The Emir of Kano, HRH Muhammadu Sanusi II, says he is deeply worried whenever the topic of restructuring Nigeria is being debated among the elite.
Sanusi II, who spoke on Thursday at the third edition of Justice Anthony Aniagolu Memorial Lecture held at the Godfrey Okoye University, Enugu, said it was uncertain that restructuring would end the problems of the country.
The monarch said Nigerians, especially the educated ones, should stop avoiding the more relevant issues that should be critically looked at when talking about restructuring.
His words: “In this country, we have developed a habit of running away from problems by creating diversions. If you look across the world, you will find every kind of structure.
“Here in Nigeria, we glorify the First Republic. We glorify the 1963 Constitution; if it was so good, why did we have a coup? It’s easy to romanticize the past. I have issues with this system.
“My issues have nothing to do with whether Hausa or Igbo are marginalized because everywhere you go in this country, the vast majority of people are marginalized. You find poverty among the people.
“My issue is that we have a structure that is inconsistent with the economic resources and needs of a developing state.
“We have created 36 states. We have a population of 195 million. China, with a population of 1.2 billion, has only thirty-something provinces. We have 36 states and 774 local governments. Let’s just think about it.
“In Nigeria, a developing country; you must maintain a President by Constitution; a Vice President; at least 36 ministers because the Constitution says you must have a minister from every state.
“108 Senators; 360 members of the House of Representatives; 36 Governors; 36 Deputy Governors, and God knows how many commissioners multiplied by 36; 774 chairmen of local governments with ten councillors and the House Speakers. If you multiply 774 by ten, that’s 7,740 at the local government levels; and these are constitutional offices. What is the result in economics?
“When I was Governor of Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), already 80 percent of the total revenue of the federal government was going into paying salaries of public sector workers.
“When you have a country of 190 million people and 1 million public servant maximum who are supposed to serve the 190 are already consuming 80 percent of the revenue, what do you have for development?
“Today, we talk about oil. We all need to be educated. Nigeria is not an oil-rich country. It’s nowhere near that. First of all, as a percentage of our Gross Domestic Product (GDP), oil is less than 15 percent.
“You talk about oil-rich countries, today Saudi Arabia has a population of about 30million and it produces more than 10million barrels of oil per day. That is one barrel of oil for every three citizens. That is what you call an oil-rich country.
“But in Nigeria, we produce 2 million barrels per day for a population of almost 200million; one barrel for a hundred. And we say we are oil-rich country. And that one barrel, after the multinational corporations take about half of it, becomes effectively one barrel for 200 people. And we expect that to provide power, infrastructure, education, health, nutrition?
“But I don’t think we are looking at the issues the way we should look at them. With the passage of time, options that are opening and available to people 40 years ago are no longer open.”