Restructuring is a nation-building opportunity, El-Rufai says
The APC Committee on True Federalism plans to submit its report in October. Kaduna State Governor Nasir El-Rufai disclosed this today in London where he delivered a lecture on restructuring at Chatham House.
El-Rufai, who chairs the APC Committee, said that the party is trying to provide leadership on the issue. He explained that the “APC set up a Committee on True Federalism to help give structure to the debate, remove the bile and bitterness colouring the matter and transform the discourse into a nation-building opportunity”.
Giving an insight into the committee’s work, El-Rufai said that it has focused its research and preparatory work on four broad areas, including devolution of power, review of the revenue allocation formula, citizenship and a review of the recommendations of the 2005 and 2014 national conferences.
Assessing the direction of the discourse on restructuring, El-Rufai observed that “the preponderance of opinion is that the Federal Government needs to shed weight and return powers and resources to the states where most government functions can be more efficiently undertaken”.
El-Rufai disclosed that the committee has also identified 12 contentious issues in the restructuring debate.
These include the creation or merger of states, derivation, fiscal federalism, devolution and what should constitute the federating units.
Governor El-Rufai also clarified his personal views on restructuring. “As I have argued since 2012, there is no doubt that the Nigerian federation is unbalanced and in dire need of structural rebalancing.” He drew attention to his public comments regarding the unsuitability of a centralized police force in a vast country and lamenting the Federal Government’s exclusive control of railways, trunk roads and prisons, amongst others. A practical demonstration of his conviction on these matters led to the successful quest by the Kaduna State Government to get two federal roads re-designated as state roads. El-Rufai also said that just as he believes in devolution of powers from the FG to the states, he is convinced that state governments should also devolve powers to the local governments.
He added that he believes “most Nigerians appreciate and cherish our unity in diversity, but seek the enthronement of a fairer, meritocratic system that puts social justice above everything else.”
El-Rufai said the committee’s work could encourage consensus on reducing the Exclusive List, introducing state constitutions, state police, state appeal and supreme courts, reviewed tax powers and transfer of control of mineral rights to the states.