culled from VANGUARD Friday, October 03, 2003
In his own contribution to the need to have a stable and prosperous
polity, Oba Oladele Olashore, the Ajagbusi-Ekun, Iloko Ijesa insists that
the present structure of 36 states and 774 local government council areas is
not healthy for a nation like Nigeria. Instead, he says the 109 senatorial
districts should form the basis for new states as a third tier of government
while the six regions should serve the second tier of government to the
The history of instability that characterised our past
political experiments are enough reasons for concerned citizens to continue
to give thoughts on how to avoid the past experience in our future political
dispensation. We have tried the parliamentary (British) system in the First
Republic and failed. We embraced the Presidential (American) system in the
Second Republic, which also ended up in failure. Of course, we blamed the
failures not on the system but on the operators. While that may partly be
true, I believe also that the political arrangements, being the imposition
of foreign system without due regard to our peculiar cultural values and the
level of political development of our people, in themselves induced the
I have personally given thoughts to how we can achieve a
stable political system without jeopardising the economic prosperity of our
people. My thought on a new political arrangement therefore seeks to
decentralise political power while ensuring equity, good governance and
economic prosperity in our nation.
The need to release Nigeria�s limited resources for
meaningful development has made it even more urgent to carry out a
restructuring of the federation. In my opinion, the present 36 states and
774 local governments structure for Nigeria is faulty, considering the fact
that most of the states or local governments are not viable
without federal government support. Even the federal
support by way of revenue allocation is spent on staff emoluments and
general overhead expenses with little or nothing left for the development of
infrastructure and other programmes that are for the good of the generality
of our people.
While it is to the credit of the military governments
that several states and local governments have been created from the
original three/four regional administrative structure, it should however be
noted that the more states that are created, the stronger the central
government becomes and the weaker the states become. Of course, it should be
appreciated that the military has a unitary command structure which is not
consistent with federalism that we opted for at independence to cater for
our ethnic diversity.
The elimination of ethnic domination and the granting of
the wish for self-determination, which gave rise to the creation of many
states, and local governments should not inadvertently be neutralised
through an over-powerful central government, towering like a giant over the
impoverished weaker states.
While the proliferation of states and local governments
ordinarily should have the desired effect of bringing development closer to
the people, the present 36 states and 774 local governments structure are
too weak to support our claim for federalism and financially
impoverished to undertake meaningful development. The
federal government has consequently become dictatorial and therefore an
attraction for power-seekers and political opportunists. This arrangement
should be dismantled in favour of a new regional structure that will
guarantee some autonomy for the different components that make up the
The focus should therefore be the shift of power from the
centre to the regions and states. The existing local governments should be
merged into new viable states based on the existing senatorial districts.
This will ensure that the states have some semblance of viability and form
the new centre of grass-root administration and power. It will also reduce
the agitation for states creation.
B.TRADITIONAL RULERS ROLE
It is my considered view also that in a restructured
federation, appropriate advisory roles should be reserved for traditional
institutions because of the:
� A long closeness of traditional institutions to the
grassroots and accepted relevance to the lives and well being of the people.
� Emergence of a crop of highly educated, well exposed
and informed persons as traditional rulers, whose knowledge and experiences
should be used for national development and cohesion.
However, to ensure that traditional rulers retain the
dignity and respect of their positions as royal fathers, only advisory
responsibilities should be assigned to them under the new arrangement to
insulate and protect them from party politics.
C. THE PROPOSED STRUCTURE OF GOVERNMENT
I propose that apart from the Federal Government, the
existing 36 states and 774 local governments should be dismantled and
� Six Regional Governments
� 109 State Governments by merging the present Local
Governments into new viable states on the basis of the existing senatorial
The new structure for the Governance of Nigeria will
therefore look like this:
6 Regional Governments
109 State Governments
(based on the current 109 Senatorial Districts)
It is not my intention to go into details on the powers,
functions and the structure of the various tiers of government being
proposed here. Suffice it to say that the acceptance in principle of this
proposal will considerably reduce the agitation for restructuring the
Nigerian nation while ensuring that equity, justice and good
government is enthroned in our country.
(1) FEDERAL GOVERNMENT
The federal government may continue to operate with its
existing structures but with shift of more powers and. responsibilities to
the regions and state governments. The powers and functions of the federal
government should be limited to Foreign Affairs, Internal Affairs, Defence
and National Security, International Trade and Finance and other items
contained in the exclusive and concurrent legislative lists.�National
defence and security
�International relations and diplomacy
�Internal affairs i.e. immigration, customs, prison
�International trade and finance etc.
�Co-ordination of monetary and fiscal policies etc.
Federal Council for Traditional Rulers should
be established to provide the following advisory roles to the Federal
�Giving general advice to the Federal Government
�Advising the Federal Government on proposed development
plans for Nigeria, as they see them from grassroot perspectives.
