Former Vice President restates call for true federalism

Yinka Salaam, Osogbo

Nigeria’s former Vice President, Atiku Abubakar has again called for the restructuring of federal system.

Atiku says true federalism remains a feasible means to solving the nation’s numerous challenges.

He spoke in Ile Ife, Osun State at a lecture on:’The Constitutional and Political Framework for Reconstructing Nigeria for True Federalism and National Integration.’

Atiku said “the immediate restructuring of Nigeria would be a worthy legacy for generations yet unborn and the exercise would enable the citizens to live a better life.”

He advised the present administration to examine the possibility of using the existing geopolitical zones as federating units.              He allayed the fears that restructuring would bring about division or secession.

Merging of States
According to him, ” unviable states should merge with the viable ones, if the unviable ones were unable to generate a substantial percentage of their expenditure for a specific period”.

He listed the problems responsible for the country’s numerous challenges to include over dependence and addiction to oil money, excessive centralisation and concentration of power and resources at the centre, intense political competition and political instability.

“There is no doubt that many of our states are not viable and were not viable from the start once you take away the federal government allocations from Abuja. We have to find creative ways to make them viable in a changed federal system. Collaboration among states in a region or zone will help.

“We can examine the possibility of using the existing geopolitical zones, as federating units. We can also find other ways to determine the c of states, for example by introducing a means of test such that a u state that is unable to generate a amount percentage of its expenditures internally for a specified period of time will be deemed unviable and collapsed into another or a group of states,” he explained.

Tax collection
Atiku stressed the need for states to start producing and collecting taxes to run their governments in a more sustainable way with greater transparency and accountability.

According to him, “We have a unique opportunity now, with all the agitation for restructuring, to have a conversation that would lead to changes in the structure of our federation to make it stronger, enhance our unity and promote peace, security and better accountable governance.”

“Ours should be a federal system that delegates to the Nigerian government only powers and responsibilities for those matters that are better handled by a central government such as defence, foreign affairs, inter-governmental affairs, setting overall national economic policy and standards.

”Other powers and responsibilities should reside with the states, which will include the power to create and fund local governments as they deem fit,” the former vice president stated.

He cautioned against adding more responsibilities to the government.

“Why do we have federal roads all over the country that are not maintained? Why do we have federal hospitals and schools all over the country that are not better than their state counterparts? We even have more clamour for federal takeover of existing state institutions. That’s is not how to run a federation. Rather we are centralising more and making a mockery of federalism. This is a parody of federalism, and  we must get away from it,” Atiku added.

Mercy Chukuwudiebere