Prominent Nigerians converge on restructuring

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The issue of restructuring is increasingly getting more traction across the country. It is believed in many quarters that Nigeria may not make the desired progress unless the country undergoes some form of restructuring. More eminent personalities in Business, politics, the academia and other fields of endeavour are converging on this sensitive topic as can be seen in this compilation by INIOBONG IWOK

Olusegun Obasanjo, former president

“Let me lay more emphasis on the issue of security, which in itself is serious enough to make restructuring imperative. The South-west governors cried out and devised Amotekun as a solution or part-solution, we have yet to see how successfully that will be operated. Other zones are clamouring for a solution because in no state and in no geopolitical zone is life and property safe and secure.Criminality is the order of the day. And it cuts across the entire nation. Insecurity is one issue of commonality among Nigerians, no matter their tribe, language, religion, geographical location, gender, age or social position.I leave out economy which is in the doldrums and fighting corruption where you see more heat than light and which is festering like a bad sore.That, to me, is what reform of federating units and restructuring is all about and not about break-up or disintegration.I remain firmly convinced that without reform of federating units, as I will like to satisfy those who may not like the word ‘restructuring’, Nigeria will remain insecure, unstable, non-progressive and stagnated at best or disintegrated at the worst.”

Goodluck Jonathan, former president

“How do we restructure to make sure that those things don’t happen again? This shows restructuring alone may not solve all the anomalies in our system. I believe that restructuring for a better nation is good but there are other fundamental issues we should also address. We cannot restructure in isolation without tackling the challenges that polarise our nation. These include nepotism, ethnic and religious differences as well as lack of patriotism. The issues of tribe and religion have continued to limit our unity and progress as a nation.”

Wole Soyinka, Nobel Laureate

“They are given a certain problem to solve, and when they arrived here they met another problem. One way of stopping the bloodbath is to reconfigure the nation. States must be given maximum control over their resources. There are some, who prefer to grow rice, there are others who prefer to grow religion and we know where religion has taken us today.Some people will like to say, it is not really religion that has gotten us to where we are, I agree with you; but some people have manipulated religion to suit their purpose. The effect of those who manipulated it is disastrous. If some people prefer to grow rice, and others to grow Sharia, then, both sides should be given the means to develop. Those insisting on restructuring do so because they know that there is something wrong with the state of Nigeria.

Ayo Adebanjo, Afenifere chieftain

“Interestingly, when we talk of restructuring, some of our friends from the North will say ‘they want to break the country’. But, anyone opposed to true federalism which is restructuring is the one who wants to break the country. The question of insecurity the country is facing now is because the governors do not have control over the security agencies in their states. That is what we need to address now.
Anybody talking about the election without changing this constitution does not love this country. The Constitution we have now is a fraudulent constitution, it is not our constitution. Most importantly, it has failed, and everybody testifies to this fact. It is simply not working.”

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Attahiru Jega, former INEC chairman

“Across the world, about 25 countries, which represent 40 percent of the global population practise the federal system of government. What is clear is that when you look at the Nigerian context, not only has there been a long military rule but in the 20 years of civilian rule, we have not made significant progress. Nigeria is one of the worst models of political accommodation of diversities, power as well as resource sharing. What account for the difference between Nigeria and other countries with more effective management of their diversity are elite consensus and good governance. Bad governance and over concentration of power at the centre is a recipe for disaster. For its stability, progress, and development as a modern nation-state, Nigeria’s current federal structure needs refinement and improvement or some form of what can be called restructuring.”

John Nwodo, former president-general of Ohanaeze Ndigbo

“The avoid the coming catastrophe, Nigeria must restructure and divert attention to agriculture. There was only one reason why things worked so well then. We had a regional system of government that allowed regions to enjoy sovereignty over their resources whilst paying royalties and taxes to the federal government. Our domestic security was independent and uncontrolled by the federal government.Suddenly, the army came to power and abrogated our constitution, turned us into a unitary state and imposed a unitary constitution on us. They seized our natural resources and donated them to the federal government to share without adequate respect for derivation. Nigeria must restructure and give its component units sovereignty over its natural resources provided they pay royalty or some form of taxes to the federal government to maintain federal responsibilities like external defence, foreign missions, customs and immigration.Processes to begin our restructuring as a nation must be concluded before the 2023 elections so as to avert a situation where sections of the country may boycott the elections and present the country with a constitutional force majeure.”

Olisa Agbakoba(SAN)

“Many proposals, including restructuring, have been put forward without success. I believe there is a simple solution. This is devolution of powers. The Constitution has two legislative lists: exclusive and concurrent. These lists have 98 items of powers. The Federal Government exercises exclusive power over 68 items on the exclusive list. The states, in concurrence with the Federal Government, exercise power over 30 items on the concurrent list. But the states may only exercise power on the concurrent list, only if the Federal Government has not already ‘covered the field’ on any of the 30 items. In effect, state governments have no power. I suggest that to resolve this, a committee may review the 98 items of power and assign what is best to federal and what is best to the states, based on the principle of subsidiarity. I also suggest the exclusive list and concurrent list be renamed as the Federal Legislative List and State Legislative list. The Federal Government will exercise reserved powers. The states will exercise devolved power. In my opinion, the simple process of devolved powers can be by an enactment styled, Constitution Alteration (Devolution of Powers) Bill. This will resolve the self-imposed complex issue of restructuring.”

