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Osinbajo, Atiku Debate Restructuring



Osinbajo and Atiku

Vice president Yemi Osinbajo and his predecessor Atiku Abubakar are currently engaged in a debate on the issue of restructuring.

Osinbajo had, in a statement in August, said Nigeria’s problem is not “geographical” restructuring, but corruption. Osinbajo argued that prudent management of Nigeria’s resources is the way forward.

“It is about managing resources properly and providing for the people properly, that is what it is all about,” the vice president had said.

Atiku, who has been clamouring for restructuring, in an article he sent to Premium Times, said Osinbajo showed “a lack of appreciation of the core tenets of the concept”.

“It is unhelpful to reduce the construct of “Restructuring” to a geographical concept as VP Osinbajo does, which in itself demonstrates a lack of appreciation of the core tenets of the concept,” Atiku had said.

Atiku argued:

Restructuring is not just about the devolution of powers to the states, it is about transforming the respective roles of the federal, state and local governments to perform more efficiently in matters of territorial as well as economic governance.

Above all, when we talk about restructuring, we are not talking about just constitutional tweaks, we are talking about a cultural revolution. It is not about re-shuffling a few responsibilities or resources, but about disrupting the authoritarian politics our democracy has inherited from its military and colonial rulers of past.

In Osinbajo’s response to Atiku, the vice president said:

First, let me say that I really would have expected Alhaji Abubakar to at least get the full text of my comments before his public refutal of my views. But I understand; we are in that season where everything is seen as fair game! He quoted me as saying that “the problem with our country is not a matter of restructuring… and we must not allow ourselves to be drawn into the argument that our problems stem from some geographic re-structuring”.

Yes, I said so.

As the quote shows, I rejected the notion that geographical restructuring was a solution to our national problems. Geographical restructuring is either taking us back to regional governments or increasing the number of States that make up the Nigerian federation.

We should rather ask ourselves why the States are underperforming, revenue and development wise. I gave the example of the Western Region (comprising even more than what is now known as the South West Zone), where, without oil money, and using capitation tax and revenues from agriculture and mining, the government funded free education for over 800,000 pupils in 1955, built several roads, farm settlements, industrial estates, the first TV station in Africa, and the tallest building in Nigeria, while still giving up fifty percent of its earnings from mining and minerals for allocation to the Federal Government and other regions.

Osinbajo continued:

I have been an advocate, both in court and outside, of fiscal Federalism and stronger State Governments. I have argued in favour of State Police, for the simple reason that policing is a local function. You simply cannot effectively police Nigeria from Abuja. Only recently, in my speech at the Anniversary of the Lagos State House of Assembly, I made the point that stronger, more autonomous States would more efficiently eradicate poverty. So I do not believe that geographical restructuring is an answer to Nigeria’s socio economic circumstances. That would only result in greater administrative costs. But there can be no doubt that we need deeper fiscal Federalism and good governance.

Alhaji Atiku’s concept of restructuring is understandably vague, because he seeks to cover every aspect of human existence in that definition. He says it means a “cultural revolution”. Of course, he does not bother to unravel this concept. He says we need a structure that gives everyone an opportunity to work, a private sector driven economy. Yes, I agree. These are critical pillars of our Economic Recovery and Growth Plan (ERGP), including our Ease of Doing Business Programme.

If, however, this is what he describes as restructuring, then it is clear that he has mixed up all the issues of good governance and diversification of the economy with the argument on restructuring.

Read his full article on Premium Times.


  1. by_stander

    September 4, 2018 at 5:53 pm

    Two law graduates arguing about our future! na wa oh.!

    Do we even get a say? Abi these law students are secretly learning all our fields combined when while in school?

    Anyways out of all the things they’ve said the only thing that made sense is easy of doing business, as business relates to the economic liberty and right to earn a living which are part of the inalienable rights of human beings.

    Grown men making decisions on the future of the country, discussing everything but the inalienable rights of the people that make up the country.

    These has to be comedy for those that have left us behind..

  2. Nnenne

    September 4, 2018 at 9:54 pm

    What is the difference between geographical restructuring and asking a Nigerian citizen their state of origin when they are seeking for jobs and / or school ?
    If we are afraid of geographical division. Then get rid of sate of origin and quota system.Merit all the way!!!
    A Nigerian should simply be a Nigerian. Either that or give us geographical restructuring and everything it entails. Give people the chance to manage themselves.
    Am with Atiku on this one. I don’t support his candidacy though. He should be an elderly statesman who gives advices as needed.

    • Engoz

      September 5, 2018 at 3:09 pm

      For real, we are tired of the fraud that will remember state of origin when it benefits certain people and not all people. On the other hand, right now their arguments look disorganized. I think we need a pro vs con or risk vs benefit list with their arguments on this topic. Citing one con or risk is not enough to throw away a suggestion if we have some considerable pro or benefits to it. Also, we will need to weigh the risk to determine if a suggestion poses no more than or more than minimal risk to us.

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