‘Our Problems Stem From Too Much Power In The Center’- Babangida Aliyu

By Akin Akande, Abuja

Babangida Aliyu, Chairman of Northern Governors forum and Governor of Niger State, said the woes bedeviling the country, ranging from corruption, insecurity and under-development were as a result of over concentration of power on the federal government, while states and local governments lack autonomy.

He said efforts at transformation must come about with true decentralization of power and equality in the distribution of resources.

The Niger state Governor stated this in Abuja yesterday at the 2012 annual leadership award organised by the Leadership Newspaper based in Abuja with the theme “Rebuilding Nigeria”.

According to him, most of the leadership principles gotten from colonial administration have outgrown their usefulness, hence the need for a review.

His words: “We must run away from the mono-culture of relying on petroleum. If now, “52.8 per cent comes to the federation, while the remaining goes to the states and the local governments.

The people are out there in the states and local governments, the farms, the hospitals are out there in the states and local governments but we sit here in Abuja to plan for people we do not even know.

“We need to really devolve some of the powers and responsibilities of the federal government to the states and local governments and in the process, build the right capacity that can do the job.

“Have we not outgrown some of the policies that were enacted in the 1960s and 1970s? Can we not now insist on men who can do the job, rather than given some people room that we have almost made it if a Yoruba person is in a particular office, he fills the place with Yoruba people, if a Hausa person is in a particular place he fills the place with Hausa men in the name of federal character.”

Meanwhile, the National Publicity Secretary of Action Congress of Nigeria, Lai Muhammed said government must discourage itself from gagging the press, noting that no administration has succeeded in doing so.

He spoke against the backdrop of some Leadership Editors arrested and detained by the President Goodluck Jonathan’s administration.

“The events of the past few days have shown that in trying to play the watchdog role, the Nigerian media face tough times ahead.

“The newspaper that is honouring us today has recently been subjected to the kind of treatment, one we would have expected under dictatorship, four journalists were whisked away by the police and held captive with the caveat that we will let us go only if they reveal the source of their story which is against the ethics of their profession.

“My party the ACN strongly condemns the onslaught on the freedom of the press, we therefore call on the federal government to immediately put a stop to the harassment of journalists for no other reason but for carrying out their constitutional duties we remind those who think they can silence the media to think again and be guided by history, no government in Nigeria, whether in kakhi or agbada has ever been able to silence the courageous Nigerian press.”

Speaking earlier, His grace, John Cardinal Onaiyekan  re-echoed that Nigeria was threading on  precipice owing to the inability of its leaders to tackle the twin problem of corruption and insecurity.

While commenting on the calls for amnesty for the Boko Haram sect, he said there was religious colouration to the insurgence by the group, despite divergent views held by most people on the issue but noted that both religions must unite forces to quell the crisis.
Cardinal Onaiyekan said the security approach deployed by government to quell the crisis was necessary but not enough, saying political forces must put away their sentiments to address the issues.
He said, “I believe there is a religious dimension we cannot forget it, it is obvious that is different from saying that it is religious but there is a religious dimension.

“That is why those of us who really believe in religion cannot say we have no part to play, I there-fore believe this is an area where religious bodies must find ways of increasing our dialogue in such a way that whatever religious element is.

“As we  can see it is not enough, political forces must link hands, and we beg them please link hands, enough of mutual accusation let all political forces come together to face this menace.

“The secret as far as I am concerned about rebuilding this country is that we find our common voice, as one nation, not despite our differences, but with our differences.

“Both in Christianity and in Islam from my own understanding, politics is suppose to be a sacred duty, you should not be a politician and leading people unless you are in Union with your God, who is the only ruler of every nation.

“We are quite aware of the significance of the joint award especially in the present circumstances of our nation, I thank God for the good relationship and enduring friendship which God himself has inspired between myself and the sultan.

“My prayer is that this will promote and encourage the many efforts that Nigerians at all levels are making to build harmonious national community, not despite but because of our different faiths.

“When I hear people saying let us join together lets forget our differences, I begin to fear, I cannot forget the fact that am a Christian, and that my brother the sultan of Sokoto is a Muslim, we work together because we have some spiritual inspirations that move us and move us in the same direction.

“And so the Christian cannot forget being a Christian he is never allowed to forget being a Christian and I believe the Muslim too cannot forget being a Muslim the issue is how do we live your life as a true Christian and your life as a true Muslim and work for peace and harmony in your community, which we believe is the desire of God for all of us”.