•Calls for decongestion of political space
Adedayo Akinwale in Abuja
Former Minister of Information and Culture, Prince Tony Momoh, has once again called for the decongestion of the political space, saying the system of government in Nigeria is the most top heavy duty federation in the world
He also wondered why the country has continued to spend so much money sustaining greed of the elite to run a country that needs more of performing duties than enjoyment of rights.
The former minister made this known yesterday in Abuja at the official presentation of a book titled: “Hope Rekindled”, a comprehensive analysis of Nigeria’s nationhood challenges and how to overcome them, written by Sam Afemikhe.
He argued that Nigeria’s problem was not economic but political and noted that Nigeria spends more than 80 per cent of her resources on running government, adding that any country that spends more than 25 per cent on recurrent expenditure must go back to the drawing board.
According to him: “the so called dividends of democracy has nothing to do with hospital, roads, education, it has to do with freedom, how much freedom have you guaranteed to drive development , in Nigeria we have object to invest in freedom and then when you say duties nobody is interested.”
Momoh stated: “Why do we have full time legislators, the National Assembly members earns more than N400 million a year, when you cannot pay ASUU, when you cannot pay N18,000 minimum wage, when you have a country that spends so much money sustaining elites greed to run a country that needs more of performing duties than enjoyment of rights.”
“You have National Assembly, you have State Assembly, you have the Local government, why not rearrange it, you have National Level, Regional Level and then the States level, then the region can create and fund local government.
“We started with 300 local government, now we have 774, all these are funded, we give them money , everybody is full time, in the first republic law making was part time and those who were coming to work as part time in attending to our laws did more work than our National Assembly now, and no belated allowances, they came, did their work and went back home to do their full time work, now full time law making in the National Assembly, full time law making in the State Assembly, even the local government area full time law making, the councillor takes home more money than the Judge of the High Court and what qualification do you need, School certificate and we say we are serious,” he said.
Momoh stressed that the system of government in Nigeria is the most top heavy duty federation in the world, adding, “remove the powers at the centre and send then to the region, the law makers at the region should be members of the House of Representatives because it is based on population, everybody should go to their region and be the law making body there…”
The author, Mr. Sam Afemikhe said his book specifically addressed the challenges that have befallen Nigeria and also proffers solutions to them.
He addressed that, “we are still grappling with structural defects. We have to address that. It is like the foundation of a house that is not strong. Some people talk about nobody loves Nigeria. But Nigeria is well loved. It is just a few, the elite that do not love Nigeria. They take out of the system without putting back. They are the ones that engage in corruption, they are the ones that mislead the people. Most Nigerians are patriotic, focused, determined to make Nigeria work, but if you live in a house which has structural challenges, you have to mend it.”
The book reviewer, Mr. Simon Kolawole, said the 800 pages book, which also contains 13 chapters and four parts dwells on the enormous challenges facing the country and how to solve them.
He noted that while the author believed the current system of government that the country presently operates is expensive, he acid he refused to give the amount of money the country would save with the parliamentary system of government.
Kolawole posited that “ if we are not prudent in the presidential system of government, we will be reckless in parliamentary system.”
He however said the book is philosophical about the state of the nation, and without doubt, the value of money as highlighted in the book could hardly be faulted.