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Opinion

The Oracle: Why Nigeria Needs Restructuring (Pt. 5)

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By Mike Ozekhome

INTRODUCTION

THE IMPERATIVE OF STRUCTURAL REFORM: HOW DO WE REFORM STRUCTURALLY?

A BRAND NEW OR AN AMENDED CONSTITUTION? (continues)

The preamble to the 1999 Constitution sheds light on how the entire Constitution should be construed. The Constitution is for the promotion of good governance and welfare of all persons in Nigeria, on the principles of freedom, equality and justice, and for the purpose of consolidating the unity of Nigerians. I agree with the views of the mythic that there was never a time Nigerians gathered to fashion the 1999 Constitution. The 1999 Constitution was promulgated by the Military and since it came into force, the people through their democratically elected lawmakers have not abolished or suspended the operation of the Constitution. What the people have done are piecemeal amendments. By usage, however, the people have adopted the ideas in the 1999 Constitution. Thus, it is safe to submit that the expression “we the people” is a reality.

In analysing this phrase ‘’we the people’’ it will be necessary to have an amplified and microscopic view of the component words of the phrase. In doing justice to them it will be proper to begin from the first word in the phrase viz: WE: The word “WE” is a pronoun that is used to denote one self and another or others as the case may be. This therefore implies that for the word “WE” is referring to not just a person but a group of persons who are most likely in agreement and having the same motive. Anything other than this will amount to the misapplication of the pronoun “WE”. This analysis also implies that wherever the pronoun “WE” is used, it connotes that the word emanated from the collective ideology of a group of people. Conversely, the application of the word “we” in the preamble of the Nigerian constitution connotes that the constitution is a document that emanated from the Nigerian people and that even though every Nigerian did not directly contribute to the making of the constitution, a vast percentage of the Nigerian populace, through their representatives, was involved. Even though this position has so much criticisms, this is the general view of the word “WE”.

THE PEOPLE: Whenever the phrase THE PEOPLE comes to mind, another thought that follows is that, a group of persons are involved.  The phrase which connotes that a group of people are involved, is also used to refer to a given set of persons who share the same ideology. The implication of this phrase in the preamble of the 1999 constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria and other democratic states of the world is that, the Constitution is for the people, (i.e) the Constitution, having a root in the people, is formatted by the people to be a standard of conduct for the people. This is what is meant by the phrase THE PEOPLE. This in another hand will also imply that, only the particular people that were referred to, are the people who have business to do with the subject in question.The tendency to concentrate power in the chief executive, while tenable in advanced countries with all the institutionalized means of checking dictatorship makes the system vulnerable in an African setting. Thus, any system that reinforces concentration of power in one person will provide fertile ground for breeding dictatorship. One of “the perils” of presidentialism is political gridlock resulting from competing claims for legitimacy by the President and the Legislature which inevitably slows down governance process. This serves as another factor that supports a re-consideration of presidential system in Nigeria.

No doubt, the separation of power provided in the Constitution is to curb the tendency of tyranny and to reduce the work load of one-arm of government. The expectations of the constitution makers are for cooperation between the three arms of government. However, the expectation turns to be a mirage when the relationship between the executive and the legislature is frosty. According to Maman & Dahiru, this can make or mar democracy. The relationship between the two arms of government has impacts on democracy as a system of governance. It can facilitate and deepen democracy from which the nation can benefit immensely. A frosty relationship on the other hand, can lead to slow and even at times bad governance. The struggle between the 8th National Assembly and the executive arm almost degenerated to superiority contest. With regards to cordial relationship between legislature and the executive, the parliamentary system has this enduring attribute. This is because of the fusion of both. As a result, it will not be difficult for the legislators to explain clearly government policies because the interface between the executive and the legislature will make them to be on the same page. Thus, the switch to the parliamentary system will not only trim the government but also cure the ills of dissipation of energy by the executive and the legislature on mundane issues. In spite of the alluring attributes of the parliamentary system, one cannot dismiss is fundamental weaknesses. One of such defects is that the government is not as strong as expected. The government can be brought down within days through a vote of no confidence in the parliament which is regarded as the crown jewel of parliamentary democracy. It is believed that such flexibility will not augur well in a polity with no strong sense of nationhood like Nigeria.

STRUCTURAL REFORM THROUGH A NEW CONSTITUTION

Complaints about the federal structure go as far back to the pre-independence period, when minority groups felt dominated by majority groups.

