Advocates of restructuring are clamouring for it for different reasons. Many who claim that they are marginalised feel that restructuring will solve that problem. Others are for it because the centre is too powerful; so power should devolve to the regions. As the debate on restructuring catches on, Assistant Editor LEKE SALAUDEEN examines the fundamental issues at stake and suggests what should be done to give every part of the country a sense of belonging.
THE number of Nigerians interested in the restructuring of the country is growing. The idea is not new, but the rate at which it is now gaining currency suggests that it is a compelling issue that should be confronted frontally, to avoid a damage to the body politicy.
The proponents believe the challenges facing the country should provide an opportunity to restore true federalism through restructuring. According to them, restructuring will address the allegations of marginalisation and injustice from different ethnic nationalities and groups across the country. It also believed that addressing the issue will dispel the cloud of tension and violence hanging over the country.
Analysts blame the current agitation on the military intervention that wiped out the federal structure handed down by former colonial overlords and foisted a unitary system of government on the country. Such analysts are of the view that the 1999 Constitution is anything but federal, because it does not allow regions to extract resources within their jurisdiction and pay taxes to the federal government among other things.
The current revenue allocation formula, experts insist, is skewed in favour of the Federal Government. The analysts recall that “before the advent of the military in 1966, the Federal Government was assigned only 20 per cent of the revenue, as against the 54 per cent it now receives. The Federation Account pays 50 per cent of the proceeds of any royalty received by the federation in respect of any mineral extracted in any region and any mining rents derived by the federation during that year from within that region. The remaining 30 per cent credited to the Distributive Pool is shared among the regions or states. That was the provision as contained in the 1960 Constitution until the military reversed it by decree.”
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