Buhari Will Restructure Nigeria In Second Term, Says VON DG

Ahead of tomorrow’s parley between the leaderships of Ohanaeze Ndigbo and Afenifere in Enugu State, a chieftain of the All Progressives Congress (APC) in the South-east, Osita Okechukwu, on Tuesday assured the southern leaders that the much talked about political restructuring would be addressed during President Muhammadu Buhari’s second term.

Okechukwu who described the proposed parley as ‘handshake across the Niger,’ congratulated the President General of Ohanaeze Ndigbo, Chief John Nnia Nwodo, for convening the meeting of the southern leaders.

In a statement made available to journalists, Okechukwu who is also the Director General of Voice of Nigeria (VON) however, appealed to Igbo and Yoruba leadership to support the Rails, Roads, and Power (RRP) projects, the economic restructuring initiated by President Buhari.

He said the meeting provides an opportunity for Igbo delegates to lobby their Yoruba counterparts to support the creation of additional states in the South-east and a President of Igbo extraction in 2023 after Buhari’s second tenure.

“To be candid, I’m one of those, who view the two as competing brothers rather than adversaries as some have internalised. I also share the view that the unity of the two will in no small measure enhance the unity of our dear country.

“Before one suggests or proposes possible take-aways, from the meeting, let me without being immodest state that I only read about the meeting in one of the major national newspapers, the Vanguard to be specific. From the story one of the cardinal agenda is restructuring, if this is the case, one therefore may humbly seek permission to propose a way forward.

“That delegates should take serious and deep analysis of President Muhammadu Buhari’s economic restructuring captured in RRP – Rails, Roads and Power projects, as enunciated in his 2018 New Year Speech.

“This to me is important because Mr. President has in the midst of competing options elected to first embark on massive critical infrastructure renewal, after which he will embark on political restructuring. The infrastructure renewal is an urgent programme in the face of huge infrastructural deficit.

“I agree that some may argue, why not both together or no, we can do better infrastructural development in regional units. Those who argue the regional option born out of devolution of power, easily forget that our governors control about 48 per cent of monies accruing to the Federation Account and nobody queries them like the federal government,” Okechukwu quipped.

Okechukwu said because the state governors were not held accountable like the president at the federal government, the state Houses of Assembly act like Rubber-Stamp Assembly; leading to democracy recession compounded by lack of free and fair local government council election and no anti-graft agency at the local unit. While arguing that until will grow democracy at the state level and hold the state governors, chairmen and councillors accountable, we will never appreciate the critical infrastructural foundation being laid by President Buhari. It is in this connection that a large spectrum of Buhari’s supporters nationwide have agreed with him to first embark on RRP and to embark on political restructuring during his second term.

“Mr. President I know, is aware that one of the cardinal programmes in our great party’s manifesto is devolution of powers from the center to the units. He has this on his cards. And therefore no political party, at least, not All Progressives Congress (APC) for sure will hold on ad infinitum to 68 items in the Exclusive List of the 1999 Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria without amendment.” he said.

He reminded the Igbo delegates to the meeting the demand of President Buhari from our leaders in the last meeting at Aso Presidential Villa, where in response to their demand for an additional state to par the South-east with other geopolitical regions with six states, demanded that we should name the particular state of our choice, which has not been done.

Okechukwu maintained that the meeting provides a golden opportunity for Igbo delegates to lobby their Yoruba brothers to buy into redressing this equity and justice placebo, of South-east region. Which some have dubbed shortchange or as some cynics posit, punishment because of the civil war.

He noted that the rigorous process of state creation requires lobbying for buy in of this nature, adding that the buy-in of Yorubas will strengthen the hands of Mr. President in lobbying his brothers in the North to create additional state in the South east.

Okekwukwu appealed to Ndigbo not to work out of the conference hitting the table, out of lamentation,
without tangible take-away of items like state creation.

Yoruba Youths Insist on Restructuring, Condemn Herdsmen Attacks

By Nofisat Marindoti

Yoruba Youths in the Western Region of Nigeria have insisted on restructuring the country in order to deliver the dividends of democracy to the people.

The youths agreed on this at the 1st Western Youth Summit hosted by the Government of the State of Osun in collaboration with Development Agenda for Western Nigeria, DAWN on Wednesday.

The two days Summit held in Osogbo, capital of the State of Osun, drew academia and top dignitaries from all walks of life in the country which included the Vice President, Prof. Yemi Osinbajo who declared the Summit open on Tuesday.

