Former Chairman of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), Professor Attahiru Jega, has canvassed a rejig of the Nigerian federal system before 2019 to “devolve some powers and responsibilities, and commensurate resources, from the federal to state governments.” He also proposes a review of the revenue allocation formula and realignment of the derivation principle, including “some elements of resource control.”
These are aspects of a four-dimensional reform package he recommended to tackle the historical challenge of poor governance and human insecurity in the country. Jega, currently a political science scholar at the Bayero University, Kano (BUK), spoke in a keynote address on ‘Governance Reforms and Human Security in Nigeria’ at the 10th Annual Forum of Laureates of the Nigerian National Order of Merit (NNOM) and 2017 Award Winners’ Investiture on Wednesday in Abuja.
According to him, reforms are required to cover the four fundamental aspects of governance, namely: the structure, the institutions, the agents/actors and the attitudes/behaviors. He said: “If only Nigeria could begin the governance reform processes with the urgency, as well as the serious commitment that it deserves, we can in a reasonably short time de-escalate tension in the polity and begin to strengthen the foundation of good democratic governance for human security.”
The former electoral chief proposed structural reforms in the short, medium and long terms. The short term, which is before 2019, should witness devolution of responsibilities and resources from the federal to state governments. In the medium term, spanning 2019 to 2024, he canvassed “revised vertical and horizontal formulae for revenue allocation and substantial increase in the derivation principle, with some elements of resource control.” And in the long term, he recommended a fundamental review of the federal arrangement that would result in “a compact, if not small federal government and a revolutionized revenue generation and allocation system.”
Other measures that Professor Jega proposed include institutional changes, which would involve a reform of the Police in particular and the broader national security architecture in general, to “pay more attention to national, i.e. people/citizen/communities’ security, more than to regime or government functionaries’ security.” He said reforming the police should be in short to medium term, while reforming the general security architecture should be in medium to long term.
Besides, he urged acceleration of electoral reforms to enhance electoral integrity, which is key to good governance and the quality of government in Nigeria. In this regard, he advised that the ongoing review of the Electoral Act to boost its democratic content and efficacy should be finalised not later than six months before the 2019 elections.
Among others, Professor Jega also recommended that structures and mechanisms of entrenching transparency and accountability in governance should be improved upon, “especially in strengthening and empowering the anti-corruption agencies, the whistle blower policies, and the judiciary for speedy and impartial adjudication roles.”