THE lecture delivered by former Vice President Atiku Abubakar on Tuesday May 31st in Abuja has continued to create ripples not only within government circles and the ruling All Progressive Congress Party (APC), but across the entire nation.
Atiku at the event had offered what many have described as controversial views about the federation, the management of the country and the insurgency crisis across the country particularly the south-south and south east geopolitical zones.
The question is: how long can we afford to shy away from telling ourselves the definite truth? If Atiku, a prominent political figure and former vice president of the federation, did not say this today, definitely, someone else will say it tomorrow because though truth is bitter, it must be said somehow.
Let’s even look at the present state of our nation: From the renewed agitations by militants in the oil-rich Niger Delta and the Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB), and even the now country-wide farmers/ Fulani herdsmen clashes and its attendant disharmony across the country, what does that tell us?
The very interesting aspect of the spate of agitations in the country is that every section of Nigeria virtually feels marginalised, “meaning, they believe that other segments of society are prospering in ways they are not.”
We must wake up and ask ourselves: is the present structure of Nigeria working as well as it should? Is it not clear even to the blind that there is something structurally wrong with Nigeria as a nation?
Clearly, “agitations by many right-thinking Nigerians call for a restructuring and renewal of our federation to make it less centralized, less suffocating and less dictatorial in the affairs of our country’s constituent units and localities.”
As said by Atiku, “We must refrain from assuming that anyone calling for restructuring of our federation is working for the breakup of our country. Absolutely not! And I reject that notion.
“An excessively powerful centre does not equate to national unity. Absolutely not. If anything, it has made our unity more fragile, our government more unstable and our country more unsafe. We must re-negotiate our union in order to make it strong.”
Whether anybody wants to hear this or not, Nigeria is not working as well as it should and a major part of the reason is the nation’s defective structuring of the way it is governed/administered.
True as said by the former vice president, “Greater autonomy, power and resources for state and local authority will give the federations’ units greater freedom and flexibility to address local issues for their priorities and peculiarities.
“It will reduce the premium placed on capturing power at the centre. It will reduce insecurity. It will promote healthy rivalry amongst federations units.”
“What the nation desired now is, first, a smaller, leaner federal government with reduced responsibilities; this means devolution of powers and resources to states and local governments. State and local governments should control education, health, agriculture, roads and other infrastructure.
“A true federal system will allow the federating states to keep their resources, while the federal government retains the power of taxation and regulatory authority over standards.
“The result will be a political and governmental system that empowers local authorities and gives them greater autonomy to address peculiar local issues, while enhancing accountability and contributing to the general good of the country. Such a robust federal system would reduce the tensions that are built into our current over-centralised system.
As we have today, the “federal government is too big and too powerful relative to the federating states; that situation needs to change, and calling for that change is patriotic,” walahi!
“Second, autonomy for the component states and localities to determine their development priorities and wage structures. For instance, there is no reason for the governor of Akwa Ibom state to earn the same salary as the governor of Benue state or for a teacher in Orlu to earn the same salary as the one in Abuja or Port Harcourt. The costs of living and revenue generating capacities vary widely across the country.”
The former Vice President appropriately argued that the present state of the federation has led governments at all levels to abandoned their primary responsibility of promoting greater efficiency in service delivery to transform the lives of people and that the defect signposts a weak model of governance structure.
Does this upbeat in agitations- peaceful, militant and violent, not a clear warning that something is definitely wrong and that we need a rest in our relationships as a united nation?
Is it when the agitations get to the point of completely disintegrating the nation that those who say they lead would then call to repair this defect, whether real or perceived, in the structure of our country?
The desire for one united Nigeria should not be taken for granted that every Nigerian is contented with the current structure of the federation or that they do not clamour for something different. Truth be told, the structure of the country is grossly defective as it does not provide the enabling environment for growth and progress among the 36 component states of the federation. So what Nigeria requires most at present is the kick-starting of the process of restructuring of the federation. Those who have ears let them hear o!