By Anthony Ogbonna
Senator representing Bayelsa East district, Senator Ben Murray-Bruce has urged the elder statesman and former Special Adviser to Second Republic President Shehu Shagari, Alhaji Tanko Yakassai, to be properly guided on his stance on restructuring which he used as basis to attack the former Vice President of Nigeria, Atiku Abubakar, saying that Alhaji Yakassai got it all wrong.
Senator Murray-Bruce said Alhaji Yakassai failed to comprehend the visionary ideas the former VP said in his debate on restructuring.
The Commons sense Senator, in putting the elder statesman to the right perspective, said, “I am a member of the National Assembly and participated fully in the budget process and I must say that Alhaji Yakassai is wrong to tie restructuring to just one budget cycle.”
Senator Bruce also said that what is required to “transfer schools from the Federal Government to the state government is just an executive order and not constitutional amendment.
Senator Bruce, while faulting Yakassai’s comment that six months is not enough for a change in budget, however said that a nation can even restructure in just one day if the will is there.
The statement read thus:
“I have just read Alhaji Tanko Yakassai’s criticism of former Vice President, Waziri Atiku Abubakar’s stance on restructuring and it is quite clear that Alhaji Yakassai failed to comprehend the visionary ideas and details that the former Vice President introduced into the restructuring debate at his speech at the University of Nigeria, Nsuka on July 19, 2017.
“In his rush to judgment, Alhaji Yakassai said inter alia “I thought, as a politician that he (Atiku) is, that he has read our constitution from A-Z before suggesting that we can restructure in six months. My question here is, what are the details of the budgetary provisions for the Ministry of Works that should be transferred to the states’ ministries of education and so on and so forth before he made his pronouncement that these could be done within six months?…We already have a budget approved by the National Assembly as empowered by the constitution for appropriation.”
“I am a member of the National Assembly and participated fully in the budget process and I must say that Alhaji Yakassai is wrong to tie restructuring to just one budget cycle.
“Waziri Atiku Abubakar’s ideas on restructuring specifies how he would do away with quota systems by increasing Nigeria’s educational capacity through the return of seized schools back to the missions and handing over federal universities back to the states while more resources will be devolved from the Federal Government to the States and LGAs to enable them build more primary and secondary schools.
“You do not need a budget to transfer schools from the Federal Government to the state government. You only need an Executive Order. I am rather surprised that Alhaji Yakassai does not know this.
“Why would anyone be against such a plan that would not require a constitutional amendment and will almost immediately take care of the over 12 million children out of the formal education system in Northern Nigeria? This number is twice the population of Togo, our next door neighbor. Is Alhaji Yakassai, as a Northern elder, satisfied with this situation? Shouldn’t he rather applaud Waziri Atiku Abubakar for wanting to fix this problem?
“And even in those areas that require constitutional amendments, Waziri Atiku Abubakar is right to say that Nigeria can restructure within six months.
“Let me ask Alhaji Yakassai how long it took the National Assembly to come up with the Doctrine of Necessity in 2010? It only took a day. When a nation has the political will to restructure she can achieve it in one day or at least begin the process!
“Northern elders like Alhaji Yakassai should celebrate Waziri Atiku Abubakar who has shown that True Federalism can work. He employs more people in Adamawa state than the Adamawa state government proving that you do not need oil to survive as a state government in the process.
“Finally, let me add that at that event at the University of Nigeria Waziri Atiku Abubakar, predicted that the automobile industry will be moving away from diesel and petrol powered cars in favour of electric and alternative energy powered cars. This, he stated, was one of the reasons why Nigeria must restructure now or risk being bypassed by the global economy.
“Of course he was criticized and painted as crying wolf by the likes of Alhaji Tanko Yakassai , yet only 8 days after he gave this warning, Atiku was vindicated by the news from the UK which was reported in ThisDay’s front page on Thursday July 27, 2017 with the headline: ‘Doom for Nigeria, Britain Moves to Ban Petrol, Diesel Cars by 2040’.
“This again serves as a warning to Nigeria to heed the warnings of patriots like Waziri Atiku Abubakar and others like him, that while we still have a few good years of income from oil we need to urgently diversify our economy which will only be possible if we embrace restructuring.”