Nigeria must restructure now – Gov Fayemi

…Says proposal sent to NASS

By Ezeocha Nzeh

Chairman of the Nigeria Governors Forum (NGF), Governor Kayode Fayemi, of Ekiti state has said that there is no better time to restructure Nigeria than now

The NGF chairman, who spoke in Lagos noted that time has come for Nigerians to confront the reality of restructuring to move the country forward.

He said it was time to figure out a structure that is more responsive to the yearnings of the population, cautioning that the Nigerian federation is currently not working.

The NGF Chairman however noted that the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) has never abandoned the quest for restructuring, which he said the party had projected as a core manifesto and set up the El-Rufai Commitee to make recommendations to its leadership.

He disclosed that not only has the panel submitted its report, but concrete steps had been made to make proposals to the National Assembly, adding that the commencement of constitution review by the Omo-Agege Committee, has rekindled the project.

The governor, who argued that true federalism is the only answer for a future Nigeria, added that it would be a big task before the National Assembly to look at the previous reports of National Conferences., where he noted that many recommendations along the line of restructuring, devolution and true federalism were embedded in the reports of the Niki Tobi Panel, the 2004 Conference set up by former President Olusegun Obasanjo and the 2014 conference established by former President Goodluck Jonathan.

The NGF chairman said the current challenges facing Nigeria have shown a clear justification for more devolution of not just functions but resources of the country.

He said: “I think we are getting to a point where we must confront our reality as a federation. We cannot continue to run the economy the way we are doing.

“We have to figure out a structure that is more responsive to the yearnings of the population and this current structure obviously privileges those who are more associated with a unitary federal structure rather than a genuine federal structure that is accountable more to the people and responsive to the challenges that the people have.

“What that structure should be, of course, has been a subject of debate from all sides of Nigeria but clearly the state structure we have now is problematic.

“What is a federal road? The people plying the road in my state do not know the difference between a federal and state road. All they would say is that Mr governor, you are not doing your job.”

He added: “There is entrenched interest to keep Nigeria the way she is; no doubt but there are also entrenched interests of those determined that this country must change and must change for the better.”

While expressing hope that Nigerians would be able to push the argument further to a point where the resources and the powers that reside in Abuja can be devolved effectively including the revenue to support the responsibilities, the NGF chairman said: “I am a known advocate of fiscal federalism and I am saying that even those who were reluctant before are being confronted daily with these challenges and they are asking themselves how long can we continue to do this? Am I elected just to pay salaries?

“It is not just about revenue but creating the enabling environment that would allow investments to thrive in our various states.”
He said he did not see the conflict between the pursuit of fiscal federalism and expanding the devolution project whether one calls it restructuring or constitutional reforms.

“The national Assembly should put together the various constitutional reforms to be consolidated with the report from the APC governors and subject it to a national referendum. I don’t think it is a rocket science but maybe there isn’t that political will in the National Assembly. They cannot say it is Buhari or APC governors that have stopped them from doing this because we have done our bit,” he said.

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