By: Kwaghngu Abrahams...

The clamor by various interest groups across the country for the restructuring of Nigeria’s political system was recently on the spotlight in Benue State. The people of Benue comprising elders, politicians, technocrats, youth and women groups as well as other critical stakeholders have finally lent their support behind the need to restructure the nation’s polity at the recent stakeholders meeting. This position on the restructuring debate is timely. This is coming as a direct consequence of the recent avoidable loss of lives to armed herdsmen in the state.

The Nigerian constitution recognizes the Governor of a State as the Chief Security Officer of his State. By that burden of responsibility, the Governor is expected to protect lives and property within his domain using lawful means. But in reality, the control of the security agencies is vested on the federal government which appoints the heads of the armed forces including the police boss. Many state governments across the country are known to support the police by way of funding, logistics, procurement of operational vehicles and other vital motivating factors designed to enhance the effectiveness of the Police.

In Benue State, the case is not different as the administration of Governor Samuel Ortom since coming into office has invested so much funds in supporting the police and other security agencies with much needed operational logistics including vehicles to enhance their timely response to security challenges.

Governor Samuel Ortom in response to the yearnings of the people has expressed support for the restructuring of the nation’s political system. He made his position known when leaders of ethnic nationalities in Nigeria, including Afenifere, Ohanaeze Ndi Igbo, Middle Belt and South-South Forum recently stormed Makurdi to express their solidarity with the Government and people of the State over the avoidable loss of lives of some Benue indigenes on New Year’s day 2018. The commendable manner Governor Samuel Ortom has managed this crisis so far has earned him tremendous support from progressive minded Nigerians, Civil Society Groups, ethnic nationalities and from the diaspora. His courageous stance in speaking out in defence of his people has again brought to the fore his uncompromising position on issues affecting the welfare of the people. The condemnation of the dastardly act on parts of farming communities in Benue State is a testament to the fact that many Nigerians still believe in the unity of the country and stand by the Benue people.

Governor Ortom is a proven bridge-builder across ethnic nationalities that has contributed and is still contributing to national unity.

The ruling All Progressives Congress’ setting up of a committee last year headed by the Kaduna State Governor on ‘True Federalism’ is an indication that the Party is monitoring the ongoing political debate by diverse interest groups.

In the federal system, the Exclusive List spelt out such issues as defence, immigration, police, aviation, mining, banking, citizenship, census among many other items which only the federal government has the powers to legislate on. In line with modern trends, it has become expedient for the federating units to be constitutionally empowered to legislate on certain issues directly affecting its development. One key area is security. In advanced democracies like the United States of America, the constitution empowers its federating states to establish State and country Police to complement the federal law enforcement agencies. With recent happenings, this may be time for the country to restructure the polity to reflect the aspirations of the people and enhance social inclusiveness.

The over-reliance by almost all the States on allocations from the Federation Accounts in Abuja is unhealthy especially taking into account the fluctuations in the international price of crude oil. With the exception of Lagos State and a few others, most states depend on the monthly federal allocations. Governor Ortom’s tireless efforts in developing agriculture and laying an industrial foundation in Benue State to diversify the State’s source of revenue is a determined response to boost the economy.

Despite the attempt to deprive the people of the State of their means of livelihood by livestock encroachment into farmlands, the Governor remains focused on delivering responsible leadership. He has over the years attained success by thinking-outside-the-box to proffer solutions to social challenges. This informs why he has continued to look inwards in identifying areas where Benue has comparative advantages to leverage on for the benefit of job creation, food security and economic competiveness by God’s grace.

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