Sanusi calls for debate on restructuring

Emir of Kano and a former Governor of Central Bank of Nigeria, Lamido Sanusi, on Wednesday said there was a need for immediate dialogue on the clamoured restructuring of the country, saying “we cannot continue to live in denial of the need for restructuring.”

According to Sanusi, a situation where between 80 and 90 per cent of the country’s revenue is used for the payment of salaries at the expense of education and healthcare delivery needed to build a better and competitive economy for millions of Nigeria, does not augur well for the nation.

The former CBN governor said issues of devolution of power and allocation of resources would bring development to the grassroots, adding that it would address the reasons why poverty rate in Lagos was eight per cent, while other states such as Zamfara, Kano and Yobe were 91, 77, 90 per cent, respectively.

The emir spoke at the Union Bank of Nigeria Plc centenary celebration tagged, ‘The Next 100: A Call to Action. ‘

Sanusi, who spoke on, ‘’No peace, no prosperity,’’ said restructuring would help the country to reduce the size of government and build a better economy.

He said, “We have a constitution that says you must have a governor, deputy governor and state House of Assembly in each of the 36 states. You have a president, vice-president and a minister from each of the 36 states. You have 109 senators and over 300 members of the House of Representatives. You have 774 local government chairmen; in each LG, you have 10 councillors and the speaker. A retinue of special advisers and assistants and you are surprised that we cannot pay salaries. And really, we are surprised that we are spending 80 to 90 per cent of our revenue on public servants.”

He added, “So, if we want to have conversation on restructuring, let us have the conversation. How do we reduce the cost of governance without amending this structure? Do we need 30 or 40 legislators in every state? Do we need over 500 legislators in Abuja?  Must we have 36 ministers or more?  This is for the conversation. We don’t have education and our health sector is suffering.  We have seen the numbers of infant, maternal mortality.

“Yet the states and local governments who are supposed to provide education and healthcare do not have the lion’s share of the revenue. Let us start the conversation. It will be an intelligent dialogue. Let us talk about what we want for Nigeria. At the end of the day, devolution is not about ethnicity or religion; devolution or revenue allocation formula is all about bringing development to the grassroots.

He added, “When we cloak this in gender, religion or ethnicity, then first we lose the opportunity to make progress and second we reflect our ignorance. At the end of the day, if that is the problem it will never disappear. If we divide Nigeria into 100 different countries, we will still have multiple ethnicities, multiple religions; and then you divide those 100 into another 100. Let us begin this conversation and I am hoping that as we talk about the economy and making progress, we know that this is not something that is targeted at anybody.”

In his remark, the Managing Director, Union Bank, Mr. Emeka Emuwa, said focusing on education and women empowerment would help the country to achieve prosperity and peace.

He called on economic stakeholders to key into the bank’s vision on the next N100bn funds to support the Sustainable Development Goals.

This, he said, could lift Nigerians out of poverty by providing basic foods, decent education and vocational skills that would lead to economic empowerment and wealth creation.

“While private sector enterprises continue to impact communities and individuals through social responsibility initiatives, there exists an opportunity for partnership to scale impact, stimulate the economy and accelerate growth for private sector businesses and Nigeria,” Emuwa said.

Earlier, Sanusi said the country needed to think about the way colonialism had impacted Nigerians and see how to change things.

He said, “We don’t have the British today, and we are still exporting our crude oil to Britain. The largest export of the UK to Nigeria is petroleum product; Nigeria is an oil producing country. I am happy that someone is building refinery and I am happier that the person is from Kano. We need to have more of that. Why should we export cotton to China and import textile products? Why should be export our hides and skin and import shoes. This is not rocket science.  Countries like Morocco, Ethiopia, Cote- D’Ivoire and Ghana are exporting finished goods and we also can achieve that.”

The former CBN governor said as far back as the 17 and 18 centuries, Kano was exporting shoes worth $5m.

Unfortunately today, he said the region had been affected by so many challenges.

He said, “”Northern girls got married off without their consent; they got divorced later with five or six children. Those children grow up without education. The system does not fix the problem and it does not protect them.

“It is those of us who have got education that must correct this. In 20 years time, those children will end up carrying stone to stone us. You tell me there is no prosperity without peace; I say to you there is no peace without prosperity.”