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Restructuring: Autonomy and devolution of powers

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Rev. Fr. John Damian

Almost every wellmeaning Nigerian is talking about restructure and devolution of powers. With the exception of few individuals and states who are benefitting from the present day imbalanced system and unjust structure of government, most people are fed up with the current centralization of power, and one single treasury account; which has caused a lot of delay in the execution of projects, injustice, tension and agitations. Some people are fed up with Nigeria and are even ready to form their sovereign independent nation, while many others who want to remain in Nigeria are insisting on restructuring and devolution of powers, as a way forward.

There is no doubt, most of the agitations in the country, especially the agitations from MASSOB and IPOB, has gone a long way in creating awareness on the injustice and imbalanced system of government in Nigeria. Without those agitations I doubt if Nigerians would have seen the need for restructuring. Without those agitations most people would have taken the one-sided political appointments for granted. Some of the regions would have been suffering and dying in silence. Without those agitations one particular region would have continued to produce Presidential candidate without any remorse and any consideration of other regions. Thereby seeing political powers as their birth right.

Their extreme move for secession may not be the way forward, but at least they have achieved something by convincing the world, especially the Nigerians on the importance of restructuring and devolution of power. They have also succeeded in encouraging the people on how to hold their leaders accountable for all their actions.

Whether we are talking of restructure or secession, one thing that is common is that every region wants to gain autonomy and they want to get a share of their own national cake. Those who are seeking for secession are looking for absolute autonomy whereas those who are advocating for restructuring are looking for certain level of autonomy. There will be no autonomy without devolution of power from the centre.

Autonomy means gaining more power and more responsibility. Hence, to whom much is given much is expected. Autonomy is the foundation of empowerment and self-actualization. Without autonomy we cannot discover our potentialities. We need autonomy both at regional and state level. Any individual or a state that is controlled by external forces can never discover their ability and potentiality. We can only expect much from an individual or a state when we grant them the autonomy to actualize more. Without autonomy there will be no healthy competition. Autonomy is indeed the essence of development. Where there is no autonomy there is little or no sense of development.

Freedom is the essence of autonomy. Children of God are not and should not be in bondage. They are free citizens. That is why St. Paul declares, “For freedom Christ has set us free; stand firm therefore, and do not submit again to a yoke of slavery” (Galatians 5:1). To be under the yoke of slavery is to be controlled by external forces. These external forces could be spiritual, intellectual or even political.

Autonomy does not mean anarchy. In fact, there is nothing like absolute autonomy. A tree cannot make a forest. No one is an island. We cannot exist in isolation. In his letter to the Romans 13:1-2, St Paul declares, “Let every person be subject to the governing authorities. For there is no authority except from God, and those that exist have been instituted by God. Therefore whoever resists the authorities resists what God has appointed, and those who resist will incur judgment.” Autonomy or devolution of power does not mean secession.

The states or the regions should be allowed to develop and control their treasure and resources. By so doing they will not be expecting monthly allocations from the Federal government. They will not wait for the Federal government to come all the way from Abuja to do roads across their states. With this, every state will be more responsible and there will be a healthy competition across the states in Nigeria.

• Rev. Fr. John Damian Adizie, Director of Int’l Youth and Empowermnt; Mobile: 08076635886;.email: johndamianocd@yahoo.co.uk


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Rev. Fr. John Damian
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