NIGERIA’S ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) has promised to honour its pledge to come up with some form of restructuring arrangement that will reduce the size of the federal exclusive list and transfer more powers to the country’s 36 states.
Over the last month, Nigeria has been consumed by a series of nationwide protests under the slogan #EndSARS aimed at ending police brutality. However, the demonstrators were also protesting against corruption, a failure of government, officials receiving jumbo remuneration packages, poor living conditions and a refusal to restructure the economy to make it more productive.
In the run-up to Independence in 1960, Nigeria’s leaders met in London and signed the Lancaster House Agreement which provided for a loose centre. It gave the federating units control of economic resources within their domains, of which they would keep 50%, sent 20% to the federation account and pay 30% into a central pool.
Unfortunately for Nigeria, this arrangement was truncated by the military in 1966 with Major General Thomas Aguiyi-Ironsi’s infamous Decree 34, which transferred all economic authority to the federal government. Since then, successive governments have kept this arrangement in place but there has been a constant clamour for a return to the 1958 formula and the APC pledged to honour this.
Yekini Nabena, the APC’s publicity secretary, explained that the party was fully aware of the challenges and the failures of the current federal structure when it made the issue of restructuring one of its focal campaign promises long before the 2015 general elections. He added that it was the party’s commitment to fulfilling this commitment that led it set up the Governor Nasir El-Rufai-led Committee on true federalism which has submitted its report.
Mr Nabena said: “The committee made far reaching recommendations, most of which will require legislative action such as an amendment to the constitution. This report as I am speaking with you is part of the memoranda submitted to the National Assembly.
“It is not true that we have abandoned restructuring, we can’t because doing so will be like denying ourselves. We cannot deny ourselves we are a progressive party.”
Some of the recommendations made by the El-Rufai committee included the devolution of powers to states by reducing the items on the exclusive legislative list. It also recommended the creation of state police forces.