An advocacy group, South-East, South-South Professionals of Nigeria (SESSPN) has called on President Muhammadu Buhari-led administration to restructure the country, review the present devolution of powers and whittle down the centre to allow for competition and calculated economic growth in accordance with the needs of the different regions.
This was just as the group, which identified seeming absence of justice, rule of law and merit in all facet of governance as the cause of economic, political and social deterioration in the country, further tasked the administration to revisit the reports of 2014 Constitutional Conference.
The newly elected President of SESSPN, Mr. Hannibal Uwaifo, a legal practitioner, made the call on Tuesday during his maiden press conference held virtually on Zoom platform.
Uwaifo, who expressed the commitment of the advocacy group to the total emancipation of the people of South-South and South-East for good governance and progress, said it was imperative that Nigeria moves away from ethnicity, religious intolerance and engage in constructive nation-building, while the state government must develop security architectures around community policing and vigilante groups to project and secure their people.
SESSPN president, while expressing concern about the level of insecurity in the country with the appointment of Service Chiefs and other critical security officials harped on religious beliefs, personnel affinity and closeness to persons in the corridors of power, declared that the truth was that Nigeria was generally referred to as a failed country in international circles.
According to him, a country that is unable to protect her citizens and her boarders is nothing less than than a failed state, demanding that an urgent plan must be put in place to restructure the country in such a way that real power to develop and secure the confidence of the citizenry would reside in the federation units.
“How can insecurity be tackled when the appointment of Service Chiefs and other critical security officials are harped on religious beliefs, personnel affinity and closeness to persons in the corridors of power?” Uwaifo queried.
“The truth is that Nigeria is generally referred to as a failed country in international circles. A country that is unable to protect her citizens and her boarders is nothing less than that. An urgent plan must be put in place to restructure the country in such a way that real power to develop and secure the confidence of the citizenry would reside in the federation units,” he said.
SESSPN president, while lamenting that the central government had continued to hold what was traditionally central to all, further demanded that it should return regional powers corruptly seized by the successive military governments to the regional governments, who he said, should develop at their pace using whatever natural and artificial resources available in their zones.
“The SESSPN will continue to champion this cause for the overall benefits of the regions it represents and for the overall benefit of Nigerians who are suffering from untold hardship with no solution in sight except for empty promises of a better tomorrow that only exist in their minds,” he vowed.
On corruption, SESSPN president described the depth of corruption in the country as not only frightening but also absurd, adding that, “the system encourages countless numbers of probe funds to be instituted and results are either swept under the carpet or subjected to another probe.”
Uwaifo disclosed that the advocacy group had produced a document which represents a blueprint for the rapid economic and social development of the South-East South-South regions, adding that the document represents the first bold attempt at regional economic integration.
The group president expressed displeasure on developments around the Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC), calling on the National Assembly to caution its members, work with the Executive arm to produce legislation for a transparent process of appointments into NDDC, forbid politicians from handling its affairs, among others.
“For us in SESSPN, we are very sad over recent developments in the Commission. We call on the National Assembly to caution its members, work with the Executive to produce legislation for a transparent process of appointments into NDDC, forbid politicians from handling its affairs and craft out the type of intervention jobs that the Commission can legally undertake.
“The amendment to the NDDC Act must provide a transparent process of selecting contractors, transparent auditing system, an independent verification of projects awarded and an independent payment system,” he said.
On the country’s burgeoning external loans, SESSPN affirmed that huge sums of money being borrowed especially from China had not in any way matched the infrastructural decay and mass poverty on the ground in the country.
“More worrisome is that most of these loans which in most cases are either squandered or partially put on white Elephant projects to deceive the unwary public are packaged and collected without proper scrutiny.
“While SESSPN is not against borrowing to finance well thought out infrastructural projects that benefit the general populace like the Railway Project which to our mind had been largely commendable in execution, the terms and conditions for repayment are largely unknown,” the advocacy group noted.