Shettima Condemned Restructuring

<strong>Shettima Condemned Restructuring</strong>
  • Says restructuring my foot
  • Tinubu’s idea completely different
  • Extols Abilola for state police clamour

As Nigerians across states continue to criticize and condemn the All Progressives Congress, APC’s Muslim-Muslim ticket of Sen Bola Ahmed Tinubu and Sen Kashim Shettima, a 2017 video where Shettima out rightly condemned calls by several well meaning Nigerians across board for the country to restructure as a panacea for development, peace and equity.

This earlier has topped discussions as Shettima’s principal, Tinubu had on occasions spoken in support of restructuring and had vowed in public that if given the opportunity to serve, he will restructure the country and return it to the Federal system of government what many referred as ‘True Federalism’.

The former governor of Borno State, who spoke at the launch of a book titled: “On a Platter of Gold”, written by a former Minister of Youth and Sports Development, Bolaji Abdullahi, in November 2017 in Abuja, described the clamour for restructuring of the country as “madness” that can be stopped by good governance.

He insisted that if jobs are provided for Nigerians and other sectors of the economy, particularly education, are developed, “the agitation for this madness called restructuring will stop. To hell with restructuring, Shetimma declared.

“People are talking about artificial intelligence, other nations are talking about nanotechnology or robotics engineering but unfortunately, the topical issue in Nigeria is restructuring. Restructuring my foot! To hell with restructuring”, Shettima declared again at the time.

“Let’s restructure our minds. Let’s restructure the quality of governance. When people are talking of artificial intelligence, when others are talking of robotics engineering, of nanotechnology, we are talking of restructuring the federation. Our problem is not an issue of devolution of powers, let’s be very honest.

“Our problem, as Chinua Achebe rightly encapsulated, is largely that of leadership. Leadership that will put the nation first is much more important than restructuring the nation. Let’s restructure our minds. Let’s restructure our quality of leadership”.

It would be recalled that several Nigerians including ethnic organisations like the Ohanaeze Ndigbo and the Afenifere have demanded the restructuring of Nigeria, saying it was the way to resolve many of the challenges facing the country. Based on the clamour, the ruling APC which Shettima belongs to set up a committee headed by Governor Nasir el’Rufai of Kaduna State to review the various restructuring calls.

Yet,Shettima condemned those clamouring for restructuring.

The former governor of Borno State stated that the clamour for restructuring can be stopped by good governance, saying “to hell with restructuring and power devolution”

Shettima said that, if jobs are provided and other sectors of the economy, especially the education sector are developed, the clamour for restructuring will stop. However, this is a clear diversion and different idea from a man who was touted to have represented modern democracy in a federated unit where states as component units will be semi-autonomous and develop according to their strength and capacity in a united Nigeria where rights, culture and carrying each other’s burden will be uppermost.  

Meanwhile Tinubu while delivering his speech as a Keynote Speaker at the 2017 Annual Dinner of the King’s College Old Boys’ Association, KCOBA, at King’s College, Lagos in 2017 had spoken expressly in support of restructuring. “Our system remains too centralized with too much power and money remaining within the federal circle. This imbalance leads to relative state weakness.

“We need to overhaul how revenues are allocated between the States and the Federal Government. I must state what for many of us may seem a novel idea. But this concept is one that has directed the fiscal policies of other nations for several decades. If we are to catch these other nations in development, it is a prerequisite that we match them in the efficiency of governmental fiscal roles and operations regarding the national government and our subnational political units.

“Given its unique currency-issuing power, the Federal Government can never be starved of the naira required to fulfill its core functions. Due to this currency power, the FG does not necessarily need naira revenue to survive. The Federal Government can never be short of naira unless it creates myopic laws and regulations to so hamstring the Federal Government.

“We have been taught that such confining measures are necessary to contain inflation. However, they have not been successful in containing inflation and in the long term probably add to inflation. What they have been terribly efficient at is reducing growth, jobs, and development and bringing recurrent recession.

“Because the Federal Government is not revenue constrained, it is just that the federal government does not retain so much naira revenue to the detriment of the states. States on the other hand are naira constrained. They can only spend what they take in as revenue. Thus, it is imperative that states are given more revenue so that they can do more things.

“I do not advocate a blank check for states. The more revenue they get, the more they must do and the more they assume the responsibility to use that revenue wisely because the very fate of their people is at stake. First, the current relationship between the police and the people needs such reform so that the police may help better answer the security challenges we now face.

“Abiola had been a proponent for the state police for many years. The time for state police has come. In fact, it is overdue. This important change requires more funds in state hands, less in federal. Other items such as stamp duties for financial transactions, tourism, and the incorporation of businesses should also occur at the state level and be removed from the federal charge.

“Perhaps the single most important factor in economic development is power generation. States currently are shut out from this vital sector even though the nation suffers a paucity of power. States must be allowed to engage in power generation as long as their efforts are consistent with and do not undermine federal labors in this sector.

“If we begin these fundamental changes, then our states will become stronger, more able catalysts of economic development. By instituting true federalism, we open the door not only to prosperity but to greater democracy and openness throughout Nigeria. This will help bring peace and tranquility where there is now tension and uncertainty about the pathway our nation is on”, Tinubu had posited.

This obvious policy disagreement is what has gotten Nigerians surprised and talking. Ndagi Nma, a youth leader in Lapai, Niger State said: “Is it that Tinubu and his men do not know that a president and his vice-president must speak in one accord to succeed? Do they not know that a vice-president who holds opposite views on fundamental issues can work at cross purposes with his principal?

“Or is it that Tinubu only played to the gallery when he spoke in the South West knowing that Afenifere has consistently supported restructuring? One thing I know for sure is that all is not well when they both hold opposite and conflicting views on issues of urgent national attention”.

Like Nma, Abike Samson, a social commentator said these are the kind of issues that make Nigerians lose trust in their leaders. “When the news began to filter that Tinubu would pick Shettima as vice-presidential candidate, I said that was not true because I can never forget his disdain for restructuring. I wondered why a South Western politician would go for a man who derided Afenifere and its leaders for supporting restructuring. If this sails through, we should expect even Tinubu himself to reduce his votes from his own region come 2023”.

“When that video resurfaced, I smiled because it shows Nigerians telling their politicians that ‘we can no longer be fooled’. How else do you explain the five year old video resurface to inform and educate Nigerians on key facts about the APC ticket that has gotten Nigerians talking? Or why do you think this discrepancy in political focus and ideology was suddenly pushed”, Tochukwu Michael asked.

For now, Nigerians await how this difference in political focus plays out.

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