June 14, 2021 / 10:00AM / Ottoabasi Abasiekong for WebTV / Header Image Credit: ChannelsTV
As Nigeria's 1999 constitution goes through a review, reforming the electoral process and ensuring a well-thought process of fiscal transfer from the federal to state and local governments are key areas that should be addressed. Professor Pat Utomi the Founder of the Center for Values and Leadership and a political economist made this point during a discussion on sustainable democracy in Nigeria.
Utomi noted that electoral reforms would improve the legitimacy of political office holders in the country, and make them more accountable to citizens because they emerge through a transparent process.
The scholar decried the fact that the nation has experienced the challenge of political actors, who have allowed their private interests to override a fair and equitable political system.
The political statesman called for a referendum to be integrated into the current constitutional framework to make it a people's document. According to him there should be provisions for secession in the Nigerian constitution like that of enduring democracies such as the United States of America.
In the area of the fiscal transfer he was of the view that states in the current structure of the constitution, have been short-changed which is why there is need for restructuring.
He said it was time for Nigeria create a federation that is productive through wealth creation, rather than revenue allocation that is currently practiced.
Utomi was of the view that the "Principle of Subsidiarity" meant that power should be decentralized effectively from the center to the states, to unlock growth and development
On the role of institutions, Utomi argued that there is a clear role on how they can galvanize socio-economic development. He observed that institutions need to evolve in Nigeria, not by decrees to support progress and development that is sustainable and inclusive.
Political Parties according to him are critical to the stability and transformation of the nation, but said the current situation is deplorable as leading parties are operating more like private enterprises concerned only with state capture.
On the future of the nation amidst the socio-political and socio-economic challenges Professor Utomi suggested that with transformational leaders, Nigeria could attain the level of development experienced by countries like Brazil and South Korea.
He was optimistic that Nigeria would flourish again as a nation and prevail through its present predicaments.