Emir of Kano, Muhammad Sanusi II, has said the poverty rate in the North is alarming and added that it is just as alarming all over the country.
The monarch has also urged the political class not to clothe restructuring in religion and in ethnicity.
Emir Sanusi this at the 100th anniversary of Union Bank in Lagos, on Wednesday, where he also said there is a need to reduce the cost of governance.
He blamed the inability to pay salaries of workers on the amount spent on public servants.
Sanusi said restructuring, in the real sense, should be about but how to reduce the cost of governance.
“We are surprised that we are spending 80 to 90 percent of our revenue on public servants? That is the system we designed.
“We have a Constitution that says we must have a governor and a deputy governor, and a state House of Assembly in each of the 36 states.
“You have a president and a vice-president and a minister from every state; you have 109 senators, over 300 members of the House of Representatives.
“You have 774 local government chairmen and, in each local government, you have 10 chancellors and a speaker, a regime of special advisers and assistants and you are surprised that you cannot pay salaries?
“So, you want to have a discussion on restructuring? How do you reduce the cost of governance without amending this structure? Do we need 30, 40 legislators in every state? Do we need 100 legislators in Abuja? Must we have 36 ministers or more?
“This is a constitutional conversation. You don’t have education, public health. We have seen the numbers; infant mortality, maternal death by childbirth and yet, the states and local governments, which are supposed to provide education and healthcare do not have the naira share of government revenue.
“Let’s have that conversation.
“It can be an intelligent conversation. You don’t need to shout Biafra or Boko Haram. Let’s sit at a table and talk about what works for Nigeria. At the end of the day, devolution is not about ethnicity or devolution; devolution is all about bringing development to the grassroot.
“When we clothe this in gender, ethnicity or religion, we lose the opportunity to make progress and our constitutional rights.”
He recounted the story of a woman whose child died while waiting to see him, to ask for N3,000 for medicine. The monarch said the poverty rate in the North and the country, in general, is alarming.
“My one disclaimer to all politicians is that if I do not call you by name, I am not talking to you,” he said.
“A famous politician, who is unnamed, said a mark of the prosperity of this country was the number of private jets we had. It is the elite mindset.
“I came face to face for, maybe the first time in my life, what it means when we say X percent of Nigerians are living on less than one dollar; 75 percent of adolescent girls in the North West are married. In Lagos State, the poverty rate is 8.5 percent, in Zamfara, it is 91 percent, in Kano it is 77 percent, in Yobe, it is over 90 percent.
“Now, put human beings behind those numbers and ask yourself, how many of the 170 million Nigerians are living on less than one dollar per day? Where do they live and is there likely to be peace and stability in those areas in the nearest future?
“You ask if there can be prosperity without peace, I say to you; there is no peace without prosperity.
“Nigeria is a country with 170 to180 million people and the medium age is 19. In the next 20 years, you will have at least 85 million Nigerians within the ages of 20 and 40.
“That is the population of Germany; the third largest economy in the world.
“And, till we begin to think of economics, not in terms of inflation, Gross Domestic Product, reserves, but how many human beings are able to eat three square meals a day, how many young people have an education and how many people have a chance in life, we can never have peace.” (The Sun)