Governor Seriake Dickson of Bayelsa has berated President Muhammadu Buhari for his comments that those behind restructuring calls were motivated by selfish interests.
Dickson described the comment as “unpresidential” while delivering a lecture on “Restructuring and the Search for a Productive Nigeria,”, organised by the Faculty of Arts, Obafemi Awolowo University (OAU), Ile-Ife.
The Special Adviser to the Governor on Media Relations, Fidelis Soriwei, made this known in a statement on Thursday.
Countering the president’s stance, Dickson said that agitators for restructuring were the patriotic ones who were motivated by a desire for the nation’s peace, prosperity and stability.
The governor added that Nigeria as it is presently constituted was at risk of disintegration, adding that the president’s comment was a threat to the continued stability, prosperity and development of the country.
Dickson was quoted as saying, “When everybody in this country is talking about the need to restructure this country, our President, Muhammadu Buhari, made a statement that is not only wrong, but it is also faulty that cannot stand the test of time and a threat to the continued stability and prosperity and development of our country, when he dismissed outright, the notion of restructuring.
“And he didn’t stop there, he went ahead to say that those who are in support of restructuring are doing so for parochial agenda. Mr. President, you are wrong. In fact the reverse is the case. The majority of Nigerians from the North, South, East, West and Middle Belt, who are making a case for restructuring are indeed the patriots of Nigeria.
“We want a Nigeria that works with equal citizenship. A Nigeria for the many as well as for the few; a Nigeria that we will be proud to call home any day, that we can proudly pledge allegiance to.
“The outcome of my interaction has shown that Nigerians are in support of restructuring. I am not imposing my views, I don’t believe that the Presidential system is what Nigeria needs. The system is expensive, we can’t have a productive Nigeria with the way it is structured. The government has abandoned its core responsibilities of defence and security. The constitutional issue can’t deliver a safe Nigeria.
“There’s need to devolve policing powers to the people. But I’m not saying States should have Police. Our system of settling disputes is faulty. Why should a land dispute in communities be dragged to the Supreme Court? I know many things about access to justice. Instead of justice getting stronger, you see Babalawos getting stronger. The distortion of our federal structure has destroyed Nigeria.”
Dickson also condemned the present presidential system of government in Nigeria, describing it as too expensive.
He added, “I don’t believe that a Presidential system is what this country needs; it is too expensive and wasteful. It easily lends itself to abuses and are not enough checks. We cannot have a productive Nigeria the way it is structured. A Nigeria where the exclusive list is longer than the concurrent one. A Nigeria where the Federal Government is a Jack of all trade but a master of none.
“A Nigeria where the Federal Government dissipates itself in areas that it has no competence, no local knowledge to deliver productivity to the extent that it has abandoned its core areas of responsibility.
“And these core areas of responsibility are defense and national security. Is there anyone in this hall on any doubt as to whether the Federal Government has stood up to its primary responsibility of protecting Nigerians? So that is a failure of responsibility.”
Dickson also condemned alleged opaqueness in the operations of the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC).
He further decried the non-implementation of 13 percent derivation funds to the oil-producing states, accusing the NNPC of giving the states whatever handouts that caught its fancy.