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Devolution of powers: Only way to rescue Nigeria – Shonibare, SDP national chairman

Chief Supo Shonibare is the national chairman of Social Democratic Party (SDP).

In this interview, he lamented the state of the nation, saying that those opposed to restructuring are working for the breakup of the country.      

What is your assessment of the state of the nation as at today?

The nation is in dire straits, with rulers who appear to be deaf or just simply delusional about almost all aspects of governance. It’s most unfortunate that a polity facing the spectre of economic and security challenges have leaders chasing shadows, without addressing the underlying cause of the challenges facing the country. Both the president, the National Assembly and our state governors to a lesser extent, are complicit. They are leaving a blighted legacy that will hold them responsible for the disintegration of our country as a nation state. It’s self- evident that the Federal bureaucracy is unable to efficiently meet the social, developmental, economic and infrastructural development requirements of our Country. Even successful economies with more resources have resorted to devolving powers to make these critical choices and determine the application of resources among competing needs to the region and catchment areas that such decisions will impact upon the life of the inhabitants. Even monolithic societies have seen that devolution reduces the tensions such choice tends to unleash upon the polity. There is no stable democratic nation anywhere in the world that practices the unitary system of government that we have been practicing in our country since 1966. They have all wisely chosen a federal system with very limited legislative list for the central government.  We have done the opposite. Even when one would have thought the twin challenges of security and economy pushing the country to the brink would elicit a common sense approach to devolve powers to safe the Republic from disintegration, one sees resistance and delusional statement of the ruling elite that have missed the plot.

In view of the current security challenges facing the country, do you share in the opinion of some people who see creation of state police as an imperative?

Why is it so difficult for the presidency, national and state assemblies, as well as our governors, to appreciate that even before the economic downturn and reduction in our foreign exchange earnings, that we were still a relatively poor country per capital, and as such, should have seen the need and urgency to slash their recurrent expenditure and more particularly the costs of running government drastically? Why do we still see them relishing in conspicuous consumption and long motorcades plying our streets, when they cannot pay salaries or execute any enduring developmental project. The federal and state governments apply most of their expenditure for consumption rather than investment and developmental expenditure. Meanwhile, the security situation deteriorates on a daily basis, which makes economic progress impossible.

It does not require rocket science to appreciate the imperative of having local people as the first point of defence of their collective security. One is dumbfounded in reading the several contributions of those who suggest that policing must not be devolved. There’s no stable democratic nation in the world that has not adopted the imperative of devolving the operational responsibilities of the police. I appreciate the apprehension of some, who are fearful that state police will inevitably be a replication of the federal police. They are mistaken. You do not replicate a template that is undesirable. Operational responsibility, recruitment and disciplinary function of the police, must not be vested in a political office holder; whether it’s the president, governor or local government chairman. At present, under the Police Act as amended, operational responsibility is conferred on the president. This is undesirable. It should be vested in a Police Service Commission, which will comprise men and women who have been apolitical. The necessary statutory composition of the Commission can be fashioned out in such a way, for it to be a reflection of a truly fair supervisory body. The functions of the Executive should be funding and oversight responsibilities.  Each tier of government should have a Police Service able to enforce its laws. The federal police will, of course, be better armed and be only mobilized to enforce federal laws and to assist and compliment the state police, when required.

Do you share in the optimism by members of the National Assembly that the ongoing constitution amendment would address the key issues fueling separatist agitations?

Piecemeal amendment of an incurably defective constitution will not confer on it the legitimacy an autochthonous constitution would command. Therefore, the most desirable approach is a constitutional conference with the delegates obtaining the mandate from their constituencies to write a constitution on our behalf.  If the national, state assemblies and the president are, however, able to amend the constitution in a manner that is able to restore the legislative list to at least what it was before the military interregnum, with the states having fiscal autonomy and a revenue sharing of all revenue derived from their territory, as the regions had in the First Republic; as was negotiated at independence, then that too will be a good beginning in not subverting the constitution of the people. The Independence and Republican constitutions had the toga and legitimacy of being autochthonous.

Do you think President Muhammadu Buhari is addressing the issue of separatist agitations the right way?

How can a discourse on restructuring and devolution of powers and agitation for self- governance should be reduced to bragging rights about the ability of one region to survive on its own, seems to me to be an ephemeral reaction. Those who are calling for self-governance for their region are not saying other regions cannot survive on their own. When the dust is well settled, the option will be between restructuring or devolution of powers and balkanization. The enemies of our country are those who are suppressing and attempting to scuttle the noble  efforts of Nigerian patriots and nationalists, who can clearly see that the ship of the nation is drifting unabated,  towards an imminent shipwreck, and are galvanising cultured Southern and Northern elements to quickly find a solution in embracing devolution. We need to commend the efforts of these patriots. Those strategizing to scuttle their efforts are the champions of the conspiracy to balkanize the federation.

-Sunwp_posts

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Posted by on Jun 20 2021. Filed under Latest Politics, National Politics, Top Stories. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. You can leave a response or trackback to this entry

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