When we collapse Abuja and its power structure of constitutional deceit-its city of economic filth and administrative laziness, the States will function, then let the State government deal with their own created excesses.
This is an achievement by any African state to have dared to move its capital away from where its colonial masters had positioned it, that's a feat for the Nigerian.
Now Abuja is doing its best to reveal a bad example of the African administrative acumen and its sense of political correctness and economic development.
Decisions, appointment, recruitment upon recruitment all tends towards a single channel-bureaucratic administrative duplications that furnish a vicious cycle of neglect and redundancy-every year the policies of governance struggles to maintain the status quo until lately certain individuals within the circle of governance could no longer tolerate the bureaucratic redundancy and negligence that has characterized Abuja, a tiny fiefdom of ultimate power and recklessness.
(i) Challenging the Abuja power structure
Objections to the continuation of the status quo became evident in 2001 when former governor of Lagos state, Senator Ahmed Bola Tinubu chose to rebel against the imposition of Abuja's supreme authority upon the administration of Lagos state. Senator Tinubu had challenged the Nigerian definition of 'Federalism' as 'awkward.' To prove his point, he had engaged Abuja in series of legal battle that pitched him against the federal might throughout his administrations.
Senator Tinubu had insisted on the recognition of Lagos State government to control the management of its environment, control its urban and physical planning, regulation of its energy distribution and services, registration and regulation of tourist facilities within the state, control of her inland waterways and complete infrastructure development.
For daring to cross this constitutional boundary the former governor incurred the wrath of the hawks in Abuja and faced the battle headlong throughout his eight years administration as the head of government of Lagos state.
However he managed to crawl out with a partial victory in one of the many battles when the Supreme Court out of many of his objections abolished a system that allows the federal government to draw funds from the Federation Account to pay for matters that fell within its exclusive responsibility before sharing whatever was left with the state and local governments.
(ii) Need for Drastic constitutional change
October 2017, 16 years after series of similar events by subsequent administrations both in Lagos and in the South East, 17 Governors from the South-West, South-East and South-South region gathered in Lagos again to discuss what they considered as 'constitutional malfunction' of the Federal Structure, Nigeria government claimed to be practicing but in actual sense is void in every sense of such system of government
The convener, the current governor of Lagos State, Mr. Akinwumi Ambode had lamented the functionality of the Nigeria Constitution especially where it continue to flex muscles on matters that bothers within activities and responsibilities that rightly fall within the province and powers of the states. He reiterated that "the productivity and revenue-generating capacities of most of the states were being stifled, completely turning them into no better than street beggar states incapable of even meeting the routine obligations of paying workers' salaries without federal support, without going to Abuja to beg for 'handouts' from the federal government". Most especially, 'handouts' from monies generated from economic activities that took place in these states.
Before the 2017 October meeting in Lagos state, Cross River State governor, Dr, Ben Ayade, had at various occasions voiced his displeasure at the status quo in Abuja. Governor Ayade declared his plans to initiate the 'end to Abuja monopoly' during a town hall meeting with the state's traditional rulers. In a meeting with 17 paramount rulers from the 17 local government areas of the state, Ayade promised to lay solid foundation for a new Cross River state that will be independent of fiscal decisions and disbursement from Abuja.
"I have a plan to put to an end to Cross River State ever needing money from Abuja." He said. "I am the one who will pay the price and I will gladly play that role." He declared.
Abuja has never witnessed the level of request and protests to restructure its breach of constitutional functionality as defined in true federalism
Fiscal decisions from Abuja has continued to prove unreliable with the global decline in oil prices-Nigeria's economic mainstay-and the demand for crude oil related services, world leaders with keen insight are making frantic efforts to be well positioned in the cause of a future that is unpredictable and risky.
In clear terms, Abuja do not appear to be positioned for a future that is unpredictable and risky with its sheer negligence on ageing federal infrastructures littered across the entire states of Nigeria that falls within its acclaimed jurisdiction, its negligence on developmental emergencies that falls under its ministerial supervisions.
As much as the state government are feeling deprived of its electoral and constitutional rights, the citizens do not seems any better as the level of discontentment with Abujaís recklessness continues to gain momentum.
In order to checkmate these excesses, various Nigerian leaders of thought including ordinary Nigerians would want the enormous powers and responsibilities allocated to Abuja disconnected as quickly as possible. This is the simplest dumb reason for the calls for 'restructuring and devolution of powers from Abuja.
