• As Dogara urges perseverance
From Ali Abare, Gombe
Former Vice President and chieftain of the All Progressives Congress (APC), Alhaji Atiku Abubakar has restated his call for restructuring the country, stressing that it’s no longer feasible sustaining what he termed the deformed and unstable federal structure.
Atiku made the call on Saturday in a goodwill message to mark the 20th anniversary of Gombe state.
The former vice president noted that the anniversary celebration of Gombe State was coming at a difficult time when “economic and social challenges mount, and as questions are being asked about the country’s ability to maintain the current deformed and unstable federal structure”.
While calling for the restructuring of the country, Atiku pointed out that the structure of government finances were not sustainable. We need to renegotiate the federal structure to make us stronger and more united. All tiers of government must wean themselves from the addiction of oil revenue. More power and resources must be devolved to the states; for instance, the FG should not retain the responsibility of directing, running schools, digging boreholes, constructing and maintaining roads, providing water, electricity or feeding school children.
“These are matters that should be devolved to the states with the accompanying resources. The Federal Government should rather maintain national standards on these and support base that adhere to those standards. “Federal Government will also help each state in the six geopolitical zones pool resources to be channeled towards infrastructure and service provision, and to streamline operations with a view to saving cost.
“For states to grow, I strongly call for the diversification of their revenue base for them to become self-reliant very soon. I strongly believe the viability of any state largely rests on its ability to finding additional, sustainable revenue base or sources. The days of over dependence on federal revenue allocation should have been over by now,” Atiku said.
On the prevailing insecurity in the region, Atiku lamented that the celebration could have been elaborate but for the insurgency in the region, which, he said, could have been worst but for the intervention of the President Muhammadu Buhari administration.
“I appreciate the administration of President Muhammadu Buhari for the courageous effort to subdue the insurgents and bringing peace to the region,” he remarked. Atiku, however, said work still remains towards consolidating on the new found peace and to stamp out insurgency.
“Work remains in consolidating the gain. We still have the challenge to consolidate on this peace achieved. Let me also say that the desperation in the North-East is blight on humanity. We can only be at peace when the IDP camps are no longer needed and displaced people return to their homes, when schools and markets are open, when women and children are no longer malnourished”.
The former vice president suggested that for lasting peace to reign in the North-East, there should be determined effort to address the alarming poverty level and unemployment in the region. “For lasting peace to be attained in the region, I suggest that the unconscionable level of poverty, illiteracy and youth unemployment should be treated as a national emergency,” he said.
Also, in his goodwill message, Speaker of the House of Representatives, Yakubu Dogara appealed to Nigerians to persevere even as he said the federal government was making frantic effort to address the prevailing economic recession.
Dogara commended the peaceful gathering of both the APC and the PDP who, he said, exhibited patriotism above party or any other consideration to come together in the best interest of the state.
He commended the people of Gombe for justifying the creation of the state through the transformation the state has witnessed and called on them to be vigilant as a way of sustaining what had been achieved in the last 20 years.
In a keynote address, Gombe State Governor, Alhaji Ibrahim Hassan Dankwambo said the dreams of the founding fathers of the state has fully been met following the tremendous physical and socioeconomic transformation of the state which began from the first military administrator of the state in 1996, Group Captain Joseph Orji (rtd) to the current administration.
While paying glowing tribute to the late Head of State, General Sani Abacha for creating Gombe state, Governor Dankwambo said the road to statehood was long, rough and tortuous.
“The creation of the State was a struggle in which the stakes could not be higher and we poured our souls into it. The people of Gombe State exhibited exemplary unity of purpose and waged a relentless campaign towards a collective vision,” the governor said. The Sun