The youths also condemned the recent clashes between farmers and herdsmen and implored the Federal Government to address the issue immediately.

Asking that the anti-open grazing law be implemented in all the states, the Western youths called for fairness, rule of law, separation of power and equity in government, adding that the “Not too young to rule law” be implemented at both states and federal levels.

In his speech, the Oba of Oke Ila-Orangan, HRM Adedokun Abolarin urged the youths to be creative and innovative in order to reduce poverty to the lowest rate.

“Success is hardwork, believe in yourself and see the beauty in your environment. Be organized, responsible and make marks in the sand of time.

Southern Senators’ Insist On Nigeria’s Restructuring

The Southern Senators’ Forum has urged President Muhammadu Buhari to convene a meeting of the leaderships of the National Assembly, state houses of assembly, and governors.

The forum said the meeting would brainstorm and commence implementation of the 2014 National Conference report.

The Chairman of the forum, Sen. Hope Uzodinma, made the call in a communiqué he read at the end of a retreat of the organisation in Calabar on Saturday.

The retreat had the theme: “National Unity and Restructuring”.

According to the chairman, the forum resolved that its members will liaise with their colleagues in the National Assembly to kick-start a legislative process that will ensure the implementation of the report.

He also said that the group urged the leadership of the National Assembly to bring up the report for consideration.

“After presentation of papers, contributions and general brainstorming, it was resolved that Nigeria and Nigerians have come a long way.

“As such, it has become imperative and in the interest of all to live together as one united family under one indivisible and indissoluble country with justice, equity and fairness.

“While the unity of Nigeria should not and cannot be compromised under any circumstance, it has become apparent that the foundation upon which Nigeria was built at independence in 1960 has been eroded.

“There is a need to return to the original dream of true federalism which was a product of negotiation, compromise and accommodation,” he said.

The retreat witnessed presentation of papers from prominent Nigerians on various subject matters, including “Sustaining National Unity in a restructured Nigeria”.

Others are: “Provisions for National Unity in the 1999 Constitution (Amended), Between the Dreams of pre-Independence Nationalists and Restructuring: A Critical Look at the Past and Present, Imperatives of Restructuring in Multi-Religious Nigeria.


What Restructuring is Not By Muyiwa Olumilua

Restructuring is not the complete and utter breakup/ breakdown of a system. Because of the arbitrary use of the term in the media, restructuring has come to mean different things to different people. To some politicians, restructuring means a dismantling of the status quo and an avenue to strip them of all access to pilfer public funds.

To this end they will vehemently fight it. To the youth, restructuring can mean that they finally get their voice heard and can be allowed to run for office; to this end they may clamour for it. To the women folk, restructuring can mean increased participation for them in government; to this end they may welcome it. To the elderly, restructuring may mean a return to the days of a regional control of government; to this end they may receive it with a sense of longing.

According to Collins Dictionary, to restructure an organisation or system means to change the way it is organised, usually in order to make it work more effectively. First, restructuring implies change. Change not chaos or anarchy or destruction. Change. Restructuring the Nigerian polity is a process that would require a change in how the system operates. Change is a term rather familiar with the Nigerian people. The current government rode on this mantra to come into existence. Nigeria as a nation has undergone various metamorphoses since her inception as a sovereign entity. Much of this change has not been pleasant. Nigeria underwent a period of military rule in her nascent history which was marked by flagrant abuse of human rights, widespread graft, economic sanctions and fluctuations in economic growth. The civil war came to be as a result of discontent and a feeling of marginalisation among the Igbo. The two-and-a-half-year saga saw Nigeria undergo a period of change albeit for the worse. Lives were lost, families torn apart, properties destroyed and a people divided. The root of the agitations experienced today stemmed from the negative changes felt from these times.

Restructuring from the second part of the definition provided implies changing a system so that it can work more effectively. Clearly, the change implied here is positive. So when we use the term “restructuring” we mean a positive change that would impact the nation for the better. Over the past few months, there have been various calls for restructuring. These calls have also enjoyed generous support from strong quarters—from political to business quarters. Unsurprisingly, some have described these calls by some political authorities as background setups for coming campaigns. Regardless of what the motivation might be, the topic is one that should not be swept under the carpet. It needs to be discussed extensively and intelligently in a manner that would yield lasting positive results. Varying views on the topic have emerged from the different geopolitical zones of the nation. The most prominent view, given the aggressive push, would probably be that purported by the Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB) movement. To this group, it can be deduced that restructuring means secession. This would bring us back to what restructuring is not. Restructuring is not the complete and utter breakup/ breakdown of a system.

