Prof. Attahiru Jega, the ex-Chairman of INEC, has voiced his critique on Nigerian presidential system, deeming it flawed. He implores Nigerians to unite and embark on the necessary restructuring of the nation before the 2027 general election. Jega stated that the excessive concentration of power in the Nigerian presidency must be decentralized to the sub national to fully achieve progressive development. He mentioned this while delivering the convocation lecture at the Bauchi State University, Gadau, on the theme, ‘Safeguarding Nigeria’s Future: Prioritising Citizen’s Welfare and Security Amidst Challenges’.
He vehemently voiced disapproval towards the parliamentary system of government, citing the need to overhaul it in order to establish an optimal federal system. Calling on current leaders in power up until 2027, he implored them to collaborate and implement a logical, data-driven approach to reforming the Nigerian federation. His recommendations include devolving power and redistributing resources from the federal level to state and local governments. It is imperative that we reduce the authority of the federal government, even if we have to revert to the power distribution system outlined in the 1963 Constitution, he added.
Extensive governance expenses must be addressed.
While people are raising concerns regarding the effectiveness of channeling additional resources to state and local governments in resolving the challenges, considering the current situation in Nigeria, he said empowering and providing more resources for the governing bodies would result in decreased appeal towards the federal government. Consequently, individuals would focus their efforts on implementing suitable reforms and promoting development. Jega also mentioned that the extensive expenses associated with governance must be addressed in order to protect Nigeria’s future and called for a reduction in the centralization of power at the federal level.
Jega further alleged that the executive arm of government, in federal and state levels, was engaging in extravagant expenditure and wielding power irresponsibly. He claimed that Nigeria was on the verge of becoming a failed state as the political leaders were using their authority to disrupt institutions rather than fortify them. He said the actions of the political elite have amplified the financial burden of governing to a dangerous extent and pose an alarming threat that could potentially endanger Nigeria. Jega said there is a need for changes in the constitution, specifically pertaining to policy choices that would significantly reduce the governing expenses.
It is crucial to acknowledge the vulnerabilities Nigeria faces.
This change was called for in the backdrop of actions from some influential figures advocating for the revival of the parliamentary system. In his words, personally, I find it utterly unacceptable. To clarify, you initially began with the parliamentary system, transitioned to the presidential system without success, and now believe the solution lies in reverting back to the parliamentary system. Jega explained that resorting to the parliamentary system without adequately tackling the culture responsible for extravagance in governance would prove catastrophic and fail to resolve the issue.
Our predicament lies within our current presidential system, which is excessively rigid and fails to incorporate the successful practices observed in other presidential systems worldwide, he said. This issue holds significant importance, and it is crucial that we direct our focus towards rectifying it. He asserts that Nigeria is not yet a failed state but rather a state that is currently undergoing a decline and it is crucial for us to acknowledge the vulnerabilities Nigeria faces and actively work towards its protection; otherwise, grave consequences may transpire.
Reforming the country’s manufacturing sector is crucial.
Furthermore, he suggests that politicians must diversify the country away from its reliance on oil-generated income by enhancing agricultural efficiency, directing attention to agro-allied industries, and generating job prospects for the vast number of unemployed youth. Additionally, it is imperative to reform the manufacturing sector, as a country cannot progress without adequate domestic consumption. Having a scenario in Nigeria where almost all goods are imported is a path towards catastrophe leaving the country in a vulnerable condition.