By Chris Ochayi
ABUJA – A legal luminary and a former Dean of the Faculty of Law, Nasarawa State University, Keffi, Professor Maxwell Michael Gidado, SAN, has called on the Federal Government to commence the process of constitutional amendment that will pave way for restructuring of the country.
Prof. Gidado, who made the call in Abuja while speaking at the 2018 Fellows’ Investiture of the Nigerian Institution of Surveyors, NIS, in Abuja, said restructuring the country is the panacea for the Biafra agitation and current insecurity situation in the country.
He also submitted that the nation is bleeding and therefore can longer continue this way.
Gidado, who was a Senior Special Assistant Legal and Constitutional Matters to former President Olusegun Obasanjo, noted that his call for that change is “patriotic.”
According to him, “Nigeria is not working as well as it should and part of the reason is the way we have structured our country and governance. The federal government is too big, and too powerful relative to the federating states.
“This situation calls for constitutional amendment to restructure the country, and calling for that change is patriotic.”
The former Secretary, Presidential Committee on Review of the 1999 Constitution, added, “When the government is decentralized each state will have it’s own focus and at the end the country will not just be a single country but multiple countries within a country.”
He said apart from addressing the current state of insecurity in the country which has led to massive killings and wanton destruction of properties across the nation, restructuring the country will also end the Biafra agitation.
According to him, “Here are some reasons why Nigeria should be restructured- security, one of the vital functions of the government to it’s citizens is the provision of security for them and their property.
“Having help coming to your doorstep in the quickest time is the dream of every person. Now when the country is restructured, each state will be responsible for it’s police as well as fire-fighters.
“This will ensure that help can easily be provided. It is not news that most fire-fighters often arrive at fire scenes when issues are already out of hand and still complain that equipment they require for their services have not been sent from’ Abuja.
“But with each state responsible for providing all the needed equipment they would be able to function more efficiently.”
Noting that restructuring will increase competition, Prof. Gidado said, “Giving more powers to the state will probably result in competition amongst the states as each will try to do better than the other.
“This could lead to more development and innovation and as well as increase tax yield as all states will be dependent on their tax yields, there will be hardly embezzlement of funds because it can easily be tracked.
“Decentralized government may be an answer to the so long problem of Biafra.
“In a decentralized government each state will be independent of the Federal Government and there will be no complaints of marginalization from any state as they are no longer controlled by the federal government and any issues of corruption can easily be seen as arising from within the state.”
Gidado also recommended a smaller, leaner federal government with reduced responsibilities. This means devolution of powers and resources to states and local governments. State and local governments should control education, health, agriculture, roads and other infrastructure.
“A true federal system will allow the federating states to keep their resources while the federal government retains the power of taxation and regulatory authority over standards.
“The result will be a political and governmental system that empowers local authorities and gives them greater autonomy to address peculiar local issues, while enhancing accountability and contributing to the general good of the country.
“Such a robust federal system would reduce the tensions that are built into our current over-centralized system. “