Leader of the Nigeria Governors Forum (NGF) and Ekiti Governor, Dr. Kayode Fayemi, has said time has come to confront the reality of restructuring the country.
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.
Governor Fayemi who made the remarks, yesterday, during an interaction with journalists in Lagos, dismissed claim in certain quarters that the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) has dumped restructuring.
He recalled that the party had projected restructuring as a core manifesto and set up the El-Rufai Commitee to make recommendations to its leadership.
Fayemi said not only has the panel submitted its report, concrete steps had been made to make proposals to the National Assembly.
He drew attention to the commencement of constitution review by the Omo-Agege Committee, saying that it has rekindled.
The NGF chairman spoke with reporters in Lagos on preparations for the second year anniversary of his second term, gains and constraints of the administration, conflicts in Ekiti APC and agitations for true federalism.
He said the challenges facing Nigeria have shown a clear justification for more devolution of not just functions but resources to federating units. “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, ‘Mr governor, you are not doing your job.’
To Fayemi, true federalism is the answer, adding that the onus is on the National Assembly to look at the previous reports of National Conferences.
He said 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.
“We must confront our reality as a federation. The current structure is supportive of unitarist model. The state structure for now is problematic. There is need to move towards devolution, not only of functions, but also resources.”
He expressed the hope that Nigerians would be able to push the argument further to a point where the resources and the powers that reside in Abuja could be devolved effectively including the revenue to support the responsibilities.
The governor also spoke on the quest for decentralisation of security, noting the actualisation of the Southwest outfit, Amotekun, and efforts by the Federal Government to kick off community policing.
He said local policing was meaningful and more effective when it is premised on the potency of intelligence gathering in the local environment.
Drawing a link between effective security and the local environment, Fayemi said: “Security cannot be unitarised. It must be devolved.”
He also took cognisance of the protagonists and antagonists of constitution reforms, saying: “There are entrenched conservative interests to keep Nigeria the way it is. There are also entrenched interests to reform Nigeria.”
Reflecting on the activities of agitators for succession, he said: “Nobody wants Nigeria to break up. They only want Nigeria to work for all of us.”
Fayemi, who gave his administration a pass mark in Ekiti, pointed out that the lean resources have been the major constraints.
He said his administration has delivered on legacy projects, attracted investment and funding from many organisations, restored the core values and intensified efforts on the proposed cargo airport.
He noted the intensified intra-party conflicts in Ekiti APC, saying it is not borne out of exclusion, but out ofpermutations for succession in two years’ time.
He said his administration has accommodated all stakeholders as reflected in the appointment of five governorship aspirants as commissioners, one contender into the Federal Character Commission and election of another two into the House of Representatives.
The governor lamented the reluctance of some chieftains to heed to the advice of the APC national leadership to explore the internal mechanism for conflict resolution and withdraw all court cases.
He said he was not distracted by the activities of those behind the conflict.
Fayemi, who said there were no factions in the chapter, said the disciplinary committee set up by the party was based on the directive of the national leadership.
“However, it is in our interest to have a united party. There is a local reconciliation Committee headed by the former chairman of the party, Chief Jide Awe, where they could ventilate their grievances. Its report has been submitted.”
On the recent Edo governorship election, he denied that he deliberately avoided campaigning for the APC candidate.
He said it is a golden rule that the chairman of the NGF, does not just campaign against any sitting member in an election.
He admitted that the loss of APC’s only South South state to the opposition PDP was self-inflicted.
“We put ourselves in the problem. The way and manner of exit of Godwin Obaseki from the APC created a problem. That was reinforced by the fact that popular as Pastor Osagie Ize-Iyamu is as a grassroots mobiliser, he almost disappeared in the campaign. I would liken it to my situation in Ekiti. Not many people would remember the person I ran against (Eleka). I ran against Fayose.
“Obaseki didn’t run against Ize-Iyamu. He ran against you know who (Adams Oshiomhole).”