- Atiku Abubakar is insisting Nigeria must be restructured which to him means, making changes to the current federal structure
- The former vice president said this can even be achieved in six months as a constitutional amendment is not needed to start
- He said states that are not viable should be absorbed by prosperous ones
Former vice president, Atiku Abubakar, has revealed that Nigeria can be restructured in six months and identified the issue of resource control as preventing this move.
The Punch reports that the former vice president made this comment while delivering a lecture on ‘Restructuring Nigeria’ at the University of Nigeria, Nsukka, on Wednesday, July 19.
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He said: “Some of what my ideas of restructuring involve require constitutional amendment; some do not. Take education and roads for instance. The Federal Government can immediately start the process of transferring federal roads to the state governments along with the resources it expends on them
“In the future if the Federal Government identifies the need for a new road that would serve the national interest, it can support the affected states to construct such roads, and thereafter leave the maintenance to the states, which can collect tolls from road users for the purpose.
“The Federal Government does not need a constitutional amendment to start that process.
“The same goes for education and health care. We must reverse the epidemic of federal take-over of state and voluntary organisations’ schools and hospitals which began in the 1970s, and also transfer those established by the Federal Government to the states.
“We do not need a constitutional amendment to transfer federal universities and colleges as well as hospitals to the states where they are located.
“The country can be restructured in six months, all you have to do is return the items on the concurrent list to the states.”
Atiku noted that restructuring means different things to different people so the different formations were not surprising.
He said: “To me, restructuring means making changes to our current federal structure so it comes closer to what our founding leaders established, in response to the very issues and challenges that led them to opt for a less centralised system.
“It means devolving more powers to the federating units with the accompanying resources. It means greater control by the federating units of the resources in their areas.
“It would mean, by implication, the reduction of the powers and roles of the Federal Government so that it would concentrate only on those matters that could best be handled by the centre such as defence, foreign policy, monetary and fiscal policies, immigration, customs and excise, aviation as well as setting and enforcing national standards on such matters as education, health and safety.”
According to him, the first steps include “placing local governments under the control of the state governments, establishment of state police, reduction in the number of federating units, and local control of resources but with federal taxing powers to help redistribute resources and to help address national priorities.
“These are possible first steps and would be easy wins for the Federal Government and the country. They will in part show the goodwill of the federal authorities in dealing with this very serious issue, and complement the important consultations which the Acting President has undertaken in recent times to douse tension in the country.
“Indeed the Federal Government can voluntarily withdraw from most of the items listed in the very thin Concurrent Legislative List of our constitution.
“I believe that the benefits accruing from these first steps will help us as we move towards the changes that require amendments to our constitution.”
He advised that states that were not viable should be absorbed by prosperous ones.
“Those calling for new states seem oblivious of the fiscal crisis the existing states are in and how dependent they are on transfer payments from Abuja.
“If we are to maintain the current state structure, how do we ensure their financial viability?
“Obviously they would have to diversify their economies and revenue sources, but what happens to those unable to do so?
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“One option that I have suggested is a means-test requiring states to generate a specified percentage of their share of federal allocations internally or be absolved into another state.
“We may revisit Chief Alex Ekwueme’s suggestion that we use the existing geopolitical zones as federating units rather than the current states."
Abubakar expressed regrets that “fear, greed, envy, and resentment are at the centre of disagreements on resource control.”
Legit.ng earlier reported that a 10-man committee set up by Nigeria’s ruling All Progressives Congress (APC), to articulate the party’s position on the issue of the country’s restructuring.
According to reports, Nasir El-Rufai, the Kaduna state governor, has been named as chairman of the committee, while the committee’s secretary will be senator Olubunmi Adetunmbi.
Watch a Legit.ng TV video below of Nigerians speaking about restructuring: