Why Nigeria must adopt a people-centric constitution

Nigeria, a nation teeming with potential, finds itself at a critical juncture. The persistent calls for restructuring grow louder by the day, yet the reluctance to take bold action threatens to push the country further into peril.

Delaying restructuring is not just a missed opportunity, but a dangerous gamble with Nigeria’s future.

President Bola Tinubu must initiate the necessary process to achieve true federalism through political restructuring. The current centralised structure stifles regional economic development, with states relying heavily on federal allocations, largely funded by oil revenues.

This dependence on a single resource exposes Nigeria to financial volatility, as seen during global oil price fluctuations.

Historically, Nigeria adopted federalism at independence in 1960, but the military’s unitary system decree in 1966 has failed woefully. The 1999 Constitution illogically made local governments, not federating units in other federal systems, the third tier of government.

We urge President Tinubu to take decisive action, embracing true federalism to unlock Nigeria’s full potential. The future of Africa’s largest economy depends on it.

The call for restructuring resurged during a Lagos colloquium marking the 31st anniversary of the June 12, 1993, elections.

Emeka Anyaoku, a former top Commonwealth diplomat, proposed two paths for restructuring: a new constitution by the people or implementation of the 2014 confab report.

Anyaoku emphasised the success of pluralistic nations that adopt people-centric constitutions, contrasting them with those that fail. Governor Babajide Sanwo-Olu of Lagos endorsed restructuring, criticising the dominant role of the Federal Government over the federating units.

Nigeria’s political landscape is marred by ethnic and regional tensions. Centralised power often breeds feelings of marginalisation and disenfranchisement among diverse groups, leading to recurring conflicts. Delaying restructuring risks worsening these tensions.

Each postponement signals to marginalised groups that their grievances are ignored, potentially fueling more unrest and instability.

Nigeria faces profound political challenges, underscored by its increasingly complex security landscape.

The country’s security issues are diverse and regionally distinct, requiring nuanced approaches that a centralised system struggles to deliver effectively.

From the Boko Haram insurgency in the North-East to clashes between herders and farmers and unrest in the Niger Delta, each region grapples with unique security threats demanding tailored responses. A uniform approach has proven inadequate.

Centralised governance has exacerbated bureaucratic inefficiencies and diminished accountability.

Nigeria’s cultural and ethnic diversity, intended as a source of strength, often fosters division due to insufficient autonomy for federating units to preserve their identities. This gap fuels feelings of alienation.

Delaying restructuring denies states the ability to innovate and improve essential services, hindering national development. Continued inaction risks deepening existing challenges, fostering disillusionment among citizens and complicating future reform efforts.

Economic stagnation, insecurity, governance inefficiencies, social fragmentation, and inadequate public services are direct consequences of Nigeria’s faltering political will. Each day of delay brings the nation closer to crisis.

The urgency for decisive action is clear. Restructuring is not merely an option but a necessity to secure Nigeria’s future and unleash its full potential. The risks of further delay are too severe to overlook.

Nigeria must act promptly to prevent irreversible consequences. Nigeria stands at a critical juncture, grappling with profound challenges that demand immediate attention. The call for restructuring reverberates across the nation, underscored by its urgent necessity rather than a mere option. The current state of affairs imperils Nigeria’s future, and the risks of prolonged inaction are too grave to disregard.

Restructuring is not just about reform; it is a fundamental requirement to unlock Nigeria’s vast potential and ensure sustainable development.

The centralisation of power has stifled regional growth and autonomy, leaving states overly reliant on unstable oil revenues and hindering diversified economic progress. This dependency exposes Nigeria to financial volatility and limits opportunities for inclusive prosperity.

Ethnic and regional tensions exacerbate political instability, underscoring the failure of the unitary system imposed by military rule in 1966.

The resulting sense of marginalisation fuels recurring conflicts and inhibits national cohesion.

Delaying restructuring perpetuates this cycle of discontent, undermining efforts to address deep-rooted grievances and fostering disillusionment among diverse communities.

Moreover, Nigeria’s security landscape presents a complex challenge that a centralised approach fails to adequately address.

From Boko Haram in the North-East to communal clashes over land use in the Middle Belt and militancy in the Niger Delta, each region requires tailored security measures and local governance solutions. Ignoring these demands for autonomy further compounds security risks and undermines national unity.

In governance, the current system breeds inefficiency and undermines accountability. Bureaucratic hurdles and a lack of responsiveness to local needs hinder effective service delivery and perpetuate systemic corruption.

This governance deficit not only erodes public trust but also obstructs efforts to improve education, healthcare, and infrastructure—essential components for human capital development and economic growth.

Nigeria’s rich cultural diversity should be a source of strength, yet under the current framework, it often becomes a source of division.

Federating units lack the autonomy to preserve and promote their unique cultural heritage, fostering a sense of alienation and impeding social cohesion. By delaying restructuring, Nigeria denies itself the opportunity to harness this diversity as a catalyst for national progress.

The consequences of inertia are starkly evident: economic stagnation, heightened insecurity, social fragmentation, and inadequate public services. Each day of delay deepens these challenges, placing Nigeria at the brink of further crisis. The time for decisive action is now—before the window for meaningful reform closes irreversibly.

Embracing restructuring is not just a strategic choice but an urgent necessity to safeguard Nigeria’s future. It requires bold leadership and concerted efforts to dismantle barriers to progress, empower local communities, and foster inclusive governance.

The path ahead demands courage and vision to navigate the complexities of reform and unlock Nigeria’s full potential as a prosperous, stable, and united nation.

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