North Afraid Of Restructuring Because Of Oil, Says Sagay

Itse Sagay, Chairman of the Presidential Advisory Committee Against Corruption (PACAC), says the North is afraid of restructuring due to the oil located in the South.

The call for restructuring has been on for some years now and was one of the campaign promises of the ruling All Progressive Congress (APC) when it sought power during the 2015 general election.

Championed mainly by the South, restructuring seeks to address some perceived alleged injustice across the country as the purveyors make the demand.

In a chat with Independent Newspaper, the PACAC chairman called on the president to give restructuring a second thought when he begins his second term in May.

“I think he (Buhari) has to move on to restructuring to a certain extent now because that is the wish of significant proportion of people in Nigeria. So, it cannot be ignored,” Sagay was quoted by the medium to have said.

“I think this is the time for him to pay more attention to the issue and see what can be done to strengthen the federating units and make them less dependent on the centre; and also give them the capacity to be productive and self-sustaining. This will make us move closer to how we were in 1966 before the military came when the regions were the ones funding the federal government then.

“I don’t want us to go back to that but it will be enough if the states can be self-sustaining and be more productive so that this obsession of federal allocation should end. They should stop doing like babies who need federal feeding bottles in order to survive. It is humiliating for 36 state governments to send their commissioners of finance once a month to Abuja with what I will call ‘begging bowls’, looking for allocation.

 “Civil servants collect salaries, states should not be collecting salaries every month.  We need them to be self-sustaining and restructuring will greatly assist in making that possible,” he said.

Sagay noted that unlike the South, the North are hostile whenever the issue of restructuring is brought to the table because they will be deprived part of the allocation coming from oil. He attributed it to faulty reasoning on the part of the North.

“The fact is that they are so dependent on oil revenues that they are afraid that if restructuring takes place, the proportion of oil proceeds they will get will be much smaller and therefore, their capacity to look after themselves will be much more reduced.

“That is a fallacy that they believe in because they are not looking inwards. Honestly, if I were from the Northern states; the states that produced cattle; that is a sustainable, renewable source which oil is not.  Cattle should not be mainly for people to slaughter and take to the market to sell.  No! I believe that we should have a system where cattle is used for milk, butter, cheese, milk and frozen beef  that can be exported, because the world needs meat that can be exported in a clean environment.  If they can do this and move away from the current way of rearing cattle for just slaughtering and eating, you will see that the North will have an advantage.

“My own calculation is that at least, $5b can come initially from the cattle industry by the time they maximise all the benefits from the cattle and export some. This is not like oil that can dry up or lose its value because the cattle will breed, new cattle will come and they can continue to expand.  Oil right now is contracting, getting smaller and one day, it will go,” he noted.

POLITICS TIMES recalls that when the ruling party took over power, it constituted a restructuring committee headed by Nasir El-rufai, governor of Kaduna State. The group carried out their assignment and submitted its report to the party and nothing has been heard from that direction since then.