THE Director General of Voice of Nigeria (VON), Mr. Osita Okechukwu has blasted former Vice President, Atiku Abubakar for booing the All Progressives Congress, APC, in last week’s failure of the National Assembly to vote in favour devolution of powers.
Okechukwu accepted that devolution of powers from the centre was part of APC’s campaign manifesto, nevertheless, he blamed former Vice President Abubakar for being harsh on President Mohammadu Buhari’s policies.
He rather asked the former Vice President and other well meaning Nigerians, to join President Buhari in restructuring the infrastructure deficit in Nigeria.
In a statement he released during the weekend in Enugu. Okechukwu, according to Vanguard, said: “Nigerians should think out of the box, voting was not essentially on party lines, but on the Nigeria fault lines or the national question, the same voting pattern in the Abacha, Obasanjo and Jonathan Constitutional Conferences.
“This being the case, all Nigerians should join President Muhammadu Buhari in restructuring first the substructure – adequate electricity, modern railways, agrarian revolution, ICT education, amongst others-the foundation on which all other social institutions (superstructure) are built.
”Nobody is denying the fact that APC promised devolution of powers, but Atiku Abubakar was too harsh by saying that APC betrayed Nigerians.
“Yes my dear party, the APC promised devolution of powers, even with our subsequent amendments, nobody is denying the fact, but I am disputing the former Vice President’s assertion that APC betrayed Nigerians. Betrayal is a harsh word. What I am saying in simplicity is that the Nigerian fault line or national question is deeper than APC’s manifesto line because of the diversity of our dear nation, dislocated and atrophied by deficit critical infrastructure, which President Buhari is borrowing money to address first.
“This is my thesis. Let’s think out of the box and join Mr. President to first fix Nigeria deficit infrastructure.” According to the VON DG, it amounts to sheer propaganda going by the history of the developed countries for the pro-restructuring group to claim that with restructuring, the critical infrastructure would be easier as each region would address it according to its need. Okechukwu recalled that at one time or the other, Great Britain, USA, Germany, France, Japan and today’s China had a Buhari who laid the solid foundation for national railways, electricity, sprawling road network amongst others, adding that the British railways, the Hoover Dam and co were done by great leaders that come once in awhile.
He urged Nigerians to forget skewed appointments which he said are temporary and transient, and support Buhari, as “this is a golden opportunity for development.”
In the same vein, Elder Statesman, Tanko Yakasai said that the position of Atiku was disappointing because it was full of ambiguity. “I thought, as a politician that he (Atiku) is, that he has read our constitution from A-Z before suggesting that we can restructure in six months. My question here is, what are the details of the budgetary provisions for the Ministry of Works that should be transferred to the states’ ministries of education and so on and so forth before he made his pronouncement that these could be done within six months?”, he told Sunday Vanguard yesterday. The former Special Adviser to Second Republic President Shehu Shagari went on: “Atiku served as Vice President for eight years. So when he threw his support for the new slogan, I celebrated that, for the first time, because of the strategic position he held in the past, he would come up with a clear definition of what we didn’t know about restructuring. “We already have a budget approved by the National Assembly as empowered by the constitution for appropriation. So, how can we take the fund already appropriated by the National Assembly for the federal government to execute its programme and now transfer it without the consent of the National Assembly?. “The money approved by the National Assembly was for the federal ministries with their heads and sub heads cited in the Act. How do we achieve all this without recourse to the constitution? How is it practically possible? “If you are going to put a coma in the constitution, I know that you have to go through a process. It means you want to amend the constitution and it must go through the established protocol to avoid chaos.” The elder statesmen was however optimistic that “as time goes on, Atiku will give further insight into how we are going to transfer an item from exclusive list to either concurrent or residual list without amending our constitution to justify his new position.”
It will be recalled that in an address delivered at the University of Nigeria, Nsukka, former VP Atiku Abubakar speaks on how to restructure Nigeria.
In the future if the federal government identifies the need for a new road that would serve the national interest, it can support the affected states to construct such roads. Thereafter the maintenance would be left to the states, which can collect tolls from road users for that purpose.
The federal government does not need a constitutional amendment to start that process. “We do not need a constitutional amendment to transfer federal universities and colleges as well as hospitals to the states where they are located. The University of Nigeria, Nsukka, the Ahmadu Bello University, Zaria and the University of Ife (now OAU) were built by regional governments when we had a thriving federal system. We all know what then happened. The federal government, awash in oil revenues, took them over, rapidly expanded them, and began to build more federal universities in response to the inevitable demand from states that did not have any located within their jurisdictions. Without adequate and sustainable funding the result is what we have today: universities, including the first generation ones that are no longer taken seriously anywhere in the world.
“Yet many of our young people cannot find spaces in our tertiary institutions. This year alone, 1.7 million Nigerians wrote the 2017 Unified Tertiary Matriculation Examinations. Last year the figure was 1.5 million. “According to the Nigerian Bureau of Statistics and the Joint Admissions and Matriculation Board, of the 10 million Nigerian youths who wrote the UTME since 2010, only 26% gained admission into Nigerian universities. That left out 74% that could not get in. This gross inadequacy of school spaces breeds corruption in the admissions process and sustains our perennial fights over quota system and the like. A decentralized system is unlikely to be that insensitive to the yearnings of the people and the needs of the economy. We must reverse the epidemic of federal take-over of state and voluntary organizations’ schools and hospitals which began in the 1970s, and also transfer those established by the federal government to the states. “Last year, 60,000 Nigerian students spent 300 billion Naira on education in Ghanaian universities. In that same period 18,000 of our youths spent 162 billion Naira in the U.K. Altogether, Nigerians spend a yearly average of 1 trillion Naira on foreign education because we do not have enough capacity to meet demand.”
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