Pastor Tunde Bakare of the Latter Rain Assembly has called on President Muhammadu Buhari to give Nigeria a lasting solution to secession agitations and its economic challenges by restructuring the country into six geopolitical zones without delay.
The former vice presidential candidate of the Congress for Progressive Change made the call during his State of the Nation Broadcast in his church on Sunday.
In the message titled, ‘Looking into the future with the eyes of faith’, Bakare said it was high time Nigeria got rid of its flawed federal system of government as the country’s 36 states were not viable to give world class infrastructure and better lives to the citizens.
He said the states, which are largely unable to pay workers’ salaries, generate too little revenue to guarantee standard roads, railways, airports, housing and urban development.
Bakare, therefore, described the repeated stance by the President to ignore calls for restructuring as faulty.
“We must restructure to correct the flaws in our federal system,” he said.
“In a true federal system, previously sovereign states agree to confer their individual sovereignty on a federal government. In order words, the states create the Federal Government. In Nigeria, the Federal Government creates the states.”
He recalled that the Nigerian state was formed upon a social contract that gave each region the power to decide its fate, saying the contract was “broken on May 24, 1966 through the unification decree by Gen. J.T.U. Aguiyi Ironsi; that was the day Nigeria died.”
He described that as the crucial reason for Nigeria’s disjointed nationhood and perennial socio-economic decay.
He said, “It is why efforts of economic diversification by government after government, including the present government have failed to yield the expected results.
“It is what has led to the infrastructural decay; it is why we run bloated governments that make us spend over 70 per cent of annual budgets on recurrent expenditure.”
The clergy, who praised President for some of the progress made in the fight against corruption and insurgency, however, urged the government “to stop fighting corruption with kid gloves.”
He said like Singapore’s founding father, Lee Kuan Yew, transformed the country at a critical point when it was enmeshed in corruption, President Buhari must have the courage to sacrifice anyone found to be corrupt, even if they are people close to him.
He recalled the integrity displayed by Singaporeans during his trips to the country, saying, “They don’t call Jesus and Mohammed every second but have integrity in financial matters”.
Bakare said contrary to insinuations by some people that Buhari’s government lacks focus; the President has indeed shown a focus to tackle corruption, insecurity and unemployment.
He added that “after a slow start characterised by series of policy somersaults, the current government has created laudable medium term plans for social economic growth and recovery”.
He, however, added that the government had shown that it lacked the courage to restructure the country, a move he described as critical to the success or failure of its plan.
According to him, the country also lacked a national vision that would be “bold”, “documented”, which all citizens would know about and can aspire to.
The pastor identified the biggest indicator of the absence of such a national vision as agitations in the various regions of the country, citing the cries for secession by insurgents in the North-East, Niger Delta Avengers in the South-South and the Indigenous People of Biafra in the South-East as some of the examples.