Vice President Yemi Osinbajo on Monday while delivering the 40th Anniversary Lecture of the Association of Friends in Lagos said that he is an advocate of fiscal federalism, stronger state government and state police.
According to him, Nigeria needs good governance, not geographical restructuring.
“I have been an advocate, both in court and outside, of fiscal federalism and stronger state governments. I have argued in favour of state police, for the simple reason that policing is a local function,” he said in the lecture titled “Restructuring and the Nigerian Federation”
“You simply cannot effectively police Nigeria from Abuja. Only recently, I made a point that stronger, more autonomous states would effectively eradicate poverty.”
Although the President Muhammadu Buhari led administration is currently not really interested in restructuring the nation, the federal government had however setup a restructuring committee following public outcry. The committee had since submitted its report, but nothing has been done since then.
President Buhari apparently has some reasons why he thinks Nigeria is not yet ready to be restructured, probably including state police which everyone should fear would be influenced and misused by state governors.
Osinbajo who is Buhari’s deputy however in his lecturer on Monday noted that he is in support of restructuring, but not geographical restructuring.
“So, I do not believe that geographical restructuring is an answer to Nigeria’s socio-economic circumstances. “That would only result in greater administrative costs; but there can be no doubt that we need deeper fiscal federalism and good governance,” he said.
He further explained that state governments have enormous constitutional powers which they should harness to better their fortunes.
For instance, Osinbajo said that the Supreme Court held that states had a constitutional right to create local governments, pursuant to Section 8 of the Constitution. He however added that the creation remained incomplete until the National Assembly, by resolution, amended the existing list of local governments to include the newly created one.
He however noted that it was wrong to mix up all the issues of good governance and diversification of the economy with the argument on corruption.
“Good governance involves inter alia, transparency and prudence in public finance. It involves social justice, investing in the poor, jobs for the young people, which explains our School Feeding Programme, providing a meal per day to over nine million pupils in 25 states.
“Our N-Power is now employing 500,000 graduates; our TraderMoni that will be giving microcredit to two million petty traders; our Conditional Cash Transfers giving monthly grants to over 400,000 of the poorest in Nigeria. The plan is to cover a million households.”
He noted that in the arguing for good governance, Nigeria’s biggest problem was corruption. He further described it as the unbelievable looting of the treasury by simple making huge cash withdrawals in local and foreign currencies – a travesty which President Muhammadu Buhari stopped.”
He noted that the restructuring Nigeria need now is the restructuring of governance in such manner as to eliminate corruption and create an enabling environment for growth and investments in infrastructure, education, nutrition and better sanitation.