By Dapo Akinrefon
LAGOS—Serving Overseer of the LatterRain Assembly, Pastor Tunde Bakare has stressed the need for President Muhammadu Buhari to implement the recommendations of the 2014 National Conference, saying its outcome is in tandem with the APC manifesto.
In a state of the nation address in his church entitled: ‘Road map to successful change,’ Bakare argued that though the All Progressives Congress, APC, refused to participate in the exercise, he said the report was done by Nigerians.
He said: “Let it be known that in spite of the rejection of our pre-election call for a transition period, Nigeria is now a nation in transition. This transition period will predictably be followed by a revolution which will, in turn, be followed by a reformation that will eventually usher in the desired transformation of our nation.
“A key outcome of this process will be the emergence of a true People’s Constitution that will facilitate national integration and provide a suitable governmental framework for the Nigeria of our dreams – a truly federal state with such powers vested exclusively on the federal government as are necessary to firmly and prosperously knit together the federating units upon which residual powers shall be vested.”
Speaking further, the cleric said: “That promise of true federalism is contained in Article 14 of the Nigerian Charter for National Reconciliation and Integration, which was unanimously adopted and signed by the delegates to the 2014 National Conference, including myself, as the basis of our union.
“I appeal to Mr. President not to ignore the report of the 2014 National Conference! God went ahead of you to provide a navigational map with which you can begin to steer the ship of state to a safe destination.
“The APC may have refused to participate in the 2014 National Conference, but the report of that conference is completely in tandem with the promise of the APC Manifesto.”
In addition, the Convener of the Save Nigerian Group, SNG, said: “The APC Manifesto and the report of the 2014 National Conference are a tag team in waiting, not a thesis and antithesis. Just as this government adopted the Integrated Personnel and Payroll Information System, IPPIS, the Government Integrated Financial Management Information System, GIFMIS, and the Treasury Single Account, TSA1, which were conceived by the Goodluck Jonathan administration, the Buhari-led government should embrace the report of the 2014 National Conference. That report may have been produced under a PDP government but it is not a PDP document. It is a Nigerian people’s document. All the delegates to the 2014 National Conference, East, West, North, and South endorsed the report without a single vote on any issue.”
He, however, reiterated the need for true federalism in Nigeria where regions should be allowed to manage their resources and maximise their endowments.
His words: “we must examine the diversification thrust not just in terms of the over-reliance of the federal government on petroleum for export revenue but also in the failure of state and local governments to internally generate revenue.”
Also, he said “the need for diversification also brings to the fore the question of viability of states in relation to the need for economies of scale. Can the states, as presently constituted, maximize their endowments even if more power were to be devolved to them? This, I believe, also explains the inability of states to optimize agriculture as it is on the Concurrent Legislative List.
“This introduces to the debate the need for a zonal or regional approach to national development, and in this regard we ask: is it sheer coincidence that the nation’s bio-geographical features, including the vegetation belts and rivers, roughly divide the landscape into six geographical zones? Shouldn’t these zones provide a basis for economic mapping and development? Why were the regions in the days of our Founding Fathers so economically viable to the extent of sustaining the federal government? Why can’t we begin a geo-economic path to geopolitical restructuring? Who is afraid of zonal commissions and geopolitical zones; and, if I may add, who is afraid of zonal federating units? Time has come for us to “feed our faith” in this regard and “starve our fears to death”, he added.
Besides, he urged Nigerians not to be shortchanged by the current administration saying “now that the election is over, it is incumbent upon us all, citizens and government, to do all in our collective power to ensure that we are not short-changed by the change we so desired and voted for.”
He urged Nigerians to change “our way of thinking and then doing”, adding that “only transformed people can transform nations. Difficult as it may seem, National Transformation is not rocket science. Even if it is, rocket scientists are not aliens from another planet – they are human beings like you and me. I will share further thoughts on this shortly; we need to change our governance structure. The present system is severely wasteful. Left as is, it will continue to generate as well as perpetuate a syndicate of scams and profligacy at all levels of government; we need to change our Grundnorm by creating a true federal system of government while making the welfare and security of our people the raison d’être of government; we need to change our cash and carry judicial and legislative systems.”