Osinbajo: I’m Opposed to Restructuring Nigeria along Ethnic Identities


Tobi Soniyi in Abuja

The Vice President, Professor Yemi Osinbajo (SAN), has said he supported the idea of re-engineering Nigeria.

In a statement issued by his Senior Special Assistant on Media and Publicity, Mr. Laolu Akande, the vice president said he believed in fiscal federalism and for states to have more resources.
However, the vice president said he was opposed to restructuring Nigeria along ethnic identities.
“Dividing Nigeria, going back to regions and all of those kinds of things, I do not believe them at all. I don’t think that we need to go back to regions,” he added.
He said he supported the idea of states having their own police.

Osinbajo also said Value Added Tax (VAT) should be left for states.
He said: “VAT for example, we believe must be a state matter; sales tax ought to be a state matter. I strongly believe in that and we’ve always fought for those issues.
“State police. I strongly believe that we must have state police.

“So, if there are people who believe that we must structure ourselves again along ethnic lines I don’t accept that that is the right way to go.
”But as a general position, Nigeria always needs to be re-engineered, we have to keep restructuring, re-engineering.

“For example, look at (some of the current) questions today, around whether or not a state should have rule over its resources. That is a major point.

“Of course, states ought to have a good measure of control over their resources but we must have to agree how do you then ensure that the federal government itself functions. Do you need a federal government or not?”

Osinbajo also spoke on power sharing. He asked: ”What do you mean by power sharing, you must be specific. Is it the rotation of the presidency?
“As far as I am concerned whatever the political arrangement the political party makes, wherever they want the presidency to go should be left entirely with the political parties and should be a political arrangement.

“But I don’t believe that we should go and write it in our constitution that there must be… that the presidency must go from zone to zone. I don’t think that should be a constitutional issue. I think we should leave that to the parties themselves.
“If a party decides that we want zoning, its a party thing, let it be so. But I don’t think we should go and write that into our constitution.

“And I very strongly believe that the time will come when we will no longer be emphasising geo-political zone and that is the kind of Nigeria I will like to see. I like to see a Nigeria where we are all able to work together, where we are able to de-emphasise ethnicity and de-emphasize geo-political zone. That is the kind of Nigeria that I’ll like to see.

“I believe that sometimes, we pre-occupy ourselves with some of these issues you know, but let’s take a close look at today when we’ve had problems in this country.

“Whatever problems we had today, we have serious economic problems. Is it on account of geo-political arrangement that we have serious economic problems?
“Corruption for example, which is crippling Nigeria, is it a geo-political problem?
“Because what I have seen, just looking at the case files, is that when there is corruption in Nigeria, any case of corruption, you will find federal character, every geo-political zone is represented.

“If somebody steals $200million or $2billion as we see, you will find that everybody is represented. You will find Yoruba man, Hausa man, the man from South-south, and an the Igbo man. There is equal representation. I think we must also interrogate our elites, Nigerian elites.”
The vice president said he supported constitutional reform saying: “I’m one for continuously reviewing our constitution especially because there are many faults that are it. There are many different problems, many different issues.

“I believe that we must continue to take a look at the constitution and look for ways of modifying it, we should not be shying away from constitutional amendment or revisiting our constitution but what I am against is anything that is vague.

“For example, if you take a look at our constitution, some people say it is not our constitution because it does not originate from the people. Most constitutions as you see all over the world, are usually from elites. The elites come together draw up a set of rules and regulations, and everybody accepts it. There are very few places where even a man on the street don’t understand half of what you are saying in the constitutional document.

“So what our elite and our representative ought to do is to provide for the people the very best that will ensure the welfare, the safety of the vast majority of the people. That is the responsibility of the elites.”

On state police, Osinbajo said he had always called for state police.
He said: “I continue to advocate for state police, I believe very strongly that we must have state police… Community policing, we can’t achieve it without a constitutional amendment. So I very strongly believe that we must have community policing.”