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Nigeria Overdue For Restructuring –Reps, Others

nassSome members of the House of Representatives said on Sunday that Nigeria was overdue for restructuring.

They argued that doing otherwise was to postpone the inevitable as the present structure could not be sustained for too long.

Also, the Ijaw Youth Council believed restructuring the country was the only solution to the multi-faceted problems besetting the country.

The lawmakers, who spoke with The PUNCH in Abuja, argued that the present federal structure was designed to favour a few interests.

For instance, the Chairman, House Committee on the Army, Mr. Rima Shawulu, said it was high time those in authorities answered certain questions.

“Why are some groups eating more than others? Is this our so-called unity all-inclusive? Why are some people not seen to be good unless they are from certain regions?” Shawulu stated.

Shawulu cited what he called “injustice” in some states and zones.

He added, “What about the Niger Delta region? If you visit that place, you will be ashamed to call yourself a Nigerian. This is the region that produces the country’s wealth, which you use to develop every other location, but the communities there are living in conditions below human dignity.

“So, the time is due for all of us to sit down and talk. There is restructuring to be done and we cannot continue to pretend that these issues must be resolved by the constitution alone.”

The Chairman, House Committee on Public Petitions, Mr. Uzoma Nkem-Abonta, shared similar views, saying so long as the country did not attain “financial federalism”, there would be no progress.

“I once sponsored a bill on project Nigeria. What we have today, where there is so much power in the centre, will not work.

“As we speak, the same centre can no longer hold. So, where do we go? Why should all the money be in the centre while the states are weakened? The way to go is, let us restructure. Nigeria is overdue for it.”

On his part, Mr. Babajimi Benson, told The PUNCH that he did not believe in the present structure.

Benson stressed, “It appears we are running a pseudo-structure, which does not really enable us to attain the heights that our talents and resources offer. In my view, the following should happen with the speed of light.

“A new prioritisation of revenue allocation in favour of states. National revenue sharing must recognise the need for equity in the principle of derivation.

“There should be a reduction in this list of the items on Exclusive list to enable states to have a greater leverage.

“States should have absolute control over their God-given inland waterways devoid of federal authorities’ interference.

“A true federal structure should allow state police to exist.

“The above list is not exhaustive but once there is a consensus that we move along this line, the huge potential of Nigeria will be unlocked and we shall see healthy competition amongst states, which will foster growth in the Gross Domestic Product.”

Another member, Mr. Nnana Igbokwe, recalled that the 2014 Constitutional Conference organised during the tenure of former President Goodluck Jonathan  included in its report, the need to restructure Nigeria.

“It is unfortunate that the report was not given any consideration, but it was contained therein that the country should be restructured.

“Our resources are concentrated in the hands of a few as it were. The states deserve more than they are getting right now,’’ he said.

The Leader of the House, Mr. Femi Gbajabiamila, was diplomatic in his response.

When he was asked his position on the call to restructure the country, Gbajabiamila replied, “I don’t have one yet; this is the kind of issue that requires a plebiscite.”

However, several lawmakers, who declined to be quoted, argued that the real problem with the country was “bad leadership.”

One of them added, “Restructuring is good. But if we restructure, it is the same people who will still want to continue ruling in a restructured Nigeria. There are no people coming from the moon.

“Let us be more concerned about holding our leaders accountable. Let our laws work; there should be punishment for wrong-doing. The sacred cow syndrome is what has been killing Nigeria.”

The IYC on its part described restructuring as the most effective solution to the problems affecting the nation’s existence.

The President of the IYC, Mr. Udengs Eradiri, told one of our correspondents on the telephone on Saturday that the President should either implement the report of the constitutional conference or produce an amended version of the report.

He said, “You see, restructuring has always been our position; it is the long term solution to this problem. It is not like Amnesty window-dressing, it is not like some people buying peace; we must restructure the country.

“Until we restructure this country in line with true federalism, we will just be wasting our time. You will stop the avengers today and tomorrow, another group will arrive.

“Our position is that you should dust the national confab report. If you do not like the report, then, you should come and add something or remove what you want to, or you start your own discourse.’’

Meanwhile, the Abuja branch of Cranfied University, United Kingdom Alumni Association has called on the Federal Government to heed the agitation for the restructuring of the country, saying only such would restore sanity in Nigeria.

The organisation, which condemned the beheading of an Igbo trader and wife of a Pastor by suspected Muslim fundamentalists in Kano, over alleged blasphemy, faulted the statement credited to Buhari that N9bn was wasted during the 2014 National Conference, It described the President’s statement as “unfortunate.”

President of the association, Mr. Simon Adesina, stated this on Saturday in Abuja during the donation of food items to the over 22 communities in Gwoza, Bama camp of Internally Displaced Persons in Borno State.

He said, “I believe that only restructuring of this country in the way it was during the First Republic, going back to the regions now called zones, will be the best way for us because it brings healthy competition.

“Restructuring allows every region to work hard and generate funds for themselves and then give to the centre, rather than the centre distributing money and making people to be lazy and depending on one mono product for almost 40 years or thereabout.

“So, I strongly believe that restructuring will help us. Personally, I am not really happy with the statement credited to the President that N9bn was wasted for the 2014 National Conference. How could he say that?

“The confab has 454 eminent people including retired judges, ministers, defence chiefs and many others personalities. How could he therefore say it was a waste of time? I think it was an unfortunate statement and I think that restructuring is what is good for this country.”

culled from THE PUNCH.

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