From Oluseye Ojo, Ibadan
Former Vice Chairman, Senate Committee on National Planning, Economic Affairs and Poverty Alleviation, Senator Olufemi Lanlehin, has warned that Nigeria needs restructuring very urgently, otherwise the country might not exist as a corporate entity any longer.
In an interview with newsmen in Ibadan, the Oyo State capital, he said the current socio-economic and political challenges besetting the nation have necessitated the restructuring.
Lanlehin, who advocated the return of the country to parliamentary system of government from the current presidential system, noted that restructuring of Nigeria is beyond what the National Assembly can do through constitution amendment.
According to him, “What we have is far above what the National Assembly can do. The National Assembly has been trying to amend the constitution of Nigeria since 2003. They tried in 2007 when ‘Baba’ wanted to inject what I don’t know in the constitution. It was also tried in 2011. Now, there is another constitution review committee in the House of Representatives.
“So, they have always been doing that. But what Nigeria is facing now is so major that it has gone above tinkering with the constitution. We need a major restructuring, or at the end of the day, we would have no Nigeria. So, we must restructure very quickly because things are just falling apart.”
Justifying his position for parliamentary system, he said: “I have watched both systems – parliamentary and presidential systems in action and I know that in the parliamentary system, not only are you representing your people in government, you are also representing your people in the parliament.
“To that extent, you cannot be a minister or hold any office of major substance without being elected. To that extent, you’ll know what your people need, when they need it, how they need it and how what they need will get to them.”
Lanlehin also urged President Muhammadu Buhari to ensure that good managers and experienced people who understand the method, process, undercurrent and nuances of the economy are allowed to handle the economy with a view for the country to getting out of the biting economic recession. Fielding questions on the constituency projects by lawmakers, Lanlehin described constituency project in the context of the present presidential system as a very good thing, saying: “It is the only way the lawmakers can re-assess, evaluate and listen to the needs of the people in significant terms.
“No matter the amount of grammar you speak on the floor of the House, no matter the importance of the legislation you introduce, it is not the primary concern of your people; their primary concern is bread and butter. They are concerned with their day-to-day survival – housing, water, food, health, which the executive is supposed to provide, at the national, state and local government levels.
“So, it is a very good opportunity for parliamentarians to be relevant.
I find it very useful in the sense that I touched lives in all the nine local governments and 99 wards that constitute the district I represented. I listened to everybody. I was able to build boreholes, schools, health centers, solar-powered street light. We did 54 streetlight and another 50 from our pocket. Everywhere we went; people would ask us for solar-powered streetlight. I ensured that what we were given was used. “The money for constituency projects was not given to the legislators directly. They passed through the appropriate Ministries, Department and Agency (MDA). If you don’t follow through, they would just do something not worth it for you. By the time I left office, there were some projects that had not been completed. I went back and spent millions of naira to complete some of them from my pocket. Those that have not been completed, I will complete all of them.”