The call for restructuring of the Nigerian federation reverberated on the floor of the Senate as the Senator representing Ebonyi South, Sunny Ugbuoji, said a revert to true federalism is the panacea Nigeria needs to survive its tested times.
Ugbuoji made the call in his contribution to debate on how to end the economic recession currently bedeviling the country, arguing that Nigeria operates an over centralised federation which he stressed needs to be unbundled for effective administration.
Calls for restructuring of the Nigerian federation have been wide spread in the country of late, as leaders of thought in the geo-political zones of southern region canvassed support for it at different times.
The administration of President Muhammadu Buhari has been ambivalent on the issue of restructuring, just as it repeatedly dismissed suggestions that his government should revert to the recommendations by the last National Conference which held in Abuja under the past administration of former President Goodluck Jonathan as a way out.
According to Ugbuoji, “Restructuring doesn’t mean disintegrating but just to help every state to tap their potentials and this will help Nigeria too”.
He also argued against the sales of national assets as canvassed in some quarters.
He said: “Those canvassing that we should sell our assets are getting it wrong: we have sold some of them yet we are still here. If we do not cure the systemic corruption, we would not go anywhere but we should not be portrayed as thieves”.
However, the Senate after day-two of debate on economic recession resolved to end debate next Tuesday and take a resolution.
The Senate President, Bukola Saraki, made this known at the close of plenary on Thursday, stating that the Senate would arrive at definite resolutions from the report of a 6-man ad-hoc committee set up for collation and harmonisation of all suggestions and recommendations made during the two day debate.
He said: “Our next plan for going forward is that a lot of recommendations have been made upon which an ad-hoc committee will be set up to work over the next three days so that by the time we come back on Tuesday, they will summarise some of these recommendations and then we take them one by one in arriving at resolutions that will be agreed upon by all”.
Members of the committee to be chaired by Senator Abdullahi Yahaya (APC Kebbi North) include Senators Jibrin Barau (APC Kano North), Ben Murray Bruce (PDP Bayelsa East), Rafiu Ibrahim (APC Kwara South), Mohammed Hassan (PDP Yobe South) and John Enoh (PDP Cross River Central).
When debate on economic recession kicked off earlier, Senators canvassed different option whch they said the government can take to assuage the downturn in the nation’s economy.
In his remarks, Senator Olusola Adeyeye (APC Osun Central), called for drastic cut in governance, saying Nigerian estacode is the highest in the world. He also called for taxation of luxury goods and sustains the fight against corruption.
Senator Bala Na’Allah (APC Kebbi South), in his contribution, called for a rethink on the TSA policy as done by some other senators on Tuesday.
He said: “Government should reconsider its TSA policy because it is more or less contributing to the problem at hand. Though President has good intentions but have a few people who are not thinking correctly”.
Menwhile, the Upper Legislative chamber on Thursday moved for detailed information on alleged $12 billion shipped out from Nigeria by Mobile Telecommunication Nigeria (MTN) in collaboration with some fraudulent Nigerians, including a serving Minister,and aided by four commercial banks in the country
The move followed a point of order raised to that effect by Senator Dino Melaye (APC Kogi West).
Melaye, who came through Order 42, in seeking for a motion to unravel the fraud to the Senate, alleged that MTN in collaboration with four banks and some highly connected Nigerians, one of who is now serving a Minister of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, fraudulently moved $12 billion from the nation’s economy within the last ten years.
He said: “Mr. President, I seek the indulgence of this house to move that after this short presentation, this matter be allowed to be taken on the next legislative day. My respected colleagues, MTN Nigeria paid a sum of $284.9 million dollars on the 6th of February, 2001 to purchase their license of operations in this country.
“I want to say with facts which by the grace of God I will make available on the next legislative day if this motion is allowed, to all senators to see evidence that between 2006 and 2016, through 4 Nigerian Banks and indeed a serving minister of the Federal Republic of Nigeria and some other fraudulent Nigerians, MTN have moved over $12 billion out of Nigeria and that is about half of our external reserves.
“If I get the nod of the Senate, I will want to bring a substantive motion on Tuesday, the next legislative day, with substantiated facts to buttress this position”.
The Senate accordingly granted his request by slating next week Tuesday for hearing and substantive debate on the motion.
In his ruling, Senate President, Bukola Saraki, sadi: “Distinguished colleagues, according to our rules Order 42, Senator Dino Melaye raised this issue and he needs to get the leave of the Senate to bring it down to the next legislative day which he has now done”.