The nationwide corruption which stands as impediment to infrastructural development across the country is being promoted by the unitary system of government that is covertly practiced under the guise of federalism. With the unitary system of government in place, all revenues generated at the ward, council and state levels are transferred to the federal government which is a pyramidal revenue system. This pyramidal revenue system bestow to the federal government a chunk of the revenues generated at 52.68 percent while the states and councils get 26.72 and 20.60 percent respectively. With this retarding sharing formula, all the 36 states of the country receive a mere 26.72% of the federal allocation and the entire 774 local governments receive a beggarly 20.60% of revenues generated.
Thus, the central government with a minimal workforce, consisting the Presidency, ministers, members of the National Assembly, heads of departments and agencies, a population less than 3,000 persons control 52.68% of the derivable revenues! With this sharing mechanism favourable to the central government, those in the leadership cadre here, have unhindered access to gigantic sums of money hence there is massive corruption and wastefulness. It is a fact that when there is too much funds in the hands of a few people, thievery and extravagance remain prevalent.
The unitary system of government also confers enormous powers on the president who makes all the appointments across the country. This is why there are no strong institutions but one strong individual. The President as a strong individual, dictates to the institutions what to do or not to do. This evident in the ongoing anti-corruption war where the homes of some judges were invaded over allegation of corruption and were later compelled to stepdown from their jobs. Conversely, some appointees of the president were also accused of corruption yet such appointees are still holding their jobs! Additionally, when an Abuja High Court and Court of the Economic Community of West Africa States (ECOWAS) had granted former National Security Adviser, Col. Sambo Dasuki (rtd) bail, yet Buhari refused to release him. Same is applicable to Nnamdi Kanu! Flagrant disobedience to courts’ decisions and pronouncements are tantamount to corruption.
Under the Land Use Act, presidents, governors and council chairmen seize massive lands from the citizens under the promise to use them for the betterment of the people but later convert such lands to personal property. Evidences abound across the country where millions of acres of lands were forcefully taken from the citizens to build tertiary institutions or for farming purposes. But when such tertiary institutions were relocated, the original owners were never allowed access to the lands as their new landlords-presidents, governors, chairmen and other senior government officials either sell them at exorbitant prices or share such lands among family members and friends. At the end of the day, it is the aboriginals that lose. The hundreds of millions of Lands taken from the citizens under Operation Feed the Nation and Green Revolution have been converted to private property!
Likewise, under the unitary system of government, all lands belong to the state governments but oddly, all the natural resources: crude oil and solid minerals deposited underneath the lands belong to the almighty central government! This is an oppressive and suppressive law as there is no other country in the entire universe that practices this type of abnormal law! Since the crude oil and solid minerals belong to the federal government, it is therefore the sole responsibility of the federal government to explore and exploit these natural resources at the detriment of the states and people whose lands harbour them. Under this retrogressive system, the president has unilateral powers to allocate oil blocks to his friends and kith and kin. This is why many individuals own oil blocks in this country instead of oil companies. Contrarily, in other climes only oil companies own oil blocks and pay huge taxes to the government and royalties to the aboriginals who own the lands and waters.
Unitary system of government is the greatest promoter of corruption, arbitrariness and oppression. Without true federalism, corruption will remain prevalent and Nigeria will also remain undeveloped. Therefore, there is urgent need to abrogate it and embrace true federalism if Nigeria must progress.
•Victor Anya, a public affairs analyst, writes from Lagos.