PRESS GROUP JOINS CALL FOR RESTRUCTURE OF NIGERIA

The Nigerian Press Organisation, NPO has said that full implementation of the Governor el-Rufai and Oronsaye committee reports on restructuring will go a long way in tackling the security challenges in the country.

In a communiqué issued at the end of its meeting on the state of the nation held on May 21, the organisation, which comprises the Newspaper Proprietors’ Association of Nigeria, NPAN, the Nigerian Guild of Editors, NGE and the Nigeria Union of Journalists, NUJ, advised the federal government to immediately implement the report of the two committees, which had proffered far-reaching solutions to the current challenges in Nigeria.

The communiqué, signed by NPO President, Kabiru Yusuf, NGE President, Mustapha Isa, and NUJ President, Chris Isiguzo, also identified high cost of governance, overbearing centre and several other factors as triggers for the current socio-political, economic and security challenges in the country.

The organisation also appealed to politicians and state actors to minimise their inflammatory rhetoric in order to reduce tension and ease the growing sense of fear among the people.

The communiqué read: “We, leaders of the media and major stakeholders in the Nigeria Project, given the responsibility imposed on us by Section 22 of the 1999 Constitution, as amended, state as follows:

“That we believe in the oneness of Nigeria and that its population of about 200 million people, if resources are well managed, have innumerable advantages – both in economic and soft power, and that this should not be sacrificed on the altar of ethnic or tribal chauvinism.

“That one of the triggers for the current socio-political, economic, and security challenges in the country is high cost of governance, reflected in the outrageous allowances and flamboyant lifestyles of our political leaders.

“These leaders, rather erroneously, misconstrue public service for primitive accumulation of wealth, instead of its being a platform for galvanising development and satisfying the collective aspiration of our people for quality life in a safe and secure environment. One of the consequences of this ostentatious lifestyle is the new craze among a growing number of youths that the end justifies the means in their quest for easy wealth.

“That in a federal system of government, particularly in a country like Nigeria which is diverse in ethnicity, culture, and religion, an overbearing centre is counterproductive to the development of the centre itself and the component units.

“To leave the Federal Government with 68 items under the Exclusive Legislative List, including policing, is a recipe for unending destructive tension in the struggle for advantage among the federating units. It explains why our country is seemingly overwhelmed by non-state actors engaged in criminality and separatist agitations.

“Given the above, we call on the federal government to immediately take steps at devolving powers to the component units by implementing the El Rufai Committee Report, which among others, recommends State Policing, in addition to other far reaching adjustments to the structure of governance.

“The continued delay to implement the report after its recommendations has been approved by all the organs of the ruling All Progressives Party, in line with the manifesto for which the party sold itself to win the 2015 election is self-defeating.

“We hold that its implementation will curb the galloping rate of criminality, reduce tension across the country, and reset the bottom of development.”

“Implement the Orosanye Report, which provides a veritable road map for arresting the unsustainable high cost of governance. A reduced cost of governance will free substantial funds to fight insecurity, provide social safety nets for the generality of the people, fund developmental projects, and stem the current penchant for external and local borrowing by government.

“Put pressure on the National Assembly to pass the Petroleum Industry Bill, (PIB), which has gone into our history as the longest bill to ever go through legislative processes.

“It is of common knowledge that the petroleum industry has been long overdue for an overhaul and the passage of the bill will be a major boost. That the bill has stayed this long in the National Assembly militates against improved corporate governance in the oil sector.

“There is a need to avoid the debt overhang inherent in excessive borrowing. We are aware that borrowing is good so long as such loans are deployed to funding enduring development projects, within the GDP ratio. However, the current borrowing in the face of the slide in the value of the country’s number one revenue earner-oil remains worrisome.”

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