By Ayodele Fagbohun
A veteran journalist and renown columnist in the defunct Sunday Times said no Nigerian living or dead has contributed considerably to the constitutional development of the country more than Chief Obafemi Awolowo.
The search for a suitable constitution with particular reference to ideal system of government continues unabated. Most of our leaders at the helm of affairs are bereft of public spiritedness and sheer incapacity for public office. Hence, their inadequacy and persistent failure to proffer an acceptable system of government for the nation.
The onus is on every stakeholder regardless of his/her theatre of national life to tap from the fountain of knowledge explicitly expounded in the political writings and practical experiences acquired over the years by the late sage Awo and other powerful and illustrious men and women of affairs around the world.
This will no doubt guide and assist to fashion a durable and workable system of government with minimum cost for Nigeria as a multi-lingual, ethnic and religious society.
Against this scenario, it is indeed imperative that the presidential system should be reviewed and improved upon to avert atrophy, implosion and imminent collapse staring the nation tantalizingly in the face.
Presidential system as practiced in the country is laid with gross abuse, misuse, mis-utilisation and reckless misapplication of public funds and natural resources for undesirable and unedifying ends. It gulps the lion share of national earnings which has done and is still inflicting more harm than good to the economy and the material well being of the vast majority of the people.
The personal emoluments allocated to all political office holders across the country are too outrageous and scandalous. And to say the least mindboggling and revolting when compared to the peanuts dole out to civil servants serving and retired, and the abject poverty and squalor pervading the nation.
What is more, there is criminal neglect of public utilities and infrastructure like roads, health, education and access to portable water and electric supplies as social services to put smiles on the faces of people traumatized by hunger want and superstition. Yet the public political functionaries including their few protégés in the civil service sit comfortably in their closet to perpetuate financial malfeasance with hideous cruelty and impunity on the nation’s coffers.
Whereas in the First Republic when the nation was practicing parliamentary democracy, there was conscious effort to ensure effective and efficient management of the aforementioned social services. The infrastructure were working in full capacity and a maintenance in place to rejig the machinery in top form and served the overall interests of the country.
To halt the obnoxious and extravagant malady in the running of government activities.
This writer makes bold to subscribe to presidential mode of government with some innovations to discourage profligacy and undue ostentation, and cut financial waste in public administration which is the nemesis of our people. This will foster good and sane governance and promote harmonious relationship in the polity.
At the apex of government in the federation, the post of presidency should be dual viz the head of head and (2) head of government to be occupied by two persons. This will go a long in demystifying the almost power of life and death and alfa and omega clothed our presidency. Instead of the enormous powers seemingly enjoyed by the president is often overwhelmed with abuse leading to stagnation, ineptitude and paralysis of governmental activities.
The post of head of state should be advisory and purely ceremonial receiving letters of credence from foreign ambassadors visiting heads of states and august visitors, attending public functions and ceremonies amongst others vital roles to be allotted to the office. It should be occupied by an experienced politician or elder statesman imbued with aura and kudos as a father of the nation to unite and unify all ethnic groups and diverse interests in the country.
As the office of head of state, reserved for and to honour experienced elder statesman, the salary/or pension attached shall be so meager and paltry not to threaten public expenditure.
The post of heard of government should be styled prime minister. It should be occupied by aspiring or active politician sponsored by a country wide registered political party whose mandate is to solicit votes across the length and breadth of the country for a specific term in office. He has the whole country as his constituency. Virtually there is no time to indulge in any state festivals or junketing round the globe, if he and his political party desire to make impact on the welfare of the electorate. He is to concentrate fully on how to execute his programmes to benefit the people and go to the country as provided by the constitution.
The headship of every constituent state should remain as governor and be assisted by interim that functions and roles assigned for head of government in the presidency is quite co-terminus with its counterpart in every constituent state in the federation save for defence, foreign and monetary affairs exclusively the preserve of the federal government.
Experience should that it is dangerous, precarious and indeed superfluous for the nation to retain and run bi-camera legislature as presently constituted in Nigeria. If the nation must survive from her iniquitous and frivolous expenses a incurred on the National Assembly, it is high time to retain unicameral legislature and quickly opt for House of representative elected by adult suffrage.
It is criminal indulgence, brigandage, a ct of prodigality, lawlessness and licence for the leadership in our National Assembly to hold the economy prostrate in the name of separation of power conferring nebulous power on them. Is it freedom to be an army of occupation and to preside over the liquidation of our national economy and patrimony? The answer is emphatic No.
States remain the federating units where powers are derived by the local government council areas, it stands to reason that our constituents states should be properly constituted and arranged to perform the statutory functions assigned to them.
To tell the home truth and face stark reality, some states have to coalesce and revert to their original base. They were created by military fiat devoid of any principle or standing rule. We must eschew all this fraud and stratagems and more speedily on the path of probity and rectitude .
To be reckoned with, the states should be strong and viable enough and be led by articulate and public spirited supermen and women of affairs like what obtains in Lagos and Kano. Whatever authority at the federal level will have no qualm to accede to the constitution provisions of power devolution to the constituent states.
No individual or group is more powerful than the people put together, or at best placed in a vantage position which is ephemeral to torpedo collective interests of Nigerians. We must truly mobilise and involve all our astute political, a rights activists and stakeholders imbued with ingenuity to redress the perceived age long lopsidedness in the polity. No time is ripe for it than now!
Fagbohun writes this piece from Akure