States must be autonomous for Nigeria to progress, says Osinbajo

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Professor Yemi Osinbajo

Vice President Yemi Osinbajo has said Nigeria will be stronger and more prosperous if states have more powers. He added that this could be achieved with when we have autonomous States that are able to generate and manage their resources.

Prof. Osinbajo made this point at the 59th Independence Anniversary Lecture of Island Club, Lagos, held last Friday. Osinbajo spoke on “The whole is only as great as the sum of its parts”.

According to him, Nigeria’s teeming population and the diversity of its ethnic groups necessitate the need for states to be empowered and strengthened so that they can be self-sufficient and also contribute more to national development.

He noted that President Muhammadu Buhari’s administration is working hard to ensure that states collaborate more with the Federal Government on various initiatives.

“The most important transformative change we can make in Nigeria is to lift the majority of our people out of deprivation by speedily creating wealth and opportunity leading to the eradication of poverty. The nation cannot be wealthy when its component parts – the states – are poor. The standard of living of the federation depends on the standard of living of people who live in the states. In other words, the federation can only be as rich as its richest state and as strong as its strongest state”, he said.

He added: “Our national indices merely aggregate the realities of our weaknesses and strengths as present in all our constituent units. Consequently, we can only build a stronger and more prosperous nation by building stronger and more prosperous states.”

He said, “Building stronger states means ensuring the devolution of more power to the states, enabling them to control more of their resources and make more of their own administrative decisions such as the creation of Local Governments, the establishment of state and community police forces as well as state correctional facilities; creation of special courts and tribunals of equivalent jurisdiction to high courts. The point I am making is that states must have more powers and more rights.”

He noted that, “Opportunities for smart and visionary governance abound. So, for example, while states may not be able to right now establish their police forces, they can collaborate with the federal government on initiatives such as community policing which also revolves around the idea of localized law enforcement. Our administration is currently pursuing this option. When we set our minds to solving problems, we will find that what is truly possible is not as distant from the ideal that we seek.”

The vice president advised that despite their differences, Nigerians must draw inspiration from the nation’s history of a common shared belief in order to attain the quest for collective progress and continued unity.

He said, “In order to do so, we must draw inspiration from the deep wells of our history. The founding fathers of our republic – Nnamdi Azikiwe, Obafemi Awolowo and Ahmadu Bello. These three differed on many things but shared a clear belief in the Nigeria’s boundless capacity as a united country. Regardless of their keen rivalry, they agreed on the crucial necessity of Nigeria staying united despite the many centrifugal pressures that buffeted the young nation. On this matter of unity, their differences were those of degree rather than category.

“Each of them occupied different niches on the spectrum of national integration but they all shared the view that the ideal situation was one in which a united and prosperous Nigeria took its rightful place in the world as the most populous black nation on Earth and as the foremost black power.

“From the foregoing, it is clear that the founding fathers were of one mind as far as Nigeria’s world historic significance was concerned. They also recognized that her ability to fulfil her destiny was dependent on her continued unity.”

While answering questions after his lecture, Prof Osinbajo assured that the Buhari administration will not relent in its anti-corruption crusade.

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