Former President Olusegun Obasanjo, has insisted that Nigeria must continue to renegotiate its unity and give listening ear to the complaints of all ethnic groups in the country.
He spoke just as the Vice-Chancellor of Igbinedion University, Okada, Edo State, Professor Eghosa Osaghae, accused the National Assembly and State governors of being the real obstacles to the practice of true federalism in Nigeria, occasioning strident calls for restructuring of the country.
They both spoke on Friday at the 7th convocation lecture of the National Open University of Nigeria (NOUN) in Abuja, with the theme: Restructuring and True Federalism: Nigeria in Perspective.
Speaking against the backdrop of the ongoing agitation for restructuring of the country, Obasanjo, said there was the need to give a sense of belonging to all ethnic groups and encourage them to effectively participate in socio-economic discussions and national development.
He added that such periodic discussion would provide opportunity for all stakeholders to air their views, grievances and possibly provide superior arguments, solutions or ideas that could positively challenge the existing practices.
Meanwhile, Professor Osaghae, who was the guest lecturer, said that the National Assembly and State governors were the real obstacles to the practice of true federalism in Nigeria, occasioning strident calls for restructuring of the country.
He said the National Assembly has consolidated itself as a harbinger of federal might rather than assembly of representatives of the constituent units.
Osaghae said the governors on the other hand, have used unrestrained powers to emasculate the capacities of state legislative assemblies with local government councils practically strangulated.
He said: “The states, which are responsible for over 50 per cent of public sector expenditure, have performed very poorly in the delivery of basic social services and infrastructure.
“It is ironic that allegations of marginalisation, exclusion and injustice allude to poor roads, absence of running water, hospitals and schools, erosion, unemployment and the like, matters for which states and local governments should take responsibility.
“A major part of the problem of the states has to do with poor governance variables: low levels or absence of accountability and the unrestrained powers of governors who have emasculated the capacities of state legislative assemblies, political parties, traditional institutions and civil society organisations to check and balance them.
“Other obstacles to true federalism of the region-centred trajectory include the National Assembly, which has consolidated itself as a harbinger of federal might rather than an assembly of representatives of the constituent units,” he said.
The Vice-chancellor, said that federal system of government practised in Nigeria entails more deliberate arrangements that require intricate deals, trade-offs and reciprocities to build and sustain.