The Governor of Bayelsa State, Henry Seriake Dickson, on Thursday picked holes in the position of President Muhammadu Buhari on the agitation for the restructuring of Nigeria, describing it as threat to national security.
According to Dickson, Buhari’s comment that those pushing for the restructuring of the country were motivated by selfish interests was very unpresidential.
A statement by the Special Adviser to Dickson on Media Relations, Fidelis Soriwei, said the governor made the comment while delivering a lecture with the theme: “Restructuring and the Search for a Productive Nigeria,” organised by the Faculty of Arts, Obafemi Awolowo University, Ile-Ife in Osun State.
The Bayelsa State 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, 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 it is also faulty that cannot stand the test of time and a threat to the continued stability and prosperity and development of our country, when he dismissed outright, 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 outcome of my interaction has shown that Nigerians are in support of restructuring. I am not imposing my views, I don’t believe that the Presidential system is what Nigeria needs. The system is expensive, we can’t have a productive Nigeria with the way it is structured. The government has abandoned its core responsibilities of defence and security. The constitutional issue can’t deliver a safe Nigeria.
“There’s need to devolve policing powers to the people. But I’m not saying States should have Police. Our system of settling disputes is faulty. Why should a land dispute in communities be dragged to the Supreme Court? I know many things about access to justice. Instead of justice getting stronger, you see Babalawos getting stronger. The distortion of our federal structure has destroyed Nigeria.”
The governor said 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.
Dickson said 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 him, 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.
He said: “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 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 on any 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 per cent derivation funds to the producing states was not being implemented in the country.
Dickson said the oil producing states were being subjected to whatever handouts the NNPC could offer them.
The governor said the way forward was restructuring if the citizens desire for security and stability was to be a reality.