PRESIDENT Muhammadu Buhari has insisted that his administration will not restructure the country despite the ongoing clamour for a return to the federalist arrangement agreed at independence saying all those clamouring for it are naive.
In 1960 when Nigeria gained independence from Britain, a federal arrangement was agreed under which the federating units controlled all the resources within their domains. They then kept 50% of all such revenue, sent 20% to the federation account and sent 30% into a sovereign wealth fund used for capital projects.
All this changed, however, with the military intervention in politics in 1966 as in March that year, the government of Major General Thomas Aguiyi-Ironsi promulgated a Unitary Decree 34 which centralised the economy. Since 1999 when Nigeria returned to democratic rule, there have been strident calls for a return to fiscal federalism through a restructuring programme.
Due to the intransigence of the federal government to heed these calls, agitation for the balkanisation of the country has grown, especially in the southeast and southwest geo-political zones. Insisting that his government will not bow to these demands, President Buhari has warned that those agitating for separation and canvassing for restructuring are naive and ignorant of war.
Speaking yesterday as a special guest of honour during the launch of the Kudirat Abiola Sabon Gari Zaria Peace Foundation which took place at Ahmadu Bello University Hotels in Zaria in Kaduna State, President Buhari said that the nation does not restructuring. Represented by the executive secretary of the Revenue Mobilisation, Allocation and Fiscal Commission, Alhaji Mohammed Shehu, President Buhari added that most people carrying the subject about do not even understand what they are talking about.
President Buhari said: “Those who are discussing restructuring, my question is that what are you going restructure? If you ask many Nigerians what are they going to restructure, you will find out that they have nothing to talk about.
“Some of them have not even studied the 1999 constitution, which is almost 70% to 80% the 1979 constitution. The other issue is that those who are calling for restructuring on what they call ethnic nationality, if you go to southern Kaduna or Taraba, who is to represent them?
“We have different combination of ethnicity in many states and even Kano and Kaduna Igbos have properties, the same goes with Yorubas. There are Fulani in Port Harcourt, too, so those calling for whether separation or restructuring, some of them I will say they are very naive or even mischievously dangerous.
“Those agitating for restructuring are ignorant of war and its consequences because Nigeria is a dominant force in west Africa. There is no government in the world that will cede their authority to the people that are not elected.
“You are telling us to resolve a system and call for an obscure conference to come and discuss how we can move forward as a nation, that can never be done and no country will agree to that. So those who are doing that should go back and meet their representatives in the House of Assembly and ask for whatever amendment of constitution. Due process should be followed.”