We want restructuring, more powers – Governors tell FG
The governors of the 36 states of the federation have demanded restructuring and devolution of more powers to the states.
Their wishes were communicated through the Chairman of Nigeria Governors Forum (NGF) and Ekiti State Governor, Dr Kayode Fayemi, who spoke in Lagos on Sunday.
Fayemi particularly called for the rejigging of the polity to meet the yearnings of the Nigerian people, warning that failure to do so would “consume us because resource constraint is a challenge for every state”.
Nearly two years into his second term in office, the Ekiti State governor said that his administration had recorded achievements in rural roads construction, agriculture and knowledge economy.
However, he said that these achievements would have been more if the state had adequate resources, noting that paucity of funds was confronting every state.
Fayemi said that Nigerians were suffering because of the terrible state of most federal roads as the states needed approval from the Federal Government before the roads, like the Ondo-Akure road in Ekiti, could be fixed.
According to him, this was one of the fallouts of the present but non-sustainable governance structure.
Fayemi said, “We are fast getting to a point where we must confront the reality of our federation. The structure of the economy we are running is not working. We need a structure that will meet the yearnings of our population.
“The current unitary structure obviously privileges those who are more associated with a unitary federal structure rather than a genuine federal structure that is accountable to people, and responsive to the challenges that the people have.
“What that structure should be is a subject of debate from all sides of Nigeria. Clearly, the state structure we have now is problematic, it is not working as it should.
“There is a clear justification for more devolution of not just functions unless you want to suffer the tyranny of unfunded mandates. You can devolve functions and not support it with resources and that is what we are faced with.
“Thank God we have a president who is a bit more responsive in Muhammadu Buhari. For federal roads that were fixed in states for over 16 years, not one naira was paid by Obasanjo, Yar ‘Ádua or Jonathan.
“Now President Buhari, without looking at the politics of it, said if you can justify that you did the road, Mr. Fashola go round the 36 states, if it is a federal road and they have evidence that they have done it, we will pay. And he paid.
“Frankly, why do we keep having federal roads? What is a federal road? The people who ply the roads in Ekiti do not know the difference between a federal road and a state road. All they will say is Mr Governor, you are not doing your job, only for you to start explaining that it is not my road and I need their permission to even work on it.
“We have been trying to work on Ondo-Akure Road, same story all over. These roads have been awarded, the Federal Government has no money to fix them. Some they will fix via Sukuk, some they will fix via sovereign wealth fund.
“We don’t have the resources, we need to devise sustainable means of addressing these issues. As chairman of the NGF, this has been on the front burner of our work. We hope Nigerians will be able to push the argument further to a point where the resources and the powers that reside in Abuja can be devolved effectively to the states, with the revenue also devolved to take the responsibilities at that level.”
Fayemi said that the need for fiscal federalism has become obvious even to hitherto non-believers.
“We have always asked for fiscal federalism. Even those who were reluctant before are being confronted daily with these challenges in their states and they have begun asking themselves, ‘how long can we to continue to do this? Am I elected to just pay salaries? It is not just devolution of powers but also the enabling environment to attract investments,’’ Fayemi stated.