Why restructuring is imperative, by Senate panel chair
Agitation for the decentralisation of the Nigerian federation on a sustainable form in terms of power, resource and function devolution between the Federal Government and the 36 states was yesterday re-echoed by the National Assembly.
Chairman, Senate Committee on Judiciary, Human Rights and Legal Matters, Senator Michael Opeyemi Bamidele (APC, Ekiti Central), who made the call in Abuja, said the earlier, the political leaders across the country stopped playing the ostrich over the issue, the better.
According to him, Nigeria has gravitated towards “centralisation of almost everything than decentralisation, making the country to be practically unitary in nature, rather than federal.
“As to the need for decentralisation, I remain committed to true federalism, and the need to restructure because it is the way forward. We can not run away from it,” he stated.
Bamidele submitted that “anyone who doesn’t believe in true federalism is only pretending or doesn’t have a scientific understanding of what is wrong with our society, and what ought to be done.”
The Ekiti lawmaker harped on the adoption of a people constitution that addresses “very critical issues, including the issue of restructuring of our polity, economy, means of sharing our common wealth. And the earlier we do this, the better.”
He continued: “I know of people who cannot go to their states of origin, but rather stay in Abuja for safety reason, and they feel something has to be done. But if you tell them of the need for a state police, they will still oppose it, even though they are stuck. A lot of things are wrong.”
Bamidele further averred: “The Nigerian leadership is still playing the ostrich. And my hope and prayer are that we will come to terms with the reality of our situation before it is too long.
“What is the percentage of our budget that goes to the federating units? Some of the states don’t have the capacity to even do anything. We have a state where after paying salaries, will hardly can even do anything in terms of income generation.”
The senator lamented that everybody comes cap in hand to the centre. It is a problem, and no country can grow that way.”He explained that the demerits of the current system were that, “today, we have a situation where the groundnut pyramid is gone, which was the bastion of the economy of the north. The cocoa export, which was the bastion of the economy of the western region, is flat on the floor. It is still possible for us to revisit all these things.
“But because we found oil as a federal structure, every body abandoned every other thing, and our economy became monolithic. Today, by lip service, a lot of administrations had stressed the need to broaden the scope of our economy and take it beyond oil. But to a very large extent, we have not been able to work the talk in that regard.”He, therefore, beseeched the ruling class and the opposition to demonstrate responsibility by purging themselves of monopoly of patriotism and knowledge.