…Calls for single 6-yr tenure President, Governors
…Wants part-time legislature of 54 senators, 108 reps
Long before restructuring attained the status of national discourse in the past few years, few Nigerians privileged to have played a role or two in shaping the nation’s political evolution, had at one time or the time talked up the term, particularly in public fora.
One of these personalities is Major General Sam Momah (retd), former Minister of Science and Technology and one-time Director of the Nigeria War College (now Nigeria Defence College), Abuja.
In “Restructuring Nigeria Beyond Oil” and ”Restructure to save Nigeria,” General Momah advanced reasons for the failure of Africa’s biggest nation to rise above a giant on paper, insisting that states needed a level of economic viability to be self sustaining rather than the age-long dependence on federal allocation for survival.
Recently in the nation’s capital, General Momah unveiled yet another thought-provoking book titled, ”Why We Must Restructure Nigeria Now,” wherein, he drew the attention of Nigerians to the countless mileage inherent in restructuring. Subtitled the “Nigerian Green Book,” Momah argues in his new literary offering (his 12th) that contrary to some ignorant postulations in some quarters, there is no proportional relationship between restructuring and resource control, stressing that the former entails “a fundamental, constitutional and reformist change Nigeria must undergo to enable her replace sharing mindset with productive mindset for the sustainable development of the country.”
According to the author, restructuring morphed into a global strategy at the Paris Global Climate Change Conference of December 12, 2015, “for keeping the world below 2° C,” stressing that for Nigeria, “it is a grand strategy for sustainably keeping the country alive without oil.”
By October this year, Nigeria would have attained 60 years as an independent, sovereign state; yet, her vast resource endowment (human and material) bears no relationship to the nation’s level of development. Historians and analysts, old enough to witness the country’s take-off in the 60s following the end of British colonialism are quick to laud the efforts of the First Republic (1960-1966) at making Nigeria a force to be reckoned with. With the North, West and Western regions leveraging on their sundry comparative cost advantages; the centre was a clear opposite of what obtains today. For General Momah, a trip down to the glorious years of old would be a step in the right direction.
His argument: ”To save cost, the existing 36 states will become provinces by doing away with (amongst others) legislative and judicial arms. Now, if the new 18 states recommended by 2014 national conference are accepted, they too will be provinces and a total of 54 (36+18) provinces should be formed. Again, the number of federating states will be determined by Extraordinary Constitutional Conference, ECC…The six geo-political zones will offer the best economic benefits if operated as the six federating states.”
There’s something unique in this 122-page new book presented last week to mark Momah’s 77th birthday. Unlike the generic mouthing of restructuring without a clear-cut framework of how to go about same, the retired army General unveiled his model this way: “To initiate the entire restructuring process, a Presidential bill should be passed by the National Assembly thus empowering the ECC to hold and its outcome will then be confirmed in a national referendum. In the legislative arm, the existing 109 senate seats will be reduced to 54 (one per province) while the 360 House of Representatives seats will be reduced to 108 (two per province).”
Aligning his position with that of cultural activist and Africa’s first Nobel laureate, Professor Wole Soyinka, Momah calls for a part-time legislature as well as an abolition of the controversial security votes for governors and constituency projects for federal lawmakers. “Legislative duties will be part-time while security vote, constituency projects and humongous allowances will be scrapped,” he says.
Perhaps, the biggest take-away from the book presentation last week was the bold recommendation of a ten year implementation timeline for restructuring by General Momah. According to him, implementation must be phased without negative impact on governance.
“It (restructuring) must be gradually phased within ten years (2020-2030)-the Decade of Destiny. There is a general global anticipation that COVID-19 vaccine including US RESMESIVIR will be out early in 2021. Also, COVID-19 is expected to fade away by December, 2020. The federal government should therefore use the rest of 2020 to plan and thus, use early 2021 to hold the constitutional conference which will amongst others, determine the various vital phases restructuring will go through from 2021-2030. The report of the constitutional conference should go through the National cum State and the Houses of Assembly and finally, get it through people’s referendum,” he recommends.
In what appears a vote of confidence on President Muhammadu Buhari’s pledge to lift a significant number of Nigerians out of poverty; General Momah says the feat is achievable only in “a restructured Nigeria starting now with stopping the almajirai from street begging and by that singular action put on track the lifting of 10 million almajirai out of poverty.”
According to him, although “the President Buhari administration has made giant strides in many areas including strategic infrastructural developments such as the 1.6km Niger Bridge, Lagos-Ibadan highway/rail line, Kaduna-Abuja rail line; increase in production of local food items and improving on that by initiating the Green Imperative; blocking of financial leakages through the Treasury Single Account, TSA, Integrated Payroll and Personnel Information System, IPPIS, enhanced remittance by the Nigeria Customs Service, NCS, Joint Matriculation and Admission Board, JAMB, etc; nothing will best practicalise the progressive appellation of the All Progressives Congress, APC and fulfil the CHANGE mantra and the NEXT LEVEL slogan on which it rode to power in 2015 and 2019 respectively than the restructuring of Nigeria.”
At 77, Momah continues to avail his beloved country his wealth of experience and insists that for the country to grow at a geometric rate, her financial expenditure must be cost effective in relations to expected outcome. He advocates a six-year single presidential and governorship terms, noting that this would make the President and governors bent on completing initiated projects before the expiration of their tenures.
A single tenure, in the words of the author would “prevent incumbent President/governor from interfering in the Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC and in using state funds and facilities for campaign,” adding that “elections will be less frequent devoid of staggered elections and thus, help make INEC better organised.”
Amongst other merits enumerated in favour of restructuring are improve indices of development, a new people’s constitution (the Nigerian constitution), consolidation of democracy, revival of qualitative education and harnessing of the knowledge and finances of Nigerians in the Diaspora, etc.
General Momah has in his latest book, offers his country what can be considered a requisite manual for the restructuring of Nigeria. Written in simple and lucid language, it is a book one can start and complete in a couple of hours. But beyond the ease of comprehension is the political will to implement its far-reaching recommendations; many of which are capable of giving Nigeria a new face.