By Andy Esiet, Calabar
Former Senate Leader and chieftain of the All Progressives Congress (APC), Senator Victor Ndoma-Egba, SAN has declared that the federal structure we have today is no longer workable as “we are at the point of structural implosion”.
Ndoma-Egba who was the National Secretary of the 2018 APC National Convention has thrown his support for the immediate restructuring of the country in one way or the other saying that Nigerians must agree that the structure we have today has taken us nowhere and we are in a coup de sac. Even if you reform the police of any other organisation and the rest of the country remains the way it is, the reforms will be to no avail.
The immediate past chairman of the Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC) in a telephone interview with some newsmen yesterday said, “our situation now can be likened to a car whose engine has knocked and the owner is trying to fix brand new tires in the car as a means of getting it to work. The so-called federal structure we have is no longer workable. The center is overburdened; it has become so unwieldy that more than seventy percent of the federal expenditure goes to recurrent expenditure while less than thirty percent is left for capital. Paradoxically, it is the capital budget that delivers development.
“With 68 items in the exclusive and 29 in the concurrent lists we have a more justifiable claim to being a unitary state than a federal one. The states, as federating units have become absolutely dependent on federal allocations than their own internally generated revenues, what my friend and brother, Senator Ike Ekweremadu, refers to as feeding bottle federalism. The local government system across the country has completely collapsed leading to increased migration from the rural communities to state capitals overstretching infrastructure and facilities beyond limits. The structure is no longer working.
“We are at the point of structural implosion more so as the economy has lost its productive capacity. Manufacturing is grounded and the economy’s absorptive capabilities are zero and unemployment soars by the day. Social infrastructure has collapsed, social indices are unimpressive and all these are reflective in the security situation and the value of the Naira. Things will only get worse if we insist on retaining the current structure. We have to go back to the drawing board; we must restructure one way or the other”.
He said given the current situation, “there must be this national conversation or consensus around where we should go as a nation (and) whatever restructuring means to anyone, one thing is common; you cannot achieve it without constitutional amendment. Section 9 of the 1999 Constitution provides not only for the amendment of the constitution but the mechanics for the same. In summary you require two thirds of each of the houses of the National Assembly, the Senate and the House of Representatives before any amendment can pass.
“Furthermore, it has to be approved by a resolution of not less than two thirds of each State House of Assembly and by at least two thirds of the Houses of Assembly. Clearly, for any amendment to pass a near national consensus must have been reached. The constitution does not provide how that consensus can be reached. Therefore the process of arriving at that consensus has to be outside the constitution. It will require any national conversation which may as well be beyond the structure of the country but also its vision and destination. It has to be a conversation that will involve everyone more so as the powers of the National Assembly to amend the constitution are severely circumscribed”.
On the economy, he said, “politics should be about the economy, how to better it, and not the economy about politics. If one should be sacrificed at the altar of the other it should be politics being sacrificed at the altar of the economy and not the other way round as ultimately the business of government is security, welfare and wellbeing of the citizens”.
On the way out of the country’s current security quagmire, he said, “the issue of security is interwoven with the state of the economy, the state of our social infrastructure, our social indices, equity, justice and inclusiveness, the state of general well being of the citizenry and the level of participation in the resources and opportunities of the country by all irrespective of tribe, religion or gender. To adequately address the issue of security you must go back to the causative factors and address them holistically”.