The body language of President Muhammadu Buhari towards the clamour and agitations for restructuring in Nigeria has been described as saddening and discouraging.
This is even as it has been suggested that for Nigeria to achieve economic and political progress, there was a need for restructuring in order to attain balanced power relations.
These observations were put forward by Dr. Tunji Ogunyemi, a historian and economist, during a radio current affairs programme in Osogbo, Osun State capital, on Tuesday.
Ogunyemi noted that the comments of the president that those clamouring for restructuring were naive and dangerous was saddening because himself and the All Progressives Congress (APC) contested and won on the premise of restructuring.
He disclosed that restructuring is contained in the manifesto and constitution of the APC.
According to him, “If we are to go by the description of the president, then naivety and unpatriotism will start from his political party. It is very unfortunate for the president to be using such words
“The issue of restructuring is not strange to Nigeria. Nigeria has been undergoing restructuring without knowing it for the past 20 years.”
He declared that since Nigeria is a federation of multiple nationalities, there is need to restructure in order to address the fundamental contradictions in the constitution of the federal republic.
He pointed out that the Nigerian federation had been restructured from the first military regime in a way that was anti-development and also pitched the North against the South.
According to him, “The issue of the restructuring of Nigeria has to do with devolution of powers, that is deconcentration of power from the centre to the federating units such that the federating units will not become centres of competitive developments amongst themselves.
“In the Second Schedule, Part 1 and 2 of the 1999 Nigerian Constitution as amended, in this part of the constitution, there are 98 public powers out of which the federal government has confiscated 68 of them and it began in 1966 when the Unification Decree was passed and approved by Maj. Gen. J. T. U. Aguiyi Ironsi.
“This decree transferred those powers that belonged to the region to the federal government. These powers include excise duties, import duties, insurance, labour, mines and minerals, natural gas, parents, trademarks, industrial designs and merchandise, pension and gratuities, police and other government security agencies, posts, prisons, professional occupations, public holidays, railways, stamp duties and establishment of archives, all these were originally within the purview of the regions and the centre.”
While describing Nigeria as the only federation in the world that even a local government does not have its own police, Ogunyemi revealed that in Sections 214, 215 and 216 of the Nigerian Constitution as amended, the police which was supposed to be within the jurisdiction of the region and centre has now been confiscated by the Federal Government with severe implications for the federating units.
He added that out of the five countries in Africa that operate a federal system, Nigeria is the greatest but the worst in terms of distribution of power and power relationship.
“The concurrent power needs to be restructured firstly and secondly on security matters with regards to Section 315 of the Nigerian Constitution as amended, the states have no power to secure its territories and it also has no power to enforce laws passed by the State Houses of Assembly.”
The economist maintained that there is also a need to restructure the number of states in Nigeria because the country is over governed.
“We need to restructure in order to remove the Land Use Act, NYSC Act, National Security Act from Section 315 of the Nigerian Constitution .
“If Nigeria is not restructuring for power relations we should do it for the economic development of our people “, he concluded.
Recalls that President Muhammadu Buhari represented by Alhaji Mohammed Bello Shehu, the Executive Secretary, Revenue Mobilisation, Allocation and Fiscal Commission had on Saturday in Kaduna described those clamouring for restructuring as naive and dangerous.
The statement had read in part that, “So those calling for separation or restructuring, some of them I will say are very naive or mischievously dangerous.”