Former Senate President, Dr. Abubakar Bukola Saraki has aired his opinion on the lingering issues concerning restructuring of Nigeria.
Many Nigerians, groups and individuals believe that the country must be restructured to bring about equity and justice to all its regions, with some people even insisting that this is the only way Nigeria can still stay together as a unit.
But fielding questions during an Independence Day luncheon in commemoration of Nigeria’s 61st Independence anniversary, held in Abuja at the weekend, Saraki, who is also a former Governor of Kwara State, advised Nigerians to rather seek to be better governed.
According to him, those in government need to ensure that there is development in all parts of the country, insisting that people would not be happy staying together in a country where only one part is being developed.
He said in such circumstances, it was impossible to believe that the country would remain as one in peace.
The former Senate President said that in restructuring, Nigerians should be looking at what they are getting out of the government, adding that it is the failure of government to deliver the expectations of the masses that has led to the agitations for restructuring.
“I think that the government not being able to deliver to the people as regards what their values and expectations are, has made us start looking inward to see that there is something wrong structurally… That’s why you hear people talk about maybe we should give more powers to the states; more powers to the regions.
“My view is that we must ensure that we provide the most viable ways to govern at all levels. This includes making our state more viable…,” Saraki said.
“We are saying this because we have seen a failure at the center. I think we need to address what is wrong with our country. The major issue has to do with the opportunity for all of us. I call it the democratization of opportunity.
“Today a lot of people do not have a sense of belonging. They do not believe that the opportunities are fair to all. We need to go back to that. We must have an environment that enables all of us to believe that we have a fair chance of getting to where we want to get to and in doing that we have to be sure that some of us do not believe that we are being held back.”
Speaking further, the former leader of the National Assembly said that states and local governments must begin to address what makes them viable, adding that this will help them generate their revenue.
“You only have internally generated revenue when there is activity. You cannot generate from zero activity. That is why we have the VAT problem. Because the places where there is commercial activity are limited,” he added.
“Some states believe it is their revenue that is being shared by other states …the fact is, we need to make every state viable. It is possible to make every state viable if you have policies that encourage a particular investment in different sectors…I believe it’s doable but we need to have the capacity to understand what the situation is.
“There was a bill we passed in the eight Senate on how to generate money through road authority. Trying to see if there were certain amounts being paid for road maintenance across the country but it didn’t see the light because of the issue we had at the eight senate.
“I’m told the same bill they are about to pass now. Six years have been wasted, if that bill was passed 6 years ago, the country would have been able to generate enough revenue through that and these are just examples we need to do.
“A lot of noise is being made about restructuring but I think we need to first see that we are governed better. There are things we need to do and we need to see that there is fairness and equity in how we are governed and how the resources of Nigeria are distributed.
“We also need to ensure that there is development in every part of the country. You can’t be seeing development in one part of the country and believe that we will stay as one, it is not possible. In some parts of the world, there are incentives to see investment in places where there is no investment.”