By Samuel Oyadongha & Emem Idio
YENAGOA—FORMER Governor of Anambra State, Dr. Chukwuemeka Ezeife, has advocated a return to the regional government system where regions have considerable autonomy to act for themselves.
Ezeife, who reiterated the urgent need to restructure the country along regional lines, however, pointed out that corruption was the major problem confronting the nation, adding that corruption was responsible for the messing up of the regional structure of government in the country.
Ezeife who stated this in Yenagoa at the anniversary lecture to mark Governor Seriake Dickson six years in office, on the topic: “ Restructuring: The way forward for a New Nigeria,” added that the call for state police must be done with caution as it might give the state governors undue influence and power.
Also in his lecture, the guest lecturer, Gen, Alani Akinrinade (rtd), described restructuring as inevitable for a united and prosperous Nigeria, but noted that restructuring may not lead to an automatic el dorado, but a means to an end, and called on President Muhammadu Buhari to initiate the processes of restructuring of the country.
Ezeife said: “Our heroes past gave us a model; they gave a structure which worked. When we talk of restructuring, we mean going back to the agreed Nigeria of 1954. Yes, there are so many elements. The APC came up with some ideas. I can see some meaningful development there. I have seen the state police which is good and we may go beyond state police and have regional police.
“A state police controlled by the regional government which involves everybody in the zone will reduce too much power from the governors but those who want to be governors are talking about state police as if it were a panacea. It will work but it has to be adjusted.
“What caused our problem is the messing up of our structure. In fact, it is the major fact of what caused our problem. What caused our problem is corruption. The root cause of our problem is corruption and unless we clear ourselves from it, there will be no change.”
In his lecture, Gen Akinrinade said: “Restructuring does not lead to an automatic el dorado. It is not a panacea for good governance, but a strategic ancillary. Restructuring is not a once and for all cure or talisman, but a means to an end. Any restructuring, which leaves Nigeria with the current level of grinding poverty, feudal squalor, biblical misery and state larceny has not achieved anything.
“By decentralising and devolving power away from a bloated and overburdened centre to the margins, genuine federalism aims to liberate the local genius of the people and unfetter their creative and enterprising spirit.”
Local productivity is radically enhanced and so is accountability and transparency in governance since there is a face to government. Surely, there is less to steal at the centre and less humongous resources available to placate the larcenous appetite of executive brigands.
“The blunt fact remains that this renewed ethnic restiveness is a vote against centralized tyranny and inefficiency as well as the ethnicization of the Presidency, which have become the hallmark of the Nigerian post-colonial state particularly in the Fourth Republic. Successful elections and the restriction of the military to the barracks have failed to resolve the national question. In fact elections, including a historic regime change, have tended to exacerbate the regional and ethnic fault lines, opening the door to a resurgence of primordial sentiments and new centrifugal forces.
“President Buhari should go immediately for the clusters of consensus and low hanging fruits by initiating a Bill for the structural unbundling of an overburdened centre through the removal of several agreed items from the current exclusive list and their devolution to the constituting states in a way and manner that does not enfeeble or endanger the manifest destiny of the nation.”