Female members of the All Progressives Congress (APC) are demanding that power is devolved to the states to fast-track development while opposing a return to the regional government saying such will only fan the ember of suspicion and the fear of oppression among minority groups in the country.
National Women Leader of the APC, Hajia Ramatu Aliyu who made the position of the women known at a town hall meeting organised by the APC committee on True Federalism also said the creation or states should not be considered for now as many of the existing states are not viable and cannot afford to pay salaries of workers.
She also suggested that the country should maintain the current presidential system if the government, pointing out that even though it is expensive to maintain, adopting a parliamentary system of government will encourage sectionalism in the country.
She said: “As most of us will agree, there is the need for devolution of power from the centre to the federating units. A few items on the exclusive legislative list should be transferred to the concurrent list to fast-track the development of the country and enhance the delivery of essential services to the Nigerian people.
“Some of the things we believe we can benefit from this restructuring include the provision of state and community police among others. It will also not be out of place to transfer the so-called federal roads and similar infrastructure to the states for continued derivation principle.
“We believe that by putting Nigeria first, the question can be tackled in harmony rather than acrimony.
On the issue of an ideal federating unit to adopt and whether there should be the creation of more states or merge existing ones, she said, “it is our considered opinion that status quo should remain and be maintained. A return to the regional government format is not visible for many reasons which are well known to all of us.
She said that a return to regional government will fan the embers of suspicion among minority groups who will be afraid of oppression, adding that it is on record that many states in the country are not economically viable and so, without allocation from the centre, they are not paying salaries of workers.
Hajia Aliyu stressed that there are other contentious issues that shapely divides opinions among Nigerians such as whether the country should be operating a presidential or parliamentary system of government, unicameral or bicameral legislature, citizenship, indigeneship conundrum and efficacy and legitimacy of the of land use tenure and the rotational presidency under our law.
She said: “Our position is that each of this options has their pitfalls. As such, Nigeria must adopt the best one that suits our national reality and peculiarities.
“For instance, while it is widely believed that the presidential system encourages waste and is too expensive, it is also argued that the parliamentary system of government in Nigeria was not exactly successful in the past because it encourages sectionalism
“However, what is clear to us is that the present land tenure system needs to be revisited in other to make access to land for agriculture and development easy for the average Nigerian.
“Furthermore, the widespread practice in most Nigeria communities of discrimination against people in the name of indigeneship and settlers must be a source of concern to the government.
“What should matter in our nation today, is where you reside and pay your taxes and not your state of origin. This will enable every Nigerian irrespective of where you are from or live to enjoy the full rights and benefits guaranteed under our laws.”
According to her, the country´s unity in diversity provides its citizens limitless opportunities, pointing out that women as mothers must continue to believe in the country´s unity and nurture her in spite of their differences, saying let keep talking and encouraging our sons and husbands that the unity of Nigeria is not negotiable”.