Former Nigeria’s Vice President, Atiku Abubakar, has called for the abolishment of the 36-state structure, many of which he declared are unviable, suggesting in its place the use of the nation’s six geo-political zones as federating units.
In a paper entitled, Building a Nation that Works: My Diary and Way Forward, Atiku said: “We must be open to changing the nature of the federating units, such as using the existing geo-political zones as federating units rather than the current 36, of which only a few are financially viable.”
He said this while accepting the Hero of Nigeria Democracy Award conferred on him by Hall of Grace Magazine.
While stating the need for political decentralization, he said: “We need to diversify our economy away from the dependence on oil. We need to create opportunities for our people to engage in diverse economic activities which governments will then tax for revenues.
”But we can’t do that efficiently and effectively without accurate data. I have in the past called for an end to the self-defeating politics we play with census in the country.
”With all the data gathering and analytic tools in existence in the 21st century, we have no good reason not to have accurate data on our people, down to the smallest unit, the individual. Without data we cannot plan properly and all of us will lose, including those who try to inflate their population figures and those who want to suppress those of others. Political decentralization will also help to deepen and strengthen our democracy as it will encourage more accountability. Citizens are more likely to demand accountability when governments spend their tax money rather than rent collected from an impersonal source.” He said. Adding that “while progress has been made in recent times in the fight against terrorism, the rate of other violent crimes remain unacceptably high. Then there are persistent cries of marginalization and unfair treatment by various ethno-religious and regional groups in terms of resource and power-sharing, investment and other government services”.
Abubakar also asked the nation to stop digging its own grave, if it must get out of the woods.
“There is a saying that if you want to get out of a hole you dug yourself, you first have to stop digging. So we need to stop our slide towards economic and political precipice. And one way to build a Nigeria that works is to identify what our people want and what they think our priorities should be. The next step is to assess whether the policies and strategies we currently pursue will adequately address those, and if not, in what ways can they be better addressed”, he said.