Call for modified presidency

Call for modified presidency

By Ayodele Fagbohun
A veteran journalist and renowned columnist in the defunct Sunday Times, Malam Haroun Adamu once 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 abysmal failure to proffer an acceptable system of government for the nation.

The onus is on every stakeholder regardless of his or 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, 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 of government 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 mis-application of public funds and natural resources for undesirable and unedifying ends.

It gulps the lion share of national earnings which has done and still inflicting more harm than good on 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 not only outlandish, unprecedented but too outrageous and scandalous. And to say the least mind boggling and revolting when compared to the peanuts grudgingly 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, public health, education and access to portable water and electric supplies as social services to put smiles on the faces of the people traumatized by hunger, want and superstition. Yet the political functionaries including their few protégés in the civil service sit comfortably in their closet to perpetrate financial malfeasance and scandalous atrocities with hideous cruelty and impunity on the nation’s coffers.

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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 maintenance in place to rejig the machinery of government 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 relationships in the polity.

At the apex of government in the federation, the post of presidency should be dual viz, the head of state and head of government occupied by two persons. This will go a long way in demystifying the almost power of life and death, Alfa and Omega clothed our presidency. 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, envoys visiting head of state, and august visitors attending public functions and ceremonies amoungst other vital roles to be allotted to the office. The office should be occupied by an experienced politician or elder statesman imbued with aura of kudos as 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/pension attached shall be so meager and paltry not to threaten public expenditure.

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The post of head of government should be styled prime minister or vice president. The nomenclature is not important. What is important and crucial is that the post should be occupied by aspiring or active politician sponsored by a countrywide registered political parties 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 junketings round the globe, if he and his political party desire to make on the welfare and well being 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 Deputy Governor. The 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 shows 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 incurred on the National Assembly, it is high time to retain unicameral legislature and quickly opt for House of Representatives elected by adult suffrage.

It is criminal indulgence, brigandage, act of prodigality, lawlessness for and license for the leadership in the National Assembly to hold the economy prostrate in the name of separation of power conferring nebulous power on them. It is 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 constituent states should be properly constituted and constitutionally arranged to perform the statutory functions assigned to them.

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To tell the home truth and face the stark reality, some states have to coalesce by all means and revert to original base. They were created by military fiat devoid of any principle or standing rule. We must eschew all this fraud and stratagems and move speedily on the path of probity and rectitude.

To state it graphically, the South West geo-political zone, as a case study should be split into only two states well administered by supermen or women of sterner stuff in the mould of Chief Obafemi Awolowo, Alhaji Lateef Kayode Jakande, Chief Michael Adekunle Ajasin, Uncle Bola Ige and Chief Bisi Onabanjo who at one time or the other held sway as political head of government of a whole or any parts of the South Western Nigeria.

If titanic men and women of proven integrity, prowess and valour are at the helm, no person or in the sense ethnic group, no matter how rash, audacious or privileged will not contemplate even dare to violate the territorial integrity of any of Yorubaland.

Perhaps, per adventure it happens such person and his ethnic nationality will not live to tell the story. The mosaic law of ‘tit-for’tat’ shall apply and the habitat of such intruders and interlopers will become an abomination, no grass shall grow there from.

To be reckoned with, states should he strong and viable enough; and be led by articulate and high rated public spirited supermen and women of affairs, like what invariably obtains only in Lagos and Kano states. Whatever authority at the federal level will have no qualm to accede to the constitutional 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 mobilize and involve all our astute political, rights’ activists and stakeholders imbued with ingenuity to redress the perceived age long lopsidedness in the polity. No time is more ripe for it than now!

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