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Jega Speaks On 2027 Polls, Urges FG To Restructure Nigeria

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Jega





…Kick against creation of new States, LGAs

By Charles Kumolu, Deputy Editor

For the next election cycle to be devoid of disturbing questions, a former Chairman of the Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC, Prof Mahmud Jega, has said Nigeria should be restructured to deconcentrate powers from central government to states and local governments.

He explained that in doing this, the best federalism models could be learnt from India, Canada and the United States of America.

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Jega, who spoke in Gidau at the convocation lecture of Bauchi State University titled: Safeguarding Nigeria’s Future: Prioritizing Citizen’s Welfare and Security Amidst Challenges, warned that state and local government creation should have no place in the proposed reforms.

In the text of the lecture exclusively obtained by Sunday Vanguard, the former INEC boss also recommended the amendment of the 2022 Electoral Act to improve the legal framework for future elections.

He specifically called for improvement in the process of appointment into INEC to protect it from capture by police.

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On the judiciary, Jega said it should be reformed and insulated from the corruptive politics of electoral dispute resolution through litigation.

His words: “In the context of the preceding discussion and analysis, to safeguard Nigeria’s future and citizens welfare amidst security challenges, one can offer a number of practical recommendations, relating to the articulated structural, systemic and governance, as well as value-orientation issues highlighted in the presentation.

With regard to the structure of the Nigerian federation, it is highly recommended as follows: That before 2027, some form of restructuring of the Nigerian federation should be embarked upon through evidence-based constitutional reforms, the objectives of which should be to deconcentrate powers and resources from the federal tier and to spread them to those of the state and local governments. In doing this, best practices could be learnt from model federations, such as India, Canada and the USA in the areas of revenue generation and sharing and adapted to our local context and circumstances.

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“No additional states and LGAs should be created. The additional resources current states would get from the de-concentration of power and resources as recommended above would make all the 37 states and FCT financially viable and facilitative of grassroots development.

“The cost of governance at both the federal, state and local tiers of governance needs to be drastically cut, and measures introduced to entrench transparency and accountability and effective anti-corruption oversight.

“With regard to the structure of the Nigerian economy, the following recommendations are offered: Serious reform measures need to be introduced to diversify Nigeria’s earnings from dependence on export of crude oil, to expand investment in agricultural production and Agro-allied processing both for the home market and for export; and revive, expand and reposition our industries and manufacturing enterprises, for production, both for the home market and for export.

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“Conceive and pursue economic growth and people-oriented development strategies, independent of the influence of IMF and the World Bank, relying on implementable development plans, which are realistically implementable within a delineated time frame.

“Reform the country’s fiscal and monetary policies to strengthen our productive enterprises, human capital and currency.

“Conceive and implement employment generation as well as entrepreneurship development strategies to help constructively address the challenges of the youth bulge in Nigeria

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”Nigeria should become more actively involved in south-south cooperation and development initiatives, in particular, in the BRICS+

“With regards to addressing systemic and governance challenges, it is recommended as follows: Amend the Electoral Act 2022, so as to remarkably improve upon the legal framework for future elections with integrity. In particular, pay attention to reforming the role of political parties in the leadership recruitment and candidate selection processes at all levels and tiers of governance.

”Pursue reforms to improve and protect the integrity of the judiciary, as well as find a way of insulating them from the corruptive politics of electoral dispute resolution through litigation.

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“Improve the process of appointment into INEC with a view to protecting it from capture by crooked politicians and partisan pressures and influences. Strengthen and expand the scope of the work of anti-corruption agencies and institutions to mitigate the damaging impact of corruption in the Nigerian political economy.

“Institute and initiate reform measures that would ensure not only a substantial reduction in the cost of governance at all levels but also effective and transparent preparation, monitoring and implementation of budgets, as well as policies and projects

”With regards to states’ role in safeguarding the security and welfare needs of the citizens, it is recommended as follows:”The constitution should be amended to explicitly recognise the equal rights of all citizens, irrespective of their ethnic status or affiliation, and regardless of whether they are perceived as ‘indigenes’ or ‘settlers’. Citizenship rights should, and must, triumph over any other particularistic, primordial rights”.

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(Vanguard, excluding headline)

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