To some social commentators restructuring—majorly from the South-West—should be focused on the reestablishment of regional governments. While the establishment of regional governments may pass as restructuring, it carries one major flaw: it may create more room for tribal sentiments to fester at the expense of national unity. This in turn would defeat the very purpose for clamouring for restructuring which is to improve the system and not make it worse.

At this juncture, the pertinent question is what should we actually be clamouring for in our demands for restructuring? For us to properly articulate our calls, we must understand why there are calls for restructuring in the first place. The people, especially the common man, are not enjoying the benefits of governance. Against this common background, I would be sharing my opinions on how we should approach restructuring in the Nigerian context.

The approach should be two-pronged in nature; political restructuring and economic restructuring. Both would have to go together, as one without the other would only lead to another vicious cycle. In the political light, in line with the general call; for the devolution of powers from the centre to provide states with more power, the states need to demand actively for more. By active demand, we need states to go beyond debates and paper calls for devolution of powers. We can take a cue from the Lagos State government, which ironed out issues on certain activities that were described as reserved for the Federal Government through the courts. Similarly, autonomy must go beyond state governments down to the local governments.

In essence, as we push for legislative reforms for devolution of powers, the state and local governments must begin to demand more, given the available legal provisions. With this approach, political restructuring would be kick-started in a longer but easier and more efficient manner compared to the use of debates and violent protests. A strong foundation for further devolution of powers beyond the scope of present legal provisions would be laid down through this approach.

Further, in the economic light, with this proposed foundation, we must work tenaciously towards resource control. Our constitution would need to redefine who owns resources in each Nigerian state. The general ownership of resources has led to the creation of a nation housing many states which are not economically viable, as many are dependent on the economic activities of a few. Is this to suggest that states should not make contributions to the centre? Absolutely not, but this should be restructured in such a way that the states hold back a larger percentage–to be shared in a manner that would benefit host communities and local governments.

This is pertinent to the economic viability of our states, hence, the strong need to move beyond debates and kick-start the political leg of this journey.

Evidently, power on its own cannot effect positive change. The true determinant of change is what the power is used to do. Hence, with newly attained powers, state and local governments would definitely need to focus on harnessing economic potential of devolved power in a manner that would promote economic development at the grassroots. Remember, it was pointed out earlier that the foundation of these calls is based on the disparity between the expected benefits of governance and the actual citizen experience. Hence, we need governments that would put these powers to good use.

For this to be effectively managed, the judicial and legislative arms would need to be more independent and effective. Without this, when we finally devolve powers, we would only be creating demigods out of the god we have vehemently fought against over the years.

More importantly, as I conclude this, leaders need to restructure their minds. Without the restructuring of the mind, the will to govern effectively would be nearly absent. Hence, leaders must be ready to place the needs of those led first.

Olumilua is a governorship aspirant on the platform of the All Progressives Congress in Ekiti State

Are We Tearing Ourselves Apart for Wrong Reasons? By Samuel Akinyele Caulcrick

As the call for secession or restructuring, depending on which side of the divide, continues unabated, the underlining cause for agitation is, as usual, glossed over. It is the economy – Stupid! Most people pivot their comments on ethnicity and religion. However, contrary to the general positions, this writer does not believe it is all about the exclusion of one’s tribe or religion, but the exclusion of one’s social class that has always bedevilled our space. It is about the marginalisation of most people’s station in life within the community that cuts across all the religions and all the tribes in Nigeria.

This writer also has a firm belief that Nigeria’s problem is wrongly diagnosed. Roughly 600 positions are up for the presidential appointment in a given dispensation. These presidential appointments have never benefited other individuals, not even remotely, apart from the friends, family, and friends of friends of the President. Nigerians have always carried daggers ready to stab one another if the appointments do not have their religious, or ethnic or regional association. Millions of Nigerians that do not have access to the necessary needs to survive also belong to various tribes, religion, and regions. Why is that not dividing us? Nigerian elites are not bothered by the exclusion of the majority of the people in Nigeria from Nigeria’s petrol-economy.

