Advocates of more power for states seem to be winning their age-long battle.
Their position is being vindicated at the various consultations on restructuring organised by the All Progressives Congress (APC).
In the North, which an elderstateman yesterday said was not afraid of restructuring, some states supported the devolution of power, a rework of the revenue allocation formula and a united Nigeria.
It was all at the APC’s restructuring consultation in North West (Sokoto), North Central (Ilorin) and North East (Bauchi).
Kwara, Kogi and Niger states were in Ilorin. Bauchi, Gombe and Yobe had their session in Bauchi.
Sokoto, Kebbi and Zamfara states met in Sokoto for the consultation on Nigerians’ position on restructuring, which many believe is the antidote to the dismemberment of Nigeria.
The common position in all the centres is that there should be devolution of power from the Federal Governemt to states.
The consultation being coordinated by a committee headed by Kaduna State Governor Nasir El-Rufai, started on September 18. It will end on October 9.
The governments of Sokoto, Kebbi and Zamfara advocated that some aspects of health, transport, fire service, among others, should be devolved to the states with resources attached. The Federal Government should focus on defence, foreign affairs, security and currency—a position canvassed by many eminent citizens, including frontline politician Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu.
The three Northwest states are controlled by the APC. Governors Aminu Tambuwal (Sokoto) and Atiku Bagudu (Kebbi) attended the session. Zamfara State was represented by Deputy Governor Ibrahim Wakala.
Also yesterday, elder statesman Alhaji Tanko Yakassai, an adviser to Second Republic President Shehu Shagari, said on a television programme that the north is not opposed to restructuring.
Sokoto’s position, presented by former Deputy Governor Chiso Abdullahi, rejected the creation of new states, because many states are not viable.
He said the presidential system should be preserved with fiscal federalism while power rotation and zoning should be maintained to foster national unity.
He also advocated a unicameral legislature with advisory role given to traditional rulers.
To Sokoto State, the revenue allocation formula should be adjusted to give the Federal Government 43 per cent, states 35 per cent and local governments 23 per cent.
Kebbi State equally rejected creation of new states and bicameral legislature. It suggested that zoning should be on the basis of North and South.
Kebbi’s proposal on revenue sharing is Federal Government 40 per cent, states 40 per cent and local government areas 20 per cent. It is in support of devolution of power to states.
Zamfara State also suggested that the status quo should be maintained on state creation, derivation, devolution of powers, presidential system of government and land tenure system.
The chairman of the APC Restructuring Committee for North-west, Plateau State Governor Simon Lalong, said all the views collated would be taken back to the APC national headquarters.
“At the end of the exercise, all the views collated will be analysed and this will form the opinion of the APC and the Federal Government,” he said.
Zamfara State said it was solidly for Nigeria’s unity.
Speaking on Chanels Television, Yakasai said: ”I have never known any known northerner who is opposed to restructuring. But what we want to know is what are the details? We are tired of going into something blindly only to turn out in regrets.
”I have been asking the promoters of the idea of restructuring to explain what the blueprint is What will Nigeria look like after restructuring? What we have been asking for is a blueprint for restructuring.
Yakasai, who backed the call for Nigeria to return to the 1963 constitution, added that the country must maintain the four regions adopted by that same constitution in 1963.
”Now some people have started to speak out. Emeka Anyaoku said we should go back to 1963 constitution where we had four regions- North, West, East and Midwest. Then there was a gathering of some Afenifere leaders in Ibadan and they said we should go back to the 1963 constitution but they created six regions.
”In 1963, we didn’t have six regions. We either eat our cake or have it. If we want to go back to 1963 situation, then we go back to four regions.
”If we want to create more then we use the provisions of 1963 constitution to create more (states), whatever number we want to create,” he said.
Answering a question on resource control, the elder statesman said: “I can tell you that whoever is having this kind of thinking is a short sighted person.”
He condemned those calling for the creation of more states, adding that they were doing so not to develop the poor but to win elections or get elective positions.
”There are so many states and each one is consuming 70 per cent of its revenue on bureaucracy. How can you develop on that? All countries in the world are not spending 70 per cent of their revenues on bureaucracy.
”All the 19 states plus Abuja (in the North) spend 70 per cent of their revenue on bureaucracy – salary, allowances and so on – not on development. They did not develop agriculture. They did not develop even power to provide for industries.”
But the Chairman, Political Committee, Afenifere, Prof. Banji Akintoye, urged the Federal Government to create structures to address calls for restructuring.
He accused the APC nine-member committee on restructuring headed by Governor El-Rufai of embarking on delay tactics to dampen the debate on restructuring.
Akintoye said: “If the Federal Government is committed to seeing the will of the people done, the thing to do is to create some sort of structure for sorting out this whole question of restructuring. That is how to do it. There is no other way.
”It is difficult to believe that you put a person like the young governor of Kaduna State, El-Rufai at the head of an arrangement like that and you want us to trust that you really want the thing (restructuring) to happen. No, there are other leaders of the party. Former vice president is a member of the party. Bola Tinubu is a national leader of the party. Those people would have been more credible in that type of situation.
“When you go and put a man who is avowedly opposed to restructuring to come and head a party’s committee that will collect information about restructuring, there is doubt about what they are really after. Even though I hope they will come out with something good for the country I doubt that they would.”
Bauchi, Borno,Gombe, Yobe, backed calls for restructuring at the Bauchi centre of the consultation.
Bauchi State Governor Mohammed Abubakar expressed strong belief in one and united Nigeria.
Represented by Deouty Goveror Nuhu Gidado, the governor submitted that the youth should be given priority in a restructured Nigeria with true federalism.
Yobe State Governor Ibrahim Gaidam was represented by the Permanent Secretary, Special Services, Government House, Damaturu, Lawal Usman Hassan
In its memorandum the Bauchi State chapter of the Nigerian Labour Congress submitted that the organized labour was not in support of any move towards the creation of additional states in view of the present Nigeria economic realities.
Gital also said the local government councils in the country should be granted autonomy should in order to facilitate and fast track development.
According to him, the organised labour is strongly of the view that Nigeria should continue with the current presidential system of government, which he said encourages democracy, guarantee political stability, independence of the President, proper use of talent and there is check and balance.
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