Governor Kayode Fayemi

“My definition of it is, nation-building is a continuous process. At this point in time, based on the experience we have all had in Nigeria, it’s time to reduce the number of items we have on our exclusive list to a few, and those few, I mentioned, are defence, nation security, economy and customs.Every other thing on the list should be devolved to the state. In order for the state not to suffer a tyranny of unfunded mandate, you don’t just devolve responsibilities, you devolve resources. So, you need to change the framework for revenue allocation and distribution in Nigeria. We will continue to review and refine the structure of the country. That’s why the constitutional reform process is on.I am a strong believer in devolution of resources to where the government is closest to the people…Governors have argued security operations would be more accountable if they are devolved to the lower end of government responsibilities”.

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Governor Nasir El-Rufai

“I am not aware of any significant constituency that is against the idea that states should exercise consequential powers, assume more responsibilities and control resources to enable them deliver better outcomes for those they govern. This will empower state governments to cease passing the buck to the president and the Federal Government when most of the problems our citizens face daily as a nation are, and can be solved by improved and focused governance at the states’ level.It is time to make this sort of well-defined restructuring work, for the benefit of the peoples of this country. The report of our APC true federalism committee puts in one place the recommendations, and the legislative amendments to give life to a restructured polity. I therefore,s call on our federal legislators and the national assembly ad hoc committee on constitutional review to take advantage of our report and initiate the constitutional and legislative amendments in either a piece-meal or comprehensive manner without further delay.We, therefore, have no excuse not to seize this moment and do the heavy lifting for our country and our people. It is in our hands to make the structures, laws and constitutional arrangements in our country conducive to modern governance that will ensure our nation thrives in the 21st Century.”

Buba Galadima, a former national secretary of the defunct Congress for Progressive Change (CPC)

“I believe very strongly in restructuring, but what form of restructuring? Up till now, nobody has been able to define the restructuring they agitate about. We can do restructuring to make Nigeria better if it is the restructuring I am thinking about. While asked about the restructuring he was thinking about, he said it is a country that has made adequate provision and follows up for the development of the country. No politician comes to talk about; if you vote for me, I will give you borehole, I will give you electricity. All those have been guaranteed in the agreed Plan.”

Edwin Clark, elder statesman and leader of Pan Niger Delta Forum (PANDEF)

“We need a proper restructuring of this country; where everybody will be equal, where appointments will not come from one particular place and others are just waiting. The problems in the country might continue irrespective of who wins the 2019 presidential election. Once you have a Nigeria where some people are superior, and others are inferior, then you don’t have a country. We believe in one thing, and that is that the Constitution Nigeria has today is faulty; if that constitution is not changed, all will not be well.”

Enoch Adeboye, general overseer, Redeemed Christian Church of God

“Why can’t we have a system of government that will create what I will call the United States of Nigeria? Let me explain. We all know that we must restructure. It is either we restructure, or we break up; you don’t have to be a prophet to know that. That is certain restructure or we break up. Now, we don’t want to break up, God forbid. In restructuring, why don’t we have a Nigerian kind of democracy? At the federal level, why don’t we have a President and a Prime Minister? If we have a President and a Prime Minister, we shared responsibilities between these two, so that one is not an appendage to the other. For example, if the President controls the Army, the Prime Minister controls the Police. If the President controls resources like oil and mining, the Prime Minister controls finance and Inland Revenue, taxes, customs etc. You just divide responsibilities between the two. At the state level, you have the governor and the premier, and the same way, you distribute responsibilities to these people in such a manner that one cannot really go without the other. Without any doubt, we must restructure and do it as soon as possible.”

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Prof. Remi Sonaiya, a former presidential candidate of KOWA in 2015

“I am a firm believer in the fact that the system that we are currently running, this centralised unitary system is not working, it is simply not working and it’s a reality that we should face and come up with an alternative. A powerful central government where everything is decided in Abuja is not to our advantage. We will continue to be an undeveloped country because of it. If we had a better arrangement that will let every area generate and have control over its resources, we will find out that we will become a better country, we will become more prosperous, but in this arrangement where everyone is just looking up to Abuja for sharing patronage, distribution of oil wells, except for people like we hear, those who can be mining gold, illegally in Zamfara, but that is not helping the people. So, it’s clear that this structure is not working. Police are national, people have been screaming, agitating for us to have state police, local police, or community police to fight some of these problems of security that we have. So, I don’t like an attitude of some people saying: this is how things have always been. In fact, this is not how things have always been. We did not have a unitary system before; it was imposed on us by the military so why are they now saying that there is nothing like restructuring when what we are practising is not working. We are not running true fiscal federalism. This was not how Nigeria was before and we should be able, to be honest with ourselves, and say that this system is not helping us, not working. It’s time we tell ourselves the bitter truth that this system is not working, will not work and will not take us anywhere in terms of genuine development.”

Obiageli Ezekwesili, former Education minister

“I am genuinely curious about this and need to learn more. What is the SOLID argument you have heard from those who are against Restructuring? I have searched and searched; found none and so decided to widen my search. What is the CASE AGAINST Restructuring? …The dominant political culture is the monopolistic service that has retarded and stagnated the country. So, we want to produce a value-based political class that understands ethical policies, competence and how to build systems and procedures that enable the growth of the society. We cannot afford to be spectators. We all should therefore arise and fix our nation; we are the Nehemiahs.”

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