The Speaker of the House of Representatives, Yakubu Dogara, yesterday supported calls for the restructuring of the country.At the third annual political summit organised by the Save Democracy Africa in Abuja, Dogara canvassed the creation of a unique system of federalism that best suits Nigerians and the local circumstances in the country.
By his admonition, the speaker has joined other eminent citizens, including former military president, Gen. Ibrahim Babangida and former vice president, Atiku Abubakar to demand the restructuring of the country. Also, regional groups such as Afenifere, Ohanaeze Ndigbo and South South leaders have demanded true federalism in the country through restructuring.
Dogara, who spoke on “Reforming the Nigerian Federation: Which Way Forward”, said this could be actualised with leaders who are visionary, selfless, prudent, intelligent and indefatigable, and having integrity and honour.He said: “Efforts at wishing away the problems associated with the Nigerian federation have only resulted in several tribal, ethnic and religious movements that have even metamorphosed into terrorist syndicates.
“One can, therefore, no longer fold his arms but engage some of the issues that have confronted us as a nation and threatened the Nigerian federation.“This forum provides one of the opportunities for such interrogation. I commend the organisers for bringing this issue to the front burner once again.“That Nigeria could survive despite predictions to the contrary by the world powers not only portrays hope but demonstrates that the Nigerian federation has come to stay.
“It is, therefore, incumbent on us to fashion out our own type of federalism, the one that is best suited to our people and to local circumstances. There should be genuine efforts to build the nation. Ethnic, religious and sectional agenda should take back place. The essence of federalism is to foster unity and development. This has, however, not been achieved.”
Dogara told the gathering that the recruitment processes of elective office holders in the country were being re-visited in the Electoral Amendment Bill to ensure that the system is able to recruit the best at all strata of leadership.
According to him, the current National Assembly has shown enough determination to ensure that the federation of Nigeria is managed effectively for the good of every citizen in its several initiatives to address imbalances.To take Nigeria to its pride of place, a reorientation of Nigerians to address the political and economic malaise they face must be addressed.
“There should be massive awareness to change the mindset of the rulers and the ruled. This is where there is the need for proper education and awareness for both the rulers and the ruled. I challenge our tertiary institutions to break the disconnect between them and the political institutions and industries not only to fashion out the appropriate curriculum to drive this new orientation to confront our political and economic malaise but to lead cutting edge research in providing correct local solutions to our diverse problems.”
The speaker identified the foundation upon which the Nigerian federation has thrived for decades as multi-party system which allows wider participation in the political process and equity in revenue sharing, among others.The speaker also identified some emerging issues in Nigeria’s federation as political gerrymandering, corruption and nepotism, boundary delimitation and electoral boundary manipulation that discriminate against voters on account of tribe, language, religion or related status.
“The same is also true of boundary adjustments, state and local government creation. The minority tribes have complained of being short-changed. There are also the issues of fiscal federalism and resource control. The allocation of revenue in Nigeria is presently heated as there are always allegations and counter-allegations of manipulations against the Federal Government by states,” he said.