Restructuring: AfDB boss, Adesina proposes ‘United States of Nigeria’

The President, African Development Bank Group, Dr Akinwumi Adesina, has called for a change of name from the Federal Republic of Nigeria to ‘The United States of Nigeria.’


Adesina said this in a statement by his Special Adviser on Industrialisation, Prof. Banji Oyelaran-Oyeyinka, made available to PUNCH Online on Saturday.
Adesina was quoted to have made the call in a lecture he delivered as the recipient of the 2024 Obafemi Awolowo Prize for Leadership, titled, ‘Making a New Nigeria: Welfarist Policies and People-Centred Development.’
He explained that a change to the ‘United States of Nigeria’ would change the relational mindset between the states and Abuja, stating that the fulcrum would be the states, while the centre would support them, not lord over them.
He said, “We must be audacious! Instead of the Federal Government of Nigeria, we could think of the United States of Nigeria. The old would give way to the new.
“We would change the relational mindset between the states and Abuja: the fulcrum would be the states, while the centre would support them, not lord over them.
“With good governance, better accountability systems, and zero tolerance for corruption, more economically stronger constituent states would emerge! We would unleash massive wealth across the states. A New Nigeria would arise! To do so, we will need all of us, not some of us.
“From our forgotten rural villages to our boisterous and dynamic urban areas. From the sparks of desire in the eyes of our children to the lingering hope in the hearts of our youths.
“From the yearnings of our women and mothers and our men and fathers for a better tomorrow, and the desires of the old that our end would be better than our past. From the hardworking street vendors and small businesses to the largest business conglomerates, we must create a movement of hope.”
He added that “the achievement of economically viable entities and the viability of the national entity requires constitutional changes to devolve more economic and fiscal powers to the states or regions. The stronger the states or regions, the stronger the federated units.”
Adesina reiterated that to get out of the economic quagmire, there is a compelling need for the restructuring of Nigeria, saying restructuring should not be driven by political expediency but by economic and financial viability.
“Economic and financial viability are the necessary and sufficient conditions for political viability.
“If there was one attribute that defined Chief Obafemi Awolowo, and there were many, it would be his visionary boldness. He went where others feared or failed to go. In the process, decades later, his footprints remain in the sands of time. Likewise, today, in Nigeria, we need men and women with vision, who are willing to take bold decisions,” he said.
He lamented that Nigerians paid one of the highest implicit tax rates in the world, adding that when governments or institutions failed to provide basic services, the people would bear the burden of a heavy implicit tax.
“Truth be told, Nigerians pay one of the highest implicit tax rates in the world. Most of the citizens provide electricity for themselves via generators; they repair roads in their neighbourhoods if they can afford to. They provide boreholes for drinking water with their money.
“In the 21st century, this is incredulous as every household should have pipe-borne water! Sadly, the abnormal has been normalised.
“If people pay taxes, governments must deliver services to citizens and be held accountable for their ability to do so or not. Governments should not transfer their responsibility to citizens. When governments or institutions fail to provide basic services, the people bear the burden of a heavy implicit tax,” Adesina said.
He suggested that to succeed with much-needed welfarist and people-centred policies across Nigeria, it was necessary to change the governance system and decentralise governance to states to provide greater autonomy.
Adesina also emphasised that states had tremendous potential to become even more financially autonomous through greater fiscal prudence.
“If states focus on unlocking the huge resources they have, based on areas of comparative advantage, they will rapidly expand wealth for their people.
“With such increased wealth, they will be able to access capital markets and secure long-term financing to fast-track their growth and development.
“States that adopt this strategy would have less of a need for monthly trips to Abuja for grants. Instead, part of their federal revenue allocations can be saved as internal ‘state sovereign wealth funds’. This can then be used as a guarantee against borrowings from capital markets. In essence, they would be free from needing to exclusively rely on the federal government,” he said.

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