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Revisiting Regionalism: A Step Forward or a Backward March?

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Revisiting Regionalism: Proposed bill for regional governance in Nigeria faces House disapproval and strong opposition from Lagos State indigenes.

The Nigerian House of Representatives has recently disowned a draft bill proposing a return to the regional system of government, sparking significant debate and controversy. The document, titled “A Bill for an Act to substitute the annexure to Decree 24 of 1999 with a new governance model for the Federal Republic of Nigeria,” aims to establish a new legal framework to be known as “The Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria New Governance Model for Nigeria Act 2024.”

Authored by Dr. Akin Fapohunda, a retired director in the Presidency with a Ph.D. in Agricultural Science, the bill is not an official legislative initiative but a private proposal. House spokesman Akin Rotimi clarified, “The Committees on Rules and Business and Constitution Review have confirmed that there is no such bill before them” . Similarly, Francis Waive, Chairman of the House Committee on Rules and Business, confirmed that the draft had not come before the Rules and Business Committee for listing .

Dr. Fapohunda explained his motivation in an exclusive interview:

“At independence, Nigeria embraced a regional system of government. So, I felt we could also revisit the past and return to regionalism. I have done a preliminary draft for Nigerians to ponder over” . He hopes that the proposal will be considered by the House of Representatives and the Senate.

However, the proposal has faced significant opposition, particularly from Lagos State indigenes. Speaking under the aegis of the De Renaissance Patriots Foundation, the Lagos indigenes expressed strong disapproval of the bill. Adelani Adeniji-Adele, in a statement, argued that the bill poses an “ominous sign” and is a “further attempt to subsume our aspiration into a larger group that is antithesis to whatever we believe in as indigenes of the state” .

The foundation’s statement highlighted several concerns: lack of vast consultations, historical grievances, and fears of marginalization by neighbors in the South West.

“We, the indigenes of Lagos State, do not wish to be part of the regional state as being proposed in the Bill returning Nigeria to regional government. Our leaders and traditional rulers opposed it in 1953 and we gained respite in 1967” .

The resistance from Lagos State underscores the complexities and sensitivities surrounding regional governance in Nigeria. While the idea of returning to regionalism may appeal to some as a way to streamline governance and revisit historical governance models, it also stirs deep-seated fears and opposition among those who feel it could lead to renewed marginalization and loss of autonomy.

As Nigeria navigates these proposals and debates, it is crucial to engage in comprehensive consultations and consider the diverse perspectives across the nation. Only through inclusive dialogue and careful consideration of historical contexts can Nigeria chart a path forward that truly represents the aspirations and rights of all its people.

BlaccTheddi Post remains committed to presenting the multifaceted narratives that shape our continent. As we reflect on this proposal and its implications, we invite our readers to engage in the conversation and contribute to shaping the future of Nigeria.


References

  • PUNCH Online. “House of Representatives Disowns Draft Bill on Regional Government in Nigeria.

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