In response to a call by governors of Southern Nigeria, at their meeting in Asaba, Delta State, for President Muhammadu Buhari to immediately convene a national dialogue with a view to restructuring the country, president of the senate, Dr. Ahmad Lawan and speaker, House of Representatives, Hon. Femi Gbajabiamila, have argued that the governors must instead, start restructuring from their states.
The lawmakers who made the call while interacting with journalists in Abuja on Thursday, argued that the governors have not allowed local governments perform their constitutional roles, noting that they ought play important roles in tackling insecurity.
Lawan, particularly said the governors should not be the ones agitating for restructuring.
“I believe that as leaders, especially those of us who are elected into office, (we) should not be at the forefront of calling for this kind of thing because even if you are a governor, you are supposed to be working hard in your state to ensure that this restructuring you are calling for at the federal level, you have done it in your state as well,” he said.
“What you may accuse the federal government of, whatever it is; you may also be accused of the same thing in your state.
“So, we are supposed to ensure that we have a complete and total way of ensuring that our systems at the federal, state and even local government levels work for the people. We must allow people to participate in governance so that whoever feels he has something to offer to make Nigeria better does so freely without any let or hindrance.”
While urging elected leaders to shun regionalism, Lawan urged all stakeholders to rally behind President Muhammadu Buhari to tackle the nation’s challenges.
“The president is reaching out to all the stakeholders. And I believe that as leaders, particularly those of us who were elected at all levels of government, we should avoid partisanship,” he said.
“We should avoid regionalism. We are all leaders and we are in this together. The solutions to our challenges must come from us regardless of what level of government we are – whether at the federal, state or local government level. I believe that Nigeria is going to come out of these challenges stronger.”
Lawan argued that the lack of autonomy by the local government councils potentially inhibits solutions as well as efforts by the federal and state governments towards addressing the nation’s security challenges.
“We are all leaders and we are in this together; the solutions must come from us regardless of what levels of leadership we are– whether at the federal level, state level, or even at the local government level,” he said.
“I also want to take this opportunity to say that we have diminished the local government system. I think we can attribute the security issues to the absence of a functional local government system.
“I think the time has come for us to take up the challenge and ensure that the local government system functions. This is as we look for ways to curb the security challenge.
“We must never neglect the local government system. We must go back to our local government system to ensure they are autonomous and functional.”
Speaking in similar fashion, Gbajabiamila, described those championing the call for secession as misguided people who did not mean well for the country.
According to him, while there might be genuine agitations, elected leaders and state governors should not be among the restructuring advocates without first replicating the idea at the state level.
He, therefore, called for a national spirit of oneness, saying: “If truth be told, we all have equal shares in the blame for what’s happening today.
“Whatever challenges we have, we must all come together to make sure that we resolve these issues we’re facing. We must imbibe that spirit of oneness, togetherness, unity and love that would take us through this.”