(iii) Collapsing Federal Infrastructures within the state
In a statement by former Nigerian ruler General Ibrahim Babangida (rtd) "Even the idea of having Federal roads in towns and cities has become outdated and urgently needs revisiting, He declared;
"Let the state government take control of its entire immediate environment without resorting to Abuja and let the Federal Government be vested with the responsibility to oversee the nationís foreign policy, defence and national economy."
Fact is; the idea of power mongers in the comfort of Abuja making ultimate decisions in what happens across the 36 states of the federation is becoming unrealistic and unacceptable.
Therefore elected leaders with sense of responsibility and sense of shame at the level of redundancy and under-development of basic and economic infrastructures that are tagged 'Federal Infrastructures' within the state government jurisdiction decided to disconnect from this lie of a 'federal structure' that do not and has never shown any genuine concern at the economic significance of the states it is frustrating with 'awkward' constitutional provisions.
With Lagos, Akwa Ibom and Calabar taking the lead in the revolution of internal development against the lie of Nigerian government acclaimed system of federalism it will be at the best interest of all lovers of true federalism and institutions that are responsible to the demands of times and the yearning of its citizens to join hands in the collapse of Abuja internal power brokers by every means necessary for a tomorrow that is too uncertain to continue to gamble with.
In order to achieve a level development that is commensurate with the uncertainties of nation building, we will have to collapse the Abuja power structure and whatsoever document they are answerable to. This is the clarion call for restructuring.
(iv) The Challenge to competitive development among state
This is what Lagos is doing by its massive investment in infrastructural development, from one administration to another. Lagos by its actions appears to no longer care a hoot by the 'noise of tampering with federal infrastructure' If it does, the Murtala Mohammed International Airport Road, a major gateway leading into the city of Lagos, that has constituted such an eye sore of shame irrespective of endless Federal Government claims and promises that will perhaps never, ever witness any development of whatsoever kind-this road was a classic example of the rot, lies and deceits of Abuja until the Ambode government decided to collapse the grips of Abuja on this 'shameful dilapidated' federal infrastructure within the precincts of Lagos. The same applies to so many major infrastructure projects undertaken by the government of Cross Rivers, Anambra and Lagos.
This is giving Lagos a facelift it deserves while it exposes Abuja as a center of deceit in governance and crass neglect of anything near development of any provincial state that depend on Abuja for its economic survival, the Aba-PortHarcourt road in Abia state is a classic example!
I do not need to begin to mention the numbers of abandoned and dilapidated facilities in Lagos Island alone where the presence of Federal Infrastructures is such an eye sore of neglect and recklessness from Abuja until the state government had to stand it ground and revolt the lies of whatsoever awkward document that is upholding the power brokers in Abuja in the name of a federal constitution.
All the federal roads and infrastructures across the 36 States of Nigeria do not appear to have any semblance of any good decision taking place in Abuja on their behalf-In clear terms, Abuja is like a cake sharing enclave-where crumbs are doled out to the 36 Children of the federation.
(v) Dangers of resource waste in the guise of federal infrastructure
Take for instance, there is no major federal road linking Lagos, Nigeria commercial capital to Abuja its seat of power and ultimate decision, since about 30 years plus Abuja was established-you will have to meander through remote communities and towns from about 5 different states averaging about 768 kilometers of tortuous driving, whereas if you split the project and its bills, even if we chose to inflate it, these 5 states may comfortably share the bills and get these roads in proper shape where it will boost business, self financing and connectivity but Abuja is bound to frustrate such gesture by any state in the guise of 'federal infrastructure.'
When we collapse Abuja, state government will sit up by every means necessary when there is no largesse coming from Abuja to share to lazy state governments -Abia state alone has major infrastructure deficit the people of the state can challenge the government-this is a fun loving state with not a single functional infrastructure that should create much needed employment.
When we collapse Abuja and its power structure of constitutional deceit, its city of economic filth and administrative laziness, it doesn't even produce common sense or so it seems with its packs of redundant civil service structure, even the budget from Abuja is used up every year to service salaries and administrative bureaucracies, the States will function, then let the State government deal with their own created excesses.
The blame on the presidency will seize - perhaps, many Nigerians do not even know that the presidency knows very little about the overall condition of their state, everything falls at the buck of the state governor who goes to Abuja every now and then to collect 'the largesse' from the shear master' and its duplicated administrative air heads, the ministers, the advisers and an endless list of hanger-ons, the local council chairmen and lot of duplicated air heads.
These are objects of the vicious cycle of Abuja's ultimate power structure-when you hold them responsible for any fault within the state, Abuja will have little or no significance.
