Human Rights lawyer, Barr. Femi Falana(SAN) and the 14th Emir of Kano, Muhammad Sanusi II, have sought for genuine restructuring in the country that would be based on equitable distribution of wealth between the federal and state governments.
They warned the proponents not to perceive the agitations from the prism of primordial sentiments like secession, call for civil war and division that would further disunite the country.
They spoke at the Ekiti State University, Ado-Ekiti, on Wednesday, when Falana delivered a lecture titled: ‘Restructuring and The Liberation of Nigeria’, as part of the activities marking the institution’s 24th convocation ceremonies.
The Lagos Lawyer urged the proponents to pile pressure on President Muhammadu Buhari to set machinery in motion and push the governors to deepen federalism using legal instrumentality, for equitable distribution of wealth and radical development of the nation.
Falana stated that there was need to really remove the confusion in the restructuring advocacy, which he said was largely causing confusion between a more united Nigeria federation and agitations of secessionists and separatists.
“Nobody will give us restructuring. Even when APC campaigned, they promised restructuring, but when President Buhari got to power, he reneged on this. The governors must be bold enough to take up Abuja and demand for fair share of the country’s wealth.
“Restructuring without equitable distribution of wealth won’t bring the needed change and development that will build the foundation of our economy and make it gain global reckoning and work for the citizens.
“But I am warning that power devolution to the states without democratising such powers is dangerous to our system.”
Falana also raised the alarm over the country’s rising debt profile, which currently stands at $85.9 billion as a death trap that will spell doom for the nation if the odious trend is not reversed.
He said the payment of $12.4 billion to the London/Paris club notwithstanding, that Nigerians are worried about how the state and the federal government have been plunging the country into unprecedented debts.
The Legal Luminary, who rued the country’s frightening domestic and foreign debts said: “Breakdown shows that the total external debt is N11.36 trillion ($31.47 billion) of the total stock , while domestic debts represented N19.65trillion ($54.42 billion) as at June 2020.
“The reports revealed that Nigeria used N921.9 billion to service domestic debts between January and June 2020, while N288 billion ($759.6 million) for foreign debts totalling N1.21 trillion making debt service to increase by 14.6 percent .
“The federal government has earmarked 25 percent for payment and service of debts, 30 percent for capital and 45 percent for recurrent in 2021 budget. It is indubitably clear that the development of the country can’t be guaranteed with 30 percent for capital projects in the budget.
“No responsible government will take loans to fund unnecessary and unproductive bureaucracy. You can only take loans to fund capital projects, this has been the global practice.”
Also speaking on restructuring, the University’s Chancellor and 14th Emir of Kano, Muhammad Sanusi II, admonished Nigerians to resist anyone deploying the restructuring agitation to divide Nigeria.
He said: “There is a difference between restructuring and secession, there is a difference between restructuring and division, there is a difference between restructuring and civil war. Some are using ethnic profiling to divide us. Ethnicity and religion are mere identities, they don’t really represent our values and whom we truly are.
“Nigeria has problems that are far more beyond restructuring, though restructuring is important, but let us follow the rules and build a strong system through our strong moral values and approaches to issues.”
The Chairman of the occasion and Catholic Bishop of Ekiti Diocese, Most Reverend Felix Ajakaye, appealed to Nigerian leaders not to allow religious and ethnic barriers to divide the nation.
Earlier the Vice Chancellor of the University, Prof Edward Olanipekun stated that the topic of the lecture was carefully chosen to provide recommendation that would be able to address fundamental issues desired for collective interrogation as a Nation.