Nigeria needs a 4th tier of government – Oba Ajayi’s insight on Nigeria’s Federalism
His royal highness, Oba Ajayi, of Erinmo-Ijesha has offered an insight into Nigeria’s federalism and gave an opinion on why Nigeria needs a fourth tier of government.
During and interactive session, the Elerinmo of Erinmo-Ijesha speaks on how has Nigeria gotten it wrong and what is the solution?
He said: “I don’t want to sound like bringing up utopian ideas. But, first of all, what we need is benevolent capitalism, without sounding like we are looking for welfarism so to say.
For instance, if you want to provide services in a country of about 180 million people, we are supposed to be a Federal Republic of Nigeria but are we really a federation?
Is it reasonable for people to have an income and tax that are paid at the same rate all over Nigeria, or is it reasonable to lift petrol from Apapa port to Zungeru and sell at the same price as it is sold in Apapa where it was lifted?
These are some little things that need to be corrected such that, over time, we begin to benefit from our resources.
The system that we have been used to is one where the minority are in control of the resources and are wealthy while the vast majority look on to the minority for their livelihood.
Everybody cannot be a millionaire. But everybody should have access to basic amenities and infrastructure for survival.
In other words, your children can to go school and acquire maximum education. We don’t need expensive schools the people cannot afford.
The Oba when asked about his stand on the clamour for restructuring said that Nigeria needs a fourth tier of government.
“I believe that everything in life can be negotiated. Even the life we live can be negotiated. In other words, if you choose not to live well, it is a negotiation to die early.
There is nothing wrong with discussing. After 50 plus years of independence, it makes a lot of sense to sit down and look back; what have we gotten wrong and what do we need to do better? There is nothing wrong with that.
What’s obvious to me as a Yoruba traditional ruler is that the Yoruba nation was well to do with lots of outstanding projects when we were a region.
One can also look at the other regions and say that they competed within their resources, and then, there was some form of healthy competition among the regions.
But we have now found ourselves operating the American presidential system of government without being a federation.
For example, I am not aware of Governors Forum in America or the US President summoning governors or a governor going to meet the President. No! All American governors compete within the resources of their states.
When you reside, for instance, in Arkansas, you pay a tax of about 5%, but when you move to New York, your tax will be higher.
You will also find that your pay for any job you do in New York is higher too. Some states are good in agriculture while others are good in mineral resources or even education from which they generate huge revenues.
That’s what we call a federation. That is a form of restructuring. Restructuring does not mean that everybody is going back to square one.
It means that if we are a federation, let every state use the resources available to it, not using other states’ money to pay an oversized workforce.
And then, power has been taken away from the people who are supposed to be the custodian: The local government.
I am very sure that 70% of Nigerians live in rural areas. So how come they are the least powerful and their funding has to go through the states which short-change local governments?
This is also another form of restructuring. If we say that there are three tiers of government, this is not satisfactory to me because I believe that traditional rulers should form another tier of government.
In the South-West, traditional rulers were firmly in control of the administration of their people before the colonialists came.
In other words, the traditional ruler was like the President, the governor, the inspector general of police and the chief justice. Everything was under his control.