Why Nigeria needs restructuring–Prof. Jega

Former National Chairman of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), Prof. Attahiru Muhammadu Jega, has said for Nigeria to grow and prosper, it must restructure its current Federal system, which he said is highly imbalanced and poorly managed.

Jega, a onetime vice chancellor of Bayero University, Kano, stated this in a paper he delivered at the 4th public Lecture at Nasarawa State University, Keffi titled “Restructuring the Nigerian Federation: Challenges and Prospects.”

Prof. Jega, in the paper, a copy made available to newsmen in Kano, Sunday, said “restructuring is highly inevitable and the time to start is now.”

The University don, further stated that the country is either urgently reformed and repositioned to satisfy the yearnings and aspirations of Nigerians for a federation based of the rule of law, justice, equity and equality of opportunity for all citizens, or it would be engulfed in perpetual instability and poor management of diversity with the likely terrible possibility of dismemberment by the extremist agitations for new ‘nations’ to be curbed out of the present day Nigeria.

“As a way out of the logjam, the country must come to terms with the challenges and prospects of restructuring. We need to come to terms with the fact that restructuring is necessary,” he posited.

While advocating for restructuring, Prof. Jega warned that the approach and mechanism deployed in pursuing the restructuring is very vital in achieving the desired goal.

“The fundamental question yearning for answer is, how can the Nigerian federation be restructured, to make it efficient and effective in satisfying the needs and aspirations of its citizens, to substantively manage diversity, to forge unity and sense of belonging for and by all, and to bring about democratic and socio-economic development beneficial to all citizens?”

As a panacea, Jega advocated a three-phased restructuring agenda in accordance with what he termed as the “principle of incremental positive changes” which are short term, 2021-2023; medium term, 2023-2027 and long term, beyond 2027.

Under the short term, he proposed that the Federal Government should set up a compact but broadly representative committee to review all the previous reports of the political reform conference (2006) and national conference (2014) to synthetize and prioritize their recommendations for implementation.
Review the federal legislative list, systematically transfer responsibilities, power and resources to states in the areas of basic education, agriculture, primary and secondary health care, police, housing and urban development among others.

Equally, under the short term, the Federal Government should systematically dismantle the behemoth MDA’s and set up smaller compact and focused departments as well as set a department of, or agency for, intergovernmental Relations.

The unethical and humongous pensions of former governors should henceforth be stopped. The number of PA’s, SA’s and SSA’s as well as the number of vehicles in convoys of public office holders be reduced in order to save cost of governance.

On the medium term, Prof. Jega proposed that government should implement the prioritized recommendations of the technical committee, and hand over more responsibilities and resources to states.

In the long term plan, he suggested that the nation should consolidate the gains, accelerate using the governance process to satisfy the basic needs and aspirations of citizens, as well as intensify sustainable socio-economic development through good democratic governance.

He lamented that although the departed military rulers have contributed immensely towards destabilizing the good system, however, poor leadership and bad governance occasioned by massive corruption and the heavy burden of high cost of governance under the civil democratic rule especially at Federal level since 1999 have further compounded and complicated the situation.

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