Academic dons in the Bayelsa State-owned Niger Delta University, are divided over calls for restructuring, Resource Control and Devolution Of Powers in Nigeria.
They made their contributions at an on – going debate, during the 28th Inaugural Lecture of the university at Wilberforce Island, Amassoma.
TVC’s Ovieteme George reports that Professor of Political Science Ibaba Samuel Ibaba, university dons, traditional rulers and students converge on the Auditorium of the Niger Delta University for the Inaugural Lecture.
Resource Control, Restructuring and Devolution of Powers are sub themes of the conversations for proponents of opposing schools of thought.
Other Political Science Lecturers want the people to play more active roles in holding their leaders accountable in governance.
The title of the NDU lecture is: “Mopping The Wet Floor While Overlooking The Leaking Roof : Rethinking Peace Building In The Niger Delta.”
Restructuring of Nigeria – Polycentric Planning is the Answer (Page 3 of 3)
SGCA is a multi-tasks assembly, one of its operations will have to do with education and enlightenment of citizens so that public officials and the people operate within shared communities of understanding.
Restructuring designed towards nation building will address some questions such as:
a) Is it possible for us to live together peacefully as a people?
b) If yes, what are the conditions?
c) Is it possible for us to restructure without each ethnic minority losing its identity and recognition in the conduct and governance of community affairs?
d) If yes, what are the conditions?
e) Is it possible to craft a system of government that will guarantee us a free, peaceful and prosperous society – food and health, poverty eradication, zero-corruption, employment, security, industrialisation, infrastructural development, housing provision, education, development, etc?
My dear readers, I strongly believe that the time has come for Nigerians to collectively discuss and agree on the system of government that can guarantee them a free, peaceful, and prosperous society and eventual good governance from reflection and choice rather than depending on accident and force on their political constitutions.
Within the context of Nigerian realities, federalism can be defined as an arrangement between the recognized tiers of government and the self-governing institutions designed to solve specific challenges and problems. This confirms Vincent Ostrom’s perspective of problem-solving federalism (V. Ostrom, 1994; 2000). Invariably, problem-solving federalism can be practically achieved via the setting up of Self-Governing Community Assembly in Nigeria. In this sense, Africentric restructuring federalism will mirror some lessons from the two American conventions that brought into practical terms the two sides of federalism – forms of government and problem-solving federalism.
Invariably, Africentric restructuring federalism will produce four fundamental imperatives of collective action that form the basis of problem-solving federalism – collegiality, mutual trust, reciprocity and shared community of understanding as the bedrock of democracy, which will help in resolving grievances, marginalisation, exclusion, agitation by the ethnic minorities, youth, women, retirees, etc, while early warning system, conflict prevention and peacebuilding will emerge.
True restructuring, which is a deliberate construction by moulding different ethnic groups into a nation with emphasis on inclusion that practically emphasises aspirations and yearning of the citizenry: food, employment, security, health, education, industrialization, peace, etc. at the community, ward and local levels. A shared community of understanding will produce constitutional reforms, effective planning and institutional arrangements that can enable Nigerians to work together to achieve justice, freedom, peace, meaningful progress and prosperity.
Restructuring and domesticating democracy will enable us to commence the task of nation building, which is a deliberate construction by moulding different ethnic groups into a nation, especially since colonial practices of divide and rule had resulted in ethnically heterogeneous populations (Mylonas, 2012a,b). In order to address nation-building, efforts should be directed at inclusion that practically emphasises aspirations and yearning of the citizenry: food, employment, security, health, education, industrialization, peace, etc. at the community, ward and local levels. Nation-building requires synergy among key actors and elimination of exclusion which is only possible through restructuring the public sphere and political economy (Akinola, 2015b). The outcome of restructuring is ethnic minorities, youth, women, retirees, etc. will feel belonged, while early warning system, conflict prevention and peacebuilding will emerge (see Akinola 2008p:189, 2009b:96, 2011e, 2014d, Akinola et. al., 2014l, Akinola et. al., 2014r).
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On Tuesday 5th July, 2016, I published an article, titled, “Towards an Efficient Reorganisation of Nigeria.” In National Mirror, July 5, 2016, Vol. 06, No. 1404, backpage (concluded).
On Tuesday 28th June, 2016, I published an article, titled, “Nigeria Needs True Restructuring Now.” In Daily Independent, June 28, 2016, Politics page.
