The Director General of the Voice of Nigeria (VON), Osita Okechukwu, has asked Nigerians to look beyond the “frenzy of restructuring” as canvassed by southern governors.
Mr Okechukwu, who is a chieftain of ruling All Progressives Congress (APC), warned that conceding more powers to governors would put the country’s democracy in grave danger.
He said this in a statement on Thursday where he advised Nigerians to tread carefully and not to see the socio-economic and security challenges facing the country as a reason to give more powers to the governors who are “already mismanaging their powers as emperors.”
His comment is in reaction to a resolution by the 17 southern governors on Tuesday calling for the restructuring of the country.
The governors had also resolved to ban open grazing of cattle in the region.
These resolutions have generated controversies over the past few days with many speaking either in support or against governors’ decision.
For Mr Okechukwu, giving more powers to state governors will by omission or commission create Frankenstein Monsters which may harm the nation’s democracy.
He recalled that President Muhammadu Buhari in 2018 endorsed the amendment of the 1999 Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, granting financial autonomy to the state judiciary and state legislatures, as foundation for real restructuring, but governors had refused to implement it two years after.
Nigerians, he said, cannot expect good governance when the governors acting as emperors had locked up all democratic institutions in the state.
“Whereas one endorsed the Southern Governors communiqué that the progress of the nation requires that urgent and bold steps should be taken to restructure the Nigerian Federation leading to the evolution of state police, review of revenue allocation formula in favour of the sub-national governments and creation of other institutions which legitimately advance our commitment to and practice of true federalism, one is however of the candid view that we need Dual-Restructuring,” he said.
The VON boss further explained that Nigeria needs dual-restructuring to alter democratic state institutions so as to unlock state judiciary, state legislatures and local government councils.
While stating that Nigeria needs to devolve relevant powers from the exclusive legislative list to states and local government councils, he warned Nigerians not to be insensitive and hand over more powers to governors.
“Can the rights of the citizenry be guaranteed if state police is enacted under Emperor Governors without independent judiciary and legislative oversight functions?
“What happens to the opposition under State Police with His Excellencies like my dear friend Malam El-Rufai and Wike? This is without being immodest or personal, just samples.
“Can transparency and accountability be guaranteed when more money is devolved to States with Rubber Stamp legislatures?,” he wondered.
Mr Okechukwu’s “concerns” come amidst demands by several Nigerians who believe restructuring would save the country from breaking up.
It is also worthy to note that seven of the 17 southern governors who made the resolutions on Tuesday, are members of the APC who joined their counterparts at the Peoples Democratic Party to fault President Muhammadu Buhari’s handling of the grave security situation in the country and issues of restructuring.