- Prof. Itse Sagay (SAN) said northerners are afraid of restructuring because they think it will affect their benefits from oil proceeds
- Sagay who is also the chairman of PACAC, however, said restructuring will benefit northerners because it will allow them to concentrate on sustainable, renewable income sources such as cattle rearing
- Sagay added that President Buhari should consider implementing restructuring because majority of Nigerians are agitating for it
Professor Itse Sagay (SAN), the chairman of the Presidential Advisory Committee Against Corruption (PACAC), has said President Muhammadu Buhari should consider paying attention to the issue of restructuring in his second term.
In an interview with The Independent, Sagay said President Buhari concentrated on fighting corruption in his first term in office. He, however, said the president should consider restructuring in his second term because majority of Nigerians are agitating for it.
"In his first term, restructuring was not something that was of priority to him. He was more focused on process, doing things in accordance to laid down procedures and doing it with honesty and integrity; in other words, to purge the country of corruption and establish a system of integrity and honesty.
"I think he has to move on to restructuring to a certain extent now because that is the wish of significant proportion of people in Nigeria. So, it cannot be ignored. The APC has a paper which strongly supports restructuring. I think this is the time for him to pay more attention to the issue and see what can be done to strengthen the federating units and make them less dependent on the centre; and also give them the capacity to be productive and self-sustaining," said.
Sagay said implementing restructuring will make the states self-sustaining without necessarily depending on monthly federal allocation.
He said: "This will make us move closer to how we were in 1966 before the military came when the regions were the ones funding the federal government then. I don’t want us to go back to that but it will be enough if the states can be self-sustaining and be more productive so that this obsession of federal allocation should end. They should stop doing like babies who need federal feeding bottles in order to survive.
"It is humiliating for 36 state governments to send their commissioners of finance once a month to Abuja with what I will call ‘begging bowls’, looking for allocation. Civil servants collect salaries, states should not be collecting salaries every month. We need them to be self-sustaining and restructuring will greatly assist in making that possible."
Sagay also explained why northerners should embrace restructuring. He said the northerners are afraid of restructuring because they believe it will reduce the proportion of proceeds they get from oil.
His words: "Yes, it is true that northerners are hostile to restructuring. The fact is that they are so dependent on oil revenues that they are afraid that if restructuring takes place, the proportion of oil proceeds they will get will be much smaller and therefore, their capacity to look after themselves will be much more reduced. That is a fallacy that they believe in because they are not looking inwards.
"Honestly, if I were from the northern states; the states that produced cattle; that is a sustainable, renewable source which oil is not. Cattle should not be mainly for people to slaughter and take to the market to sell. No! I believe that we should have a system where cattle is used for milk, butter, cheese, milk and frozen beef that can be exported, because the world needs meat that can be exported in a clean environment.
"If they can do this and move away from the current way of rearing cattle for just slaughtering and eating, you will see that the north will have an advantage. My own calculation is that at least, $5b can come initially from the cattle industry by the time they maximise all the benefits from the cattle and export some.
"This is not like oil that can dry up or lose its value because the cattle will breed, new cattle will come and they can continue to expand. Oil right now is contracting, getting smaller and one day, it will go. I have pointed out all these in some papers I have written.
If I were the northerners, I will never be afraid of restructuring. I will rather concentrate on this natural resources that we have, which will be self-sustaining permanently and it is the Southern part of the country, particularly the south-south that should be worried about the future of oil. This is because once oil goes and there is no replacement economy, then there will be very dire consequences."
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Meanwhile, Legit.ng previously reported that Anthony Sani who is the secretary-general of the Arewa Consultative Forum explained that the group rejected Atiku Abubakar, the presidential candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) because of his position on restructuring and his plan to sell national assets.
Sani said although the group had earlier said it would not endorse any candidate, it later decided to openly endorse President Buhari to help people make informed decision.
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