On Tuesday 28th June, 2016, I published an article, titled, “Towards an Efficient Reorganisation of Nigeria.” In National Mirror, June 28, 2016, Vol. 06, No. 1397, backpage (publication to be continued).
On Sunday 26th June, 2016, I published an article, titled, “State of the Nation: Nigerians, act before it is too late.” In Sunday Vanguard, June 26, 2016, pg. 40.
Restructuring of Nigeria – Polycentric Planning is the Answer (Page 2 of 3)
In order to carry out the task of restructuring, we can draw some lessons from United States of America. As Nigerians, we should learn from American Great Experiment – Democracy. The Americans, in the 18th C, raised a puzzle which led to reactions from several scholars and intellectuals in the forms of deliberation. The approach taken by the authors of The Federalist (Hamilton, Jay and Madison  1961) and the participants in the Philadelphia Convention presumed an essential connection between ideas and deeds – theory/knowledge and actions/realities (V. Ostrom, 2000:9). The methodology for translating ideas to deeds was conceptualized in the Mayflower Compact in which the participants made a commitment with one another to solve their common problems together (Tocqueville [1835-40] I, 1945:35; V. Ostrom 2000:12). The outcome of their engagements produced deliberateness/action on federalism; and eventually democracy as an experiment emerged with vibrant institutional arrangements. The two conventions brought into practical terms the two sides of federalism – forms of government and problem-solving federalism.
Evolving home-grown models from reflections and lessons from abroad requires that we design Africentric strategies of restructuring and federalism that focus on Nigerian realities – specific challenges that relate to knowledge application, utilisation of local resources, provision of jobs, etc. Rather breaking up the country, citizens should embrace Africentric restructuring federalism and design a rational way of living together to achieve freedom, justice, peace and prosperity. Africentric restructuring federalism is a problem-solving entrepreneurship that engages in retrospection into Nigerian socio-economic and cultural configurations of economic ‘susuism’ that is capable of bailing the country out of the present economic recession.
Nigerians should draw some parallels between American associationalism and Nigerian associational life – as exists in specific tribes/ethnics among the Yoruba, Igbo, Ijaws, Hausa, Fulani, etc. The critical task here is that all the 21 elements of federalism should be emphasised and citizens should be involved on daily basis through elegbe jegbe (associational life). Associationalism permeates Nigerian public landscape as exemplified by economic susuism. Esusu (among the Yoruba), Isusu (among the Ibo) and Asusu (among the Hausa/Fulani). These structures of collective actions are similar to American system of collective action. The underlying principle of susuism is trust, which is based on the law of reciprocity described as: Se fun mi kin se fun o (Do to me and I do to you). It is this primordial associationalism that Nigeria can adopt now in resolving our challenges and problems. This is the time for us to engage in retrospection towards resolving our differences and build a strong nation.
The same principle can be applied in designing Nigerian federalism and democratisation. For example, the artisanship and creativity of a basket maker are quintessential and sine-qua-nom for weaving the 21 elements of federalism into a political ‘basket’ that contains all the interests and aspirations of the citizenry. The 21 elements should be translated from ideas to deeds/actions that citizens are involved on daily basis. All the issues that pertain to justice and checks and balances should be weaved around federalism and democratisation process (Akinola, 2016).
My argument is that the structurally-defective pattern of governance in the country makes it difficult for the country to be effectively governed even if the leaders are sincere and adept in the act of governance. The colonial background with the consequence of ‘disconnect from the roots’ engendered a wide gap between Nigerian leaders and the rest of the people. The problem of disconnect in Nigerian political economy is foundational. It goes without saying that “if the foundation is destroyed, what will the righteous do?”
What is actually wrong with Nigerian governance is a structural defect, which needs to be corrected through restructuring via the setting up of Self-Governing Community Assembly (SGCA). The way out of this crisis is to restructure the public sphere/country by fashioning out alternative governance structure that could enable the people to engage themselves in SGCA.