The Willink’s Minority Commission of 1957, which looked into the matter, recommended the inclusion of a bill of rights in the Independence Constitution, to guarantee basic fundamental rights; rather than creating states for minority groups. But by 1963 the carving up of the country had begun, and eventually by 1 October 1996 there were 36 states. The creation of states grants access to public offices and infrastructure for local elites. It also creates new majority and minority groups in the new states. Unviable states have proliferated, dependent on the common pool revenues and unable to fund their bureaucracies. Scholars have attentively stated that the fiscal arrangement, especially the formula for sharing the common pool account, is not an incentive for states to produce revenue. States angle to get more revenue share from the central pool rather than generate revenue within their territories.

State governors make the complain that the share of revenue that goes to the national government is too large, making competition for offices at the center too intense. They call for revision to grant more revenue to the states. Some of the governors also call for more responsibilities, to get access to ways of generating revenue. Some governors believe that decentralization, when extended to policing, would also improve security. In not too far back, everything in the political space of Nigeria is fraught with some damning or potentially disturbing undertones which keep the citizenry in perpetual frenzy. Our case is worsened by the fervency and maddening frequency of messages of doom, conflagration, pestilence, and all sorts of conspiracy theories and morbid predictions churned out on the ubiquitous social media networks. If it were possible to do a holistic national diagnostic on all the estimated 215 million Nigerians within a space of 48 hours that it took the latest special presidential convention of the ruling political party, the barometer would have crashed into nether regions, making our laboratory technicians collapse in bewilderment.

Such is the weight of our fears and follies that we continually anticipate the catastrophic, even when we look up to the Supreme Being for the miracle of surviving another year. Yet, our leaders continue to act and speak as if they are in control of the very air we breathe, and thus have the capacity to moderate the unknown or mitigate the frightening.

THE WAY FORWARD FOR AN ENDURING POLITICAL STRUCTURE

It is worthy of note that since the 1999 Constitution came into force, attempts have been made by previous administrations to remedy the situation. Two national (Constitutional) conferences have at different times been held unsuccessfully. The first was by the Obasanjo administration in 2005 tagged the National Political Reform Conference; and the second was by the Jonathan administration in 2014, simply known as the 2014 National Conference. I was a participant at both Conferences, including the Vision 2009 Conference. Attempts have also been made (and continue to be made) to amend the Constitution. Some of the amendments were successful and some unsuccessful. In 2017 alone, 32 new amendments to the Constitution were proposed by the Senate. Only 5 succeeded at the end of the day. Till date, there are still various Bills pending before the National Assembly for amendment to different provisions of the Constitution.

TWO OPTIONS ARE AVAILABLE

As a way forward, two options are available to us to remedy the defects of the 1999 Constitution. The first option is to continue to amend the Constitution relying on the amendment clause in the 1999 Constitution. This option has its own challenges because the military after handing down the Constitution made it so rigid to amend, to the extent that getting an amendment is almost as difficult as getting a new Constitution. Despite its obvious short comings, this option is ever more appealing to those at the corridors of power because it gives them room to manipulate and promote their selfish interests.  No party in power wants to hear about the idea of a new Constitution because they are afraid of losing their existing positions. For instance, the number one item on the APC manifesto was the convocation of a Sovereign National Conference to fashion a new Constitution for Nigeria; but since they came to power, they have resisted every discussion on that.

The second option is to jettison the Constitution completely in favour of a new one. I am more in agreement with this option. In his book ‘Forms of Constitution Making and Theories of Democracy’, Andrew Arato identified five different mechanisms of making a new Constitution in modern times: they are (1) through the Constitutional convention, (2) the sovereign constituent assembly, (3) the normal legislature, (4) the executive, and (5) an evolutionary process.

On his own part, Schmitt, C, in his book ‘Constitutional Theory, insists that for the Constitutional-making process to be considered to be fully democratic, it must pass through five stages. According to him, all previously constituted authorities must first be dissolved, followed by a popularly elected or acclaimed assembly with a sovereign power. The assembly then begins to function as the government on a provisional basis. Next, a new Constitution is drafted and offered to the people to be ratified in a national, popular referendum. As soon as the draft Constitution is finally ratified, the constituent assembly will be dissolved and a new government will be duly formed under the new Constitution. (To be concluded next week).

THOUGHT FOR THE WEEK

“Let’s form proactive synergy restructuring teams.” (Scott Adams).

