The states in the North controlled by the All Progressives Congress (APC), on Monday, at the public hearing organised by the party on the restructuring in the country, agreed that there was the need for states and local government areas to have more powers.
According to them, this is necessary because the two constituent units are the closest to the people, adding that there was the need for devolution of power.
However, the states disagreed on the restructuring of the country, with some saying it is not necessary.
The All Progressives Congress (APC) in Sokoto, Kebbi and Zamfara states, on Monday, agreed to support devolution of power in the country, saying the Federal Government should transfer some aspects of health, transport, fire service, among others, to the states while it focuses on defence, foreign affairs, security and currency.
This was their position at the APC North-West zonal public hearing held in Sokoto, the Sokoto State capital, on Monday.
Sokoto delegates position, as presented by former deputy governor, Chiso Abdullahi, rejected the creation of new states, saying many states in the country at the moment are not viable.
They advocated that the presidential system and fiscal federalism should be maintained as enshrined in the constitution while power rotation and zoning should be maintained to foster national unity.
They also canvassed for a unicameral legislature while traditional institutions should be given advisory role in the constitution.
They also stated that revenue allocation should be shared on the basis of 43 per cent for the Federal Government, 35 per cent for states and 23 per cent for local government councils.
Kebbi State, on the other hand, rejected the creation of new states and bicameral legislature while insisting that zoning should be practised between
North and South
Kebbi also advocated a revenue-sharing formula with Federal Government having 40 per cent, states 40 per cent and local government areas, 20 per cent.
It also canvassed for devolution of powers whereby the Federal Government should transfer some aspects that will be better handled by the states.
Zamfara State APC, at the meeting, insisted that the status quo should be maintained on issues of state creation, derivation, devolution of power, presidential system of government and land tenure system.
Speaking at the meeting, the Chairman of the APC Restructuring Committee for North-west and Plateau State governor, Simon Lalong, said all the views collated would be taken back to the APC national headquarters.
“At the end of the exercise, all the views collated will be analysed and this will form the opinion of the APC and the Federal Government,” he said.
In his remarks, Sokoto State Governor, Aminu Tambuwal, said the aim of the public hearing was to collate views of the people on how the country should be restructured and governed.
He said this would enable the party to have better-informed position on the issue whenever it is making its presentation.
Tambuwal commended the APC for its moves to get feedback from the people on the way the country should be governed.
Also speaking, Governor Atiku Bagudu of Kebbi State said the North would not be stampeded into accepting other people’s agenda but would only be guided by reason.
He described the meeting as apt, saying APC was committed to true federalism as enshrined in the manifesto of the party.
The Zamfara State governor, Abdulazeez Yari, who was represented by the deputy governor, Ibrahim Wakala, said the state would always be in support the unity of Nigeria.
However, three governors of the All Progressive Congress (APC) in the North- East region have expressed diverse views over the current agitation for restructuring of the country.
The governors are those of Bauchi, Borno and Yobe States who spoke at the public hearing on true federalism organised by the National Secretariat of the APC for the North-East held in Bauchi, on Monday.
While the Bauchi State governor, Mohammed Abdullahi Abubakar, stressed the need for a national consensus on restructuring in order to meet the yearning and aspirations of Nigerians, the Borno State governor, Kashim Shettima, was of the view that there is no need for restructuring but a harder stance on the ongoing fight against corruption and injustice in the country.
The Yobe State governor, Ibrahim Geidam, on his part, called for amendment of the 1999 Constitution by National Assembly.
Governor Abubakar, represented by his deputy, Nuhu Gidado, states that “we believe in one united Nigeria because we do not subscribe to breakup, it is better to remain as one country. Also, any position to be taken on restructuring must be in tandem with the people’s views in line with APC manifesto and our change agenda.”
The Bauchi State governor further called for devolution of power from the exclusive list by the Federal Government to the states and local government in the areas of agriculture and education.
As for Governor Shetima, Nigeria needs honest leaders who are interested in the plight of the people in fighting corruption, adding that “my opinion and the opinion of Borno State government is that the present federalism be maintained and build strong institutions that will stand a test of time.”
Shetima, who was also represented by the Speaker of Borno State House of Assembly, Abdukarim Lawal, said that the current restructuring agitation was awoken by the injustice and corrupt practices of the previous Peoples Democratic Party led administration which ruled the country for 16 years.
He commended President Mohammed Buhari for his fight against corruption, saying that it would go a long way in the restructuring of the country.
Also, the Yobe State governor, represented by the Permanent Secretary, Government House, Damaturu, Lawal Hassan, said that agitation of restructuring revolved around constitution amendment.
He said “all we need in Nigeria is good governance, hence the need for National Assembly to amend our constitution.”
In his remarks, the leader of the public hearing in the North-East, Professor Oseirhemen Osunbor, said that the policy of the party in resolving issues on restructuring is to listen to the people and engage them in the debates.
Osumbor, a one-time Edo State governor, said that the key issues to be address at the public hearing are creation/merger of states, derivation principle, devolution of power and federation units.
Other issues include fiscal federalism and revenue allocation, form of government, independent candidacy, land tenure system, local government autonomy, power sharing and rotation, resource control and type of legislature.
Devolution of power in favour of states of the federation formed the highest point of aggregated views among stakeholders at the North-Central zonal public meeting on true federalism.
Stakeholders at the meeting in Ilorin, Kwara State, on Monday, made up of traditional rulers, members of organised labour unions, the business community, religious and ethnic groups, were led by a member of the committee, Governor Rauf Aregbesola of Osun State.
Aside all other issues such as fiscal federalism, local government autonomy, power-sharing, land tenure, creation of states and independent candidacy, raised by the people, the speakers at the meeting agreed that power at the centre should be decentralised.
The agreement was that states and local governments were closer to the people, thus more responsibility should be given to the states and local government areas of the country for effective delivery of democratic dividends.
They also said that the present 52 per cent of the revenue allocation being enjoyed by the Federal Government should be reduced to either 40 and 30 pet cent in favour both states and local government that were expected to get more.
Another common view was that the country’s democracy was ripe for independent candidacy, while majority of the speakers said that there was no need for creation of more states.
Speaking at the meeting, the Niger APC chairman, Mr. Jubril Imam, said that financial cost of maintaining federal legislature was too much, suggesting that remuneration of legislators should be on sitting arrangement.
In his speech, Governor Aregbesola said that the public meeting on true federalism was the first conscious effort by any political party in the country aimed to aggregate views on how Nigerians should live together.
The governor, who called on people to support the APC programme, said that it would be wrong to impose views on Nigerians stressing that freedom to chart own course was very important.
Also speaking, Governor Abdulfatah Ahmed of Kwara State called for special focus on the political economy in the quest for true federalism in Nigeria in order to ensure class elevation and egalitarianism.
The governor, who said that the core of the current agitation for true federalism or restructuring was a drive towards redistributing resources in an equitable manner.
“This dialogue should explore ways of ensuring the greatest good for the greatest number of our people. That, to me, is what we must address our minds to work within the context of our federation or any other structure that we may come up with.”
Governor Ahmed said that any structure that meets the economic and political aspirations of the majority of citizens would be welcomed.