Former vice president and a leading Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) presidential aspirant, Atiku Abubakar, has insisted that what Nigeria needs now is a total restructuring of the entire fabrics of governance in the country, not the country as a geographical concept as may have perceived in some quarters.
Atiku, in a statement, was reacting to a recent assertion made by Vice President Yemi Osinbajo in the United States, where he stated that problem of Nigeria is not a matter of restructuring, thus the country must not allow itself to be drawn into the argument that its problems stem from some geographic re-structuring.
The former vice president, who expressed disappointment over the vice president’s position on restructuring said, ‘‘it is a surprise that the vice president would take such a position and, in particular, fail to appreciate the connection between Nigeria’s defective structure and its underperformance’’.
According to Atiku: ‘‘It is unhelpful to reduce the construct of “Restructuring” to a geographical concept as VP Osinbajo does, which in itself demonstrates a lack of appreciation of the core tenets of the concept.
‘‘For the avoidance of doubt, re-structuring is not about the re-drawing of state or regional boundaries. The restructured Nigeria that a large number of Nigerians talk about, is a Nigeria that not only provides opportunities for everyone to work but even more specifically, challenges every layer of governance to demonstrate capacity to create wealth and jobs for the citizens.
‘‘Restructuring is not just about the devolution of powers to the states, it is about transforming the respective roles of the federal, state and local governments to perform more efficiently in matters of territorial as well as economic governance.
‘‘Above all, when we talk about restructuring, we are not talking about just constitutional tweaks; we are talking about a cultural revolution. It is not about re-shuffling a few responsibilities or resources, but about disrupting the authoritarian politics our democracy has inherited from its military and colonial rulers of the past.”
The former VP noted that, ‘‘Nigeria has operated a faulty system of federalism, especially under military governments. Both economic and political structures are defective, resulting in weak economic management systems, which, in turn, prevent all levels of the Nigerian government — federal, state and local governments, from operating at optimal levels.”
He said it is because of these realities that Nigerians have continued to clamour for the restructuring of the economy towards a more diversified structure to condense the federal structure which has become ‘‘so complex with a very strong centre that it has succeeded in accumulating many responsibilities, and along with these, huge resources, which belong to the other levels of government’’.
He added that records have shown that the current arrangement does not respond to the needs of the people at the local level and that Nigerians have not been honest with themselves holding onto the illusion ‘‘that the politicians sitting in Abuja can effectively respond to the needs of a population in far remote locations as Kaura Namoda, Iseyin, Arochukwu or Bama.
‘‘Only the autonomy of the local governments and the states, both of which are closer to their people than the central government in Abuja, can guarantee this and result in more effective decisions. Only when local administrations are on the saddle, will there be greater accountability for decision making as well as improved flexibility, adaptability and ability to change as a result of a reduction in bureaucracy’’.
‘‘I strongly believe that the restructuring of Nigeria will foster the spirit of co-operation and consensus in a nation of diverse ethnic groups, cultures and religions. It is desirable, in fact you may even say it is required to establish, nurture and sustain a strong and effective democratic government’’, said Atiku who called for continued dialogue and synergy with National Assembly to correct the imbalances in the system so as to move the country forward in order to better the lots of the people.
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