By Festus Ahon, Asaba
Immediate past Governor of Delta State, Dr. Emmanuel Uduaghan, has said it may difficult to achieve restructuring of Nigeria, considering the lack of consensus and divergent views on what restructuring means to many Nigerians.
Uduaghan who spoke as a Guest on a radio program, said the word “restructuring” means different things to different people depending on their background making it difficult to reach a common ground on what to be restructured, adding that what Nigeria needs was an “administrative restructuring” that would set the country on the path of development.
Saying it would be “almost impossible” to achieve it since there was no consensus agreement on restructuring, he said; “I like the way you put the question. What is restructuring to me? That is because restructuring means different things to different people and that is why we cannot as a country be talking about restructuring or achieve restructuring.
“Some people see restructuring on a geographical basis. Let us just build this country into several States and all that, let us merge some States you know, some parts of the country have taken over every position in government, all the appointments belong to one part of the country or we need to redistribute them. They look at restructuring from different geographical issues.
“But some of us, I in particular, l look at restructuring on issues of administrative basis. Administrative in what sense? The percentage of funds that goes to the Federal government compared to the State and Local government, the gap is much.”
While he explained that the administrative complexity that exists between the Federal, State and the Local Governments hinder the country’s progress, he blamed some of the reasons why the country was not achieving much on huge vested responsibilities on the Federal Government through the ‘Exclusive List’ which bars the State and Local Governments from performing some duties even right in their domains.
Citing personal experience in office as a Governor, Uduaghan asked, “What are the responsibilities of the various arms of government? You say Federal Government has these responsibilities on an exclusive list, the State government, this is what you can do, the local government this is what you can do or cannot do. I tell you, that has caused a lot of roadblocks in achieving some of the things we are supposed to achieve.
“Let me just give an example of what happened when I was in government. You see there are Federal roads and there are State roads. The Road between Ughelli and Asaba is a Federal road of almost 159km. It’s longer than the Ibadan/Lagos road. Warri Port is a Federal government Port, it’s not a state Port. We are only able to do advocacy with the federal government so they can improve on the Port.
“Now with an improvement in Warri Port, more ships are coming into Warri Port. Many traders from Onitsha import their goods through Lagos Port and have to drive the goods through that Lagos-Benin road which was very bad at that time. Of course it takes two to three days to get their goods to Onitsha.
“We said if we work on that Ughelli-Asaba Road, dualize it and the goods come through Warri Port. With the goods from Warri Port within two/three hours it will be at Onitsha.
“But for us to be able to even start on the Ughelli-Asaba dualization it took us two years to tackle the Ministry of Works at the federal level because it’s a federal road. They said as a state government you need permission from the Federal government to do it.
“So for two years, we didn’t get that permission. It got to a point I said look is the road not in Delta? I must start it and that is how I started that road, let the federal government come and beat me for starting it.
“And that is why I started that road and I am happy that my Successor is continuing with the road because with that road properly dualized and with an improvement on the Warri Port the congestion happening in Lagos Port will be much reduced.
“So, that is why if we have a restructuring that ensures that whatever road is in your state, do it. There should be nothing like Federal road and State road. If you have the money to do any road in your state whether Federal or State do it because it will improve the movement in the state.
“So, mine is administrative. The country should be restructured in such a way that each tier of government is able to meet all its financial needs in running its own responsibility.
“The federal government is taking too much. Why will the federal government from Abuja decide to go and put up a building, primary school building or primary health care center.
“But if we restructure this country and say okay Federal government remove all your hand from primary health care centres and leave it for local government and the state government then we will not have all those conflicting issues”.
Uduaghan who left the PDP and sojourned in the APC for about two years after leaving office as Governor, spoke on other issues, sayung since his return to the PDP, he has been engaging himself with mentoring of youths for leadership positions.
On why he left PDP for the APC, he said, “I left the PDP at the time I left because when I left office after some years I could not breathe. You know like they say literally I could not breathe and I needed to be able to breathe so I left and was able to breathe.
“Some of the issues I had when I left office while in APC some of them were dealt with. I was approached by my colleagues in PDP, held several meetings and some agreements were reached. I would say the knee that was on my neck that made me not be able to breathe was relaxed that’s why I came back.
“People have different reasons for moving from one party to the other. Very different reasons and it happens all over the world. Donald Trump , the President today, didn’t start from the Republican party.
“I am a firm believer in encouraging younger people. I’m a firm believer in that. I have been a Commissioner, I have been SSG and have been Governor. I’m getting involved in mentorship. I believe strongly in the issue of mentorship.
“Right now, it is informal mentorship I’m doing. I hope I can make it formaI and to be able to mentor younger people. We have, I want to repeat, we have challenges in the political terrain in terms of people accepting certain realities and certain truths.
“You may want to mentor younger ones. Are they ready to be mentored? I see many younger ones who just believe that they are experts because they have one social media page whether on Instagram or Facebook and all that, where they write every junk.
“So, they just believe they are experts because they are able to put a lot of rumours and hate speeches on Facebook so they are not even ready to take advice”.