Emmanuel Oladesu, Deputy Editor and Otabor Osagie
State Governor Ondo Oluwarotimi Akeredolu (SAN) attributed growing sectional activism on Tuesday to what he described as flawed and perverted federalism.
He lamented that sectional agitation had supplanted “national patriotism,” adding that the unitary structure might continue to provoke sectionism.
Akeredolu pointed out that most Nigerians are losing faith in the slogan of “unity in diversity”, urging stakeholders to renew their allegiance to true federalism as the key to restoring national consciousness.
The governor spoke at a public lecture entitled, “Towards a New Nigeria: From Federal Ocism to Shared Wealth,” as part of the activities that marked his second inauguration term.
Akeredolu will be sworn in today for the beginning of his second term.
The lecture was practically given by the President of the African Development Bank (AfDB), Dr. Akinwumi Adesina, who said the faulty federal structure crippled 36 states and made them permanently dependent on the federal government.
The former agriculture minister said only three states can survive without a monthly Federation bill, adding that they can remain poor amid abundance unless they explore their potential.
He said: “It is the irony of Nigerian states; they are poor in the midst of abundance. They do not explore to the maximum what they already have in abundance. The system of monthly grants paralyzed them.
“With huge resources, which are concentrated in the center, the states are always dependent on the center. With the magnetic field of federal revenue allocations, states are constantly withdrawn, powerless into years of dependence.
“State governors now spend more time in Abuja than in their states, looking for a monthly federal flaw. This financial pilgrimage creates a sense of helplessness and open dependence on the center.
“Like a pendulum, which is constantly moving from one side to the other, this unfortunate addiction has become seemingly unstoppable. It is true, however, that in order to survive and thrive, states must become financially independent of the center in Abuja. “
Adesina added: “The United States of America (USA), from which Nigeria derived its federal system, is basically forced federalism. The federal government uses conditional grants to states mainly to support social, infrastructure, and insurance programs. Basically, this is a ‘carrot’ to get states to do what the center expects.
“The Nigerian system is basically a revenue sharing system. It is less restrictive than the US federal system. However, in the United States, whose political system we have borrowed, most of the state’s resources come from taxes: personal income taxes, income taxes, property taxes, and consumption taxes, as well as administrative fees. Federal grants make up only a small portion of state resources.
“The opposite is the case in Nigeria. Federal revenue distribution is the lifeline of state governments. Stop it and 92 percent of Nigerian states will fail. “
Akeredolu said Nigerians, instead of building a nation, are more inclined to ethnic nationalism, adding that people have resorted to clan gratification instead of creating a nation.
The governor referred to the efforts of the governor of the southwest to deal with insecurity, saying that the fight against crime is not focused on any ethnic nationality or business.
Akeredolu added: “We are against crime and we will fight crime by all legal means. It is in the interest of our collective well-being.
“All we need is the support and understanding of all federal units, including the federal government. The simple truth is that we lived in self-denial in the midst of excruciating pain that is now almost cancerous.
“Despite our challenges today, my firm belief in the Nigerian project is strengthened by the fact that I am a true Nigerian.”
“The fact that I want a more united Nigeria with all the ingredients of freedom, rule of law, patriotism, love, mutual respect and harmony is an understatement. And I am ready to legitimately fight for it for the benefit of all. ”
The event, chaired by Yobe State Governor and APC Extraordinary Planning Committee Chairman Mai Mala Buni, represented by former Senate President Ken Nnamani, was attended by Niger State Secretary for State Affairs, Senator Tayo Alasoadura, Senator Iyiola Omisore, Ada Adetimehin and other dignitaries.