Delegates say devolution panacea to bickering

By Hassan Haruna Ginsau

Decentralisation of power from the centre has remained the dominant discussion of Delegate after delegates in their contribution yesterday insisting that unless the structure of government is re-organised the country will remain in the woods.

The delegates argued that unless more powers were be given to the state and local governments, the centre will remain unwieldy, breed corruption and unemployment because of unfair distribution of wealth.

Former Speaker House of Representatives, Ghali Umar Na’abba, who is represents former Speakers, said Nigeria’s federalism was not only narrow form of system but highly expensive and retrogressive.

“I believe that what we are running today isn’t federalism, and if it is federalism then it is very limited. I believe that more powers should be devolved to the states and local governments, and the finances necessary for the functions that go back to the states to be carried out by them, should also be given to the states.”

Na’abba said devolving power at the centre would give more resources to the people, majority of who are located in the state and local governments.

“The people are closer to the states and local governments, and therefore the federal government has no business really with certain areas of the polity. Therefore, I believe that it’s going to be wise if we empower our people through devolving more powers to them,” said Na’abba.

Another delegate, Senator Femi Okurounmu blamed past military regimes for truncating the federal structure through the creation of multiple states as opposed to the original 12 states the country had “All these vices of today are the cumulative legacies of the misguided policies of successive military rulers and their civilian collaborators since 1966, starting from the truncation of federalism through the creation of a multiplicity of states beyond the initially justifiable and viable 12 states.

“Gen. Gowon’s introduction of the so-called Presidential System of government that now enables one man ruler in each state to personalize all state resources and loot the treasury as he pleases with impunity”

He called for a balanced federal structure which would hand down more power to the 6 geo-political zones in the country.

“If Nigeria is to return to the path of growth and wholesome values we must wipe away all the negative imprints of military rule. We must return to federalism and a balanced federal structure.

“The centre must devolve powers to federating units which are large enough to rule the powers that will be devolved. The present six geo-political zones of the original 12 states created by Gowon are ideal for this purpose.”

“Furthermore, if corruption is to be culled, and accountability restored to governance we must jettison the so-called presidential system and return to the parliamentary system,” he added.

On the contrary, another delegate, Dr Phillip Salawu was of the opinion that the presidential system in place was best for the country.

Said Salawu: “The presidential system is still the better option for our plural, heterogeneous polity, however a uni-cameral legislature is advocated to reduce cost of governance, the executive arms of government, misters, commissioners, special advisers, supervisors, and other aides should be pegged to reduce the cost of governance.”


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