Former Governor of Edo State, Prof. Oserheimen Osunbor, on Tuesday has his voice to the ongoing agitation for restructuring in the country.
Professor Osunbor, Prof. Osagie, Dr. Mrs. Oby Ezekwezili were among the panelists at the just concluded two-day Governor Seyi Makinde Democracy Summit, who called on President Muhammadu Buhari and the leadership of the All Progressives Congress to look inward and proffer solutions to the spate of poverty bedevilling Nigeria.
They called on the President to be sincere with the state of polity in the nation and seek for ways to lift the nation out of poverty, which has resulted to insecurity being faced by the nation.
Prof. Osagie said, “The only way we can have a proper understanding of federalism or even begin to think of a more effective federalism, is to first understand the nature of the state, which federalism is expected to serve”.
“If we don’t understand the character of the state, all discussion will be totally out of context.
“The first point I want to make is, there is nothing like true federalism.”
He further pointed out that there is possibility of the country reviving the fiscal federalism structure, which in his words, “was quite robust and gave states the opportunity to generate a lot of funds for the local government. And I think that is the salvation for the federal system in this country.
“This is a fundamental issues to consider in a period like this, which will strengthen democratic practice or aspirations of this country.
“We actually need to go back to the 60s and adopt, in fact, revive the fiscal federal structure”, he stressed.
The Attorney General of Ondo State, Sir Charles Titiloye opined that the country has been practising more of a unitary system of government.
“Yes, in a situation whereby it is the central that dictates for the component body; in a situation where the states go cap in hand every month to beg for fund from the Federal Government, instead of the states to control the resources they contribute, the funding is from the centre.
“These are local issues, which the state can easily handle, and for us to have true federalism we are talking about, these are areas that should be permanently handed over to the states of the Federation, He said.
Attorney General and the Honorable Commissioner for Justice of Oyo State, Oyewole Oyewo, who was equally the lead presenter, women ought to make actively participate in politics, to change the rhetorics.
He added that, “We need to go back to the fundamental of democracy. The challenge is to everybody involved.”
Dr Oby Ezekwezili, who spoke virtually during the one of the plenaries on the topic: ‘Poverty and socio-economic exclusion in Nigeria’, noted that the summit is an initiative targeted at the right direction.
While she berated the wide gap between the rich and the poor, she further empasised the need for political leaders in Nigeria to work towards tackling poverty in the country in a sustained manner.
Ezekwesili pointed out that soundness of policies, establishment of institutions and public investment will do the nation a lot of good in eradicating poverty and make the democracy we all crave for less vulnerable.
She said: “What is important is, you cannot tackle poverty without growing, which is a necessary condition. There should be growth, and the growth should happen in a sustained manner. That is why we must worry. What are the things that make countries grow? The soundness of policies, which will be enviable and facilitate growth. Second are the institututions, which are the cornerstones to make an environment enviable for the private sector. This will make democracy less vulnerable.
“Another thing that must also be considered is an investment, public investment especially. This will provide a basis for private investments, which really is the engine room for growth.
“The current poverty we see in the country will aggravate if we fail to do the needful.”
Dr. Rotimi Nihinlola, a UK based Financial analyst, who joined the session virtually, said it is painful that Nigeria is the headquarters of poverty in the world. This, he noted has given birth to underdevelopment and insecurity.
“We are one of the most terrorized countries too. Some Nigerians don’t actually like the tag but look at the country; look at the level of insecurity and the rest. There is a strong connection between poverty and security. All indices you go to, we are at the top of the table; talk of lack of electricity supply, insecurity, and the rest”
“Our leaders only talk about poverty in vague terms. They need to address some factors; some exclusion gaps”, he said.
He called for a better working system in the country, adding that Nigeria needs free education, free health system, creation of jobs.
He went on to call for a declaration of a state of emergency on poverty.
He noted that Nigerian leaders must deliberately set a goal to eradicate poverty and not to alleviate it.
Others at the event were, Professor Yemisi Bamgbose SAN, Professor Demola Popoola, Professor Osunbor, Adekunle Adeyemi, Chairman, Governing Council, the Polytechnic, Ibadan.