A drive from any rich area through the general areas to most airports in each state within the federation of Nigeria tells a lot about the real ailment in Nigeria. The sullen faces one sees depict that there is marginalisation alright; it is that of the station of the majority in life, and not their region or their religion. There is no argument going on whether the economy is working well for the generality of Nigerians. For so long, Nigeria has focused on the macroeconomics and microeconomics and has ignored welfare economics. Welfare economics is the branch of economics that deals with normative issues. Its purpose, unlike the others, is not to explain how the economy works, but to assess how well it works. Nigeria needs to revisit welfare economics to review and update our economic directions. Our renowned economists had, for reasons best known to them, ignored welfare economics that some highlighted during the debate that ushered the Structural Adjustment Programme in 1986. It is the reason why we have not realised that whatever we have had not worked well for most Nigerians. Consequently, the majority of the people, living in Nigeria, have found themselves, due to no fault of theirs, outside of the Nigerian economy, or at best on the periphery.
Nigeria has veered off the course charted by the country’s founding fathers. It was exhilarating to listen to arguments those days by the likes of Sam Aluko on the economy. Years had gone by when bold economists were never afraid to come out of the cupboard and challenge populist economic theories. The government’s action of relieving the likes of Ibrahim Ayagi of Continental Merchant Bank, and Oladele Olashore of First Bank, from their posts immediately after the SAP debate, because they opposed, at that time, the IMF’s neoliberal economics must have sent a negative signal to other economists. Today, economists have littered Nigeria’s landscape, but these are “Twinkle, twinkle little superstars” – graduates of faculties of social sciences of Ivy-League colleges. And, you wonder all these qualifications for what? It is time the country jettisoned the classroom stuff and reasoned out of the box. Why would those who should talk, hide in the closet? Where also are Nigeria’s graduates of the best world’s faculties of engineering? The Nigerian socio-economic woes are becoming insurmountable, and their solutions have graduated beyond the classroom environment. Our professors have mortgaged their souls for porridge.
To come out of this economic quagmire, Nigeria needs these so-called experts to commence debates on how to get the country out. COREN, for instance, needs to get out of their shells and, at least, come up with gadgets that will ease the way the lowly among us do menial tasks. For crying out loud, most of these fellows graduated with flying colours – at least on paper. The engineers do not need power, either electrical or political, to devise or design better ways of doing things better. In other countries, economists and engineers, in their separate fields and sometimes together, argue from both sides of schools of thought to forge a way forward. In Nigeria, all the so-called professionals and professors echo the same things and no innovative away of improving our lifestyle. Everybody waits for the government that is largely populated by the flotsam and the jetsam of our society; devoid of developmental arguments. Everyone considers it wise to conform to a familiar theme; afraid to differ. Nigeria’s economic growth, without delusions, is glossy painted and that is why it has not translated into jobs or joy. The country’s earnings are majorly from oil receipts (about 96 per cent) by foreign companies that operate 90 per cent on the other side of the Nigerian economy. Since the 70s, the Nigerian economy has been running on rents like the legendary “omo oni ile,” somewhat without real productivity. It is the reason many public holidays outside of oil production have not affected the economy.
That Nigeria needs to diversify its economy, sounds like a broken record, as if individual businesses are not diversified enough. We are bamboozled every day with economic and technical jargons that have not improved the living standards of Nigerians – both wealthy and poor. It is not that the rich live a real life, they are only able to afford what ordinary people in some countries have taken for granted; ours is an alternate lifestyle to the good life. The Nigerian economy has faltered long enough; electricity that the rest of humanity has taken for granted has become a puzzle and unattractive to investors. Every Nigerian knows how to produce electricity with over 60 million owning their generators; it is the production of electricity of better economies of scale (the commercial power) that has eluded us. To say there is nothing wrong with us in this country is to put it mildly. The madness is such that even the privileged amongst us still live below par when compared with the living standards of the less privileged in some sister countries – where you turn on any switch, there is always electricity; you open any tap, potable water runs always.
We are so busy trying to survive individually, and recently trying to tear the country apart, with little or no capacity left to nation-building. Those in positions of trust and responsibility often lace their decisions with personal interest. So, for many years in the country, we gleefully continue to panel-beat unworkable systems; mostly, only beneficial to a few individuals as against the majority. Marginalisation of the majority of us, irrespective of tribe or religion, has taken a backstage, while the elites want us to believe that it is the exclusion of our tribe that should take the centre stage.
Nigeria embraced the neoliberal economics, through the implementation of SAP, in June 1986, and consequently, that policy’s tripartite conditions of deregulation, privatisation and fiscal austerity were institutionalised. Contrary to expected results, the policy only attracted investors in the mercantile sector of the economy (stock trading, banking and general buying and selling), and before long everything consumed in the country has to be imported, including food. Meanwhile, longtime investors in the factory floor sector of the economy disinvested, or at best moved their production plants to storage and joined the bandwagon of importation of finished goods, including what they were set up to produce in Nigeria. The results are not farfetched, such as the decline in the aggregate requirements for power energy to manufacture finished goods, hence the unattractiveness of the power sector to potential investors. Another is the creation of national wealth; while the mercantile sector of the economy generates an enormous commission, there is little-added value to the wealth of Nigeria since most of the trading is local. There is also the issue of job creation for Nigeria’s teeming youths; the factory floor option (agriculture, manufacturing, education, and mining) creates more jobs than the mercantile sector. The agriculture and manufacturing sectors have faltered harshly as they struggle to have access to foreign exchange that is needed for raw materials, mechanised plants, and spares. The present initiative of encouraging farmers back to the farms therefore is a step in the right direction.

