Governor Oluwarotimi Akeredolu (SAN) of Ondo state on Tuesday hinges that the growing sectional activism was due to what he described as “faulty and twisted federalism”.
He lamented that sectional agitations had displaced “national patriotism”, adding that the unitary structure may continue to provoke sectionalism.
Akeredolu pointed out that most Nigerians were losing faith in “unity in diversity” sloganeering, urging stakeholders to renew their fidelity to true federalism as the key to the restoration of national consciousness.
The governor spoke at a public lecture titled: ”Towards A New Nigeria: From Federal Fatherism To A Common Wealth,” as part of the activities marking his second term inauguration.
Akeredolu will be sworn in today to begin his second term.
The lecture was delivered virtually by President of African Development Bank (AfDB) Group, Dr. Akinwumi Adesina, who said the defective federal structure had crippled the 36 states and made them permanently depended on the Federal Government.
The former Minister of Agriculture said only three states can survive without monthly Federation Account allocation, adding that they may remain poor in the midst of abundance, unless they explore their potentials.
He said: “That is the irony of Nigeria’s States; they are poor in the midst of plenty. They do not maximally explored or leverage what they already have in abundance. The system of monthly grants has paralysed them.
“With stupendous resources, all concentrated at the centre, states are ever dependent on the centre. With the magnetic field of federal revenue allocations, states are constantly pulled, powerlessly into perennial dependency.
“State governors now spend more time in Abuja than they do in their own States, seeking the monthly federal manna. This financial pilgrimage creates a sense of helplessness and overt dependency on the centre.
“Like a pendulum, ever moving from side to side in constant motion, so too has this unfortunate dependency become seemingly unstoppable. The truth, however, is that to survive and thrive, States must become financially independent of the centre in Abuja.”
Adesina added: “The United States of America (U.S.A), from which Nigeria derived its federal system, is essentially a coercive federalism. The Federal Government uses conditional grants to states to mainly support social, infrastructure and insurance programmes. Essentially, these are ‘carrots’ to get the states to do what the centre expects.
“Nigeria’s system is essentially a revenue sharing system. It is less restrictive compared to the U.S. federal system. However, in the United States, whose political system we have borrowed, most of the resources of the states come from taxes: personal income taxes, corporate taxes, property taxes and consumption taxes, as well as administrative fees. Federal grants account for only a small fraction of the resources of the states.
“The opposite is the case in Nigeria. Federal revenue allocations are the lifeline of state governments. Cut it off and 92 per cent of Nigerian states will fail.”
Akeredolu said rather than build a nation, Nigerians are more inclined to ethnic nationalism, adding that people have resorted to clannish satisfaction in place of nation-building.
The governor reflected on efforts by Southwest governors to tackle insecurity, saying the fight is against criminality and not targeted at any ethnic nationality or business.
Akeredolu added: “We are against criminality and we shall fight criminality with every legal means. It is in the interest of our collective wellbeing.
“All we require is the support and understanding of all federating units, including the Federal Government. The simple truth is that we have lived in self-denial amid an excruciating pain that is almost cancerous now.
“Notwithstanding our challenges today, my firm belief in the Nigerian Project is strengthened by my fact of being a true Nigerian.”
“That I desire a more United Nigeria with every ingredient of freedom, rule of law, patriotism, love, mutual respect and harmony is an understatement. And I am prepared to fight for it legitimately for the benefit of all.”
At the event chaired by Yobe State governor and Chairman of APC Caretaker Extraordinary Convention Planning Committee, Mai Mala Buni, represented by the former Senate President Ken Nnamani, were Minister of State for Niger Delta Affairs, Senator Tayo Alasoadura, Senator Iyiola Omisore, Ade Adetimehin and other dignitaries.