PRESENT CONFAB WILL NOT BRING OUT ANYTHING BECAUSE ABACHA CONFAB REPORT HAS TAKEN CARE OF EVERYTHING-Former Nigeria’s UN Envoy Col. Alao (rtd)
Retired Colonel Dawodu Alao is a former envoy of Nigeria to the United Nations. He also participated in the 1994\1995 Constitutional Conference convened by late General Sani Abacha in Abuja. He has been following political developments in the country since. In this interview with SUNDAY ROTILEFON, Alao speaks on the ongoing constitutional conference in Abuja and proffers solutions to some of the political and security problems plaguing the country including the Boko Haram scourge…
Ongoing National Conference
Why are we looking for what is not lost? The report of the constitutional conference set up by late General Sani Abacha in 1995 should be considered. The present confab will bring out nothing because that Abacha confab report has taken care of everything. We should have a ceremonial head of state, six vice presidents, and six members from each zone of the country to form the National Assembly and on part-time basis. They should be meeting on a quarterly basis to give reports from their zones or regions.
The presidency should be on rotational basis among the six zones at a single tenure of four to six years.
We don’t need the countless number of parties that we have at present in the country. All we need is a two-party system founded and funded by government. During the General Ibrahim Babangida regime, he formed the Social Democratic Party (SDP) and National Republican Convention (NRC). Both parties were popular and acceptable to the people. There was mass participation in all the elections then. There was no godfather or dictator. The country should revert to the two-party system with Option A4 voting system. I believe that in the political history of the country that is the process that has produced undisputed candidates from the ward level to local government, state to federal level. The Independent National Electoral Commission should not register more than two parties. By this, the cost of election and problems associated with election will be reduced and credible people will be elected into political positions. Today, election in the country is by money. If you don’t have money and godfathers, there wouldn’t be a place for you and this is grossly aiding corruption because every appointee is dancing to the tune of his godfather and basically to favour them. Many of the appointees do not merit it but because they are rich and have godfathers; that is why we don’t have thinkers in government but those who want to further enrich their pockets. Flamboyant politicians are all over the country now.
The National Assembly is a waste. They are not performing any function. It’s an avenue for people to embezzle funds; we don’t need them. The state Houses of Assembly can as well perform their functions.
Nigeria is better in regional system of government than the present system. There were even developments at all regions. Every regional leader was a great thinker because they wanted their region to be the best. The local government should be strengthened and made stronger than the state government. The local government should be collecting its allocations directly from the federation account while the state government should only act as a supervisor. Obas, Obis or the Emirs should be included in the payment, but any traditional ruler who gets involved in embezzlement of funds should be dethroned and his family’s ruling right should be lost forever.
During former President Obasanjo’s tenure, the rural areas were giving priority attention and youth empowerment programmes were in place, unlike the lip service being paid empowerment in the country today. The urban centres, like Lagos and others, will be decongested by developing the rural areas. At present, the state and local government operate a joint account, which makes the local councils ineffective. If the Federal government is paying directly into their accounts, then they should be accountable to the people of their community. Suggestion boxes would be provided in each ward for opinions and suggestions for the local, state and federal government.
Solution to Boko Haram Insurgence
The genesis of Boko Haram is rooted in governance. If the rotational system is maintained there won’t be anything like Boko Haram. The colonial masters handed over to us six geopolitical zones, why are we not following that structure and maintaining them? The root cause of Boko Haram is about the question of who will be president or not, nothing more than that. I suggested that every six geo political zones should be allowed to rule the country in four or six years single tenure. The zone that will produce the president should only vote while other zones should only be observers.
Babangida and Abacha Regimes
One thing about Nigerians is that they don’t remember good things about their past leaders; they only remember their mistakes and bad deeds. Both Babangida and Abacha made their own contributions as military heads of state but people only saw their negative deeds. Babangida and Abacha created more states and local governments in the country than any other leader but nobody is talking about that today.
Former President Obasanjo meant well for the country. The only mistake he made was handling over the Bakassi Peninsula to the Cameroon. Basassi belongs to Nigeria and not Cameroon. During the Biafran war, Port Harcourt had already been captured by the Biafran soldiers, but we, the 3rd Marine Commando, entered through Bakassi to Calabar and crossed over to Oron by ferry. Till today, Northern Nigeria rules Cameroon. The former president was from Kano and the present president is from Maiduguri. They knew that Nigeria wanted to secede then, and they wanted to build a seaport at Bakassi because it was close to the North.
Advice to President Jonathan
President Jonathan should remember his past. His government should aim at being the best and he should write his name in gold. He has good intentions for the nation but it is the people around him that are confusing him. With the present price of crude oil per barrel per day multiplied by daily production of close to 3.5 million barrels per day, each Nigerian is entitled to certain millions of Naira per day. So, let the government take crude oil proceeds of 20 days in a month and the remaining10 days’ proceeds should go to her citizenry. God endowed every part of the country with crude oil and other untapped natural resources. If the system of government is in order, all the six geo-political zones could afford to manage its workforce, provide social amenities and infrastructure needed for its development. Jonathan should sign it into law that from the proceeds from the crude oil, students in primary and secondary schools as well as the aged people should be paid certain amount of money monthly.
Confronting Security Challenge
Criminal activities go unchallenged in our society because most of the people living in the same areas don’t know themselves. Each individual should have a data in the national data bank dully filled and signed by senior police officers. We should then submit a specimen of the security form to the government, if the government follows this, the security challenges will be greatly reduced. Military too needs to be well equipped to combat security problems.