Restructuring Is Not Desirable – Col. Ajayi

A retired Colonel, Gabriel Ajayi has flayed those calling for the restructuring of the nation, saying, Nigerian should rather devolve less power to the central government, as the nation had restructured times without number.

Col. Ajayi stated this during an interview programme on the Osun State Broadcasting Corporation (OSBC) on Wednesday. According to him, while the rest of the world presently engage in developmental agenda, Nigeria is engrossed in religious polarisation, ethnic division, tribal sentiments and such others.

He added that after the independence, the country had metamorphosed into regions, then to states and creation of more states, saying restructuring in the real sense of it requires fundamental change in the economy of the country, so that the unity could be realised.
“The restructuring that Nigerians are asking for, is not painful but the manner and the way we are asking for it is suspicious.

The retired Army officer added that clamour for seccession and restructuring should not have arisen, if the country is good, as no one would like to opt out, but our leaders pretend and act arrogantly as if nothing had happen wrong with the polity.

He spoke further that rather than agitating for restructuring, the amount of money and resources that is concentrated in central should be less and the nation should fixed some of its deteriorated infrastructure and give everybody sense of belonging in the nation.
Speaking on the era of military rule and the democratically era in the nation, Col. Ajayi refused to admit that the long rule of the military rule was responsible for the comatose situation of the nation’s economy.

Tracing how the nation fare from independence till date, he condemned “the lackadaisical attitude of political class that took the mantle of leadership from the colonial master”, saying they did not see themselves equal with the generality of the people through their various policies and programme.

He added that the elected politicians in the state and national assemblies contributed in no small measure to the destruction of the nation.

He also stated that the collapse of the Nigeria currency and non productivity nature of the nation also added to the nation’s myriad of problem. Col. Ajayi said, “no amount of cohesion can put us together, except we deliberately reason together, get our house together with the perception that God has plan for the black race through Nigeria, the largest and populous black country in the world and that there is hope for our future”

Osun Speaker Urges Economic Restructuring

Speaker, State of Osun House of Assembly, Hon. Najeem Salaam has asserted that economic restructuring that would steer the country from import dependent regime to productive nation should be the blueprint of the nation’s restructuring.

In his Independence day message signed by his spokesman, Mr. Goke Butika, Salaam said, it was obvious that the mantra of restructuring means different things to different people; depending on their affected interest, saying that it is thes rough edges in governance that are hindering deliveries as promised which led to renewed agitation.

He said that the attention given to non-oil sector like agriculture and taxation appears to have brought new thinking, saying there should economic restructuring in such a way that agriculture and petroleum net resources would be exported.

He canvassed strategies on manufacturing companies that could provide jobs for the unemployed.

Salaam further stressed that if economic opportunities are created for the restless youths, if corruption is brought to a considerable low and justice is delivered on all spheres of influence, the nation would be better off.

The speaker eulogised the people of Osun for their steadfastness and supports for Governor Rauf Aregbesola administration, noting that the rate at which the state got elevated in terms of development and provision of infrastructure in the last seven years has shown that the nation’s independence is worth celebrating.

