By Ejiofor Alike
Senator Ben Murray-BruceÂ has condemned a northern elder, Alhaji Tanko Yakassaiâ€™s recent criticism of former Vice President, Atiku Abubakar, over his stance on restructuring and described it as unfortunate.Â
He lampooned Yakassai for his failure to comprehend the visionary ideas and details that Atiku introduced into the restructuring debate at his recent speech at the University of Nigeria, Nsukka.
Murray-Bruce quoted Yakassai as saying: Â â€œI thought as a politician that he (Atiku) is, that Â he has read our constitution from Â A to Z before suggesting that we can restructure in six Â months. My question here is, what are the details of the budgetary provisions for the Ministry of Works that should be transferred to the statesâ€™ ministries of education and so on and so forth before he made his pronouncement that these could be done within six months?…We already have a budget approved by the National Assembly as empowered by the constitution for appropriation.â€
The senator, who represents Bayelsa East, however, faulted Yakassaiâ€™s argument, saying as a member of the National Assembly that participated fully in the budget process, the northern leader was wrong to tie restructuring to just one budget cycle.
According to him, â€œAtikuâ€™s ideas on restructuring specifies how he would do away with quota systems by increasing Nigeriaâ€™s educational capacity through the return of seized schools back to the missionary and handing over federal universities back to the states while more resources will be devolved from the federal government to the states and local government areas to enable them build more primary and secondary schools.â€
Murray-Bruce argued that a budget is not needed to transfer schools from the federal government to the state government but a mere Executive Order.
â€œWhy would anyone be against such a plan that would not require a constitutional amendment and will almost immediately take care of the over 12 million children out of the formal education system in northern Nigeria? This number is twice the population of Togo, our next door neighbour. Is Yakassai, as a northern elder, satisfied with this situation? Shouldnâ€™t he rather applaud Atiku for wanting to fix this problem?Â And even in those areas that require constitutional amendments, Atiku is right to say that Nigeria can restructure within six months.â€
â€œLet me ask Yakassai how long it took the National Assembly to come up with the Doctrine of Necessity in 2010? It only took a day. When a nation has the political will to restructure, she can achieve it in one day or at least begin the process,â€ he added.Â
The senator urged northern elders like Yakassai to celebrate Atiku who has shown that true federalism can work, stressing that Abubakar employs more people in Adamawa State than the Adamawa State Government, which is an indication that a state government does not need oil to survive.
â€œFinally, let me add that at that event at the University of Nigeria, Atiku predicted that the automobile industry will be moving away from diesel and petrol powered cars in favour of electric and alternative energy powered cars. This, he stated, was one of the reasons why Nigeria must restructure now or risk being bypassed by the global economy. Of course he was criticised and painted as crying wolf by the likes of Yakassai, yet only eight days after he gave this warning, Atiku was vindicated by the news from the United Kingdom which was reported in THISDAY front page on Thursday, July 27, 2017, with the headline: â€˜Doom for Nigeria, Britain Moves to Ban Petrol, Diesel Cars by 2040â€™,â€ the senator added.