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Restructuring: How far can Tinubu go?

HAVING assumed power as the 16th Head of State, President Asiwaju Bola Tinubu clearly has his job well cut. Before him are Nigeria’s humongous socio-economic, political and developmental challenges.

With dwindling revenues, rising debt, increasing divisions among Nigeria’s major ethnic nationalities, recurring threats to unity due to separatist agitations, and worsening insecurity among others, Tinubu must hammer out decisive and effective solutions to these problems.

Such measures must include cutting the high cost of governance, restructuring the polity, devolving more powers to the federating units, and ensuring fiscal federalism and good governance.

More burdens, more resources for states

To tackle the back-breaking national burdens, there are indications that the 36 states of the country will be saddled with more responsibilities under the Tinubu Administration. How? The Federal Government, last month, said state governments would now be feeding and accommodating prison inmates in their states.

Immediate past Minister of Interior, Rauf Aregbesola, said the move is in tandem with the recent constitution amendment, which placed correctional services on the Concurrent List.

Also, a few days before he was sworn in as president, Asiwaju Tinubu told out-gone Rivers State Governor, Nyesom Wike, that the Federal Government, under his administration, has no obligation to make refunds on federal projects undertaken by states.

“On the demand you made for a refund, I owe you nothing. It’s your road. You’re the one living on these roads. I commend your efforts. You have to lobby me to collect it,” Tinubu told Wike, who appealed for the refund of N80 billion that Rivers State spent on federal road projects.

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Fiscal restructuring

Undertaking more responsibilities means the allocation of more resources to the states. Now, the 36 states and the 774 local government areas of the federation are calling for the review of the revenue-sharing formula to raise allocations accruing to them to enable them to take care of the huge responsibilities placed on their shoulders.

Under the current sharing arrangement, the Federal Government takes 52.68 per cent of the revenue, states get 26.72 per cent, and LGAs collect 20.60 per cent.

“This simply means that states are now empowered to establish their own Correctional Services and facilities. States which do not have correctional facilities would have to pay the Federal Government for the feeding and accommodation of their inmates,” he said.

With the Federal Government earmarking N22.44 billion to feed inmates across 244 correctional facilities in the country in 2023, Aregbesola said the new measure will be a huge relief to the Federal Government which used to shoulder the burden of accommodating and feeding inmates.

Will the Tinubu Administration review the revenue formula in favour of the states and LGAs? It is a task that has to be done as part of measures to restructure the polity and devolve more powers to the federating units.

Part of the clamour for restructuring is allowing the states to control resources in their domains and pay tax to the federal pool as was witnessed in the First Republic when the Regions-federating units controlled their resources and contributed 50 per cent to the central pool, which they also shared from.

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Although Tinubu paid scant attention to restructuring in his 80-page manifesto, his Administration might have to revisit and implement the Governor Nasir el-Rufai committee’s report on restructuring, which the outgoing Muhammadu Buhari Administration did not implement in full.

The el-Rufai committee, which was set up by the ruling All Progressives Congress, APC, in August 2017 to articulate the party’s position on true federalism, made 12 recommendations including some forms of restructuring, namely: the merger of states; derivation principle; devolution of power; fiscal federalism; independent candidacy; judiciary; local government autonomy; revenue allocation; citizenship; referendum; public holidays and state police.

Devolution of power

On devolution of power, the committee recommended that the Second Schedule of Part One and Part Two of the Constitution should be amended to transfer some items that are now on the Exclusive List to the Concurrent List that will enable both the states and the Federal Government to legislate on them.”

The items include food and drugs, fingerprint identification of criminals, registration of business names, labour matters, mines and minerals, the Police, prisons, public holidays and stamp duties.

Revenue allocation

On fiscal federalism and revenue allocation, the committee proposed an amendment to Section 162 and sub-section two of the Constitution; and the revenue allocation to give more revenue to the states and reduce the federal government’s share of revenue.

“The issue of revenue allocation – otherwise known as resource control – has always been a bone of serious contention. Based on the growing agitation by states to exercise control over natural resources within their respective regions and then, pay taxes and royalties to the Federal Government, the committee declared: ‘We have also proposed amending Section One of the Allocation of Revenue Act to reflect this reality. We have also proposed an amendment to Section 40 of the Value Added Tax Act. They are in Volume Two.”

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LG autonomy

On local government autonomy, the committee recommended that the current system of local government administration as provided by the Constitution be amended; and states should be allowed to enact laws on local government administration as deemed peculiar to each of them.


On citizenship, the committee recommended that local government or state of origin should be replaced with state of residence as the current system is “discriminatory.”

It proposed an amendment to the Federal Character Commission Act to allow people domiciled in a place to be considered as indigenes.

Referendum for separatist groups

To address separatists’ agitation, the committee, which noted that in our Constitution, there is no provision for referendum except for the creation of states, recommended that having a referendum in the Constitution will be a panacea to some of the agitations in the country, especially the agitation for the Republic of Biafra as championed by the Indigenous People of Biafra, IPOB.

State police

The committee identified state police as one issue that has caused great national distress and arguments between the federal and state governments and recommended that state police should be moved from the Exclusive List to the Concurrent List; and “Police should be both federal and state.”

Cutting the cost of governance

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