Former President Olusegun Obasanjo has dismissed as unnecessary the call for true federalism and devolution of power.
To him, there is nothing like true federalism because the governors already have the powers.
The former president who has been travelling to promote his new book, Making Africa Work, told his interviewers: ”I don’t believe in true federalism. What is true federalism?”
On the governors and the call for devolution of power, he said: “Why are they not accountable? What powers do they not have?
“They have power. In fact, state governors are more powerful than the president. That’s the truth. If anybody tells you they want devolution or true federalism, he doesn’t know what he is talking about.”
A broad range of current and former lawmakers, civil society groups and millions of Nigerians would beg to differ. So too would the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC), which Obasanjo backed in 2015, at least in its manifesto, which pledged to “amend our constitution with a view to devolving powers”.
But Obasanjo said: “The fact (that) anybody talks about it doesn’t mean it’s right.”
Obasanjo’s new book describes itself as “a guide to improving Africa’s capacity for economic growth and job creation”. Co-written with Greg Mills, Jeffrey Herbst and Dickie Davis, it provides a detailed overview of various political and economic challenges facing the continent. It warns of a growing youth bulge, and provides dozens of recommendations on how to encourage the private sector, diversify the economy and deliver forward-thinking leadership.
On the Buhari administration, Obasanjo said: “Buhari has made some announcements. He has tried to keep on going in the area of agribusiness, but not enough.” “It is not yet enough to prepare the ground for uninhibited growth of the economy, which we need”.
”Is Buhari doing enough about it?” he asks at one point of youth unemployment. “I don’t believe he is. Can he do enough about it? Of course he can.”
Obasanjo’s vague and uncommitted answers contrast with the book he just co-wrote, which packs a handful of statistics into virtually every paragraph and offers dozens of recommendations. But the former president does eventually hone in on one specific: Nigeria’s frustrated young people.
The median age of Nigeria’s population is under 18, and the youth demographic continues to swell. There aren’t enough jobs for them, and if Obasanjo were back in office, his priority would be education. “Youth empowerment, skill acquisition and youth employment – education must be able to do that,” he insists. “If you do that, the ticking bomb of possible youth explosion out of restiveness and anger will subside.”
Obasanjo attributed young people’s frustration to many of Nigeria’s problems today, including the ongoing agitation in the Southeast.
The former president maintained that secession is not the solution.
“All youth in Nigeria have legitimate reasons to feel frustrated and angry,” Obasanjo added.