The Governor of Bayelsa State, Honourable Henry Seriake Dickson, on Thursday faulted in strong terms the position of President Muhammadu Buhari on the intensified call for the restructuring of the country.
The Governor said that Buhari’s comment that those pushing for the restructuring of the country were motivated by selfish motives was indeed a threat inimical to the desired stability and prosperity of the country.
A statement by the Special Adviser to the Governor Dickson on Media Relations, Mr. Fidelis Soriwei, quoted him as having made the comment while delivering a lecture with the title “Restructuring and the Search for a Productive Nigeria” at the Obafemi Awolowo University, Ile Ife, on Thursday.
The Bayelsa Governor stressed that the Nigerians in the vanguard of the campaign for the restructuring of the country were the patriotic ones who are motivated by a desire for the nation’s peace, prosperity and stability.
He wondered why the President would dismiss the general quest of the Nigerian citizenry to restructure the Nigerian Federation which would not withstand the test of time in its current lopsided nature.
He said, “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 is also faulty. It cannot withstand the test of time and a threat to the continued stability and prosperity and development of our country, when he dismissed outrightly, 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 governor said that the time had come for a second look at the Nigerian system stressing that even the current Presidential system of Government was too expensive and indeed wasteful for the country.
He said that the current arrangement where the central government would take over all responsibilities such as the judiciary, the police and others to the exclusion of the state was an arrangement in need of change.
According to the governor, the Federal Government had not fared well even in its core responsibilities such as Defence and security as shown by the killings in the land.
“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 there 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 in doubt as to whether the Federal Government has stood up to its primary responsibility of protecting Nigerians? So that is a failure of responsibility.”
The governor also took a swipe at the Nigeria National Petroleum Corporation which he described as opaque.
He said that the rule of 13 percent derivation funds to the producing states was not being implemented in the country.
According to him, the oil producing states were being subjected to whatever handouts the NNPC could offer them at the end of the monthly meetings of the Federal Accounts Allocation Committee.
Dickson said that the way forward was restructuring if the citizens’ desire for security and stability was to be a reality.
“If we don’t want a Nigeria of perpetual division, rancour and agitation, then the way to go is restructuring. In the last couple of months, I have interacted with a lot of leaders, Nigerians from all walks of life, even across political divides.
“I believe we should engage and explain what we mean one to the other. We don’t all have to agree. Whether we agree or disagree, let us dialogue and in so doing, break down the barriers of miscommunication and distrust.
“And I can report to Nigerians that, the outcome of my interaction across the length and breadth of our nation shows that Nigerians are overwhelmingly in support of restructuring. We are for a comprehensive reform.” He added.