By EDEM DARLINGTON, Calabar
Bishop Uduak U. Effiong of the African Methodist Episcopal Zion Church has warned political parties in Nigeria not to take Nigerians for granted over the call for the restructuring of the country.
Bishop Effiong in a statement from Birmingham, Alabama, USA in reaction to an article by Inyali Peter, calling for the restructuring of Cross River State said that the way forward for Nigeria as a nation was restructuring.
The clergy who said that some politicians from the “so called” major tribes are not interested in restructuring because of what they’re benefiting from the current structure, added that the issue will determine how political parties will fare in the 2019 general elections.
While advising President Muhammadu Buhari to have a rethink about his stance on restructuring, he averred that if the ruling APC refuses to learn from the inaction of PDP that led to their failure in 2015, Nigerians may turn their back on them in subsequent elections.
He said that “The truth is that the way forward for Nigeria as a nation is RESTRUCTURING. There should be no semantics about restructuring for anyone who genuinely loves the progress of this country.
Clearly, in asking for restructuring, we are specifically asking for: Political restructuring: this would require, among other things, the creation of states to balance the present 6 geo-political zones (of which from SS, the creation of Ogoja State – the only former Region yet to attain such status, can be canvassed), the reduction in size and balancing of representation in the National Assembly.
“Fiscal restructuring: which requires States, as the federating units, to have control over the identification, exploration and exploitation of their human and natural resources, and only contributing agreed assessment (as apportioned by a balanced National Assembly) to the Centre.
This requires, therefore, the total review of the 1999 constitution, so that powers and functions can be devolved to the federating States.
For instance, roads/local public transportation, policing, education, health, industrialization, commerce, etc, which are presently handled/concentrated at the centre, can best be attended to by States, who know the people, the places, and the socio-economic practices that could improve lives”.
He added that “The truth is, there are few politicians among the so called major tribes who are interested in maintaining the present status quo because of what they have continuously gained from the arrangement, including their grip on oil wells and several industrial concerns in the South”.
On restructuring of states he said that “It’s upon restructuring and devolution of powers that each State can now review it’s own structure, programs, socio-economic practices (e.g. creation/merger of LGAs, as attempted in Lagos, review of representation in State House of Assembly, etc ) that could best serve the overall progress of the area”.
He advised APC to be sensitive and proactive on the issue of restructuring and several matters to win the hearts of Nigerians.
“These and more are some of the ideas I had articulated in my 2017 Episcopal Address (printed), and which I have continued to advocate for the good of my country. I have lived in different parts of Nigeria, have friends across, and I mean well for my country. It may not be exhaustive, but it contains some basic issues that are essential in our consideration of the matter of RESTRUCTURING of Nigeria.
And, let me add, this subject may determine how political parties would fare in 2019 and beyond! President Buhari, should stand on the same page with his Vice, Osibanjo, on restructuring. While the VP has publicly endorsed the call, the President is opposed to and sarcastic about the call!
I wish the APC can seize a God given opportunity to win the hearts of Nigerians by being sensitive and proactive on these and several matters. Let no party take Nigerians for granted. PDP have learnt their lessons, and if APC does not benefit from the omissions and inaction of PDP that led to their rejection at the polls in 2015, then Nigerians may turn their back on them if not in 2019, then possibly in 2023 if they continue this way.
And, if PDP or any other emerging party (which is remote for now) takes definite stand on these pressing issues, with clear plans of actualizing them if given a chance, they may win the confidence of Nigerians to be returned to power to act accordingly. True Nigerians in North, South, East, West (not recycled opportunists) need progress now more than ever”.
My benefit in all this is to have a country that I and my children, and our next generations, can be sincerely proud of”, he maintained.