Let me start by saying that I am a Biafran activist. I spend money and time agitating for an Igbo nation. My only reason for writing this post is to educate Governor David Umahi and other politicians, especially those of most Igbo extraction who do not understand the concept of FEDERALISM.
I do not support the restructuring of Nigeria. It will not help anyone except people like David Umahi who benefit from the current status quo. I reiterate that this post is for educational purposes on the concept of federalism, not an endorsement of RESTRUCTURING.
If Nigeria is restructured to practice federalism, there would be 37 federating units made up of the 36 states and Nigeria. Each would have:
1. Its own constitution;
2. Its own police;
3. Its own courts, up to supreme courts.
4. Its own legislature;
5. Its own revenue and tax base.
So, for every government business at the center, there would be a corresponding unit at the state except for the military, foreign affairs, maritime, and such other matters as may be in the exclusive list.
According to Governor Umahi’s, his problem is that Ebonyi does not have enough material resources to survive. If I were from Ebonyi, I would be ashamed of this statement. Governor David Nweze Umahi goes to Abuja to collect monthly allocation. Before him, there were Governors Egwu and Elechi. What did they do to expand the revenue base of the state?
Note that the Nigerian Cement Company (NIGERCEM) is in Ebonyi. I am from Nnewi. Chief Clement Ibeto’s villa home is about 500 yards from mine. I am close enough to know all the frustrations he’s been going through to revive an industry he purchased with his own money. And Governor Umahi is saying Ebonyi is poor!
Let us agree that Ebonyi and many other states are poor. I already pointed out that for each federal government business, there would be a corresponding state business. Let us discuss tax. Presently, there is no federal personal income tax in Nigeria. Sorry, there is the PITA but compliance is more in default. No one demands for Federal personal income tax clearance even for federal elections.
Under federalism, the federal government will be more serious with personal income tax. Registration of companies would be done by states. The federal government will be taxing the corporations just like any other citizen based on CITA. It is left for each state to make itself attractive for business. Now, how can Governor Umahi understand this after doing nothing to make sure NIGERCEM is up and running?
Let me quickly add that under federalism, the federal government is very rich. They get a percentage cut from all states revenue, tax from all residents and corporations, fees for businesses under the exclusive list, fees from vehicles that are used in inter-state commerce, etc. Poorer states ask for federal help to execute projects based on need and counterpart funding. Let’s use what we know now to peek into the future.
Ebonyi is the most educationally disadvantaged Igbo state. One would think that Governor Umahi would source for funds to lift up his state educationally. Funds due to Ebonyi State from the Universal Basic Education program is not accessed. Ebonyi has over N4 billion with UBEC but the governor says the state is poor. If he does not know how to source for federal funds now, how would he do so under real federalism?
Nigeria imports rice. Growing up, the opposite of foreign rice was Abakalike rice. How many tonnes of rice does Ebonyi State produce today? What has Governor Umahi done to occupy the spot as the highest producer of rice in Nigeria. Why should those who live by the river bank wash their hands with spittle?
I have been very close to those in government, including Vice President Yemi Osinbajo. At times I shudder at their level of ignorance on matters relating to governance and government business. I shudder at what they take as priorities despite global trends and best practices. It is petrifying to think that academic brilliance and professional excellence are not skills you can transfer into government.
Before I conclude, I will tell you why I am for Biafra.
Few weeks ago, Prime Minister Modi of India visited the United States. One of the issues he discussed with President Trump was immigration. Prime Minister Modi requested the US to increase the number of H1B visa issued to Indians to come and work in the US technology sector. Let that sink into your brain.
Now, think. President Obasanjo never made such request on behalf of Nigerian professionals. President Yar’Adua did not make such request. President Jonathan did not make such request. President Buhari has not made such request and I know that Vice President Osinbajo will not visit Trump. Does it mean that Nigeria does not have such professionals who are qualified to work in Silicon Valley?
I am for Biafra because I know that a Biafran Prime Minister will develop the human resources of Biafrans and make such request to ensure Biafrans are part of the global trends in innovation and industrial best practices. I know because even small me wanted to create a link between the Abia State E-Library and Silicon Valley but was frustrated. Why? Because those in government will always get monthly allocation from Abuja.
Now you know what they lack, and it is not money.
Written by Emeka Maduewesi