judge at the Criminal Court or High Court, such must be a minimum 40-year-old, either with a minimum of fifteen years' experience as a legal practitioner, a civil servant lawyer, a law lecturer or elevated from the Magistrates Court or the District Civil Court after a minimum of five years' experience and must have a genuine post graduate degree or equivalent qualification.

For any Judge to be elevated to the Appeal Court, such must have had at least ten years' experience at the Criminal Court or High Court. For any Judge to be elevated to the Supreme Court such must have had at least ten years' experience at the Appeal Court and he/she is at least 60-year-old. All the law Court Judges must retire at the age of 70-year-old but with the option of early retirement.

In order to clear the huge backlog of cases in the various Courts in the country, prevent further backlog and to always clear cases on time, law lecturers in our Universities, who are themselves lawyers, with at least ten years teaching experience will be drafted, at their free time, to preside as Judges at the various Courts. Law lecturers are much up to date in area of the law they teach. They can handle cases quickly and efficiently.

The Nigeria Judicial Council, not the politicians, will hence appoint or elevate all Judges in all the Law Courts in the Federation. The Judicial Council appointment will be full and final, without approval by the head of state or confirmation by the Senate. All the appointments and elevations will be on merit within the federal character system and not on seniority. But only the best that have been tested; that are not corrupt and incorruptible; that can stand up for justice and the country; will be appointed or elevated. The post of the Chief Justice of Nigeria, Head of Appeal Court, High Court, etc. will not be by seniority but on merit, federal character and rotates among the geo-political zones of the country. Since when have we had Chief Justice of Nigeria from the South?

The elected and those in political appointments who have cases in the Courts must quit their seats and positions until the determination of their cases. We cannot have criminals with pending cases sitting on their positions and using official facilities. If people do not have the honour, morality and decency to resign on their own when they have done something wrong and are being prosecuted, they must be dragged out of their positions to face the music outside office. Nobody should be allowed to go to Court to stopping the Police from an arrest. The Court must not even list such an application. The Police cannot arrest and detain without an arrestable offence. Those who felt they were wrongly arrested may issue summons against the Police only if they are acquitted.

A National Charity Commission should be established in the country. For example; the Commission would check the menace of many Non Governmental Organisations (NGO) and religious bodies in the country. The northern Emirs will not be allowed to double as traditional rulers and Islamic religious heads in their domains. The Islamic Religious Clerics would be allowed to choose their leader among themselves and individually be the religious head in their districts, and to be fully accountable in the circumstances where their Islamic religion is being misused. Islamic religion would not be mixed with Government and official matters anywhere in the country. The dual laws practice in the North would cease. Their Islamic police would be disbanded. We cannot have parallel and religious laws and police force in the country. Any reference to any Islamic courts, laws and practices in our constitution would be expunged even before any new constitution is adopted.

All of the above and others would be formalised in a brand new constitution, which would accommodate the new structure and changes in the country. The new constitution would be drafted on two basis of Presidential and Parliamentary systems of government in a two-tier system of government of the Federal and Local Governments. The people would in a referendum vote by a simple majority to choose one of the systems of government they want and the related constitution. As we have had several conferences and volume of materials from which to draw issues, the new constitution would be a matter for the Executive to draft and present to the people, and not the National Assembly.

However, all of the above are not be exhaustive. There are many other relevant issues will be accommodated in the new structure and constitution. As the previous Governments did not carry out the required restructuring; it is now incumbent upon the present progressive APC Federal Government to put things right, carry out the necessary restructuring within its present term of office. It does not take time. There is not any need holding further national conference. It does not cost money, foreign exchange or foreign reserve to carry out the necessary restructuring. Therefore, the APC Federal Government has not any excuse not to carry out urgently the necessary restructuring of the country.

To know more about this author; read his forty-page Presidential manifesto for the 2015 general election from his website; apiainternational.co.uk, and his previous articles that were published here on this column. He did not release the manifesto before the general election nor participate in the election for certain reasons.

Alfred Aisedionlen - London, UK. ([email protected])

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