Still on restructuring
As advocates of restructuring I believe the Vice President, Prof. Yemi Osinbajo is on our side. He talks about fiscal restructuring. For instance, he says VAT should be a work and eat formula and so should belong to states where they are incurred rather than the federal. Is that not restructuring?
He further advocates for removal of Federal Government’s overbearing involvement in inland waterways, land matters etc which Lagos fought for via the law courts. He wants state police, as policing, according to him, is a community issue if it must be effective and using his own words you cannot police the entire expanse of this country effectively from Abuja. What he seem to be against is tinkering with the existing geopolitics of what constitutes the federating units. I would agree with him because what he advocates which seems to be the path to true federalism should not be confused with bogging ourselves down with cumbersome geopolitical re- arrangements which some are using to agitate for creation of more states etc or regional units that would further increase expenditures on governance. As attorney general of Lagos State, he fought for restructuring without using the term which of course has acquired different interpretations among the advocates and antagonists of true federalism.
Above all, he is a Yoruba man with the sentiments we want to uphold in this side of the country. Let’s encourage rather than disparage him. Of course, a new federal constitution or a return to the one of 1963 would profoundly serve our desires for decentralisation. But what happens in the mid-term is what renders Osinbajo’s position thinkable considering the fact that constitutional structure is one thing while its operation is another. UK and South Africa are good examples of unitary systems where provinces have acquired considerable autonomy just because operators of the system makes it so.
Perhaps we should prevail on our state governors together with their attorney generals to take a cue from Lagos because more often than not, their style of governance inadvertently move us further away from federalism judging by their actions and inactions.
• Prof. Jide Owoeye is a professor of International Relations, Lead City University, Ibadan.
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