�Advising on religious matters where appropriate
�Promoting and advising on arts and culture
�Deliberating and expressing opinions to any Federal
Government organisation on any matter which it deems to be of importance to
the whole country or which may be referred to it by the Federal Government
or other Federal organisation
Assist in resolving boundary disputes. Handle such other
matters as the Federal Government may from time to time refer to the
Council, that could assist in the promotion of peace and understanding in
the country The Council should also be represented on the Council States.
The proposed six regional governments could be structured as
i) Each region will act as a pivot of development over
contiguous groups of state governments.
ii) Each region should be headed by a Premier who will be
assisted by Commissioners who will be in charge of various ministries.
iii) The Regional Governments should also undertake
direct supervision of the State governments by appointing Prefects,
supported by Inspectors e.g. Inspector for schools or for roads or for
to monitor and ensure the maintenance of standards in the
Iv) The �prefects� will have no executive power but will
function in supervisory capacity over the new states and be responsible to
the Regional Governments.
v) The regions should be limited to specific intra-state
development oriented duties like University Education, intra-state roads,
Regional Police and other matters contained in the concurrent legislative
vi) The emphasis should be on well funded ministries with
lean staffing to keep overhead expenditures low and to free resources for
pure development projects and services.
vii) Minimum of 35% of federation account should go to
viii) Not less than 80% of such collectible Federal funds
should be channeled to purely infrastructural development or regenerative
ix) Employment opportunities to the rural populace and
improvement of standard of living of citizens should be the focus of the new
x) Personal emoluments and other over-head expenditure
should be met from internally generated revenue by the regions.
All regions should be empowered to retain 75% of the VAT
emanating from it to enhance its revenue base.
Provision of social �infrastructure (road, electricity
distribution, water etc).
Act as a liaison agency between the Federal Government
and State governments.
Supervise all federal government projects in the regions.
Co-ordinate and harmonise the efforts and initiatives of the State
governments to enhance optimum utilisation of all resources.
Agriculture; including the revival of settlement farm
management, rural extension services, propagating new improved farming
methods to rural farmers.
(2b) A Regional Council for Traditional Rulers should
established to function in advisory capacity to the
Governments. The proposed Regional Council for
Rulers shall comprise of a Chairman/President and such
members as may be prescribed by law with the following
� Advise the Regional Governments on any matter relating
to customary law or cultural affairs, inter-communal relations and
� Advise the Regional Governments on maintenance of peace
and public order, and the Chairman/President shall be a member of the
Regional security council
� Advise the Regional Governments on matters relating to
and their consent obtained in the creation of new chieftaincy, and the
making of any law which may affect the security of tenure and the dignity of
Regional Government here refers to the Legislative and
Executive of the Regional Government.
The existing local governments should be merged into �new
states� based on the existing senatorial districts. Thus about 109 States
should be created. The State should operate a parliamentary form of
Government and the executive should be appointed from the members of the
legislative chamber. The State should be headed by a Governor who
shall be appointed from among elected members of the legislative chamber.
The Governor shall be assisted by Advisers who are
themselves members of the legislature to co-ordinate the various activities
of the State.
The State Governments shall focus essentially on
grassroot development and concentrate on education, health, road
construction and maintenance etc., States shall be free to create and
delegate any of its functions to local government within its jurisdiction,
but the powers of the Local Government shall not be legislative but limited
to executing functions delegated to them by the State Government.
The State Governments should be funded largely from
federal revenue allocation and internal generated revenue.
The State Government should be allocated about 25% of the
federal purse as the nearest administration responsible for grass-root
development.Education:Supervision of secondary, primary and
Health:(overlap with the regions in the provision of
rural health) and be more active especially in the monitoring of local
hygiene and sanitation.
(c) Manage markets, sporting and recreational facilities.
(d) Opening-up rural areas by constructing, feeder roads. (e) Registration
of births, deaths, etc.
(3b) State Traditional Council shall be established
with purely advisory role, as follows:
- Giving general advice to the State Government. Advising
the State Governments on proposed development plans.
Assisting the States in the collection of taxes as may be
Advising on religious matters where appropriate.
� Promoting and advising on arts and culture.
� Advising on Chieftaincy matters and traditional titles
and offices, but its consent should be obtained by Government
on the creation of new chieftaincy or upgrading of any chief or making laws
for the security and dignity of traditional rulers.
� Deliberating and expressing opinions to any
organisations on any matter which it deems to be of importance to the state
as a whole or which may be referred to it by the government or other
� Assisting in the mobilisatlon of human and material
resources towards self-reliance, community development and welfare within
The President/Chairman shall be a member of the State
Security Council.The proposed arrangement is certainly within the framework
of a federal system. I have recommended the shift of powers from federal to
the regional and State governments to bring real development to the
grass-root, and promote unity and good governance.
The greatest guarantee for the smooth operation of the
system is that the various governments would recognise and stick to the
limit of their powers and responsibilities as may be prescribed and
contained in this memorandum.