Why National Assembly rejected devolution of power bill, by Yakassai

Tanko Yakassai

An elder statesman, Tanko Yakassai, yesterday gave an insight as to why the bill on devolution of power was turned down by the National Assembly during the review exercise of the 1999 Constitution.

In an interview with reporters in Abuja, he said the bill failed to scale through the legislative hurdle due to the vagueness surrounding the clamour for devolution of power in the polity.

He stated that it made no sense for the advocates of devolution of power to vent their anger on the National Assembly since the position of the vast majority of those opposed to the bill was a reflection of the position of their constituents.

Yakassai, who was presidential adviser to former President Shehu Shagari in the Second Republic, believed that the term devolution of power and restructuring is one and the same thing.

According to him: “To me, those agitating for devolution of power should blame themselves first before blaming anybody else for what has happened to the issue of devolution of power which is part of the advocacy for the restructuring of Nigeria.

“This is because those proponents of restructuring have failed to do their own part in trying to win the hearts and souls of Nigerians to support their advocacy. They did not define what restructuring is all about. They are not even unanimous on the issue. Some are calling for restructuring of the country. Some are calling for a true federalism as if there is any true federal system in the whole world and some are calling for resource control.

“If the advocates of restructuring were serious in the pursuit of their agenda, the first thing they should have done was to reduce their demands into a written form to include all the necessary details that will tell everybody that after restructuring, how Nigeria would look like according to their own conception and what would be the fate of all Nigerians after the country is restructured according to their wishes.”

Yakassai, however, said all is not lost on the clamour for devolution of power as its proponents can always bring it up in the next round of constitutional amendment process after learning from their mistakes.

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