No true federalism, no viable solution to Nigeria’s challenges, say Gowon, Akande
Former Osun State governor and first interim national chairman of the All Progressives Congress (APC), Chief Bisi Akande, yesterday, insisted Nigeria can only surmount worsening insecurity, poverty and secessionist threats through true federalism and devolution of more powers to states.
He disclosed this in Ado Ekiti during the presentation of a book, titled, ‘Serving with Integrity: Ideology and Praxis of Senator Ayo Fasanmi in Nigeria’s politics,’ in honour of the late Second Republic Senator, Ayo Fasanmi.
Authored by Dr. Olufunmilayo Fasehun, daughter of the elder statesman, and her husband, Dr. Orobola Fasehun, the book was reviewed by former Vice Chancellor, Federal University, Oye Ekiti, Prof. Kayode Soremekun.
In his speech, ‘Fasanmi, a Nigerian Patriot’, Akande, who was represented by former Osun State deputy governor, Titilayo Laoye-Tomori, said: “The purpose of devolution, generally, is to bring government closer to the people, so that problems of security, poverty, and agitation for self-actualisation could be reduced or better handled. The logic is very simple.
“Federating units or subsidiary units are usually the theatre of action. That’s where you have the lands, the forests, the farms, the schools, the hospitals, the manufacturing industries and even roads and citizens, together with daily economic and social activities.
“Take education, for example. What business has the Federal Government to engage in primary and secondary education? These schools are located in the states and their local governments.
“The truth is that subsidiary units perform better in Nigeria when they are in control of their resources, security outfits, forests, and all other activities within their space. That was why the different regional governments were able to achieve a lot between 1954 and 1966, just within a space of 12 years!”
Akande added: “America works because the federal system, which we copied, thrives on devolution of powers by laws between the centre and the states. And each state devolves powers to local governments, known variously as counties, boroughs, municipalities, and townships.
“To improve on the security situation in the country, while police education and training must be centralised and uniform, the policing system for cities and the forests must be decentralised.”
SIMILARLY, former Head of State, Gen. Yakubu Gowon (rtd), backed calls for restructuring of the country during public presentation and launch of a handbook for changing unpleasant narrative of national life, titled: ‘Blueprint For National Retrieval.’
Gowon (represented by former deputy governor of Kogi State, Philip Salawu) said: “Nigeria needs aspects of restructuring to create an enabling environment where everybody will meet his highest potential and where all regions will have something special to offer to the centre, rather than every state or region coming to the centre, at the end of the month, to collect money.
“The states are to be sending money to the centre, which will be concerned with defense, monetary issues, external relations. The six geopolitical zones will be concerned with certain areas where they have comparative advantages.
“This is what some people call fiscal federalism and development federalism, where every region has specific area of comparative advantage that they should specialise on. It’s better for the economy.”
In his remarks, the founder, Centre for Values in Leadership and keynote speaker, Prof. Pat Utomi, said Nigerian leaders need a change of mindsets, noting that poverty is not a function of resources but of the state of mind.