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NASS tackles Southern Govs over call for restructuring

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The leadership of the National Assembly has warned elected political office holders to be wary of making calls capable of compounding the nation’s security and sociopolitical crisis.

Senate President Ahmad Lawan and Speaker Femi Gbajabiamila, gave the warning on Thursday when they spoke in separate interviews after the Eid prayer in the Presidential Villa, Abuja.

Reacting to some of the resolutions reached by 17 Southern Governors in Asaba on Tuesday, Lawan, faulted what he described as call for regionalism, pointing out as leaders, whatever challenges facing the country currently should be jointly tackled by elected political leaders from the three tiers of government.

According to him, before Governors would start thinking of joining calls for restructuring, each of them must first look to how much of such restructuring has been achieved in his home state, which is a component of the units making up the federation.

Lawan said: “What you may accuse the Federal Government of, whatever it is, you may also be accused of the same thing in your state.

“So, we are supposed to ensure that we have a complete and total way of ensuring that our systems at the Federal, State and even local government levels work for the people.

“We must allow people to participate in governance so that whoever feels he has something to offer to make Nigeria better does so freely without any let or hindrance.”

Urging elected leaders to shun regionalism, Lawan added: “We should avoid regionalism. We are all leaders and we are in this together. The solutions to our challenges must come from us regardless of what level of government we are, whether at the federal, state or the local government level. I believe that Nigeria is going to come out of these challenges stronger.”

Lawan also attributed the difficulty in solving the protracted security challenges in the country to the absence of a functional local government system.

He noted while leaders at all levels seek solutions to the security crisis confronting the nation, the local government system should not be neglected, explaining the lack of autonomy for local government administration potentially inhibits solutions as well as efforts by the federal and state governments towards addressing the security challenge.

“I also want to take this opportunity to say that we have diminished the local government system. I think we can attribute the security issues to the absence of a functional local government system.

“I think the time has come for us to take up the challenge and ensure that the local government system functions. This is as we look for ways to curb the security challenge.

“We must never neglect the local government system. We must go back to our local government system to ensure they are autonomous and functional,” Lawan said.

Toeing the same line, Speaker Gbajabiamila maintained there might be genuine agitations but explicitly stated that elected leaders and Governors should particularly not champion the movement for restructuring without first replicating the idea at the state level.

He believed those who have championed the call for secession might be misguided and do not mean well for the country.

“If truth be told, we all have equal shares in the blame for what’s happening today.

Whatever challenges we have, we must all come together to make sure that we resolve these issues we’re facing. We must imbibe that spirit of oneness, togetherness, unity and love that would take us through this,” he said.

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