Attahiru Jega, a former Chairman of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) has called for the scrap of certain “unnecessary” federal ministries with the resources channeled to the state governments, as part of restructuring moves that can be accomplished before 2023 and noted that Nigerians that have been entrusted with leadership positions in the country have brazenly failed to respect the rule of law.
Jega, a Professor of political science said the non-compliance to the rule of law by Nigerian leaders at both the state and federal levels has provided incentives for conflict and crisis in the country.
The former INEC boss was a guest on ARISE News where he spoke extensively on his presentation at the 18th edition of the Daily Trust Dialogue held on Thursday in the nation’s capital Abuja. He alongside other critical leaders of thought spoke broadly on the issue of restructuring which is perceived as what needs to be done for Nigeria to be united and developed.
“In the present context, we see situations in which at both the federal and states levels, those entrusted with leadership positions do not comply or respect the rule of law.
“And if you don’t comply or respect the rule of law, you provide incentives for people to take the laws into their hands and that’s a recipe for conflict for crisis and violence,” Professor Jega told ARISE News.
According to Jega, the federal government can address some of the issues with regards to restructuring before 2023 and can be done with a quick constitutional amendment that focuses on specific issues and not wholesale.
He said that the federal can address a lot of issues related to governance if there is the political will in terms of addressing them. He cited some examples: “Nobody can doubt the fact that the federal legislative list is unwieldy and concentrates too much power and authority and therefore commensurate resources to the federal government.
“The issue is anybody who compares the Nigeria’s federal legislative list with the federal legislative list in any federal country in the world see the remarkable imbalance. We should address that and begin to deconcentrate the power assigned to the federal government and allocate it to the state governments.
“Doing so will also mean tying those resources associated with those responsibilities from the federal government to the state levels. If we do that you will find out that the whole reason why there’s a lot of clamour for who controls the federal government, is because who controls the federal government particularly under our very terrible governance circumstances, they control these resources and they vandalize them, privatise them and they undermine therefore the sense of belonging by marginalizing others.
“So deconcentrate power and commensurate resources from the central government to the federating units or the states, and how do you do that, there are certain responsibilities that are the exclusive responsibilities of states or federating units. All the federal government needs to do is to create a regulatory framework that can ensure equity and respect for the rule of law and balanced development.
“Why should the federal government have a responsibility in secondary and basic education and you have a whole behemoth of federal ministry of education, or federal ministry of health or federal ministry of housing or federal ministry of works, these are unnecessary in a federal system, the resources should be channelled to the states so that the states can handle these responsibilities because these are what directly affect the needs and aspirations of the people and I think this is something that can be done between now and 2023.”
By Abel Ejikeme