Nigeria’s Deputy President of the Senate, Senator Ike Ekweremadu, has called for the country’s 36-state structure to be reversed to a six-regional governments structure.
“My take is that we should return to the regional arrangement with the six geopolitical zones as the federating units. This will help us to shrink the size and number of government and increase the volume of resources available to the regions. It will also help the federating units to benefit from the economy of scale, doing mega development projects as we had in the First Republic,” said Ekweremadu, who spoke at the 54th Founder’s Day of the University of Nigeria, Nsukka.
The deputy senate president gave the reason for his call as the inefficiency of the federal system, which he described as feeding bottle capitalism.
He also urged the government to set up a social welfare scheme for the weak and unemployed in the country, noting that the challenge of every democracy was to prove to citizens that it had the capacity to respond to the challenges of governance.
“A country that does not provide for its weak and unemployed can never know true peace, for the rich will never sleep when the poor is awake. What will secure us is not high perimeter fences, but ensuring that the elderly and the unemployed have something to live on. I am a fan of social welfare scheme. Those who insist that the country cannot bear the bill are not telling the world the truth.
Ekweremadu cited a report published in January 2011 by the US-based Global Financial Integrity entitled “Illicit Financial Flows from Developing Countries: 2000 – 2009”, which estimated illicit money siphoned out of Nigeria in the ten year period at $130 billion (N21.4 trillion).
Speaking further, the Senator noted that “In April this year, the Minister of Finance relying on the report of the former South African President, Thabo Mbeki-led panel set up by African Ministers of Finance lamented that at least $50 billion was expropriated or disappeared from Africa, especially through the sharp practices of multinationals. If we are able to plug these holes, we should be able to guarantee social security for our citizens.”
Ekweremadu, who spoke at the UNN Founder’s Day on the topic “Key Governance Issues in Nigeria: My Perspectives” also stressed the need for the country to deal with challenges of effective leadership, reform of the electoral process, reform of party politics, insecurity, corruption, poverty and unemployment, and the revamping of public institutions.
He described as obscene the action of people in power, who asks to be priased for providing infrastructure they were elected to provide in the first place.
“The welfare of citizens should not depend on the goodwill of those in power, but should be the centerpiece of government policies and programme,” he said.