Dedicated to Nigeria's History, Socio-Economic and Political issues
Parliamentary/Presidential System, Regionalism and Resource Control in Nigeria
Mobolaji E. Aluko, PhD
Burtonsville, MD, USA
March 29, 2005
Stipulation of and Separation of Powers
1. It is useful to consider:
- the Executive
- the Legislature
- the Judiciary
as the First, Second and Third Estates of the Realm respectively
2. It is also useful to consider:
- the Organized Private Sector (Businesses)
- the Organized Civil Society (including the Press)
- the Civilian Masses
as the Fourth, Fifth, and Sixth Estates of the Realm respectively.
3. No superiority hierarchy is implied in the above ordering, except to state that since all other realms start from and end up as Civilian Masses, that Sixth Estate is Sovereign.
4. The perfect polity is one in which all of the Estates operate in the best way possible and relate to each other in as cordial a manner as possible.
5. A Monarchy has at least the first two realms invested in the monarch. In an absolute monarchy, akin to a dictatorship, all three estates are invested in the tyrant.
6. In a modern democracy, at the very minimum, the Judiciary is always different from both the Executive and the Legislature, and should be independent.
7. In a representative electoral democracy, at the very minimum, the legislature is chosen by free, fair and periodic elections by the Civilian Masses.
8. Various democracies differ by how or whether the Executive and the Judiciary are chosen – either by election or by nomination.
Parliamentarism and Presidentialism
9. In a traditional Parliamentary System, the Executive and the Legislature are fused, with an executive Prime Minister chosen from within the Legislature – usually the head of the ruling political party or that heads the ruling coalition.
10. Traditional parliamentary systems differ by whether all or some of the cabinet members are chosen from that legislature or from outside it, and by whether there is another superintending (not necessarily elected) body to which its decisions are passed (eg the House of Lords in the United Kingdom) or the Senate in the United States. More broadly, parliamentary systems differ by the “camerality” of its numbers.
11. In a traditional Presidential system, the Executive is elected separately from the legislature, with a single person – the President – as the embodiment of the Executive branch. The cabinet of that president is chosen from outside of the Legislature.
12. There are mixed modes of Parliamentary/Presidential systems: the President as Head of State and the Prime Minister as Head of Government, with both persons elected separately, and with the President as the face of state to the external world and as internal political mediator, and capable of dismissing the government if and when necessary, usually at the request of the Prime Minister.
My Propositions for Nigeria
13. With the above as prelude, my proposition for Nigeria is a mixed mode Parliamentary/Presidential system at the federal level as follows:
(i) A unicameral Parliamentary system in which a Prime Minister is chosen from among the legislators, with each legislator (including the Prime Minister) being elected from their local constituencies.
(ii) The term of Parliament members will be four years, but with half of the members contesting every other off-two-years for seat renewal. Thus, all seats cannot be theoretically replaced all at once.
(iii) The Presidency shall be with a single term of 6 years, with only current members of the Parliament with a minimum of two years on seat being free to contest. [This is a variant of the Option A4 of 1993.]
(iv) The major function of the President shall be to represent the country in external affairs and to mediate in the Parliament and within the country. Consequently, the President shall resign from all partisan political party activities.
(v) At the beginning of this President/PM cycle (when no Parliament member would have fulfilled the two-year requirement), the Chief Justice shall double as the President of the country.
(vi) The Federal House shall be unicameral, but with certain specified votes being taken for the purpose of decision-making:
(a) by majority (single-member) vote; or
(b) by “senatorial” (block-majority) vote; that is a senate district is counted as for or against an issue depending on whether a majority of the representatives of that district vote for or against the issue.
Thus a separate Senate shall not be necessary.
(vii) Except for the Prime Minister and his cabinet, membership of House shall not be full time. Rather House shall meet CONTINUOUSLY for the last two months of each year to consider the Annual Budget, and twice continuously for one month each between January and April, and between May and August. The Speaker of the House shall reserve the right to call the House back to session for emergency situations.
