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Agenda, Opinion

APC change mantra and judicial industrial crises

Posted: Apr 21, 2015 at 12:15 am   /   by   /   comments (0)

Against the backdrop of recent happenings in Nigeria’s judiciary, Polycarp Onwubiko,author and public affairs commentator based in Awka,wants the incoming All Progressives Congress(APC) government at the centre to implement without delay, recommendations of the 2014 National Conference. For him this is the only way to sustainable socio-economic and political development of the six geo-political zones of the country… 

The change mantra of the All Progressives Congress (APC), and the party’s victory at the March 28 presidential election will never be sustainable or meaningful, unless the incoming governing party accords top priority to the restructuring of the country as patently contained in the recommendations of the 2014 National Conference. There is no gain saying that the socio-economic and political challenges in Nigeria emanated from the wrong implementation of federal system of government by the aberrant military regimes. This is a searing fact that can never by any stretch of imagination or subterfuge be shoved aside, wished away or relegated to the background as a non-issue. The fact remains that Nigeria cannot have its own definition of federalism since the theory of this form of government was the outcome of diligent research by social scientists and had proven to be inviolable for sustainable and realistic growth and development. Federal and unitary systems of government are two prominent and universal evolutions and adopted by countries that embraced democratic government. In other words, there are no half measures in the application of any of the two pragmatic theories of government, the world over.

Adoption of any of the theories of government-federal or unitary is based on preconditions prevalent in the respective countries that adopted any of them. Discrete observations have proved that failure to apply the principles and practices have spawned apparently intractable socio-economic and political problems which truncated growth and development on realistic and sustainable basis; and in some countries like Nigeria, constituted stumbling blocks and impediments to nation building and national integration.

The founding fathers of Nigeria political sovereignty took due cognizance of the pragmatic underpinnings of federal system of government and fashioned the 1960/63 federal cum republican constitution whereby the federal and regional governments had their respective constitutions, scheme of service, civil service rules, law enforcement agencies, prisons and justice administration systems which were effective and efficiently operated. The four federating units (regional governments) were progressing on healthy competitions even as they were exploring and exploiting mineral resources in their respective domains and remitting agreed taxes and fees to the federal government for the running of collective interests domiciled in three ministries and agencies namely; foreign affairs, defence and immigration. The respective regional governments based on the peculiar needs and aspirations of their people operated all other ministries and agencies.

It is against this background that the long drawn industrial crises bedeviling the judicial arm of government should be clearly situated and rightly understood. There was no need for the industrial face-off between the state judicial workers and the governors since the country is supposed to be operating a federal system of government and not the present objectionable quasi federal contraption which has held the country down. The brazen distortions to the principles and practices of federal system of government gave birth to coinages like pseudo federalism, quasi federal practice, false federation, true federalism etc.

Sadly, expressions have been used as a platform to plunge state governments judiciary into chaos, thus placing justice administration into jeopardy. It was grossly an abuse of federalism for the centrally run judicial workers union to have entered into an agreement with the out-going federal government and expected that state governments would adapt such lopsided agreement, which will upset the running of state government.

It is naïve to believe that agreements reached in centralized unionism will be taken to be normal in a federal arrangement because what is applicable to workers at the federal MDAs cannot be applicable on all fours with the state governments. Such aberrations have been observed in labour unions like NMA, NUT etc, which crippled their services in the states. The expectations of the centralized labour union leaders that state government will abide by the resolutions have been unrealistic given the fact that the country is not under military jackboot whereby the policies, programmes and projects of the central government are forced down the throat of state governments and even labour unions. State governments ,which have stoutly resisted the implementation of the supposed agreement of the federal government with the centralized judicial workers have done well so as not leave a dangerous precedent of deepening the festering and objectionable pseudo or quasi federal practice.

It is an illusion for the states judicial workers to demand the so-called financial autonomy for the judicial arm of government. This is one of the grave aberrations in the largely flawed Nigerian constitution, which should be abrogated and replaced with the recommendations of the 2014 national conference.

The fact remains that the executive arm of government should be the ultimate controller of the public finance and service in the states. It is part of the muddle of pseudo federalism for the state governments to have judicial service commission and the naïve agitation for legislative service commission. The ideal practice should be that the entire public/civil servants in the states should be under the civil service commission. This is because judicial service commission and legislative service commission do not have specialists to operate the two arms of government since the scheme of service contains every academic qualification for entry and promotions/advancement/conversions in the public service. These muddles have to be rectified with the implementation of the recommendations of the 2014 National Conference.

The National Confab recommendations do not contain everything that would berth the much sought after true federalism but it is a step toward its ultimate actualization since it is a sure way to realize sustainable and meaningful socio-economic and political growth and development of the six geo-political zones of the country. Therefore, the incoming APC government with its change mantra should bestir itself and move towards restructuring for true federalism which is the only path to pragmatic change that will affect all sections of the country and release the vast hidden potentials of the diverse peoples in the geo –political zones who are in great privation due to distorted principles and practices of federal system of government imposed on the country by the aberrant military autocrats. The move will reinvent regional integration which was the magic wand of fast development in the first republic.

Happily, the president-elect, General Muhammadu Buhari, has been credited with backing the restructuring of the country during the 2007 presidential campaign when he was wooing the Yoruba cultural groupings like the Afenifere. According to the presidential candidate of Democratic People Alliance, Chief Olu Falae, “we found in him (GMB) a candidate who said he would restructure Nigeria and bring back stability and regional autonomy fairness and justice….He is the only one offering Nigeria stability via restructuring; no other person. So Buhari is the only offer in town”.