LAGOS State governor, Mr Akinwunmi Ambode, has charged Nigerians to shun prejudice and hatred if they must find solutions to numerous problems, including those regarding Federalism, incessant herdsmen attacks, among others, facing the country.
Several herdsmen’ attacks have continuously ravaged parts of the country, including Benue, Taraba and other North- Central states and had claimed thousands of lives, with the latest Kaduna incident recording over 50 deaths already.
Governor Ambode gave this counsel on Tuesday while speaking at the University of Lagos (UNILAG) 2018 convocation Lecture and Investiture Ceremony for the 12th Vice Chancellor of the institution held in the school.
The event was aired by Prof. Anya. O. Anya and attended by Oba of Lagos, Oba Riliwanu Akiolu; Senator Remi Tinubu, among others.
“Resolving the problems regarding Federalism and the herdsman’s, as with so many other problems, requires us to look beyond prejudice and hatred.
“Exploiting fear and bias is easy and sings well in the short-run. Over the longer-term, it is a bitter cup that cures nothing but ferments greater hatred and larger problems,” Ambode said.
The governor, while delivering his lecture titled Inclusion: “Path to a New Nation,” stated that the world looked at the continent as same without differentiating, saying, unless the citizens joined with concerted effort to help each other towards a better more united Nigeria, “we all shall fail in our different ways.”
The governor, while drawing attention to the huge challenges facing Nigerians, also tasked the citizens to jettison the ethnic pettiness and religious bigotry that had continuously separated the country along different lines.
“If you knew the vastness of the common challenges that face us all as Nigerians and Africans, you would quickly jettison the ethnic pettiness and religious bigotry that threatens to divide us.
“The rest of the world sees us as Black, African and Nigerian and will deal with us in the same manner. That larger world cares little about the internal divisions we see as so profound. In this context, we are in the same boat and share the same fate.
“Unless we join in concerted efforts to help each other toward a better and more united Nigeria, we shall fail in our different ways.
“Moreover, you did not attend this fine institution to fail either as an individual or as a nation,” Governor Ambode said.
He, therefore, urged that more attention be concentrated on issue threatening the country’s unity rather than others that could bring economic uncertainty and dislocation.
On the issues that could bring economic uncertainty and dislocation, Ambode stressed that clamour for restructuring rather than true Federalism, considering the state of the country would be “time-consuming and costly despite claims that money will be saved.”
He contended that Nigerians should strive towards implementing true Federalism as it was intended to function for the country rather than continuously demanding for restructuring.
“Hence, I am concerned about the intense focus on wholesale change to our political architecture. Such a thing is inherently time consuming and costly despite the claims that money will be saved.
“Additionally, such attempts at enormous and rapid political change causes economic uncertainty and dislocation. Given our tenuous relationship to prosperity, Nigeria cannot afford this self-affliction.
“Prudence counsels that we first attempt a more equitable level of fiscal Federalism before adopting drastic alternations that likely plunge us toward the unknown.
“There is widespread consensus that too much power sits in the centre. We can correct this imbalance by reallocating power and responsibilities between the States and Federal government by amending the list of Exclusive and Concurrent powers and duties of these governments to reflect current realities in the nation.
“These changes will have beneficial impact visible within a short amount of time. The impact of these changes, though political in origin, will be economic in nature and it is in our economic life where the nation needs the most help,” Governor Ambode stated.
Speaking further, Ambode, while harping on the need to abandon complete restructuring and concentrate on true Federalism, noted that the inclusion strategy adopted in Lagos could be embraced and replicated across the country.
“For States to give optimal service to their citizens, the principle of inclusion first needs to be applied to the division of power between the Federal and State governments.
“There recently has been a clamour for devolution of power and true Federalism. While much of this talk is well-intentioned, I believe it misses the crucial point. The linchpin of good governance is not found in the system deployed but in the quality of its administration.
“We must implement the Federal system as it was intended to be. Heretofore, too much power has resided in the national government. This has been to the detriment of the authority and efficiency of both State and Local governments.
“This has caused a governance vacuum of sorts. The Federal Government is burdened with tasks beyond the reach of its best competencies. The States and Local Governments are dissuaded from treating many matters of a local nature that are better left in their hands due to their greater knowledge of local conditions.
“We need to shift some functions/responsibilities from the national government to place more of it in the hands of the States. This is how we give Federalism the best chance to work. Until we do this, calls to abandon the current system serve not to fix the underlying problem,” he said.