As the argument for and against the devolution of powers from the centre in the country rages, it has become crucial that it be brought to the front burner. Arguably, it remains the superstructure on which all the other aspects of our sovereignty must rest for us to make any headway in the committee of world nations in the foreseeable future. Like has often been taken for granted by the pugilists involved in the fray, one outstanding indicator must of need persist for the efforts not ending up bearing forbidden fruit. Namely: the paramount need for either side in the debate to apply due perseverance in the engagement.
Interestingly, it appears that what has prevailed is a situation where one side has tended to see their opposite number as a little less patriotic, if at all. Sadly, this dichotomy has often been solely decided by whether one was in or out of power. Yes, the moguls in power have tended to see all who have dared to contribute to this – and indeed just any other national debate – as doing so to denigrate the government of the day. A view most despicable as they have only just been elevated to their present statuses by our votes ostensibly cast to necessitate a change that now appears to have only happened for them and their ilk.
However, it is certain that our independence constitution, among other variables, was arrived when oil had not joined the fray of our income earners. Back then, our economic strength was basically based on agricultural produce. Thus, it was given that each in the tripod of regions that we were then blessed with had its own product to vaunt.
This saw to it that power was adequately devolved to the self-sustaining regions. The North of course had groundnut, the West cocoa and the East palm produce; each in the necessary quantities as to meet their credit needs and still contribute to the commonwealth.
And so did it remain till oil reared its, well, ugly head; up until, in fact, when the military struck through the five Majors! The military dictatorship that had followed their unsuccessful ‘revolution’ had then put a centrist government in place. However, as is within easy recall, it was not until the repeat strike by the officers from elsewhere that a permutation of factors in tumbling succession led to the creation of twelve states from the then four regions. According to the soldier at the helm then – General Yakubu Gowon – it was done to refuse any tribe the majority to control any region, unlike our colonial masters had done in their indirect-rule formulations.
As it turned out, the all-powerful centre under the military prevailed unperturbed from then, interregnum after interregnum, creating more and more states. So much that when they contrived to hand power back to the civilians in the short-lived Second Republic of 1979, they chose the American presidential, instead of the British parliamentary system, that had supervened. The system has pervaded ever since through a permutation of civilian regimes that – it must be admitted – have been mostly run by retired soldiers and their cohorts.
Thus, the need for the devolution of powers is most necessary now given that the oil-boom days that made the all-powerful centre feasible are at an end. At least it is now obvious that the time crude oil will control the airwaves of world economics is getting numbered by the day. Of course there is the arithmetic rise in capacities of the initially maligned alternative energy sources like solar, bio fuels and wind. In fact, according to very credible predictions, they are already bent on taking over before the middle of the century.
It is noteworthy, therefore, that all this has come to play at a time when the present arrangement has mostly seen mostly unviable states running cap in hand to the centre for bail outs. It had been good and fine when the almighty centre had high-priced excess crude funds to dispense. Now that days like that are coming to an end, it can only be seen that the only way out remains a return to strong units that can take care of themselves through the control of their resources. This will automatically leave the centre controlling only the functions necessary for the running of the unit like defence, diplomacy and their like.
All in all, though this still sounds like a prognosis to the ear, the time is well-nigh to start making amends before it becomes too late. Here at The AUTHORITY, we are well minded to join the call that hay is made as the sun yet shines. This will also help us avoid all the ancillary problems that come with the present lopsided arrangement put in place by fiat, following successful coups d’état when they were yet in vogue.