EKITI, Nigeria – Dr. Kayode Fayemi, the State governor and Chairman, Nigerian Governors’ Forum says there is a need for the recreation of Nigeria to satisfy restructuring agitations in all parts of the country.
He said recreating Nigeria was the only way the nation’s socio-political and economic greatness will be attained.
Speaking Saturday in Kaduna as a guest lecturer at the 50th Anniversary of the Centre for Historical Documentation and Research in Arewa House, Kaduna, the governor said the restructuring of Nigeria would cement the unity of the nation and engender a perfect union among its peoples irrespective of their ethnic, religious, cultural and linguistic differences.
He said the move will provide for an equitable revenue allocation formula that would speak well to the federalism adopted by Nigeria and give more resources to states and local governments to carry out more responsibilities.
He advocated for a review of the sharing formula to 43 per cent for states, 35 per cent to the federal and 23 per cent to the local governments.
If adopted, Fayemi believes it would go a long way in giving more responsibilities to constituent units and reduce the concentration of powers at the centre.
Speaking on the theme, “Unfinished Greatness, Towards a More Perfect Union in Nigeria”, the governor said building Nigeria to the status of a country that commands global respect is a continuous work in progress.
Dr. Fayemi who observed that the 1914 amalgamation between the Northern and Southern Protectorates by the British was not a mistake added that the country could use the diversity to achieve greatness if Nigerians would utilize the inherent opportunities.
He stressed the need for Nigerians to come together and tackle issues that divide them if they hope to achieve the dreams of the founding fathers, like the late Premier of Northern Nigeria, Sir Ahmadu Bello, the Sardauna of Sokoto.
The governor explained that all ethnic nationalities should be made to feel the importance of the Nigerian project, hence preference should not be given to a particular ethnic group over others.
He noted that Nigeria with over 250 ethnic nationalities have managed its diversity whereas some countries in Eastern Europe had balkanized into smaller nations while Britain is yet to find a definitive answer to the Irish, Welsh and Scottish question.
Governor Fayemi identified sincerity in handling the issue of restructuring as a means of assuring stakeholders in the Nigerian project that achieving greatness through unity in diversity was very possible.
He observed that issues of devolution of powers, decentralisation, restructuring and such other concepts should not be clothed in ethnic or regional toga but be used as an opportunity to reimagine and reinvent the country to make it work well for everyone.
The governor observed that the long years of military rule has produced an over-concentration of powers and resources at the centre to the detriment of the states, pointing out that the 1999 constitution, as has been argued by several observers, was hurriedly put together by the departing military authority and was not a product of sufficient inclusiveness.
He suggested that part of the focus of such an exercise be the type of item that stays on the exclusive legislative list and transferred to the concurrent list when necessary, adding that other topical issues like derivation principle; fiscal federalism and revenue allocation; land tenure, local government creation and autonomy should be critically taken into consideration.
He said the evolution of Nigeria’s federalism has not served Nigeria’s best interests and not surprising that the polity has witnessed protests at every attempt to commence constitutional reengineering.
Two prominent examples, he observed, were the 2005 Constitutional Reform Conference convened by President Obasanjo’s administration and the 2014 National Conference at the instance of ex-President Goodluck Jonathan.
Taking a look at the recent nationwide protests by youths, Governor Fayemi said it was high time the nation’s leaders looked into ways to solve problems which turned an innocent online protest over police brutality into an avenue to challenge perceived failures to meet demands for good governance.
He added that anyone who holds a semblance of power or authority in the country should be deeply worried by the events of the past few weeks, saying, “What started as an innocuous online protest over police brutality snowballed before our very eyes into a mass movement that assumed more frightening dimensions.”
“From the demand to #EndSARS,” he explained, “we have seen vigorous demands for greater accountability, and greater efficiency in government.
What I understand the youths to be saying that we the older generation have failed them by our inability to create a system that supports their dreams and accommodates their aspirations.”