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By Law Mefor

Published May 28th, 2015

One thinker said: "The worst revenge for a man who took your wife is to let him keep her". That is what one believes was the feeling of Dr. Goodluck Ebele Jonathan while acquiescing victory and handing over to General Muhammadu Buhari and one am not being sarcastic.

First, we should thank and congratulate former President, Dr. Goodluck Ebele Jonathan, for the way he ended his Presidency. On the whole, he ended well, and all is well that ends well. If not anything, he single-offhandedly offered Nigerians the chance to start anew. It was a rare gift of inestimable value, judging by the way and time it came. An appreciative incoming President Muhammadu Buhari said remarkably, underscoring too its significance; If you had wanted to make things difficult, you could have made things difficult and that would have been at the expense of lives of poor Nigerians, but you chose the part of honour and may God help all of us. Thank you very much your Excellency".

Since we have resolved to be one country, let us be one country indeed. Our quest for nationhood is torn between Unitarianism and Federalism. These are very vicious centripetal and centrifugal forces mutually opposed to each, keeping the country divided, and until it is resolved, our nation will continue to stumble and dillydally.

For the avoidance of doubt, Northern Nigeria wants Unitarianism for presumed weak economic base. This presumption is wrong because the north has all it takes to grow into an economic giant and grow even bigger than South. The Southern Nigeria feel buoyed enough to keep on asking for true federalism because of its obvious economic and other advantages.

Yet, the chances of Nigeria growing economically, socially and politically are tied down in the nation's unitary 1999 Constitution and in the dire lack of statesmen to negotiate and navigate the country out of such woods. One good example is this: giving the States in Nigeria the right to mine their solid minerals is enough to economically liberate not only the north but the entire country. Yet, solid minerals exploration remains an exclusive right of the Federal Government, which for petrodollars, is not interested in that area at all despite the creation of a whole ministry to see to it

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The efforts of President Jonathan to address the skewed federal structures of Nigeria are not so wonderful either, and certainly indecisive and underwhelming in many instances. But some critical changes have occurred. An example being State Assemblies' autonomy, which is part of the amendments to the 1999 Constitution he signed barely 24 hours from exiting power. This particular amendment is critical in checking the ravaging Nigerian Governors, many of who, unchecked, ruined many States' economies and stood in the way of constitutional amendments.

This uninspiring incremental move towards federalism is slowing down the growth of Nigeria. But luckily, the APC had promised LG autonomy, State Police, and frontal fight against corruption, among others in their manifesto. These will all require constitutional amendments, which means that further urgent move towards true federalism is in the offing. This is in the hope that the APC is serious about the promises it made to Nigerians, which made them to buy into their change mantra. So, we can fairly resolve that President Buhari is to start from where Jonathan stopped in these regards, and it is no enviable task getting southern legislators/politicians to agree with their northern counterparts where the issues border on true Federalism.

Dr. Goodluck Jonathan did a lot of imprudent and inexplicable things no doubt . He was nave and lacked critical thinking at most unnerving moments. Many will never forgive him for keeping Abba Morro as minister of Interior after NIS job scam and deaths of jobless Nigerians. There were many similar things he also did in defiance of public outcries. But because he ended so well, most Nigerians are ready to forgive and move on.

However, it must be made clear that Nigeria's problem is beyond the so-called 'cluelessness' of Jonathan though that didn't help either (if indeed he was or his clueless image makers let it stick unjustly). The trouble with Nigeria, as already sufficiently hinted earlier, is systemic. The nation's clogging problem is in the obtuse system, which lacks operational institutions, and in the unitary structures imposed on a clearly federal environment by the reluctantly departing military dictators who unwittingly believed - and still believe - that the nation can only be held together by force. What is worse, some APC elements fought against most of the attempts at moving Nigeria towards federalism. An example is the Party (APC) refusing to attend the Confab and promising never to touch the Report. Now that they are in the saddle, can they do things differently? Time shall tell.

One therefore hopes the coming of Buhari would not mean halting the march towards a truly federal Nigeria. As Nigerians wish Buhari well, one do not hope it means there is very little hope he (Muhammadu Buhari) would address our skewed federalism. For much of his much anticipated success would depend on it.

As we toast to this change therefore we need to think deeper. What we need is freedom to develop according to our regional capabilities, and not to be shackled down in Unitarianism and dictatorship. Otherwise this change may end up producing only new masters, not change in the real sense of the word. The sincere prayer of many, therefore, is that Nigerians do not have to sooner, regret buying into stories the APC had told to grab power; lest, it will be the turn of those who doubted and tried to stop it, to drink and revel as Nigerians masses rage and rail against Buhari and yet another hapless Government. One says this not just as an unrepentant optimist but also as an incurable federalist.

Only true federalism will bring true development, happiness and stability to Nigeria. That is the route Buhari has to travel if he would make his tenure sublime, so upon departing in due time, he would leave his footprints on the sands of time by bequeathing a fully restructured, workable and progressive federal Nigeria.

Happy Change, compatriots!

Law Mefor is an Abuja based Forensic Psychologist, Journalist and Author; e-mail: lawmefor@gmail.com; tel.: +234803-787-2893



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