Dr Agbakoba started by defining devolution and went straight into the subject matter. He was of the opinion that devolving power is a good idea. However, the real question should be; Is devolution of powers the solution to our problems for now? He said no to this. We should be talking about hunger and how to help people feed, not power devolution. He also noted that the biggest problem we have in Nigeria is exclusion. People are poor and hungry. Therefore, we are not at a stage where devolution makes sense.
The second problem is that we need to resolve disorder before constitutional order. He pointed out that the whole country is in disarray. So, we need to first of all discuss peace and order before any other thing meaningful can take place. A pertinent question to ask, he said is: How did we all come together as a country Nigeria? He asked two questions as posed by Bola Ige of blessed memory. Do we want to be in a country called Nigeria? If we do want to be in a country called Nigeria, by what political arrangement? Olisa opined that we need to sit down as people who have agreed to be in one country and discuss the way forward for us. This will solve a lot more than devolution though devolution is a good thing.
There is a lot more to a good country than constitution. Dr Olisa said he thinks Nigeria’s foundational structure is not strong enough and needs to be addressed. Devolution makes sense actually. There is too much power in Abuja that needs to be spread. Technically speaking, he said he supports devolution if power will be spread. But the question is will it solve our problems? If yes, then we should go. If not, we have to look for other ways to solve our problems. There is a lot more than devolution. We have governance and leadership as real issues not the constitution. A lot depends on accountability and leadership qualities coming out of our governors. There is also the issue of followership which should be resolved. However, the problem of exclusion and poverty have to be taken care of and followership will fall in place.
Nigerians must be involved in constitution making. The National assembly can convene the process but must allow Nigerians vet it. The geo political zones can form the basis of a new Nigeria. The leaders are uninterested in diminishing their powers so devolution may be near impossible. So where are we going to make the change from and how? This is a sad reality facing us. If we can bring in the excluded people, we may begin to head somewhere. This country is far from where it should be. It can’t achieve anything if the actors are the same. The governors have to play more roles and the media should focus more on the governors than the president. The governors have more powers than they use. They don’t exercise the given powers by the constitution.
In conclusion, Dr Agbakoba said devolution is not just a concept; it’s the energy you have to utilize what you have. Devolution won’t solve anything if we all abandon our powers.