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Nigerians want more powers to states

By Jubril Bada

Critical stakeholders in the Nigeria’s project have renewed their calls for devolution of powers to states by the Federal Government in the spirit of true federalism.

They restated the urgent need to redesign and restructure the country to address its defects and place it on the path of growth and prosperity, emphasising that the country needs total reorganisation to make things work.

According to the eminent Nigerians who spoke with The Hope, devolution of powers is the best way to address myriad challenges confronting the nation.

Those who spoke include the Chairman, Governing Council of Adekunle Ajasin University, Akungba-Akoko, and Rights Activist, Dr Tunji Abayomi; a Senior Advocate of Nigeria, Mr Adekola Olawoye and a don, Prof. Akinsola Agagu.

Equally, former military president, Ibrahim Babangida recently backed the call for restructuring Nigeria, saying that more power should be devolved to the states.

The retired General spoke on Channels Television. when asked about his opinion on true federalism and the call for restructuring, Babangida recalled his efforts to reform the country during his regime in 1989.

But in separate interviews yesterday, the stakeholders explained that the devolution of powers to states will promote healthy rivalry and make each state develop at its own pace, adding that the current system in the country will continue to deter development and progress.

According to them, the security and other socioeconomic challenges bedeviling the country make restructuring inevitable, even as they called for State Police as a way of addressing the security challenges.

They insisted that too much powers and resources were concentrated in the hands of the Federal Government, saying that was not how the country started.

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  Dr. Tunji Abayomi suggested a new constitution that will truly reflect the wishes of the people, and called on the National Assembly to take the bull by the horns by making necessary laws that will give the people the opportunity to give them a new constitution.

“We all know that this nation is not where it should be. We also know that the failure of advancement and progress in the country is as a result of inability of the federal system to work well for the nation.

“Look at the security of the country, everybody knows there is no Nigeria Police, it’s just a formality. All they do is to collect money. State Police is the solution. And I have said it before that we need to have a constitution of the people by the people and for the people,” he added.

According to him, every sector of the country needs devolution for the needed development, saying how can the simple issue of farming in Okeagbe be controlled by Abuja. Agriculture, education, inland waterways within your state and everything is under Federal Government.

“Everything is taken away by the federal government. Was it how we started Nigeria? That wasn’t how we started Nigeria. This nation is in a real mess, it is in total disorder, and we need a new constitution that will properly organize the country. It is not about breaking the nation, it is about molding it properly”.

Also, a senior advocate of Nigeria and former Attorney-General and Commissioner for Justice in the state, Adekola Olawoye, revealed that some of  those who believe that the leadership and rulership of the country is their birthright, from time immemorial fast realized the need for devolution of powers.

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“But times are changing, the dynamics of governance is fast changing, on the fast lane, and nobody wants to be left behind. Now, they have seen the reality, especially when power has moved to another zone, and the heat is becoming too much to bear for those who believe it’s their birthright to rule the country.

“Devolution of powers is the way out. This country is too large to have a central police force. Who does not know the effectiveness of Amotekun in the South West now. Look at what happened in Plateau State on the Eve of Christmas, where more than 120 lives were wasted.

“So, everybody wants his own police now, every state wants its own police, every state wants to control its resources. I believe the president will still do it but he is first stabilizing the economy which has been seriously and criminally devalued, and addressing the issue of unemployment.

On his part, a political scientist from Ekiti State University, Ado-Ekiti, Prof Agagu opined that times are changing and the north is adjusting to the change in time.

“The level of insecurity confronting the country has shown that it is a very difficult thing for the central government to surmount it alone.

Restructuring gives room for various collectivism, maybe let us say, geopolitical zones, states virtually administer their own entity very well. It will lead to fiscal decentralisation because too much funds have been concentrated in the hand of the central government. So, devolution of powers will be followed by financial restructuring.

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“Things have changed and the northerners now see themselves as being at the receiving end, particularly with the current level of insecurity in their areas. Whether from the North, the West, the South or the East, people now feel the need for better understanding and better management of the country, and restructuring becomes inevitable.

“Nigeria has a number of mineral resources that are yet untapped while people are languishing in poverty. Restructuring will enable the states to tap the resources, maybe in conjunction with the central government, and this will reduce unemployment, it will reduce poverty, crime and insurgency.

“Restructuring will give states opportunity to develop at their own pace and there will be healthy rivalry. Each states and geopolitical zones will be challenged to actually take their destiny into their hand.

“So, without an iota of doubt, there is the need for restructuring and the north cannot be left out, because they have seen the light and cannot but support restructuring.

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