A former Vice President of Nigeria, Atiku Abubakar, has identified the shift from regional government to a 36 state structure as one of the reasons why the country is still struggling to reach its full potential.
Speaking at an event to mark his conferment as “the Hero of Nigeria Democracy” organized by the Hall of Grace Magazine in Lagos, Sunday, Mr. Atiku said there is a need to restructure the current federal system to devolve more powers and resources to the federating units.
“It will encourage states to compete to attract investment and skilled workers rather than merely waiting for monthly revenue allocations from Abuja,” said Mr. Abubakar, who served as vice president between 1999 and 2007.
“This will also include the establishment of state police for the states that so desire so as to improve security. We must be open to changing the nature of the federating units such as using the existing geo-political zones as federating units rather than the current 36, of which only a few are financially viable.
“Political decentralization must be accompanied by economic diversification. We need to diversify our economy away from the dependence on oil. We need to create opportunities for our people to engage in diverse economic activities which governments will then tax for revenues.
“But we can’t do that efficiently and effectively without accurate data. I have in the past called for an end to the self-defeating politics we play with census in the country. With all the data gathering and analytic tools in existence in the 21st century we have no good reason not to have accurate data on our people, down to the smallest unit, the individual.
“Without data we cannot plan properly and all of us will lose, including those who try to inflate their population figures and those who want to suppress those of others.”
Speaking on the topic “Building a Nation that Works: My Diary and Way Forward”, Mr. Atiku said the country’s continued dependence on revenues from oil derived from mainly three states of the federation would be unable to build a vibrant economy as well as provide qualitative education, security, and employment.