By Chukwudi Nweje
The Nigerian Press Organisation (NPO) has charged the Federal Government to immediately take steps towards addressing the socio-economic, political and security challenges threatening the existence and unity of the country.
The body comprising Newspaper Proprietors’ Association of Nigeria (NPAN), Nigerian Guild of Editors (NGE), and Nigeria Union Of Journalists (NUJ) also condemned the high cost of governance, outrageous allowances and flamboyant lifestyles of political officers and appealed to politicians and state actors to minimise their inflammatory rhetorics to reduce tension and ease the growing sense of fear among Nigerians
It also called for the pruning of the excessive powers vested in the Federal Government. It said the country’s resources hold innumerable economic and soft power advantages for the well being of the entire population if well managed.
These positions are contained in a communique jointly signed today by Kabiru A. Yusuf, President NPAN and President NPO; Mustapha Isa, President of NGE and Chris Isiguzo, President of NUJ after the end of its recent meeting in Abuja.
The NPO tasked the Federal Government to immediately implement the report of the Kaduna Governor, Mallam Nasir el’Rufai-led committee report on true federalism and restructuring even as it also called for the implementation of the Steve Orosanye report on restructuring and rationalisation of Federal Government parastatals, commissions and agencies, which provides a veritable road map for arresting the unsustainable high cost of governance.
The El’Rufai committee inaugurated in August 2017 by the Progressive Governors Forum, the umbrella body of governors elected on the All Progressives Congress (APC) ticket, submitted its report in January 2018,recommending the merger of states to boost their solvency, review of derivation, devolution of power, state police and other far-reaching adjustments to the structure of governance.
Said the NPO: “A Federal system of government, particularly in a country like Nigeria which is an overbearing centre is counterproductive to the development of the centre itself and the component units. To leave the Federal Government with 68 items under the Exclusive Legislative List, including policing, is a recipe for unending destructive tension in the struggle for advantage among the federating units. It explains why our country is seemingly overwhelmed by non-state actors engaged in criminality and separatist agitations.”
It cautioned the Federal Government on the frequency at which it solicits foreign loan as it may spell doom in the future considering the dwindling relevance of crude oil, the country’s major revenue earner in the world market.
“There is a need to avoid the debt overhang inherent in excessive borrowing. We are aware that borrowing is good so long as such loans are deployed to funding enduring development projects, within the GDP ratio. However, the current borrowing in the face of the slide in the value of the country’s number one revenue earner-oil remains worrisome,” NPO said.
It called for the immediate passing of the Petroleum Industry Bill, (PIB) and asked the government to put pressure on the National Assembly to hasten action on the bill.
“The Bill has gone into our history as the longest bill to ever go through legislative processes. It is of common knowledge that the petroleum industry has been long overdue for an overhaul and the passage of the bill will be a major boost. That the bill has stayed this long in the National Assembly militates against improved corporate governance in the oil sector.”
The group lamented that Nigeria has been embroiled lately in profound socio-economic, political and security challenges that threaten its very existence as reflected in ethnic divisions and separatist agitations in the country, with growing fears that an implosion is imminent.
“Today, criminality – kidnapping for ransom, banditry, arson, killings – defines the everyday reality for a good number of our citizens.”