—Says elected officials shouldn’t be leading agitation
—Agitation may be genuine but…Gbajabiamila
By Johnbosco Agbakwuru, ABUJA
PRESIDENT of the Senate, Dr Ahmad Lawan, yesterday faulted the Southern Governors Forum for calling for the restructuring of the country, saying it was wrong for elected officials to lead such agitation.
The Senate President also said that the worsening security situation in the country is a result of a lack of a functional local government system.
This is as the Speaker of the House of Representatives, Rt. Hon. Femi Gbajabiamila has argued that the agitation for restructuring may be genuine but elected leaders and state governors should not be the ones to champion the movement for restructuring without first replicating the idea at the state level.
The Speaker further said that the present situation does not warrant name-calling, rather the coming together of all stakeholders to find solutions to it, admitting that everyone was complicit.
The two spoke in an interview with State House correspondents after the Eid-Mubarak prayers at the Presidential Villa, Abuja.
According to the Senate President, the security challenges in the country could be attributed to the absence of a functional local government system.
He said, while the nation’s leaders seek solutions to the security crisis confronting the nation, the Local Government system should not be neglected.
He explained further that the lack of autonomy potentially inhibits solutions as well as efforts by the Federal and state governments towards addressing the nation’s security challenge.
He said, “We are all leaders and we are in this together, the solutions must come from us regardless of what levels of leadership we are – whether at the Federal Level, State Level or even at the Local Government level.
“I also want to take this opportunity to say that we have diminished the local government system. I think we can attribute the security issues to the absence of a Functional Local Government System.
“I think the time has come for us to take up the challenge and ensure that the Local Government system functions. This is as we look for ways to curb the security challenge.
“We must never neglect the local government system. We must go back to our local government system to ensure they are autonomous and functional.”
On the call by the Southern Governors Forum for the restructuring of the country, Lawan said, “I believe that as leaders, especially those of us who are elected into office should not be at the forefront of calling for this kind of thing.
“Because, even if you are a governor, you are supposed to be working hard in your state to ensure that this restructuring you are calling for at the federal level, you have done it in your state as well.
“What you may accuse the Federal Government of, whatever it is, you may also be accused of the same thing in your state.
“So, we are supposed to ensure that we have a complete and total way of ensuring that our systems at the federal, state and even local government levels work for the people.
“We must allow people to participate in governance so that whoever feels he has something to offer to make Nigeria better does so freely without any let or hindrance.”
Urging elected leaders to shun regionalism, Lawan added that “The President is reaching out to all the stakeholders. And I believe that as leaders, particularly those of us who were elected at all levels of government, we should avoid partisanship.
“We should avoid regionalism. We are all leaders and we are in this together.
“The solutions to our challenges must come from us regardless of what level of government we are.
“Whether at the federal, state or the local government level.
“I believe that Nigeria is going to come out of these challenges stronger.”
Lawan further advised Nigerians to support efforts at ensuring the desired autonomy for local governments in the country.
Also speaking, the Speaker said those championing the call for succession might be misguided and do not mean well for the country.
On the call for restructuring, he said there might be genuine agitations but explicitly states that elected leaders and state governors should particularly not champion the movement for restructuring without first replicating the idea at the state level.
He called for a national spirit of oneness, saying that “If truth be told, we all have equal shares in the blame for what’s happening today.
“Whatever challenges we have, we must all come together to make sure that we resolve these issues we’re facing.
“We must imbibe that spirit of oneness, togetherness, unity and love that would take us through this.”
The Speaker said the Eid celebration should be a period of sacrifice, love, and worship amid the spate of insecurity in the country, adding that it was not the time for name-calling or trading blames as everyone is complicit.