BY TUNDE THOMAS and VINCENT KALU
APC leaders in the South-West geo-political zone of the country have declared that their recent declaration in support of fiscal federalism is borne out of patriotic zeal to ensure that peace and unity of the country is not threatened by recent agitations and pockets of crises in various parts of the country which are capable of setting the nation on fire.
In a separate interviews with Saturday Sun in Lagos, yesterday, Chairman, APC Lagos State, Chief Henry Ajomale, and National Legal Adviser of the party, Dr Muiz Banire, said the meeting of the party leaders held at Premier Hotel, Ibadan, Oyo State, where the decision to back fiscal federalism was taken was convened as part of efforts being made to find long lasting solutions to various problems confronting the nation.
According to them, it is what will save Nigeria from disintegration.
They noted that contrary to insinuations from some quarters that Southwest was clamouring for resource control because crude oil has been struck in Lagos, both party leaders disagreed with that. Banire noted that it wasn’t the issue even though some may express that sentiment. However, Ajomale said, for a long time prominent leaders from the zone have always been at the forefront of the agitations for change. We have always been at the forefront of whatever measures we believe will strengthen unity in our nation, stressing, “We have always been championing the need for every part or zone of the country to have a sense of belonging. “We believe in true practice of Federalism, and we will never shy away from talking about what we believe will strengthen it.
“The fact we must all face is that today restructuring has become inevitable, but unfortunately some people including some elites are confusing people. They are misleading people about restructuring. Some are peddling falsehood that restructuring will lead to break-up of Nigeria. For us, restructuring will strengthen the nation and prevent it from break-up”.
On how this could be achieved when most Northern leaders are opposed to it, Banire noted that even though , it is a volatile issue, the federal government has to engage every part of the country to achieve that instead of resorting to violence that would not be in the best interest of the country.
Ajomale said it is very simple. According to him, “under the restructuring we have in mind, Nigeria will be reduced from the present 36 states structure to six regions or six geo-political zones. Six states that presently made up each geo-political zone will form a region and each region will be given freedom to take control of resources in its region.
“The region will now pay tax from resources being exploited in their region to the Federal government. This is what is called fiscal federalism.”
This is the way it is done in those countries that practice true federalism including the United States of America.
“It was also being done the same way in Nigeria in the first republic before the military truncated democracy in 1966. That was the era of groundnut pyramid in Kano in the North, Cocoa in the West and Coal in the East. But the military intervention disrupted everything”.