The former Secretary to the Government of the Federation, (SGF) and presidential candidate of the defunct All People’s Party (APP), Chief Olu Falae, has described the current presidential system of government in the country as unwieldy and highly susceptible to corruption
Falae, who spoke to THISDAY in an interview at the ongoing National Conference in Abuja, said the scrapping of the regional structure and subsequent creation of many states out of the regions had resulted in structural inbalance and economic instability.
He also said the military took a wrong step when in 1979 it dropped the parliamentary democracy in favour of the presidential system under the pretext that the move was in order to unite the country, with a very strong centre.
The former SGF, who was speaking on the role of the National Conference in re-launching Nigeria, said a situation where all the executive powers were vested in the hands of the president at the federal level and governor at the state does not make for prudent management of resources.
“What has happened? But by stripping the executive powers from the cabinet members as itâ€™s the case under parliamentary government and then giving it to one man in a presidential system, corruption has become endemic and monies meant for the development of the state is now going to private pockets,” he said.
“We have made dictators not of heads of federal and state governments. The executive authority in a presidential system is vested in the head of government as a person. In other words, the governor of a state has the powers to sign off the entire common wealth of the state without reference to anybody except the approval of the legislature and once this is done, he can spend every naira on the budget without reference to anybody.
â€œThat is very dangerous and it is not surprising that corruption is monumental now,” he said.
Falae who served as the SGF during the military regime of Gen. Ibrahim Babangida (rtd) also faulted the scrapping of the regional structure by the military.
“I had said that people are lamenting the disappearance of development in Nigeria in the late 1950s and early 60s that things were far better then they are now and that you can find out that jobs, roads were alright and basic amenities were available and efficient.
“I had tried to answer the question by saying the old regional arrangement that was producing the development was murdered when they scrapped the regions and started creating many states to the extent that we now have 36 states, most which can hardly pay workers salaries.
“How can such states provide the good governance that the people are talking about. Clearly the point I am making is that we should go back to the regional arrangement and how many regions we need now does not matter.
“Whereas if it were in the parliamentary system, executive authority is vested in the collective members of the cabinet and the head of government is first among equals. Other members of the cabinet are elected members like him, but as the premier or governor, he is their boss.
“Under the system, the premier or governor cannot approve any contract and spend any money on the contracts without bringing the proposal to the entire cabinet for discussion and for agreement.
“Do not forget that members of the parliament are elected from every part of the state and under the system, the executive powers of government is vested on the entire cabinet and not on one person. But by stripping the executive powers from these people and giving it to one man, corruption has become endemic and monies meant to develop the state are now going to private pockets, “he said.
Falae, who is a delegate at the National Conference from Ondo State, noted that when the then military Head of State, General Yakubu Gowon, and other subsequent ones decided to create more states, the process was not opaque.
“So it was not surprising that the resultant structure is not satisfactory. The criteria were not discussed by the people then; the military just created the states they wanted to create for the reasons they knew best. So, we should not be surprised that things are the way it is,” he added.