Former Vice-President Atiku Abubakar has renewed his call for restructuring, saying he understands why many of those calling for restructuring are from the south, while the bulk of the opposition to it comes from the north.
Speaking at an annual public lecture at the Obafemi Awolowo University, Ile-Ife, on Monday, Abubakar listed fear of losing oil revenues as reasons why some are opposed to it, and lost of trust in the current structure as reasons some are clamouring for it.
He said too much power at the centre has impeded the development of the country, explaining that the restructuring he has been clamouring for would reallocate powers, responsibilities and resources among the zones.
The former vice-president said necessary assurances and compromises must be made in order to secure a restructuring deal.
“Our current constitution does indeed concentrate too much power and resources at the centre, which has, in my view, impeded national development, security, peace and stability,” he said.
“At some point our leaders and representatives will come together, discuss and work out a framework for restructuring our federation in order to renew it to serve our people better.
“The restructuring that I have been calling for involves changes to the allocation of powers, responsibilities and resources among the states or zones and between them and the federal government.
“It is clear to me that the resistance against restructuring is based on three interrelated factors, namely dependency, fear and mistrust. Dependency of all segments of the country on oil revenues, fear of loss of oil revenues by non-oil producing states or regions and mistrust of the motives of those angling for restructuring.
“This can be seen in the regional patterns of the advocacy for and opposition to restructuring.”
He said the current structure which concentrates too much power and resources in the centre has made the country “economically unproductive” and “politically weak.”
“There is no doubt that many of our states are not viable, and were not viable from the start, once you take away the federal allocations from Abuja. We have to find creative ways to make them viable in a changed federal system. Collaboration among states in a region or zone will help,” he said.
“Nigeria must devolve more powers and resources from the federal government and deemphasize federal allocations as the source of sustenance of states.
“We need to start producing again and collecting taxes to run our governments in a more sustainable way with greater transparency and accountability.
“We have a unique opportunity now, with all the agitation and clamour for restructuring, to have a conversation that would lead to changes in the structure of our federation in order to make it stronger, enhance our unity and promote peace, security and better and more accountable governance.”