By NBF News

…asks President to reduce cost of running govt
By Emmanuel Aziken, Political Editor & Henry Umoru

ABUJA -  Erstwhile Military President, General Ibrahim Babangida (rtd) has urged President Goodluck Jonathan to seize the opportunity offered by the ongoing national strike to initiate the restructuring of the federation.

Babangida in his third intervention since the removal of the alleged subsidy in the price of petrol said the President must use this opportunity to redefine the duties and obligations of the tiers of government.

Praising the quiet resolve of the protesters, Babangida said as Nigeria's ruler for eight years, who faced 11 civil eruptions, he was never favoured with the kind of controlled and quiet protest President Jonathan has faced in the last seven days.

Babangida also said the unanimity of the protesters against the administration showed that Nigerians were determined to live together irrespective of cultural and religious differences.

Babangida's intervention in a statement by his media spokesman, Prince Kassim Afegbua read:

'In my retirement home here in Minna, Niger State, North Central of Nigeria, I have been watching with responsible interest the unfolding scenario about our dear nation and the reactions which trailed government's removal of subsidy on oil. The maturity exhibited by the protesters coupled with their orderly conduct has since become an innovation in Nigeria with respect to protestations and demonstrations.

'As a former Military President who survived 11 of such public anger, I should be in a better position to appreciate the maturity of the one under reference. I also feel a sense of pride seeing our Muslim and Christian brothers and sisters express such uncommon love and solidarity during the protest.'

Obviously referring to his past missives which he claimed had been rubbished by presidential aides, the former military president urged Jonathan to build a legacy for himself and the country by using the dissension to redefine the nation's federation.

He said: 'If my opinion will not be misconstrued again by government spin-doctors and naysayers, I would rather call on President Goodluck Jonathan to seize the moment by legitimately embarking on complete restructuring of the country in order to put into practice the real principles of a Federation.

'There is too much power concentration at the centre, thus weakening the comparative abilities of the federating units at generating wealth for their constituents. History will be kind on Mr. President if he takes this bold step at ensuring the practice of true federalism.

'My very honest advice is that President Goodluck Jonathan should commence the process of devolving powers from the centre to the federating units, states and local governments, in order to gain sufficient time and concentration on several other developmental issues that would help move the nation forward.

'Let me reiterate the strong need for Mr. President to commence the process of practising fiscal federalism in the area of power devolution, anti-corruption crusade, attitudinal re-orientation, bureaucratic reforms, slim government, unicameral legislature and transparency in governance.

Cost of running govt
'As a part of this restructuring, the Federal Government must commence the process of cutting down on cost of running government by ensuring that a slim and tidy bureaucracy is put in place. The weaknesses in the present arrangement have since been exposed and have to be discarded to accommodate new thinking in global managerial dynamics.

Anti-corruption crusade
'Government's anti-corruption crusade must be given teeth in such a transparent and accountable manner devoid of political witch hunt, favouritism and executive interference. Our anti-corruption crusade must have identifiable set goals with measured impact assessment so that the citizenry will buy into the programme without let or hindrance. Once the crusade on anti-corruption is set on the right footing, it will go a long way to mitigate incidences of corruption and corrupt practices in both public and private sectors of our economy.'

'I feel strongly that this new thinking should occupy the attention of President Goodluck Jonathan in his transformation agenda in his determination to make an impression in governance with a marked departure from old practices.