Analysts and socio-political groups on Friday urged President Muhammadu Buhari to heed the call for the restructuring of the country.
They told Saturday PUNCH in separate interviews that with the current economic crisis facing the country, restructuring was inevitable.
The National Bureau of Statistics had, on Wednesday, released the Gross Domestic Product figures for the second quarter of 2016 with the GDP growth rate sliding from -0.36 per cent in the first quarter to -2.06 per cent year on year.
It also released the capital importation report for the second quarter, the unemployment statistics report, the inflation report for the month of July and the labour productivity report for the month of July.
The reports, according to analysis, painted a negative picture of the Nigerian economy with inflation rising as high as 17.1 per cent from 16.5 per cent; unemployment rate increasing to 13.3 per cent from 12.1 per cent and investment inflows dropping to its lowest levels at $647.1m from $710m.
The National Publicity Secretary of the pan-Yoruba socio-political group, Afenifere, Yinka Odumakin, said except the country was restructured, the recession could not be addressed.
He said, “Nigeria has entered a terminal crisis as it is now on irreversible journey to Venezuela. The Naira is on a free fall; inflation has torn the roof and suicide is now the option left for the hapless which we are already harvesting.
“There is no way out of this crisis except we restructure and release the creative energy in the federating units to retool. If we continue on this beaten path, our spring looms.”
A Lagos-based lawyer and human rights activist, Ebunoluwa Adegboruwa, said the problems in Nigeria were beyond the economy.
According to him, they are fundamental and can be traced to the root of the country’s existence.
He said, “I believe that we should restructure peacefully and upon terms agreeable to all the constituent units of the lopsided federation called Nigeria.
“The 1999 Constitution, which was enacted against the will of the people, should be dismantled and power and resources should be given back to the regions where they belong and are located.
“This style of dolling out bailouts to states and local governments from Abuja cannot continue.”
Also, the Head, Banking and Finance Department, Nasarawa State University, Keffi, Uche Uwaleke; a former Managing Director of Unity Bank Plc, Mr. Rislanudeen Muhammed; and a former Managing Director, Nigeria Deposit Insurance Corporation, Mr. Ganiyu Ogunleye, said restructuring would help address the socio-economic challenges facing the country.
Uwaleke said that once the federating units were given the powers to control their resources, it would help promote economic competition.
According to him, with competition, the federating units will come up with innovative ways of stimulating their respective economies.
Uwaleke said, “Restructuring is the panacea for many of the socio-economic challenges facing the country. This much came to the fore in the last constitution conference put together by the previous administration.
“The seemingly endless crises in the Niger Delta region will substantially abate if the country is restructured in a way that allows greater control of resources by the federating units.”
Muhammed agreed with Uwaleke. He said restructuring would make all the states compete for economic development and as such uplift the lives of their people.
He said, “Nigeria has huge economic potential outside the oil sector which is largely untapped due to the so called Dutch Disease that has for years made us lazy and always relying on mono product commodity called oil as the source of income, notwithstanding the fact that oil constitutes only 10 per cent of our Gross Domestic product.
“Economic restructuring will make all the states compete for development and uplifting the lives of their people. There is potential for growth in non oil export in most states and virtually all the states have one form of economic competitive advantage or the other.
“The states do not have to grow at same pace but hard work will make all the difference. For example, virtually the whole of Zamfara State is sitting on gold and diamond, largely untapped with little going to illegal miners.”
Ogunleye described the restructuring of the country as a necessity, adding that it held the key to the economic development of the people.
He said, “Restructuring is a necessity and it is what the people have been advocating over the years, but the challenge is that it is either there is no serious commitment to it or the political will to implement it is lacking.
“Otherwise, when you talk about diversification, it is almost the same thing as restructuring the economy. Over the years, we relied on oil revenue and now we can appreciate the risks of relying on one source of revenue.
“We are not a manufacturing country and so most of the things we use are imported. So, there is the need to restructure the country in such a way that we can develop manufacturing capacity.”
According to Ogunleye, while a lot of emphases have been placed on agriculture, the country is just focusing on the primary aspect of the sector.
He said, “There is no linkage in our agriculture. When we produce our raw cocoa, we export it only to import chocolate. Imported products are expensive to the economy and they affect our foreign exchange.
“So with proper linkages in our agriculture sector, the pressure we are having now on foreign exchange will be reduced.”
The President, Campaign for Democracy, Abdul Usman, said with restructuring, no region would be dependent on others.
He said, “Restructuring can, as a matter of fact, make most of our clueless leadership in our various regions to sit up. The fact remains that our leaders are lacking in economic potential and are not willing to learn from some of their colleagues.”