Tuesday, 24 May 2016

Excess Invites Reform: State failure, federalism and decentralization in Nigeria

If we cannot manage diversity, why do we need to go to war to live together. These are some of the thought provoking questions that will engage the next generation.

This is not an academic paper, rather an insight to provoke thoughts.:

 "Nigerian citizens inhabiting regional states outside their ancestral territories experience political and economic disenfranchisement"

Indeed access to more detailed information has made me to start asking important questions about Nigeria's present political experiments.

"Throughout its turbulent history since independence, Nigeria has been searching for a federal institutional set-up that can best accommodate its various social divisions, But all the institutional changes seem to have had little long-term impact on the persisting societal divisions in the country"-Suberu

We cannot continue to allow an unsatisfactory status-quo linger forever. If we cannot reconcile unity and diversity in our current union, then we have to relax our laws to allow various ethnic groups to fashion out their own system of self-rule that will guarantee their cultural, socio-economic and political well-being.

Federalism and Decentralization promised us Democracy, good governance and diversity; yet we're witnessing the worst societal divisions even in the 21st century including wide income inequality and social injustice. Existing governance structures are inadequate to address the key issues of our national debate.

According to Mr Jefferson; Founder of the University of Virginia; "all laws and constitutions ought to sunset once a generation...Expecting a country 100 or 200 years later to live by the exact same rules is as much a folly as expecting a full grown man of six foot to six to wear the clothes he sported as a child"

The constant harrassment, detention, killing and extra-constitutional decisions to destroy ethnic minorities is really mediaval.

  This is a new era driven by technology where various components of the federating units can aspire to create a new economy independent of the oil.

We must learn to adapt to change and really grow with the times. Why the senseless intimidation and conflicts?

"Yet even when things seem most gridlocked, major changes are possible.., As we need today, the US is dramatically altering its relationship with a country we've been at war for 35-years; so change happens"- Prof. Gerry Warburg. He concluded the pace of change itself is accelerating, the same rapid change occurs in politics.

Federal solutions were high on the agenda during the early phase of post colonial politics in Africa as potential ways to reconcile unity and diversity, but ended up being rather short lived experiments.

"Neither federalism nor decentralization can 'solve' all the divisions..., they seem to be the least-worst mechanisms to 'manage' the division within diverse societies"- Thomas A. Koelble and Janet Lewis.

'Biafra' and other ethnic minority agitations is a constant reminder that change may be hard, change is inevitable.

We must discontinue the constant intimidation and harrassment of these grassroot activists pressing for common sense solutions.

 It's my desire that our policy makers will embrace change, allowing individual liberty to thrive while embracing necessary reforms that will give the next generation the future we want for them- PEACE.

Uche Okeke.

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