Legal luminary and frontline constitutional lawyer, Prof. Ben Nwabueze, has again spoken about the on-going national dialogue, proposing a total devolution of powers at the centre to either six or more zones, while the existing 36 states remain basic federating units of government.
What Nwabueze called for in effect was the removal the exclusive powers presently retained by the Federal Government, to be subdivided into ‘super zones’ that the 36 states would still be answerable to.
He made the proposal in Enugu yesterday, while speaking for the Ndigbo, shortly after the meeting of a group, Igbo Leaders of Thought, that was well attended by prominent personalities.
Nwabueze stated that the proposal was strategic to the future of the Igbo in Nigeria and pleaded with other parts of Nigeria to appreciate the new proposal.
He also noted with dismay, the alleged smuggling of a draft constitution into the National Conference and expressed sadness on how the issue of self-determination had been carpeted by the delegates.
His words: “We also noted that the two strategic thinking of Ndigbo which we are hoping to achieve through the National Conference is the zonal structure of the Nigerian federation, that is, the creation of six or more zones in the country.
“Let the existing 36 states be retained as part of the federation. In other words, that is federation upon federation; you start with the 36 states as the basic federating units, retaining their powers under the existing constitution and going from there to the zonal units and from there to the Federal Government.
“We believe that this is strategic to the interest of Ndigbo, because we cannot achieve the kind of autonomy that we desire under the existing 36 states structure, going from there to the Federal Government,” Nwabueze said.
He added: “The existing 36 states are not able at all to be effective in administering the kind of powers that will be devolved in them, taking from the centre to them; they will not be able to administer effectively, every experience points to it.
“So, if you want to reduce the power of the centre, which is the problem we are having today, the over powerful centre, you must take away some powers from the centre, and when you do that, whom do you give this, the existing 36 states, they would not be able to shoulder the responsibility and they will also not be able to administer the money that will be taken away from the centre and given to the federating units.
“All these point to a new structure: the Federal Government, which is the centre, the zones, six or more, then the states.