The All Progressives Congress (APC) has ruled out agitation especially by the South West geo-political zone for the return to regional form of government in the country, saying such an arrangement as practiced in the first republic would only foster the marginalization of ethnic minorities in the polity.
On its part, the House of Representatives has assured Nigerians of its readiness to act on the report of the committee set up by the ruling party.
Spokesman of the House, Abdulrazak Namdas who disclosed this Thursday in Abuja on the sidelines of a public hearing by the APC Committee on True Federalism, added that the lawmakers would not discard the report.
National Woman Leader of the APC, Hajiya Ramat Tijani Aliu also decried agitation for return to regional form of government in the country.
According to her: “On the issue of ideal federating units to adopt and whether or not there should be a merger or a creation of more states, it is our considered opinion that the status quo remains. A return to the regional government format is not visible for so many reasons well known to all of us.
“It will only fan the embers of minority suspicions of oppression. On the other hand, so many states in the federation as presently constituted are not economically viable and largely, without the
allocation from the centre they could barely pay or afford salaries.’’
She further claimed that a return to the parliamentary system as against the existing presidential form of government would only promote ethnic distrust.
‘’Even if it is widely believed that the presidential system encourages waste and it is too expensive, it is also argued that the parliamentary government in Nigeria was not exactly successful in the past and it is well known that it encourages sectionalism.’’
She however lend her voice in support of the clamour for devolution of power to states, as she noted that the central government is overburdened by functions better handled by the states and local councils.
‘’There is need for devolution of power from the centre to states. To fast track development of the country, some of the items on the exclusive list should be transferred to the concurrent legislative list. For instance, it will not be out of place to transfer federal roads to states.’’
While assuring that the reports of the panel will be given proper attention, the House spokesman said: “We are products of this party. Every lawmaker came to the National Assembly on the platform of various political parties and this committee was put together by our own party. So, naturally we (APC Committee) will collate views of the people here and send it to the party and the reason why we are part of it is that no view can be said to be ‘independent’; it has to come through a legislation. Even the president said in his speech that the only recognized group that can talk about this is the national assembly but the national assembly too is a product of the people. You cannot on your own amend things to suit the people, you have to collate views.
“So, when these views are collated and sent to us, I can assure you, we are going to work on it. I told you that I am a member of the National Assembly Committee on Agitations. We call it agitations but it is restructuring. We realized after we voted that Nigerians are more interested in the devolution of powers and certainly, some of these states are not viable because they cannot get revenue on their own. If you devolve the powers to the states and probably restructure the revenue allocation (template), these states will be viable and they can generate revenue and pay their salaries”, he stated.
In his opening remarks, former Edo state governor and chairman at the event, Professor Oserheimen Osunbor dismissed insinuation that the ruling party was being stampeded to open discussion on true federalism.