Senator representing Ekiti Central in the National Assembly, Opeyemi Bamidele at the weekend declared that restructuring remains best option for the unity and development of Nigeria, assuring that the current lawmakers from both chambers were already working on some of the provisions of the 1999 constitution as amended, with a view to reviewing them.
Bamidele, who is the chairman, Senate Committee on Judiciary, Human Rights and Legal Matters, urged the political leaders across the country to stop playing the Ostrich over the issue.
According to him, the development-driven federation bequeathed to us at independence and sustained for a very short period of time, is not what is being practiced now.
The Nigerian federation, he explained, has gravitated the more over the decades towards centralization of almost everything than decentralization, making the country to be practically unitary in nature rather than federal.
He said: “As to the need for decentralization, I remain committed to true federalism and to the need to restructure because it is the way forward. We can not runaway from it.
“Anyone who says he doesn’t believe in it is only pretending or doesn’t have a scientific understanding of what is wrong with our society and what ought to be done.
“There is a difference between what is and what ought to be done. What is right now is a structure partly handed over to us by our colonial masters and being fortified and perpetrated through a constitution given to us by the military. It was like a decree legitimised by an act of parliament.
“There will still be need for people’s constitution that will address very critical issues, including the issue of restructuring of our polity, economy, our means of sharing our common wealth. And the earlier we do this, the better.
“I know of people who cannot go to their states of origin, but rather stay in Abuja for safety reason, and they feel something has to be done. But if you tell them of the need for a state police, they will still oppose it even though they are stuck in Abuja, they cannot go home. A lot of things are wrong.
“The Nigerian leadership is still playing the ostrich. And my hope and prayer is that we will come to terms with the reality of our situation before it is too long.
“What is the percentage of our budget that goes to the federating units. Some of the state don’t have the capacity to even do anything. We have a state where after paying salaries, will hardly can even do anything in terms of income generation.
“Everybody comes cap in hand to the centre. It is a problem. No country can grow that way. This is part of what led to the situation where some people were advocating that we should go back to the regional arrangement that we had before.
“But the disadvantage is that today, we have a situation where the groundnut pyramid is gone which was the bastion of the economy of the north. The cocoa export which was the bastion of the economy of the Western region is flat on the floor. It is still possible for us to revisit all these things.
“But because we found oil as a federal structure, every body abandoned every other thing and our economy became monolithic. Today, by lip service, a lot of administrations had emphasized on the need to broaden the scope of our economy and take it beyond oil. But to a very large extent, we have not been able to work the talk in that regard.
“The ruling class, which also includes the opposition parties, has a responsibility of trying to descend from its olympian height and purge itself from this idea of monopoly of patriotism and knowing what is wrong with Nigeria.
“‘The ruling class, represented by the government of the day, will have to instigate it, initiate it and provide a platform for other stakeholders to come on board.
“You cannot run away from the critical issue of restructuring. My hope and prayer is that we are not going to pretend about it for too long or wait till the whole system collapses on everyone. But definitely, it is a question begging for an answer.”
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