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Nigerian Federalism Good: Stability

Decentralized federalism in Nigeria is key to stop militarization, improve resource management and human rights

Bonn International Center for Conversion, 2008
(“Workshop Governing the Gift of Nature: the links between Governance, conflict and natural resources” http://www.gc2008.net/blog/?tag=conflict)

Professor Ayodeji Olukoju from the University of Lagos presented his case study on the Niger Delta in Nigeria where oil and gas form the backbone of the Nigerian economy. In his presentation, he gave a historical overview of the Niger delta, the link between natural resources and politics. According to Prof. Olukoju, resource management has shaped the political landscape of Nigeria since the countries’ independence, resulting in a wealthy elite supported by oil companies playing the ethnic card in local and national politics. This led to agitations amongst minority groups who felt that they were not only marginalized in politics but also denied the revenue from oil and gas present on their own land. The production of oil and gas led to environmental degradation and injustice amongst the local population (such as the Ogoni people) who stood up against the government and the major oil corporations. In the last decade, the Niger delta saw an increased militarization, even after the return to democratic rule. This resulted in a growing militancy amongst ethnic groups. According to Olukoju, the root causes of the support for the militant groups can be found in the high unemployment rates, high poverty, a growing perception of deliberate marginalization of ethnic groups in the Delta by the Nigerian state, and discriminatory employment practices against indigenous people by the oil firms. This led to the rise of militant groups such as the Movement for the Emancipation of the Niger Delta (MEND) who attack oil stations and kidnap politicians and personnel working at major oil companies. He argued that in order to solve the problem with the government and resource control, both a more decentralized form of Nigerian federalism and the fight against the high level of youth unemployment is necessary. The state needs to tackle the poor state of social infrastructure, providing better education and health care with the oil revenues, and reduce the militarization of the Niger delta

Nigerian federalism key to its stability

Africa News, 2002
(“NDP Calls for True Federalism”, 9/5, lexis)

NATIONAL Democratic Party (NDP), one of the political associations seeking registration as a party, has called for true federalism in the country. Chief Kenny Martins, national publicity secretary of NDP, made the call in an interview with Daily Champion in Lagos. Chief Martins said that unless there is true federalism in Nigeria, the community could never flourish. "We in NDP believe that unless we have true federalism where the people are allowed to be ruled and governed by those things that are dear to them Nigeria will continue to have problems. "Before now, what we have always had is a central authority kind of thing, the type that really broke Nigeria after 1966," he said. "We also believe that even from the centre, some of the programmes we need to carry out should involve moving back to the rural areas, because if you can put infrastructures in the rural areas, you can de-urbanise the urban areas," he added. Speaking on the registration of political associations as parties, Chief Martins urged the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), to wake up to its responsibilities. He said that INEC had a role to play in ensuring that democracy is entrenched in the country because the country's democracy was still at the infant stage and needed to grow fully.

Nigerian Federalism Good: Stability

Federalism is key to preventing devolution of the Nigerian state

Ladipo Adamolekun Federal University of Technology, Akure, Nigeria, June 22, 2005

(“The Nigerian federation at the crossroads: the way forward” Pg. 383(23) Vol. 35 No. 3) Lexis
To keep Nigeria one, federalism is a necessity not a choice. The challenge is to accommodate the ethnic, linguistic, religious, cultural, regional, and geographical divisions within a federation that is, at the same time, democratic and capable of advancing socioeconomic progress. (See Table 1 for a summary of the main divisions within the country.) In this circumstance, continued maintenance of the centralism and uniformity of the military era is antithetical to the goal of keeping Nigeria one; devolution is the only viable way forward. It isworth recalling that each of the constituent regions of the federation at its birth in 1954 had threatened to secede at one time or the other: the North in 1950 (before the federation was formally established) and in 1966 following the declaration of Nigeria as a unitary state; the West in 1953 (again, before the formal establishment of the federation) and a virtual "secession threat" in 1998-1999; and the East in 1966, resulting in a thirty-month civil war. A putative independent "Delta Peoples Republic" was declared in 1966, but the military promptly arrested its leaders and the so-called republic died. In 1990, an abortive coup d'etat led by a military officer from one of the north-central zones announced the "suspension" of the Hausa-Fulani andMuslim states of the northeastern and northwestern zones from the federation. (40)

Nigerian federalism checks total breakup – limiting control of the federal government is key

Ladipo Adamolekun Federal University of Technology, Akure, Nigeria, June 22, 2005

(“The Nigerian federation at the crossroads: the way forward” Pg. 383(23) Vol. 35 No. 3) Lexis
The overall objective of political restructuring should be to establish autonomous (self-governing) nationalities or groups of nationalities within a federal union with a small coordinating national government. Two examples of issues that would need greater clarity than exists in the 1999 Constitution are institutional arrangements for local serf-governance and how best to accommodate the enforcement of "national minimum standards" in certain policy areas. Because full clarity cannot be spelled out in a constitution, a negotiated memorandum ofunderstanding could be adopted as a companion document to the Constitution. In the memorandum, operational guidelines relating to certainconcepts and issues would be spelled out in detail. Examples are theconcepts of federal character (45) and local self-governance and such issues as mechanisms for conducting relations between the federal, state, and local governments; enforcing national minimum standards for specific public services; and ensuring checks and balances. Of course, those who fear that fundamental political restructuring(devolution) could lead to the balkanization or disintegration of the country could point to some international experiences, such as the unending referendums on "sovereignty" in Quebec, Canada, and talk of a "free state associated with Spain" (and represented in the EuropeanUnion) by some separatists and regionalists in Spain. But it can also be argued that each of these countries has remained one because it has implemented significant devolutions of powers in response to demands by its disaffected constituent parts. Nigeria's postindependence experience to date constitutes a strong case for what one might call the inevitability of devolution. It is important to stress that subnational governments that would enjoy greater degrees of devolved powers would need to match their autonomy with consistent practice of good governance, notably respect for the rule of law and human rights, citizen participation, and governmental transparency and accountability. Otherwise, new groups within the different subnational governments would cry out against new forms of marginalization. (46) Reallocation of Functions and Resources A major aspect of political restructuring and autonomy relates to the allocation of functions and resources in the new federal system. Drawing on functional allocation under the 1954 Constitution and international good practices, the responsibilities of the federal government should be limited to currency and foreign exchange, external security and aspects of internal security, external affairs, foreign trade, railways, interstate transportation, and aspects of regulatory administration. State and local governments should have responsibility for all other functions. In turn, the revenue-allocation formula applied to the Federation Account should reflect this assignment of functions. In particular, the revenue-allocation system should accord to derivation the same 50 percent share as was the case in the 1954 Constitution, including a recent suggestion on vesting aspects of the exploitation of mineral resources in capable indigenous companies. This approach to the allocation of functions and resources would result in decentralized economic policy and management.
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