At the heart of restructuring is the operation of SGCA. The stakeholders/participants would operate using rules that are crafted by members at the SGCA. Rule crafting takes place at three levels – constitutional, collective choice and operational. Self-governing principles are rooted in collective action and community institutions that Nigerians have been using in navigating around obstacles before, during and after colonialism (see Akinola, 2010i, 2011a, 2015a). (To be continued on page 3 of 3). ***Kindly share this article with others ***
Restructuring of Nigeria – Polycentric Planning is the Answer (Page 1 of 3)
My own contribution is on the strategy and methodology for achieving restructuring of our minds, mentality and country. The questions are: (1) What is restructuring? (2) What is federalism? (3) What is the relationship between federalism and restructuring? (4) What is Africentric restructuring federalism?
Restructuring can be defined as the process of crafting inclusive public sphere and political economy for effective socio-economic and political engagements of citizens for decision making through polycentric planning, error correcting potentials and institutional mechanisms for true democratization and equitable distribution of resources via appropriate institutional arrangements that are self-organising and self-governing within rule-ruler-ruled configuration.
It is important at this juncture to emphasise that the present crises we find ourselves are a product of colonial ideas. And having listened to Albert Einstein (n.d.), Myrdal (1957:99) and Vincent Ostrom (2000) on the danger and futility of copying Western models and ideas that are incongruent to African realities, we should begin to conceptualise Africentric strategies of problem-solving by evolving home-grown models.
My own version of restructuring is that of nation building that will respond to citizens’ yearnings and aspirations. My ideas of restructuring derive inspirations from seven of my articles that were published in international journals.
1. Akinola, S. R. (2010). “Restructuring the Public Sphere for Social Order in the Niger Delta through Polycentric Planning: What Lessons For Africa?” Journal of African Asian Studies, Vol. 9, Nos. 1-2. Cornell University, Ithaca, NY, USA, pp. 55-82.
2. Akinola, S. R. (2011) “Restructuring the Public Sphere for Democratic Governance and Development in Africa: The Polycentric Planning Approach.” In Abdalla Bujra (e.d.). Political Culture, Governance and the State in Africa. Development Policy Management Forum (DPMF), Nairobi, Kenya, pp. 1-61.
3. Akinola, S. R. (2016). “Domesticating Democracy for Development Using Community Initiatives in Africa: A Polycentric Planning Perspective.” Maurice N. Amutabi and Linnet Hamasi (eds.): Africa and Competing Discourse on Development: Gender, Agency, Space and Representation. The Catholic University of East Africa (CUEA), Nairobi, Kenya, pp. 3-15.
4. Akinola, S. R. (2016). “Disfunctional Political Economy, Restructuring Public Sphere and Social Transformation in Africa: Polycentric Planning and New Policies to Combat Poverty in Comparative Perspective.” Paper Accepted for Publication by Comparative Research Programme on Poverty (CROP), Bergen, Norway.
5. Akinola, S. R. (2010). “The Roles of Civil Society in Elections and Democratisation in Africa: A Polycentric Planning Perspective.” Zimbabwe Political Science Review (ZPSR), Midlands State University, Zimbabwe. Vol. 1, No. 1, September 2010, pp. 6-31.
6. Akinola, S. R. (2009). “Polycentric Planning and Community Self-Government as Panacea to the Niger Delta Crisis.” African Journal of Development (AJD). New York University, USA, Vol. 11, No. 2, pp. 79-104.
7. Akinola, S. R. (2016). “Urbanısatıon, Collectıve Actıon and Copıng Strategıes in Informal Areas of Afrıcan Cıtıes: A Polycentrıc Envıronmental Plannıng Perspectıve.” Chapter 1. İn Sahar Attia, Shahdan Shabka, Zeinab Shafik, Asmaa Abdel Aty (eds.) Dynamics and Resilience of Informal Areas: International Perspectives. Springer International Publishing, Switzerland, pp. 5-24).
The common denominator to all the publications listed above is a shared community of understanding, which can be achieved through restructuring. A shared community of understanding, as the bedrock of democracy, is what we need now so that grievances, marginalisation, exclusion, etc of the past can be addressed and every Nigerian will feel belonged. It is a deliberate construction by moulding different ethnic groups into a nation with emphasis on inclusion that practically punctuates aspirations and yearning of the citizenry: food, employment, security, health, education, industrialization, peace, etc.
Elimination of exclusion in our society is only possible through restructuring the public sphere and political economy via polycentric planning. The outcome of restructuring is that ethnic minorities, youth, women, retirees, etc. will feel belonged, while early warning system, conflict prevention and peacebuilding will emerge. (To be continued on page 2 of 3).
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