INSECURITY: ONLY URGENT RESTRUCTURING CAN DOUSE ETHNIC AGITATIONS IN NIGERIA - GOV AKEREDOLU
Southwest Governors’ Forum Chairman and Ondo State Governor, Oluwarotimi Akeredolu (SAN) has said only urgent structural and constitutional reforms can douse ethnic agitations and other forms of insecurity in Nigeria.
Governor Akeredolu said most of the items on the Exclusive Legislative List, as re-inforced by Section 251 of the 1999 Constitution, must be amended and moved to the Residual and Concurrent List, in the spirit of equity and justice in the country. He said all ethnic nationalities must be allowed to thrive on their own terms of comparative advantages.
The Governor said these at the 45th Convocation Lecture of Obafemi Awolowo University, Ile-Ife on Saturday. He was a guest lecturer on the topic: “When Is A Nation? Exploring the socio-Political Crisis In Post Independence Nigeria”.
President Muhammadu Buhari was represented at the convocation by Vice-President Yemi Osinbajo. Other dignitaries at the event included: Governor of Osun State, Adegboyega Oyetola, Ooni of Ife Oba Adeyeye Enitan Ogunwusi, Etsu Nupe and Chancellor of the University, Alhaji Yahata Abubakar, and the Pro-Chancellor, Owelle Oscar Udoji.
Governor Akeredolu said the diverse ethnic nationalities in the Country should be constitutionally allowed to thrive on their own. He said items, such as education, health care, judiciary, police, prison services and resource control should be on the Concurrent and not exclusive list of legislature.
He maintained that the Federal Government should divest itself off too much burdens and allow the component units to flower, adding that States should control their resources and maintain their internal security while the Federal Government co-ordinate and not take over.
He lamented that the States are almost entirely dependent on hand-outs from the Federal Government, saying no State is empowered to take independent decisions for the benefit of its people.
“Approvals must come from the centre on virtually everything. This Constitution vests all the lands in a State in the State Governor who holds same in trust for the people. The incessant attacks on farmers by criminal herders, who destroy the crops of these long suffering downtrodden members of the society, expose the impotence of State Governors.
“Strange elements have been invading states to prospect for mineral resources without recourse to the authorities. Farmlands have been destroyed and the people are constantly exposed to ecological disasters to assuage greed.
“Unscrupulous elements grant prospecting licenses to people who move into lands with marauders. The security of these States is compromised, heavily.
“This Constitution also provides for “Federal Character” for “National Cake Sharing”. There is a Commission which oversees the sharing of offices and other spoils of politics among the major ethnic groups.
“This manifest injustice is promoted as care for equity. In the same breath, the same document is silent on rotation of offices to complete the tragicomedy. Federal Character is good for as long as it affords certain persons the opportunity to benefit from the sacrifice of merit on the altar of mediocrity.” He added.
The Governor also condemned the current situation in the Country which ensures that emphasis is on revenue allocation instead of generation.
“Some States are in court to ask the Federal Inland Revenue Services, an Agency of the Federal Government to hands off the collection of sales taxes as this duty ahould rest with the States.
“The Federal Government, through the Office of the Attorney General and Minister of Justice, is asking all States to “remit” Stamp Duty, tax collected on contracts awarded by State Governments, to it.
“We will ask to be apprised of the justification for this latest onslaught. The Federal Government also wishes to take over “Inland Water ways”, whatever that means. Our fishermen will soon need licences to fish from the Federal Ministry of Water Resources, Akeredolu said.
He stated that the geo-political zones should be free to determine their laws, application as well as design their own curriculum of education to meet peculiar challenges.
“It should have its own apex court which will determine all matters affecting it. The federal judiciary should take care of issues in the Exclusive Legislative List as was the case.
“This geo-political should be allowed to take charge of economic activities in its jurisdiction and pay taxes to the Federal Government as appropriate. It should take-over most of the roads tagged “Federal”, repair and toll same, if necessary.
“Most of the items in the Exclusive List should be transferred to the Concurrent and Residual List. The Federal Government should divest itself off these burdens and allow the component units to flower. Let these units control their resources and maintain their internal security. Let the Federal Government coordinate and not take over.
“If these suggestions are observed, the current tensions will have been eliminated without breaking any sweat. The culture of laziness that has become endemic will change. No component unit will expect hand-outs from the Federal Government.
“There will be no basis for it. All will be encouraged to work assiduously for economic prosperity. No unit will depend on the so called bail-out funds tom pay a largely indolent bureaucracy which is part of the problems of the country.
“The geo-political zone will organize its civil service to respond to needs of the public. Redundancy will be discouraged.Our dear country will have solved most of the current problems if these humble submissions are taken seriously," he said.
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