The Nigerian Press Organisation (NPO), comprising the Newspaper Proprietors Association of Nigeria (NPAN), the Nigerian Guild of Editors (NGE) and the Nigeria Union of Journalists (NUJ), has urged the federal government to take urgent steps to restructure the country by devolving powers to other tiers of government to secure Nigeria and restore peace in the country.
The organisation, in a communiqué yesterday after a meeting held last Friday, also called for the reduction of the high cost of governance, removal of petrol subsidy, and the avoidance of accumulation of foreign debt.
The communiqué titled, “Newspaper Proprietors, Guild of Editors, Union of Journalists, Issue Statement on State of The Nation” was jointly signed by the President of NPAN and NPO, Mr. Kabiru A. Yusuf; his NGE counterpart, Mr. Mustapha Isa, and the NUJ President, Mr. Chris Isiguzo.
The communiqué said Nigeria had been embroiled in profound socio-economic, political and security challenges that threatened “its very existence as reflected in ethnic divisions and separatist agitations in the country, with growing fears that an implosion is imminent.”
“Today, criminality – kidnapping for ransom, banditry, arson, killings – defines the everyday reality for a good number of our citizens,” the group added.
Citing the responsibility imposed on its members by Section 22 of the 1999 Constitution, as amended, the group reaffirmed its belief in the oneness of Nigeria.
It stated that if resources are well-managed, Nigeria with a population of 200 million people, has innumerable advantages – both in economic and soft power, warning that this should not be sacrificed on the altar of ethnic or tribal chauvinism.
The group identified one of the triggers for the current socio-political, economic and security challenges in the country as high cost of governance, reflected in the outrageous allowances and flamboyant lifestyles of political leaders.
It said: “These leaders, rather erroneously, misconstrue public service for primitive accumulation of wealth, instead of its being a platform for galvanising development and satisfying the collective aspiration of the people for quality life in a safe and secure environment. One of the consequences of this ostentatious lifestyle is the new craze among a growing number of youths that the end justifies the means in their quest for easy wealth”.
“That in a federal system of government, particularly in a country like Nigeria, which is diverse in ethnicity, culture, and religion, an overbearing centre is counter-productive to the development of the centre itself and the component units.
“To leave the federal government with 68 items under the Exclusive Legislative List, including policing, is a recipe for unending destructive tension in the struggle for advantage among the federating units.
“It explains why our country is seemingly overwhelmed by non-state actors engaged in criminality and separatist agitations.”
The media leaders called on the federal government to devolve powers to the component units by implementing the el-Rufai Committee Report.
“We hold that its implementation will curb the galloping rate of criminality, reduce tension across the country, and reset the botton of development,” it said.
It also urged the federal government to implement the Orosanye Report, “which provides a veritable road map for arresting the unsustainable high cost of governance.”
NPAN, NGE and NUJ also called for the passage of the Petroleum Industry Bill, (PIB).
It stressed the need to avoid the debt overhang inherent in excessive borrowing, while appealing to “politicians and state actors to minimise their inflammatory rhetoric in order to reduce tension and ease the growing sense of fear among the people.”