Former Edo State governor, Professor Oserheimen Osunbor has joined the growing number of Nigerians calling for a national restructuring.
The former governor, Dr Oby Ezekwesili, and Professor Osagie were panellists at the just-concluded “Governor Seyi Makinde National Democracy Summit” where they called on the president and the All Progressives Congress leadership to come up with solutions to combat the insecurity and poverty currently plaguing Nigeria.
Prof. Osagie said: “The only way we can have a proper understanding of federalism or even begin to think of a more effective federalism, is to first understand the nature of the state, which federalism is expected to serve.”
“If we don’t understand the character of the state, all discussion will be totally out of context. The first point I want to make is there is nothing like true federalism.”
Professor Osunbor also spoke at the event and pointed out the possibility of Nigeria reviving the fiscal federalism structure, describing it thus: “was quite robust and gave states the opportunity to generate a lot of funds for the local government. And I think that is the salvation for the federal system in this country.”
“This is a fundamental issue to consider in a period like this, which will strengthen democratic practice or aspirations of this country. We actually need to go back to the 60s and adopt, in fact, revive the fiscal federal structure.”
Attorney General and Honorable Commissioner for Justice in Oyo State, Oyewole Oyewo, who was also the lead presenter at the summit, opined that women should be encouraged to participate at the highest level of politics to change the current rhetoric and get every demographic involved.
He said: “We need to go back to the fundamental of democracy. The challenge is to everybody involved.”
The Ondo State Attorney-General, Sir Charles Titiloye also spoke and stated that Nigeria currently practices a unitary system of government.
“Yes, in a situation whereby it is the centre that dictates for the component body; in a situation where the states go cap in hand every month to beg for funds from the Federal Government, instead of the states to control the resources they contribute, the funding is from the centre.”
“These are local issues, which the state can easily handle, and for us to have true federalism we are talking about, these are areas that should be permanently handed over to the states of the federation,” he said.
Former World Bank Vice president, Dr Oby Ezekwesili, spoke virtually and contributed to the topic: ‘Poverty and socio-economic exclusion in Nigeria’. She charged Nigerian political leaders to eradicate poverty in the nation and criticized the huge gap between the Nigerian masses and the elites.
She noted that the summit was a step in the right direction in eradicating the gravest societal issues Nigerians face and pointed out that sound policies and institutions, as well as significant public investment, will go a long way toward eradicating poverty in the land and attaining true democracy.
She said: “What is important is; you cannot tackle poverty without growing, which is a necessary condition. There should be growth, and the growth should happen in a sustained manner. That is why we must worry. What are the things that make countries grow? The soundness of policies, which will be enviable and facilitate growth.”
“Second are the institutions, which are the cornerstones to make an environment enviable for the private sector. This will make democracy less vulnerable.”
“Another thing that must also be considered is an investment, public investment especially. This will provide a basis for private investments, which really is the engine room for growth. The current poverty we see in the country will aggravate if we fail to do the needful.”
Dr Rotimi Nihinlola, a UK-based financial analyst, also joined the virtual session and opined that Nigeria being the poverty headquarters of the world has directly led to the high underdevelopment and insecurity in the country.
In his words: “We are one of the most terrorized countries too. Some Nigerians don’t actually like the tag but look at the country; look at the level of insecurity and the rest. There is a strong connection between poverty and security. All indices you go to, we are at the top of the table; talk of lack of electricity supply, insecurity, and the rest”
“Our leaders only talk about poverty in vague terms. They need to address some factors; some exclusion gaps.”
He also called for Nigerian leaders to implement a working system in the country and listed free healthcare, free education and the creation of more jobs as hallmarks of a functioning system.
He stated that the poverty in the country needs to be treated as a state of emergency and added that the goal of our leaders should be to completely eradicate poverty in the land and not settle for just a reduction.
Notable attendees of the event included; Professor Yemisi Bamgbose (SAN), Professor Demola Popoola, Professor Osunbor, Adekunle Adeyemi, Chairman, Governing Council, the Polytechnic, Ibadan.