By VICTOR AHIUMA-YOUNG
NIGERIA Employers’ Consultative Association, NECA, has joined the growing clamour for resource control and devolution of powers from the center to states for the nation to develop, saying until “we address the basic issue of our political reform that focuses on devolution of power, resource control, fiscal federalism, whatever economic policies we are thinking of, we will not be able to realise their full potentials.
Director-General of NECA, Mr. Segun Osinowo, in an interview, argued that quite a number of Nigeria’s laws are anti development and have reduced the nation’s capacity for effective administration.
Speaking on the Nigeria at 51, he said, “The cost of doing business in Nigeria, you will agree with me is a big challenge to employers. But if there is anything we desire for this country at 51, it is the need for us to realise the imperative for a political reform.
We are not talking about economic reform now, until we address the basic issue of our political reform that focuses on devolution of power, resource control, fiscal federalism, whatever economic policies we are thinking of, we will not be able to realise their full potentials because quite a number of our laws are anti development and have reduced our capacity for effective administration.
Giving instances he said, the Federal Government came up with the pronouncement on the issue of number plates. The question now is what has the Federal Government really got to do with the issue of number plates but because the constitution has allowed it. We have to do away with that policy.
If you go to the United States, each state handles the issue of number plates and they are more effective in terms of delivery. Our position is that each state should be allowed to issue number plates and that is just one of those policies that need to be reviewed.
There are so many policies that government need to do away with.
“We need to thinker with that policy that gives so much power to the federal government. In the case of number plates, the federal government can develop the national framework but not for them to handle the administrative aspect of it.
Why are we running away from states developing the structure for ensuring security like state police? People have cited political consideration that such thing may not work but we have to start from somewhere.
Our message to Nigeria at 51 is that the Federal Government should realise that political reforms is as important as economic reform and that we cannot place emphasis on economic reform while ignoring the basic issues of political reform. So let us put the issue of political reform on the front burner and tackle it as quickly as possible.
According to the NECA’s Director-General, “We need to address the issue of constitutional review which will focus on the devolution of power to the other arms of government, which will also focus on the need to change the current culture of sharing and embrace a culture of contribution and production.
“We should be bold enough if it comes to that to embrace the concept of resource control. Take for instance in the First Republic, there were healthy competition among those leaders who were contributing for a better course.
So, if we are able to move along that way each state will be forced to wake up and take advantage of opportunities within its boundaries and in the cause of doing that, economic activities will be ignited and jobs will be created. So for us the time is ripe for a review of our constitution in terms of the real fundamental issues that will make sure that, to a large extent, each state is given the power or allowed to control resources to grow the state.
By the time we do that, you will be amazed that all the agitation for state creation will reduce because the burden of state creation will be on all those agitating for it to make sure that the states generate revenue to survive.”
“Why are we having so many agitations for state creation now? It is because of the ethnic aspect of it or what I will call the tendency for some minority groups to be sidelined. But the key issue is that everybody wants to have a direct access to the national cake.
People are not thinking of how they are going to contribute to the baking of the cake, rather it is all about how to have a slice of the national cake, we need to really readdress that.
“The only way to do this is for us to say that within a period of say five years, whatever anybody is able to generate in his state will be used to build infrastructure within his state. Then will states begin to generate revenue out of which they will contribute to the national pulse.
So, even though we are apolitical and not supporting any political party, that does not mean that we do not have the right to have a say or prefer a political structure for moving this country forward. “