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Opinion

Voice of Emancipation: Hiding in Plain Sight

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By Kayode Emola

What is happening to the Yoruba Nation Struggle? Is sovereignty still an attainable possibility? These questions and many more are on the lips of enthusiastic Yoruba begging for answers whilst awaiting the birth of their new nation. Rightly so, given that many of us in the trenches promised that there would be no 2023 election in Nigeria, as we would have already left the country. Alas, it is less than a month before the 2023 general election is scheduled; only a miracle will be able to thwart the election now.

How did we get it wrong? Why haven’t we got out of Nigeria by now? I don’t think this is the appropriate time to start apportioning blame. However, I do believe that if we don’t learn from the mistakes of the past, then we are bound to repeat them again and again. We must be mindful that a house divided against itself cannot stand. Therefore, those hell-bent on causing schisms amongst the advocates of independence are not only impairing their work, they risk jeopardising the entire struggle if care is not taken.

The solution to the Yoruba question is hiding in plain sight, yet it is so simple that only a few can decipher it or see how to implement it. Rather than focusing on the practical steps to get us out of Nigeria, some people are now being cajoled by meaningless slogans. Consider the claims of the Ominira Yoruba 2022 team, that if 5 million people signed a petition in support of independence, Yoruba would be able to exit Nigeria and nothing could stop it. The petition surpassed its five million target and yet nothing happened.

So Ominira Yoruba 2022 announced that they would make a declaration of independence and this would be the catalyst that would bring us our own nation. Yet no plan was put in place on how this was to be implemented aside from flippant announcements on Facebook and other social media outlets. When this failed to materialise Yoruba Nation, they then came out with Reclamation, and following its fruitlessness, then Occupation. The truth is that, no matter how catchy a slogan we produce, if we don’t have a concrete plan on how to get Yoruba out of Nigeria, we will continue on this trajectory of big grammar inside empty cannon.

The first step in achieving anything in life is to ask if anybody in the world has done the same thing already. If so, you can learn from them and apply their methods to your situation. If there are none, then by all means go ahead and invent the wheel, do some trial and error and work out a strategy to get you to the finish line. However, in this situation, there are many countries whose precedents we can learn from, including Norway/Sweden, South Sudan/Sudan, Czechoslovakia and finally, former Yugoslavia etc.

Whilst some of these countries exited peacefully, some had extremely violent departures. However, the key element was that they were determined to exercise their right to self-determination. The unifying feature that they all shared was that they all declared their independence from the larger, and dared to face the consequences. For some countries like South Sudan leaving Sudan it led to a long and bitter civil war; in contrast, when Norway left Sweden, the latter accepted the declaration of the former and they parted peacefully.

If the only option that allows for every indigenous nationality to exit Nigeria is through the declaration of independence, then the simplest and most logical route would have been to bring everyone together in consultation. In this scenario, any declaration of independence by one indigenous nation in Nigeria could be followed immediately by simultaneous declaration from other regions. This would dissuade the Nigerian government from attempting to take a stand against these nations or starting a war that they could not possibly sustain.

In light of this, what should we now do? We need to organise ourselves into formations, working towards the greater good. Those in the diplomatic circles need to intensify their diplomatic outreach to those countries around the world that will be sympathetic to indigenes’ independence. Whilst those in humanitarian circles need to embark on massive campaigns with humanitarian agencies, explaining the reasons why Nigeria must be dissolved

If we all come together with this resolve, then Nigeria would have no option but to let us go because we would have the support of our people and the international communities. Undoubtedly, we will not achieve unanimous acceptance from every country, or even across own our people; but those who do believe in the cause must press on until victory is achieved.

Therefore, my advice to those still being deceived by slogans and jamboree is this: open your eyes and see that, unless we do the work, no amount of camouflage or deceit can bring us out. We need to be ready to be open-minded, to put in the effort required to achieve success. Yoruba nation *will* come, but not by lies of ¬_”a tí gbá”_ (“we have collected it”) or “God has done it”.

Even if God has said Yes, if we fail to put in the necessary work, we will remain on this mountain for a very long time. The year of 2023 still has a long way to go: we can work towards something meaningful, or we can continue to deceive ourselves that Yoruba nation will be served to us on a platter of gold with no effort on our own part. A word is enough for the wise.

