Restructuring The Federal Structure; A Fresh Political Scheming?
In this piece, the Nigeria News take a look at the incessant calls for restructuring of the country’s Federal structure.
Since the former Head of State, Gen. Ibrahim Babangida threw his weight behind the calls to restructure the political arrangement of Nigeria, the debate has become more heated with various interest groups echoing the voice of the ex-dictator.
Babangida was not the first to speak on restructuring. As a matter of fact, the former Vice President, Atiku Abubakar spoke loud on restructuring but received low ovation.
Abubakar spoke about restructuring at different forums, educating the public why the government must look back at where it was coming from and reset the country political configuration to favour the state more than the central.
To the former vice president, there is need to give to the states more economic power so that they can decide their destiny without necessarily waiting for the central to sort them out during financial crisis.
He posited that the local governments had been rendered useless and would need to be revived in a true Federal System as postulated by the constitution.
Though Abubakar might not be in the right book of the former President Olusegun Obasanjo, he spoke in the same vein with him.
Obasanjo had blamed the inadequacies of the local government on the state governments, which according to him had deliberately impoverished the third tier of the government.
The gladiators had advocated for the devolution of powers but without coming up with an idea of how the structure would look like.
Babangida emphasized on creation of state police in his idea of restructuring, which to many is long overdue if truly the country is operating a federal system.
The Pan-Yoruba Social-Political group, Afenifere wants a new structure in which every state or region will control its resources and only pay VAT to the federal government.
To Afenifere, resource control will bring efficiency to government at the state and region levels as the government would have to work on its comparative advantages with regards to its resources for a bigger Internally Generated Income.
The group also advocated for state policing and would want every state to create its own economic template that should not be tampered with by the federal legislature.
The Igbo Social Cultural group, Ohanaeze also wanted a true federalism with a call to the present government to implement the recommendation of the 2014 national conference.
One of the recommendations is resource control, which the Niger Delta region had been clamouring for over the year.
As the debate was gathering momentum and earning more support from Nigerians, the ruling All Progressives Congress kicked, saying its manifesto was different from what people were seeking and that it would not restructure the federal system.
Shortly after the National Working Committee of the party met with the APC governors, the National Chairman of the party, Chief John Odigie-Oyegun posited that the party’s agenda was to revamp the recessed economy of Nigeria and had no plan whatsoever for restructuring.
He called on those who were calling for restructuring to take a look at the APC manifesto and see if it ever postulated any idea of federal structure.
A look at the manifesto, however showed that the party demanded a true federalism with devolution of powers but Oyegun stated that devolving the power did not necessarily mean that the country polity should be restructured.
He said what was germane to the present government being led by President Muhammadu Buhari was how to provide food on the table of ordinary Nigeria.
He spoke when the party realized that some of its governors love the idea of restructure.
He cautioned the governors not to be carried away by the calls for restructuring, saying that it meant different things to different people.
Reacting to Oyegun, the National Publicity Secretary of Afenifere, Mr. Yinka Odumakin said he was surprised that APC National Chairman did not have adequate knowledge of his party’s manifesto.
According to him, Nigerians voted for APC because of its manifesto and in the last two years, the party had failed woefully without implementing his manifesto.