OPINION: Sultan And His Devolution Of Dams Proposal

By Biodun Popoola


The Sultan of Sokoto, Sa’ad Abubakar III on Monday called on Nigerians to focus on devolution of ‘dams’ rather than restructuring the country, a question mark (?) oratory and order which to many observers and well-meaning Nigerians represents a deliberate and calculated sentimental infantry-ism, perhaps a masterminded attempt to disrupt the diverse calls from the various nooks and corners of Nigeria on the urgent need for a viable restructuring of the country.

For some time now, Nigerians with the inclusion of voices from the far and middle North have persistently and passionately been clamoring for a STOUTER constitution baked in an oven of sincerity and purpose for the common protection of each and every unit that make up the nation, Nigeria: A truly defined association, which earmarks the borderline for our continued existence through a self-determining national stakeholder’s forum with clear intention, guidelines and participation of the majority.

It is therefore amazing that the Sultan believes that what the country need at this time is devolution of dams’ in other for the North to be able to progress in her area of strength which is farming and not the long envisioned restructuring of the country that allows each federating unit an opportunity to express their area of strength.

Let us assume that indeed what the nation needs at this point of her existence is devolution of dams and not powers, will this not have been one of the issues to be addressed at the restructuring project or does the Sultan see otherwise that the devolution of dams will eventually create an inroad for the restructuring of imbalances in the federation as well as the correction of the two-facedness as demonstrated by the North/South dichotomy over the years through deliberate maneuvering of the democratic and constitutional lacuna to the detriment of all concerned.

 Or could it be that the non-devolution of dams is what has led to the political and economic encumbrances, with countless multitudes of issues such as uneven structure and representation, imbalanced wealth distribution, life-threatening hunger in the land, lack of necessities like housing, health, shelter, drinkable water and the institutionalization of our political, social and economic systems.?

Simply put, does the Sultan believe that the various tunnel of misery, paroxysms and pains that the deliberate holding down of the progress and redefinition of our common vision by a chosen few referred to as privileged political gladiators who have made practically everything unworkable for the great majority except the convulsive massive looting of the nation’s common wealth and resources will become a thing of the past once dams are ‘devolutionalised?’

Chief Gani Fawenhinmi of blessed memory in 2000 wrote that “The primary duty of the National Conference is to address and find solutions to the key problems afflicting Nigeria since 1914 to date. The concern is to remove all obstacles which have prevented the country from establishing political justice, economic justice, social justice, cultural justice, religious justice and to construct a new constitutional frame-work in terms of the system of government-structurally, politically economically, socially, culturally and religiously”.

He posited further thus that “The Conference will give ethnic nationalities an opportunity to examine the questions that have made Nigeria such a disaster and come up with some answers such as the right of every nationality to have greater control over their resources”…..WHICH IS EXACTLY WHAT THE SULTANS CALL FOR DEVOLUTION OF DAMS IS ALL ABOUT) except that this is by the majority

Based on above explanation, will it not then make better suggestion for us as a nation to be seen to be taking the right step in the right direction if we were to as a matter of definite urgency commence a genuine establishment of Spartan Philosophy of government and political system without ambiguity.? And then pursue an apparently focused and developmental evaluation process appropriately and conscientiously cultivated and embroidered to stimulate a new consciousness in the management of the nation’s public affairs with a conviction and certainty that make the document the best of a unique opportunity and assignment. This is a prospect that opens up the leeway of a “Golden Age Nigeria” with equal incontrovertible rights and participation of the people and by the people irrespective of creed, religion or tribe.

The post-colonial national anthem through a composite reflection implants into us the great need to be our brother’s keeper as it says ‘in brotherhood we stand though tribe and tongue may differ”.

But unfortunately the present situation of the country is far from brotherliness as every tribe and tongue is now exhibiting greater differentials in cultural, political, social and economic relativity. This makes it more threatening that except we stand together to embrace togetherness through restructuring, God forbid, the only option enviable might be not the devolution of dams but that of the people and tribes without the retainer-ship of the former geographical illustration of Nigeria – the Somali type of co-habitation.

Do not let us deceive ourselves any further; what we have on ground today is a theatrical invention that infringes on the right of individuals and possibility of the various nations within the Nation Nigeria to clearly without prejudice say “we the people of Nigeria”, a statement that connotes equality and togetherness on all frontiers of sovereignty and nationhood.

For clarity of purpose it is important to stress here that Nigeria is a quasi-sovereign State without the full creed of democracy in place, the more reason and of course a greater need at this point of our national history for all federating units to engage in a process that will facilitate complete trust in the workability of the State via the constitution.

This if allowed will culminate in the building of the much needed faith, appropriate to accommodate a greater reasoning to issues in other to create a political progression that may lead to our rediscovery as a people erecting boundless and interconnected union in harmony.

I therefore argue that what NIGERIA needs today is not the devolution of DAMS but an affirmative choice between con-federalism, federalism and Unitarianism, indeed a true and sincere unrestricted restructuring process stimulated to remove the fear harbored by all particularly the minorities and directly create the much desired trust and understanding anticipated by all participants in this union. I so conclude


 POPOOLA is the Executive Director, Center For Citizenship And Leadership Galaxy. He wrote from Lagos