By Samuel Ohwovoriole
President of the African Development Bank, (AfDB), Dr. Akinwunmi Adesina, Wednesday described Nigeria’s government system as Fatherism and not Federalism.
Adesina, a guest lecturer at the second inaugural lecture of Governor Rotimi Akeredolu, in Akure, said Nigeria’s system is essentially a revenue-sharing system.
Speaking on the theme: ‘Towards a New Nigeria: From Federal Fatherism to a Commonwealth’, the AfDB boss said: “With stupendous resources, all concentrated at the centre, states are ever dependent on the centre. With the magnetic field of Federal Revenue Allocations, states are constantly pulled, powerless, into perennial dependency.”
His words: “This financial pilgrimage creates a sense of helplessness and overt dependency on the centre.
“State Governors now spend more time in Abuja than they do in their states, seeking the monthly federal manna.
“Like a pendulum, ever moving from side to side in constant motion, so too has this unfortunate dependency become seemingly unstoppable.
“The truth, however, is that to survive and strive, states must become financially independent of the centre in Abuja.
“This is federalism of fiscal dependency. It’s federalism that’s fiscally unhealthy for the states and the federal government. Because Nigeria depends on oil for over 70 per cent of government revenue, any decline in the price of oil creates fiscal and economic volatilities that reverberate across the states.
“What’s needed is greater economic and fiscal autonomy for the states. The issue is less about states or regional autonomy, but the financial and economic viability of Nigeria’s constituent states.
“If Nigeria were to be a conglomerate firm, it would not be economically viable because 92 per cent of its constituent subsidiary companies are not viable without the support of the holding company.
“Nigeria’s federalism doesn’t grow its constituent entities. It simply makes them perpetual dependents.
“The Nigeria system is, therefore, not federalism, but fatherism. The agitations for decentralization can be understood when viewed in the light of a craving for greater autonomy.
“But let us face it, political autonomy is meaningless unless it’s backed by greater fiscal self-reliance at the state level
“We tend to copy a system that is not well suited to our context. The United States that we copied from does not control resources at the state level. Instead, the states generate the bulk of their income from taxes.”
On restructuring of the country, he said it should not be driven by political dependency but by economic and financial viability. “As a way out of the economic quagmire, much has been said about the need for restructuring. Restructuring should not be driven by political expediency, but by economic and financial viability for political viability.
“The achievements of economically viable entities and the viability of the national entity, require constitutional changes to devolve more economic and fiscal powers to the states or regions.
“Our union would be equitable. Our union would be fully participatory. We must be audacious.”
Governor Akeredolu in his opening remarks, blamed the growing sectional activism, which he said is gradually replacing national patriotism on the faulty and twisted federalism as operated in the country.
He lamented that most Nigerians are losing faith in unity in diversity sloganeering while urging that the only opportunity to restore national consciousness is through True Federalism.
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