President of the African Development Bank Group (AfDB), Akinwunmi Adesina, has canvassed economic restructuring of the country and suggested a United States of Nigeria or Commonwealth of Nigeria to have a more viable nation.
Adesina said this during the second term inauguration lecture of Ondo State Governor, Oluwarotimi Akeredolu, in Akure yesterday, titled: Towards A New Nigeria: From Federal Fatherism To A Common Wealth.
He faulted Nigeria’s federalism, saying it was essentially a revenue sharing system compared to the United States of America federal system.
He argued that Nigeria’s system of government was a federalism of fiscal dependency, as most states of the federation have abundant resources that remain largely untapped due to bureaucracy.
“That is the irony of Nigeria’s states. They are poor in the midst of plenty. They do not maximally explore or leverage what they already have in abundance. The Federal system of monthly grants or allocations, as they call it, has paralysed them.
“Our kind of federalism is fiscally unhealthy for the states and the Federal Government and it does not grow its constituent entities. It simply makes them perpetually dependent,” he said
Adesina, who advocated more accountability and transparency, also decried some draconian tax administration by state governments across the country, lamenting that Nigerians pay one of the highest implicit taxes globally.
“This leads to inter-generational transfer of poverty, especially among the youths. Nigeria’s inequality is also extreme. Over 55 per cent of youths do not have jobs. Rural areas are now zones of economic misery with high rates of poverty and extremely high birth rates,” he lamented.
The former Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development, canvassed constitutional changes to devolve more economic and fiscal powers to the states, adding: “As a way out of the economic quagmire, much has been said about the need for restructuring.
“Restructuring should not be driven by political expediency, but by economic and financial viability. Economic and financial viability are necessary and sufficient conditions for political viability.
“The resources in each state should belong to the states. The constituent entities should pay federal taxes or royalties for those resources.”
On unity of the nation, he argued that instead of a Federal Government of Nigeria, the citizens could think of the United States of Nigeria or the Commonwealth of Nigeria, insisting that the old should pass away for the new to emerge.
Chairman of the occasion and former Deputy Governor of Osun State, Iyiola Omisore, said the topic was apt since it was aimed at addressing the problems facing the country and exploring opportunities that abound.
Governor Akeredolu, who declared today a public holiday to mark his second term inauguration, blamed the growing sectional activism, which he said, was gradually replacing national patriotism, on the faulty federalism being operated in the country.
He lamented that most Nigerians were losing faith in ‘Unity in Diversity,” mantra while urging that true federalism was the only opportunity to restore national consciousness.