The Bayelsa State Governor, Seriake Dickson, on Tuesday backed a recent call by the All Progressives Congress for the restructuring of the country.
In a statement signed by his spokesperson, Francis Agbo, Mr. Dickson commended the ruling party for the move, but said the mission must be given a bi-partisan approach.
The governor suggested that a restructuring committee should be raised and its members should “be drawn from all political parties, civil societies and the academia to deal decisively with the matter as this would give a sense of belonging to all and sundry.”
“Nigeria’s unity and indivisibility is desirable but should be negotiated for the good of all”, Mr. Dickson, a member of the Peoples Democratic Party, said.
Amongst the issues the governor said should be addressed in a restructured Nigeria is resource control.
“Any restructuring that doesn’t include resource control will not make much sense to my people because for us in the Niger Delta, restructuring Nigeria starts with resource control,” he said.
Mr. Dickson’s comments came a week after the APC said it would raise a committee that would design its modalities for restructuring.
Bolaji Abdullahi, the party’s spokesperson, said the party’s manifesto contained aspects that dealt with how to restructure the country’s political system, largely through devolution of power.
“We intend to look at fiscal federalism, state police and other concerns that would give devolve more powers to the states rather than concentrating everything at the centre,” Mr. Abdullahi told PREMIUM TIMES Tuesday night.
Both the APC and its central government, led by President Muhammadu Buhari, had hitherto been elusive about restructuring. Mr. Buhari had said his administration will not prioritise implementation of the recommendations of 2014 national conference.
The party’s position on what constitutes restructuring, which came amidst growing agitation amongst ethnic nationalities, appeared fundamentally different from what advocates of a restructured Nigeria say they want.
For one, foremost Yoruba interest group, Afenifere, said any restructuring that failed to return the country to a regional political system will not be acceptable. The group said the country should be sub-divided into regions as it was before independence in 1960 and for seven years hence.
A former Vice President, Atiku Abubakar, has been amongst the biggest voices against the current political system in Nigeria, but said he would allow Nigerians to determine the scope of a restructured system.
He wants all the states in the country to become autonomous federating units, as against the current system in which most of the authorities are derived from centre, even when the Constitution accords a good degree of independence to states.
Last week, Mr. Abubakar, a member of the APC, welcomed his party’s decision to address some of the contentious arguments around restructuring.
The APC took the decision days after the Nigerian Senate, which has its members in the majority, passed a resolution for the implementation of the 2014 confab report.
In his latest statement, Mr. Dickson acknowledged myriads of constitutional hurdles that will be encountered in trying to restructure the country, but said the efforts will pay off if the APC displayed potent leadership and a sincerity of purpose.