14. The above apply for the Assembly/Gubernatorial system in the state, where there shall be a Premier and a Governor-General.
15. In the local government, all elections for councillors shall be on a non-party basis. Term shall be for two years.
Regionalism, States and Local Government
16. Nigeria currently has one Federal Government, 36 state governments + the Federal Capital Territory, and 774 Local Governments.
17. The necessity to satisfy federal character (over 36 states) and relate to so many lower tiers of government puts an administrative burden on the federal government. Thus there is need to isolate the local governments from the federal government and reduce the state exposure to the federal government.
18. The local governments should be strictly affairs of the state governments, and their relationship to the federal level should be the exception rather than the rule.
19. It is unlikely that many states eg Ekiti State, would be prepared to lose their current hard-fought-for identities. Thus nothing should be done to cancel states or require a formal intra-regional formal structure i.e. a zonal or regional structure with a new regional capital and administrative structure might be resisted. Nevertheless, intra-regional cooperation for efficiency purpose shall be encouraged by law and by fiscal incentives.
20. A minimum of six and a maximum of eight regions + the Federal Capital Territory shall be created, each subdivided into three subregions as follows:
(i) South-West Region: SWA: Lagos, Ogun; SWB: Oyo, Osun, SWC: Ekiti, Ondo
(ii) South-South Region: [SWA: Edo, Delta;] SWB: Bayelsa, Rivers; SWC: Akwa Ibom, CrossRiver
(iii) South-East: SWA: Enugu; SWB: Anambra, Imo; SWC: Abia, Ebonyi
(iv) Middle-Belt: [MBA: Niger; MBB: Kogi, Kwara;] MBC: Benue, Plateau; Nasarawa
(v) North-West: NWA: Kebbi, Sokoto, Zamfara; NWB: Kano, Katsina; Jigawa NWC: Kaduna,
(vi) North-East: NEA: Gombe, Bauchi; NEB: Yobe, Borno NEC: Adamawa, Taraba
(vii) FCT - Federal Capital Territory
The bracketed groups of states above may be constituted into two new regions.
In the following discussions, we will assume six regions + FCT.
21. For federal character eg in ministerial appointments, reference shall be made only to REGIONS, with due concern for spread within the A, B, C groups of each region – a total of 18 sub-regions. Thus, there could be a maximum of 19 federal ministers, etc., and federal character could on occasion be satisfied by equal distribution among 7 regions or even 13 sub-regions (always include FCT).
22. Fiscal allocations should also be encouraged based on an equality of regions rather than of states, with encouragement of intra-regional re-distribution efforts.
23. The right of land ownership, land use and ownership of content there-under; of ownership of resources on and under contiguous bodies of water up to the territorial waters edge; incorporation and taxation of the Organized Private Sector; shall revert to the State and Local Governments only, with negotiated taxes paid to the Federal Government. Thus the Land Use Act, exclusive list incorporation of companies, and constitutional conferment of mineral rights to the Federal Government should be removed from the books.
Other Constitutional Provisions
24. To ensure the independence of the Judiciary, it shall have a First Line Charge on the Consolidated Revenue of the Federation. The Office of the President shall also have a first-line charge.
25. Except for instances outlined above, nothing in the Constitution shall require the present or past members of the Executive, the Legislature and the Judiciary to be members of any common advisory council – for example a Council of State, or for example a Judicial Council that may comprise the Chief Justice and the Attorney-General (a cabinet member). This violates both the Separation of Powers and the spirit of federalism.
26. The Exclusive List of the Federal Government shall be minimum, the Concurrent List shall be manageable, but all other unspecifieds (residual) shall revert to the State level.
27. There shall be a Justiciable Bill of Rights for the rights and responsibilities of the Civilian Masses and Organized Civil Society: concise, comprehensible and translated into several languages of Nigeria.
Many of the above points are subject to negotiation, and have been made with cost and efficiency in mind, and bearing in mind also the experience of legislative and executive history of Nigeria.
Comments are welcome.
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