Restructuring, Growth And Inclusion, By Olumide Ijose

Nigeria’s system of states, was first implemented by the General Yakubu Gowon-led administration during the Nigeria civil war in 1967. The expectation was being smaller political units, states would reduce the power of political office holders, minimize the role of ethnicity in governance as well as the struggle for political power at the national level. It was also felt that a state structure would be better at driving economic growth and fostering a broad and strong sense of nationalism and inclusion as Nigerians as opposed to a dysfunctional ethnic based identity system. In essence, state creation was a response to a diagnosis that the prior regional structure was culpable in maintaining a sense of tribal affiliation and a hindrance to faster economic growth.

The country was under military rule during the next 30 years and the military progressively split the country from four regions to 36 states. The military also created a revenue allocation system that aggregated fiscally generated revenue – taxes, levies, royalties from crude oil sales, tariffs, licence fees, duties etc. – at the federal level. This was then shared among the tiers of the political structure (federal and state governments) using a formula based on a percentage set aside for the Federal Government and a state’s population, geographical size and number of local governments.

Arguably, one of the most significant events in this time-period was the enshrinement of the state system and the revenue allocation mechanism into the 1999 federal constitution. However, a long history of consistently slow growth rates and a failure to engender a strong sense of nationalism and inclusion, has led to increasing doubt about the efficacy of the system and calls for restructuring the country. The worry is that barring a course correction, the present state based governance and revenue allocation system, will only but perpetuate slow growth and negative collateral effects!

Understanding the reasons and mechanisms responsible for the failures of the current system is a complex endeavour. These include an inability of governments at all levels to generate sufficient revenues to fund their bureaucracies and development agendas and reliance by state governments on the Federal Government for financial bailouts. Other important factors are the perpetuation of ethnicity as a basis of identity at the individual and group levels, maintaining cries of marginalisation and weak political, legal and economic institutions relative to the task of nation building and fostering fast economic growth. The suppression of dissent and free speech and thus a reduction of civil pressure for good governance is also a factor.

Also germane is a value system that emphasizes following leaders, rather than objectively confronting and robustly criticizing them when necessary; zoning and federal character as a basis for making appointments into key political, policy making and executive positions, rather than merit on the assumption that the possibility of zoning and federal character bringing balance and reducing ethnic tension, trumps merit and the promise of solid governance; selection as an overriding basis within political parties for identifying candidates for political office rather than competitive primaries; and a gross failure of local businesses to meet local consumer needs.

The extent to which the current paradigm contributed to and perpetuates these weaknesses is controversial. Also controversial is the notion that a reversal to a regional system of political governance and the dismantling of the unitary revenue allocation system will propel faster economic growth and increased patriotism. Defenders of the current system contend that it is not the system by itself but its operation that is the problem. In essence, that there is no pressing need to restructure the country but an urgent need to implement the current system to generate good outcomes for all Nigerians.

Clearly, socio-economic conditions in the country did not come out of nowhere. On the contrary, there are definite structural challenges on the ground, that political leaders fail to recognise and by extension, fail to recognise the weaknesses of the current system and the extent to which it is failing to deliver its broad twin objectives: fast economic growth and a sense of inclusion. As such, the status quo continues and opportunities that can engender faster growth go untapped, reducing the impact of the real economy on the populace by failing to prepare businesses and entrepreneurs to leverage them in full.

The destabilising consequence of this long drawn situation is compounded by the rise of China and India as economic powers able to produce decent quality but low priced goods and services. Consequently, Nigeria is dependent on imports for meeting consumer and industrial needs, reliant on crude oil prices for economic growth and revenues, and hamstrung in enacting growth supporting monetary policies, especially business friendly low interest rates and massive infusion of capital to spur consumer demand and hence business capital investment, and a competitive and comprehensive tax structure that provides revenue for infrastructure development.

For example, numerous states and the bureaucracy they entail is counter to the growth history of the advanced and emerging economies. For example, Texas, a state that is geographically the size of Nigeria is one state in the United States, a country that is 10 times the size of Nigeria and has 50 states to Nigeria’s 36. In addition, the history, number and complexity of the features of the country’s federating units – language, customs, norms and values – suggests that a federal structure based on regions, will be better for growing the economy. Switzerland a country with a similar – but much lesser informal complexity – is a federation of loose federating units and is one of the richest and most innovative countries in the world.

As a result, the process of controlling winners and losers has become even more complicated not just economically, but also politically and socially. With a young and fast growing population, the risk of too many young people feeling marginalised, dispossessed and forgotten is growing. This can result in anger at political leaders, businesses and anyone deemed to be successful, with potential but serious negative consequences. The danger is these same conditions can lead powerful political and economic blocks, to turn inwards and block attempts to restructure, in the hope of maintaining advantages and privileges.

