• Seeks return to 6 zonal arrangement as he launches book tomorrow
By Iheanacho Nwosu, Abuja
DEPUTY Senate President Ike Ekweremadu has advocated collapse of the current 36 state structure into six zonal arrangements.
He said such step was the only way to check the current challenge being experienced by states in the area of meeting their financial obligations.
The Federal Government, last year granted bailout to states to enable them offset salary arrears owed civil servants.
Ekweremadu, in a book, “Who will love my country: Ideas of building the Nigeria of our dreams,” which will be presented to the public tomorrow, insisted that adoption of six geopolitical zonal structure remained the only credible option for Nigeria to relaunch herself into prosperity.
He contended that the abolition of the 36 states would ensure that the latent potentials for growth by the regions was released . He said the current arrangement had ,over the years, been foiled by the reckless derailment of the country’s federalism by successive military governments.
Ekweremadu hailed the nation’s founding fathers, Chief Obafemi Awolowo, Dr. Nnamadi Azikiwe and Sir Ahmadu Bello for espousing federalism as the basis of the country’s federation at independence. He said suggestions that fiscal federalism would bring about distortive growth were untenable, affirming that even in a forest, not all trees are equal.
“The major blame for our fumbling and abortive federalism should always be laid at the doorstep of the military. From the first military coups d’état and the promulgation of Decree 34 of 1966 to the termination of the last military rulership on May 29, 1999, the Nigerian armed forces snatched away, not only the nation’s democracy, but also her federalism.
“They then took deliberate steps to unmake or mar the nation’s federal arrangement. Decrees, policies and constitutions devised by the military all resulted in the termination of fiscal federalism, the balkanisation and distortion of federating units, and weird policing arrangements, among a myriad of anomalies that have not only left our federation like a bat, (neither a bird nor a mammal), but have compromised national development, unity and peace.
“Unless we reform the nation’s federalism, Nigeria might never recover, because the current arrangement results in underdevelopment, inequity, bad blood, corruption, maladministration, incompetence, ineptitude, and indolence. Many things have gone wrong with our brand of federalism.
The Deputy Senate President maintained “I am a staunch disciple of self-determination. However, at the risk of sounding contradictory, we must be frank enough to admit that the number of states we have today, or plan to create, is simply not sustainable. They have put so much pressure on the scarce resources because the states, as we know them today, are not platforms for wealth creation, but for wealth sharing. The more the number of states and local government areas a people can boast of, the greater the chunk of the “national cake” they take home every month.
He recommended a reduction in the number of federating units and the devolution of more powers to the federating units as the centre has obviously bit off more than it could actually chew.
“It is best for the nation to return to the regional arrangement with six geopolitical zones as federating units. This will help us to shrink the size and cost of government and to increase the volume of resources available to the regions. It will cut down the cost of governance drastically and help the federating units to benefit from economies of scale, particularly in mega-development projects. With just six regional capitals, the current states can serve as small provinces for administrative convenience.