Many of the Federal Ministers sitting at the comfort of Abuja do not even know anything about the situation of dilapidated infrastructures in 36 states of the federation under their ministry, therefore waiting on them to take constructive or favourable decisions on matters that bothers on development of any states is sheer foolishness, whether it is education, health, roads etc, because even if the ministers had good intention, there is another animal in human skin in the garb of permanent secretaries and ministerial director generals of government parastatals waiting to make sure the minister is frustrated by every means necessary should he poses a different opinion other than ruin, neglect and deceit.
I doubt if the minister of transport and roads ever taken a bus ride from Abuja to Lagos, remember it's a doubt, unless Mr. Babatunde Fashola did, at the onset he was very vocal and bitter at the state of rot and that ended in the newspapers.
Like I said earlier, there is no sign of a Federal connecting road from Abuja to Lagos, kind of a major highway, passengers has to undergo a hellish experience on the tortuous tracks that meanders through the rustic towns of about five different states to Abuja, then the hell on earth-from a place called Giri to Abuja, the ruin and torture of driving through this 1 kilometer of very deep muddy quagmire is unimaginable but real-For goodness sake the road from Abuja to Lagos is just about 768 kilometer.
Let's assume someone in the so called Abuja power brokers really want to make some fast money, quote the budget at $1 Million Dollars per kilometer of road that's about $800 Million USD to boost economic productivity and boost the power of self financing when you take a toll on this road.
There is another major money spinner-the road from Mushin in Lagos to Abeokuta or what they call Lagos-Abeokuta road, I learnt the contract to give this road a facelift has been awarded several times, there is a sign post, an evidence of a one-time construction about to begin or completed, it is still at the Airport Junction Bus Stop before the Nigeria Air force Base Bus Stop, Ikeja-these are money spinner channels that can return up to a million dollar a day-I have done the math and ply through these roads talking with the kingpins among the 'touts and NURTW workers at each bus stop (About 27 of them).
(iv) Disconnecting from Abuja
Simply put, Abuja signifies fraud, Abuja signifies laziness, economic and administrative laziness waiting for money from thriving economies in Lagos, Ogun, Rivers, Abia, even Kano, then some gullible individuals will lazily sit at table to decide how the moneys generated in Lagos, Rivers and Ogun State will be shared., In some instances they donít even know anything about the state they are sharing money to because if you do know, I do not expect Lagos-Abeokuta Express Road, a Money spinner channel and others like it should remain as they are in years, then if you do, I am sorry, the Minister and his appointee should be pitied, really pitied because of their miserable life of political affluence.
Right now, there is more development and growth happening in Lagos than Abuja since Lagos decided to call the bluff of Abuja and decided to focus on its internal development than waiting on the crumbs from Abuja.
The call for constitutional amendment or to restructure the Nigerian 'unitary' constitution to match with true federalism as it claims is a blank invitation on every voter, clergy, unemployed and employed, artists and artisans to join hands and collapse the Abuja abused power structure to reflect true federalism -this is the basic reason for the clarion call on all the South east and south West 17 governors to reconsider their negligence on internal development of their home states.
(v) State government should develop at their own pace
Let the states develop at their own capacities-tax money collected on Liquor sold in Lagos should not be given to Zamfara, Bauchi, Borno and other states that has banned the sale of Liquor and are collecting the tax money from Liquor sold in Lagos, these are not national resources that should be shared to other lazy units that refused to employ entrepreneurial wisdom and creativity in governance.
The average Nigerian political air heads will argue that some states are not viable if left alone and would have to be sustained by other states, Well in a statement by one of your own very Alhaji Atiku Abubakar, (former vice president of Nigeria) "There is no doubt that many of our states are not viable, and were not viable from the start once you take away the federation allocations from Abuja. We have to find creative ways to make them viable", even prominent Lagosian, Chief Iyabo Foresythe and many others had continued to drum support for 'reworking the country for greater efficiency.'
According to her, "Each state has its comparative advantages and must therefore struggle to raise its revenue profile in order to meet the needs of the people. Until the states are strengthened and made viable, the federal government cannot be strong.
Even former President Ibrahim Babangida (IBB) (rtd) insists the new structure should de-emphasise federal allocations as the source of sustenance of states.
This can only be possible if by 2019; candidates vying for electable positions in the Nigerian government are elected based on their preference for a completely restructured Abuja and its 'awkward' constitutional provision on true federalism.
Njoku SaintJerry A. is the founder of the SaintsAwards Projects and African Diaspora Institute, Beijing (ADI)s