Lagos – The Catholic Archbishop of Lagos, Most Rev. Adewale Martins, says proper restructuring of the country remains one of the surest means of ensuring sustainable peace and development.
Martins spoke in Lagos on Tuesday as he marked the 35th anniversary of his priestly ordination.
The cleric wondered why the country’s leadership, both the executive and legislature, appeared averse to the concept of restructuring.
According to him, all credible parameters for gauging the country’s growth are pointing to the need to embrace a better alternative than the one presently being run.
“I wonder why anyone should be afraid of restructuring, especially since what it means in practical terms is devolution of power to the states in areas that are critical to the development of the country as a whole.
“Afterall, the country is nothing but the sum total of its constituent parts, and the growth of each constituent part sum up to the growth of the country.
“That is the concept of true federalism that we are supposed to be practising.
“The system of governance, allocation of human and natural resources, as presently practised, concentrates too much power at the centre, and is not suitable for a country as richly blessed and as diverse as Nigeria.
“It leaves many of the States unable to harness their human and natural resources to maximum benefit.
“I have said it severally, and will continue to affirm that the present structure that we practise as a nation is counter-productive and unable to guarantee the development that we desire,” he said.
The cleric, who condemned the non payment of workers salaries in some states, said that the welfare of citizens should be paramount to the leaders.
“Many of the states are far from solvent; workers’ salaries are not being paid on time; there are no viable industries to create employment or opportunities for small and medium scale industries to thrive in many of these states.
“A good number of our graduates are either hawking pure water on the streets or driving Keke Napep to eke out a livelihood.
“No wonder there is so much youth restiveness! It is sad that in this age and time, we allow ourselves to be blinded by tribal, ethnic and religious sentiments instead of seeking the common good for the benefit of all.
“We must stop retarding our own progress but begin to provide an enabling environment for the various States of the country to harness the natural and human resources at their disposal and grow wealth.”
He urged political leaders to summon the political will and break away from the present lopsided arrangement that had only succeeded in enriching a few, with others left poor.
“Let us give fiscal federalism as practised by our founding fathers a chance. I believe sincerely that it remains one of the surest ways of getting our country out of the woods, he said.
The Prelate said that the process of restructuring should be an on-going exercise which cannot be totally implemented in one fell swoop.
He urged President Muhammadu Buhari to show his unalloyed resolve to move the nation forward by revisiting the recommendations of the Gov. El-Rufai-led Committee on Restructuring.
The committee, set up by the All Progressives Congress, submitted its report to the party in January.
“Having set up and received the committee’s report, I believe it is only proper for the President and his team to initiate the implementation of some of the recommendations even before next year’s General Elections.
“Even before the El-Rufai committee report, we have had the recommendations of the National Conference set up by former President Goodluck Jonathan that needs to be considered for the common good as well.
“By initiating the implementation of the recommendations, our President would have shown Nigerians that he is truly committed to fulfilling the electoral promises of his party,” he said. (NAN)