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Adding Value

Adding Value: The Power of Imagination

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Dear Destiny Friends,

Success and failure start from the mind. The human mind is like a rubber, the more you stretch it, the more it expands. The human mind is the brain, if you don’t use it, it won’t work. We all have the power to change the course of our life without allowing us to be victims. This is because the greatest power God gave us at creation is freedom and choice. Just like you have the power to think positive thoughts, you also have the power to think negative thoughts. It should be noted that whatever you focus on expands.

It’s quite unfortunate that many of us don’t know how we can use our mind to attract opportunities, if properly stretched. For the human mind to work at optimal capacity, it must be capable of using the power of imagination. According to Napoleon Hill, “whatsoever the mind can conceive, believe, it can achieve it. The right question we should ask ourselves is if we are using the power of our imagination.

Imagination takes several forms. The human mind can be artistic in nature, it can be creative, and it can also be challenging. The mind will only work on how you program it. If you program your mind to think like a leader, it will be activated, if you program the mind to overcome challenges it will be activated, if you program the mind to either think positive or negative thoughts, it produces the desired fruits for you.

You may be wondering where the power of imagination comes from? The power of imagination starts from the mind. To understand how the mind works, you have to look at the brain. The neocortex and thalamus are responsible for controlling the brain’s imagination, along with many of the brain’s other functions such as consciousness and abstract thought.

One may ask, is imagination the same thing as intelligence?  One can imagine something, but don’t take proactive steps to implement it, but the man who takes actionable steps can be regarded as an intelligent man because he got the inspiration and knows what to do. According to Albert Einstein, “The true sign of intelligence is not knowledge but imagination”. This is a fact because the true intelligence level of an individual is not dependent on the facts a person knows but on how he applies them creatively to solve problems in the world.  Albert Einstein further stated that “Imagination is more important than knowledge. For knowledge is limited to all we know and understand, while imagination embraces the entire world, and all there ever will be to know and understand.”

The power of imagination cannot be overemphasized. One of the distinguishing traits between wealthy men and the poor men is their mindset. A big difference between a rich mind and poor mind lies in how they process information. While rich and wealthy minds have a positive and growth mindset, poor men have a negative and fixed mindset. While the growth mindset sees problems as opportunities to make impact by solving them, fixed minds see problems as obstacles to making impact. While rich and wealthy minds spend money to invest, poor minds spend money to impress. While rich and wealthy people spend after saving, poverty-stricken minds save from the remnant of their expenses.

This power of imagination works in different ways. Sometimes, it comes like a vision, a revelation. inspiration or even feelings. This imagination can be something you would like to change, or a cause you would like to work on. When you get this prompting, the best thing you can do is commit it to prayer and believe in it especially if it’s a revelation or vision you have been shown. It might look so big and impossible to attain. Whenever you feel this way, just know that you must activate your growth mindset.

Wealth creation starts from the mind. If you want to be successful in any craft, you must envision it in your mind. Most of the great people if not all the great people we celebrate in the world utilized the power of imagination to create a product. If you want to be rich or start a business, you need to take the bold step, if not, you’ll remain where you are.

Nobody can stop a person whose time has come. Nobody can stop you; you are the only one who can stop yourself if you doubt yourself or tell your dreams, vision, or ideas to the wrong person. The wrong person in this case can be your parents, friends, mentors or even your spiritual leader. Don’t get me wrong, these people may not be bad people, they may not understand the calling or vision you had. They may not even see you as the person capable of doing it because you don’t look it. They may be speaking from their experience which may not be your reality. Let me tell you, if God wants somebody else to get the revelation or inspiration, he will put the imagination in their mind. Just to encourage you, God does not call the qualified, he calls the unqualified and then qualifies you.

In conclusion, the power of imagination is a very powerful and creative tool a progressive mind can use to excel in life if properly activated. This is because nobody knows you more than you know yourself.

Henry Ukazu writes from New York. He’s a Human Capacity & mindset coach. He’s also a public speaker, youth advocate and creative writer. He works with the New York City Department of Correction as the Legal Coordinator. He’s the author of the acclaimed book Design Your Destiny – Actualizing Your Birthright To Success

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Opinion

Be Empowered to Remain in Power

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By Tolulope A. Adegoke

“When you “become” what money loves, you naturally command the attention of monies. Ask yourself, what does money love? Money cherishes VALUES! When you stop becoming valuable, what “values” attracts would stop coming to you! You simply fit into what soothes your actions, and into what your consistent attitudes deserve! So, you must keep “becoming” for what you desire or deserve to keep chasing after you! To “become” in this context means to “MANifest”! Chase excellence, and success would chase you pants down! Accept yourself in order to understand your being, so as to carve a soothing niche for a better version of “you” which you desire or deserve to become. Any other “you” in circulation is a counterfeit! Square up your shoulders and tell yourself “I deserve to succeed and God helping me, I will.” Remember, the sky is never your limit, God is!”Tolulope A. Adegoke, PhD., MNIM, FIMC, CMC, CMS

