REJOINDER TO SOLUDO’S POLITICAL ECONOMY OF RESTRUCTURING THE NIGERIAN FEDERATION.
I respect Dr. Chukwuma Soludo scholarly approach to matters of National interest. His treatise on “POLITICAL ECONOMY OF RESTRUCTURING THE NIGERIAN FEDERATION” makes for interesting reading, but there are some glaring omissions. Singapore is a good case study. The enshrinement of Religion in the present Nigerian Constitution is a big stumbling block, to the restructuring proposed by Dr. Soludo. Religion impedes interstate commerce. The economic zones proposed by Dr. Soludo and others will be severely constrained by restrictions in Interstate Commerce.
“The Commerce Clause refers to Article 1, Section 8, Clause 3 of the U.S. Constitution, which gives Congress the power “to regulate commerce with foreign nations, and among the several states, and with the Indian tribes.” The Constitution enumerates certain powers for the federal government.”
The North West Region which is governed with Sharia Law imposes a ban on the growing of barley and prohibits alcohol because, both are un-Islamic. Three million beer drinkers in the North West Region are denied the consumption of alcohol. Beer producers in the South West, South South, South East, and North Central Zones are cut off from the lucrative beer market in the North West. Is this possible in a country or an arrangement? Is Nigeria an Islamic Nation or a Secular State? Islamo-Secular states are unworkable and leads to tensions, strifes, violence, and regrettably homicides.
The North East Region bans women riding in the same commercial vehicle with men, severely impeding commercial activities. Offenders are publicly given twelve lashes on the bare buttocks, with a bulala cane. Is this Nigeria or is it Iran, or Afghanistan? The North West and North East Regions ban the building of new churches and religious mobs, burn down the existing churches. The Hisbah becomes the Regional Police in those regions.
When free Flow of Commerce, Freedom of Religion, and Freedom of Association is impeded, restricted, or banned by Sharia, you essentially have 6 Nations in Nigeria, instead of 6 Regions in a Federation.
Freedom of Association, freedom of Religion, and free flow of commerce are the hallmarks of all vibrant economies. For you to skit those issues in your discussion is baffling. Religion must be expunged from the Constitutions at the State and National levels. Once this is done, your restructuring with provisions for free flow of commerce, freedom of association, and freedom of religion is a workable model.
Recently, the Nigerian Government spent billions of Naira in acquiring a landmark property in Abuja for the Nigerian Pilgrim Board. What business has a government in promoting pilgrimages? What is the return on investment? Is it more economic activity, less crime, or more religious tolerance? It is none. Nigeria is yet to experience any impact on her social, religious, economic, or cultural lives by these wasteful religious jamborees. Government has no business in sponsoring religious activities. Practice your religion in private and not in the public sphere.
Your preference for the APC Restructuring is baffling. In 2015, APC ran on implementing the recommendations of the 2014 National Constitutional Confab, only to discard a consensus document, in favor of one produced by the jaundiced Nasir el-Rufai Committee. APC may mean the Alliance For Phony Change, instead of the Alliance For Progressive Change.
Once again, Africastallestman applauds you for your contributions to the restructuring debate through your hybrid approach to restructuring, where power is shared between the regions and the center.
However, the free flow of commerce and commercial activities must not be impeded by Religion, specifically Islam. Contrarily, Nigeria may be split along Religious lines to prevent further bloodshed.