Ahead the proposed national conference in Abuja, the Committee of Benin Elders has proposed restructuring of Nigeria into eight regions with four regions each for southern and northern Nigeria.
The Committee, in a press statement signed by its secretary, Prof. Sam Guobadia, and made available to newsmen in Benin City, yesterday, also proposed that the regions should be allowed to control their resources and pay a royalty tax of 25 per cent to the federal government.
According to them, for effective delivery of political and democratic dividends to the masses, there should be one president and eight vice-presidents of premiers for the regions within the organs of government, while the regions may choose to create any number states or provinces.
â€œA stable Nigeria calls for the restoration of regional governments with full government structures. The old Midwest region as well as other regions of the federation was a centre of progress and development. We can revive that glorious and relatively inexpensive past.
â€œAs a nation, we spend too much money in the running of our governments. We can no longer sustain a situation where one per cent of the population consumes more that 30 per cent of the nationâ€™s resources as personal emoluments to political office holders.
â€œAt independence, Nigeria had three regions which were the federating units. In 1963, they became four with the creation of Midwest region after a national plebiscite, the only region so properly and constitutionally created.
â€œThen, the regions had autonomy, their own flags, anthems, constitutions, legal structures, local police force, etc. Only common services like customs immigration, armed forces, foreign affairs and common currency were handled by the federal government. Other items like education, health, local government, land, mineral resources, etc were vested in the regional governments, thus making them competitive, productive and progressively developedâ€, it added.
In the light of the above, the body advocated a return to the parliamentary system with its tenets to be practiced and mastered by the new leaders where lawmakers would be on part-time with sitting allowances paid them, adding that â€œthis is definitely cheaper and frees resources for other developments.
Other issues they want include decentralisation of police and military formations, fiscal federalism, independence of the judiciary, strong institutions, removal of immunity clauses in respect of criminal cases and a stop towards funding pilgrimages and political parties, since, to them, Nigeria is a secular state.