President General of the apex Igbo socio-political organization, Ohaneze Ndigbo, Chief Nnia Nwodo and rights activist, Ayo Opadokun, have insisted that restructuring of Nigeria will resolve agitations by various groups in the country.
Speaking at the Nnamdi Azikiwe University, Awka, during the sixth Zik Lecture Series, the duo agreed that for the country to have peace, those in positions of authority should see the need to put in place mechanism to restructure Nigeria.
In a 28-page lecture, Nwodo identified two models, the conservative type and fundamental devolution of powers, for successful restructuring of the country.
He said the conservative type is aimed at shedding off some of the exclusive powers of the Federal Government, like “issuing of mining licenses, permission for constructing of federal roads and shedding of regulatory powers over investments in critical sectors of the economy like power,” while the other, a fundamental devolution of powers to states, as federating units and a lean federal government, with exclusive powers “for external defence, customs, immigration, foreign relations and a federal Legislature and Judiciary, to make and interpret laws in these exclusive areas. The first approach simply wants the states as the federating units and federal government with limited powers. It wants the states to control a percentage of revenue accruing from their areas and contribute agreed percentage of such revenue to the federal government and other states respectively.
“The second approach proposes the states as federating units, with a region as each of the six geopolitical units, whose constitution will be agreed to and adopted by the states in the geopolitical region. The regions will have the powers to merge existing states or create new ones. There will be regional and states legislature in the respective political entities.”
In his own paper titled, “The political economy of restructuring in Nigeria: Problems and prospects,” Opadokun stressed that the consequences of abrogating a negotiated federal constitutional arrangement, upon which the ethnic nationalities, which were the building blocks subscribed to the independent constitution for a centralised and unitary governance, resulted in perceived and real injustice, inequity, unfairness, discrimination and undue advantages for some, to the detriment of other groups of Nigerians…”
Opadokun who argued that restructuring would not lead to the breakup of the country, but would rather restore power to the federating units to make them legitimate authorities said, “The campaign for national restructuring be it in the form of campaign for resource control, Niger Delta Avengers, MASSOB, IPOB, OPC, Middle Belt Youth Forum etc. accompanied with violence and bloodshed are dimensions of the suffocating nature of the currently unsustainable overreaching unitary government deceptively called Federal Government.
“Since the Military Government started creating states and local governments by fiat, the lop-sidedness and skewed nature of the national structure had become too prohibitive to finance.
“Chief Awolowo had 16 Ministers and 16 Parliamentary Secretaries to run the old Western Region now broken into eight states. Each of them now has at least 15-20 Commissioners who, in turn have private secretaries and special assistants with accompanying housing, vehicular entitlements along with other perquisite of office.
“Therefore, restructuring the Nigerian state to its Federal constitutional arrangements whereby the component units have constitutional power to create administrative units for effective service delivery, will certainly reduce the cost of governance substantially.
“Today, by genuine available data from the Federal Office of Statistics, World Bank and other international institutions, Nigeria for some time, has been spending about 80% of its annual earning on recurrent expenditures to service the various unproductive bureaucracies they have unreasonably created.
“Furthermore, arising from some Army personnel’s determination to have absolute control of Nigeria, which they considered part of their spoils of office, they appropriated all major sources of income residing in the various regions/component units to the central government.
“In the process, the federating components became glorified outposts of the Commander-in-Chief. Call them vassal states/outposts. As a result, everyone had to go cap-in-hand to seek the favour of the Commander-in-Chief for running the state government.
“Again, the military in its determination to have absolute control over Nigeria from 1970s, took over all prime assets and investments of the regions dictatorially; and most of those regional endowments have been ruined, mismanaged and even run out of existence; some today are shadows of what they were when they were founded by the regions.”