 Commitment has been described as dedication, steadfastness, allegiance, faithfulness or loyalty to a course, and individual, group or a supreme being. It is about giving one’s self to a course with success as the only option. Commitment binds you irrevocably to a course you believe in until success comes. It is not the same as mere involvement, but dedication to seeing a course(s) completed or fulfilled to cause an effect or impact either within one’s self, others, corporates and the world at large.

The world is filled with peoples. Anybody can be involved. Being involved in an activity that involves other people does not make you part of a team. As a matter of fact, it only takes a number of people involved in working together to have a group. You must understand that a group is absolutely not a “team”. The difference? In a group, people are involved in activity(s). In a Team, people are committed to a process and a goal. The difference between commitment and involvement is known by the difference in the “omelette and “corned beef”. In the making of omelets, the chicken is involved, in the corned beef, the cow is committed!

Commitment is the secret to the success of the postage stamp. To get the letter to its destination, it must first commit to the envelope. After that, the rest is a matter of time. A train gets to its destination because of its commitment to the rails.

Commitment operates in five major levels which would be expatiated below:

  1. Commitment to God (The Creator that gives to all that gives and receives)
  2. Commitment to a Course for a Cause

iii.              Commitment to Process

  1. Commitment to People
  2. Commitment to yourself

Commitment to God

Those who have discovered themselves in God have no problem committing to Him. Those who sideline God in success ventures will find out soon enough that it is the pathway to “frustration” and an insignificant “death”.

Commitment to a Course for a Cause

You must always remember that, you were never created to simply pursue wealth and all trappings of the worldly successes. After all your bills are paid, and you have a spill-over, what next? Highly successful and effective people, first of all, find a higher course for a greater cause for which they were willing to lay down their lives if need be, then throw themselves wholly into it. The principle is that, if death does not scare you, the possibility of failure cannot! As the Bible rightly said, “those who keep their lives lose it, while those who lose it, find it!” The other name for it is significance or relevance. Make money in order to enhance your platform(s) for significance or irrefutable relevance. At a recent time, Bill Gate has committed time and resources to finding solutions to the scourge of HIV/AIDS and poverty eradication in Third World countries. What he did caught the attention of Warren Buffet (who wasn’t reputable for charity), the World’s Second richest man at that time. This made him donate the sum of $37billion (US Dollars) to the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. When asked why, he answered, “Because they know how best to give it away better and faster than I can.”

Commitment to a Process

Everything in life evolves. The only tree that grew to full stature in one day died the same day! Ask Prophet Jonah in the Bible. If you cannot commit to a process, you will forfeit the promise.

To master your skill in life, there is always a process of apprenticeship. Permit yourself to fail…but don’t remain a failure. The Olympic medalist who won the 100-metre dash in less than 10 seconds was only celebrated for what he had invested years of consistency and hours of practice to.

Tiger Woods had played golf as a child and he had always nurtured a vision to win every championship in golf. So he started to work towards that, easily.

The father (being a good Lawn Tennis Player) of Serena and Venus Williams (The World Lawn Tennis Champions) had coached them to always win since they were very young.

What the world celebrate today in these people is actually the process they had committed too long before they started winning laurels.

Commit to Yourself

Budget for self-development. Your greatest investment is the one you make on your personal development. When you are right, everything around you will be right!

Things don’t happen because you chase them to happen, rather they happen become you have become a center of attraction that commands the necessary attention. For instance, when you “become” what money loves, you naturally command the attention of monies. Ask yourself, what does money love? Money cherishes VALUES! When you stop becoming valuable, what “values” attracts would stop coming to you! You simply fit into what soothes your actions, and into what your consistent attitudes deserve! So, you must keep “becoming” for what you desire or deserve to keep chasing after you! To “become” in this context means to MANifest! Chase excellence and success would chase you, pants down! Accept yourself in order to understand your being, so as to carve a soothing niche for a better version of “you” which you desire or deserve to become. Any other “you” in circulation is a counterfeit! Square up your shoulders and tell yourself “I deserve to succeed and God helping me, I will.” Remember, the sky is never your limit, God is!”

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