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Atiku Call For Restructuring of Present Nigeria System

Atiku Call For Restructuring of Present Nigeria System

By Chris Suleiman, Abuja

Former Vice President and Chieftain of the All Progressives Congress (APC) Alhaji Atiku Abubakar on Tuesday stressed the need for a total restructuring of the present system in Nigeria, even as he said, the current structure only served as impediment to the economic and political development of the country.

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Alhaji Atiku Abubakar who spoke in his opening remark as Chairman of a Book Launch titled; “We Are All Biafrans” a compendium of Essay written by Chido Onumah held at Yar’Adua Centre, Abuja

Atiku added that ” A true federal system will allow the federating states to keep their resources while the federal government retains the power of taxation and regulatory authority over standards. The result will be a political and governmental system that empowers local authorities and gives them greater autonomy to address peculiar local issues, while enhancing accountability and contributing to the general good of the country. Such a robust federal system would reduce the tensions that are built into our current over-centralized system.

According to him, “Some of you may know, I have for a long time advocated the need to restructure our federation. Our current structure and the practices it has encouraged have been a major impediment to the economic and political development of our country.

He said “In short it has not served Nigeria well, and at the risk of reproach it has not served my part of the country, the North, well. The call for restructuring is even more relevant today in light of the governance and economic challenges facing us. And the rising tide of agitations, some militant and violent, require a reset in our relationships as a united nation.

Atiku also maintained that Nigeria must remain united despite the fact that the unity of the country does not mean Nigerians are contented with the current structure of the federation, according to him, doing so might set he country on a path of losing the country.

Turakin Adamawa Explained that, “Some may say that we are saddled with more urgent challenges, including rebuilding our battered economy, creating jobs, fighting corruption and securing our people from terrorism and other forms of serious crimes. I believe, however, that addressing the flaws in our federation will helpus address some of those very economic and security challenges facing this country.

He however suggested that “First, a smaller, leaner federal government with reduced responsibilities. This means devolution of powers and resources to states and local governments. State and local governments should control education, health, agriculture, roads and other infrastructure.

“Second, autonomy for the component states and localities to determine their development priorities and wage structures. For instance, there is no reason for the governor of Akwa Ibom State to earn the same salary as the Governor of Benue State or for a teacher in Orlu to earn the same salary as the one in Abuja or Port Harcourt.The costs of living and revenue generating capacities vary widely across the country.

“Third, a tax-centred revenue base. Modern democracies derive their revenues from taxation whether or not they have fossil fuels and other natural resources – personal income tax, property tax, sales tax, corporate tax, licences, and duties. Taxation is a sustainable revenue base and one that compels governments to promote increased economic activities, and respond to the demands of their tax paying citizens.
Fourth, enhanced, diversified economic activities and productivity in order to enlarge the tax base.

He also cited example that “The US, U.K., Canada, Malaysia, and UAE are all oil producers. But because they have diversified economies, oil does not dominate their government revenues and does not have the same distortionary effect it has on our own.

“Let’s compare Malaysia with Nigeria. Both countries were at a comparable level of development at independence but now Malaysia’s GDP per capita is $11,000 while Nigeria’s is $3,000. Malaysia has foreign reserves of $100 billion and a sovereign wealth fund of $41 billion. In Malaysia manufacturing accounts for 40% of GDP and the country is rated 14th most competitive economy in the world. In Nigeria, however, manufacturing accounts for a mere 10% of GDP, and only 12% of the labour force. And Nigeria ranks 127th out of 144 in global competitiveness.

“Think about this for a moment: If the bulk of the revenues of our federal and state governments are dependent on the level of economic activities in the country, would we be shutting down the entire country or a state on election days, on census days and during environmental clean-up? I wish some of our researchers would calculate the resulting loss of productivity and incomes to individuals, families and the economy as a whole, and, therefore, potentially government revenues?

“an end to the indigene-settler dichotomy. A modern united Nigerian society can only be built on the basis of common citizenship for all based on residency in a state or locality rather than the local government or ethnic group one is born into.Nigerians should be free to live, study and work anywhere in the country as long as they are law-abiding. We cannot claim to be promoting national unity while also promoting policies that tend to confine people to their places of birth.

Atiku concluded that “state police to augment the federal police (for the states that so desire). This will help us to improve security, including fighting terrorism. Posting a police officer from Ganye to Eket may help promote culture sharing and integration, but it does little to prevent or fight crime. Crime is better fought by those who know the terrain and speak the local language.

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