The question though is the extent to which restricting into regions, devolving power from the Federal Government to regions, and revising the revenue allocation system accordingly, will facilitate fast economic growth and a sense of inclusion. It is unlikely that restructuring by itself will deliver these outcomes because there is little reason to assume that the mere fact of restructuring will eliminate corruption and inefficiency in the allocation of scarce revenue. Indeed, the real structural changes Nigeria needs is in the informal architecture of values and norms, a cultural revolution, that does not tolerate corruption, does not deify leaders, and emphasizes quality education, hard work, discipline and nationalism as a Nigerian. A structural change that enables the legal institution to counter corruption regardless of who is involved.

These changes are not premised on the structure of the federation, rather they are embedded in good governance. However, good governance will remain challenging achieve as long as merit is subordinated to perceived tribal and power block imperatives at the government and political party levels.

As long as governance is subpar, socio-economic conditions will remain depressed and fearful and calls for political restructuring will continue. In essence, regardless of the governance structure and system, the transparent enthronement of merit at all levels – and in all organised activities – and the creation of a fearless and independent legal system are the real keys for efficient utilisation of resources, unlocking good educational and health outcomes, creating a skilled and capable workforce and faster economic growth and greater inclusion.

Clearly, the seeming truism that smaller federating units (states and local governments) are an effective counter to tribalism and a lever for fast, real economic growth has failed. While restructuring may be useful, it is by itself neither a panacea, guaranty of nor, a substitute for merit in making political appointments, active display of supportive national values by the citizenry, a solid educational system, a supportive legal institution, excellent policy making and execution, and a consistent display of good governance in all tiers of government. These are the real keys to a fast growing and inclusive economy. In essence, while restructuring to a regional structure and greater fiscal control at this level is very necessary, the mere act of restructuring will not bring about these preconditions.

Kano, Katsina, Jigawa Reject Restructuring, Devolution of Power

Kano, Katsina and Jigawa States have expressed support for a strong and united nation, even as they rejected the growing clamour for the restructuring of the country.

Kano and Katsina also rejected demands for the devolution of power. However, Jigawa went against the grain of its neighbours in the North-west zone by advocating the removal of education and agriculture from the Exclusive List to the Concurrent List in the constitution.

The states declared their position yesterday at a public hearing organised by the All Progressives Congress (APC) on true federalism in Kano.

The governments were also unanimous on the balance of economic development and spread of social growth across the country.

But, the position of Kaduna State government was not known, as the governor neither attended the meeting, nor sent a representative. He also did not submit memoranda on behalf of the state.

The governors, Abdullahi Umar Ganduje of Kano State, Muhammad Badaru Abubakar of Jigawa State and Aminu Bello Masari of Kastina State, affirmed the country’s unity in diversity.

They said true federalism should not be misconstrued for a weak central government, but rather a Federal Government that should be seen as a strong coordinating unit.

They canvassed the equitable distribution of common resources among the federating units.

The states also rejected the creation of additional states.

Lalong, who is the Chairman of the APC true federalism committee explained that devolution of power, fiscal federalism, local government autonomy and resource control were among the items on its agenda. A former governor of Enugu State, Sylvia Chime, represented him.

PHOTO NEWS: APC Committee on Restructuring Meets In Abuja

The Mallam Nasir El-Rufai-led committee of the All Progressives Congress APC on Restructuring and True Federalism on Thursday held a meeting at the Osun State Government Lodge, Asokoro in Abuja.

The meeting had in attendance the host governor, Ogbeni Rauf Aregbesola of the State of Osun, the committee chairman, Mallam Nasir El-Rufai of Kaduna State and their counterpart from Ondo State, Rotimi Akeredolu and the committee secretary, Mrs. Olubunmi Adetunbi.

See photos……

Restructuring: APC Zonal Public Hearing Holds In Kwara [PHOTOS]

The train of Zonal Public Hearing for Team 1 of the All Progressives Congress Restructuring Committee arrived in Ilorin, the Kwara State Capital on Monday.

Present at the meeting were State Governor of Osun, Ogbeni Rauf Aregbesola, and his Kwara state counterpart, Mallam Ahmed Fatai who is the host governor.

The APC national committee on restructuring is headed by Kaduna State Governor, Nasir El-Rufai.