Sokoto State Governor Aminu Tambuwal on Wednesday opposed the calls for the restructuring of the country, but advocated that the states should get higher revenue allocations than the Federal Government.
Tambuwal, who said this during the Sallah visit by some groups to him in Sokoto, said the existing revenue allocation formula should be reviewed to ensure that federating units got more allocations than the centre.
The groups included the Sokoto Chamber of Commerce, Industries, Mines and Agriculture; the Association of Resident Communities; the Sokoto Women Association and a Coalition of Non-Governmental Organisations, among others.
Tambuwal stated his opposition to the continuous calls by members of various groups in the country for the restructuring of the country along regional lines as recommended by the 2014 National Conference.
Tambuwal said with good governance in place, Nigerians would be made to have a sense of belonging at all times.
“We believe in the unity of the country and the unity of Nigeria is non-negotiable. Dialogue is also the most potent tool to resolve all problems, anywhere and at anytime.
“There are really challenges in Nigeria, and it is not peculiar to the nation, and these challenges are surmountable,” he said.
But the Ekiti State Governor, Ayodele Fayose, submitted that only the restructuring of the country could guarantee true federalism in Nigeria.
“We believe in restructuring that will bring about true federalism. If we all are to have a sense of belonging, and if we should believe in this country called Nigeria, there must be restructuring to eliminate all fears being expressed and insecurity threatening the existence of this country.
“All the contentious issues need to be addressed under restructuring,” said Fayose in a statement by his Chief Press Secretary, Idowu Adelusi, on Wednesday.
The Ondo State Governor, Dr. Olusegun Mimiko, who aligned with Tambuwal on the need to review the revenue allocation formula in favour of the states, believed that fiscal restructuring would ensure what he called political restructuring.
On the political restructuring rejected by Tambuwal, the Ondo State governor explained that if the fiscal restructuring had taken place, the country needed no political restructuring.
Mimiko, who spoke through the Ondo State Commissioner for Information, Mr. Kayode Akinmade, on Wednesday, said the call (by Tambuwal for higher revenue for the states) was a welcome development, noting that the review would rescue the country from its current economic challenges.
He said, “It is the fiscal restructuring that people have been clamouring for. That is, the state should be allowed to take over their God-given resources, which is fiscal federalism.
“If we have fiscal federalism, anybody that becomes the President (of Nigeria) is immaterial to the people.
“The formula currently in operation has been in existence since 1999 and the law says it should be reviewed every five years. There is a need for the review at this time because the states and the local governments are the tiers that have direct contact with the people.
“All the resources that the government shares; all the resources that go to the federation account come from the states and the local governments. It is the state that can invest in education and agriculture; it is the state governments that can provide more employment; it is the state governments that can invest in security more, because they are closer to the people.”
Tambuwal argued that there were benefits in reworking the nation’s revenue formula in favour of the states.
“There’s an urgent need to review the allocation formula in the country because doing so will strengthen the Nigerian federation and help to shed some of the excess powers the Federal Government currently has,” he added.
According to him, the states and the local governments are the closest tiers of government to the people, but get lesser allocations than the Federal Government.
“The ugly trend should be reversed in favour of the federating units to enable them to meet the overwhelming demands of the people at the grassroots level,’’ the governor added.
Speaking to the members of the groups, Tambuwal described them as equal partners in running the affairs of the state.
He promised that his administration would not discriminate against anybody irrespective of tribe or religion.
The President of the chamber of commerce, Alhaji Kabiru Tafida, as well as the chairman of the association of resident communities, Mr Augustine Onumba, hailed the governor for his ‘‘steadfastness’’ in governance.