Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Nigeria at 52: True federalism, key to national progress- Aregbesola

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The Osun Governor said that Nigeria’s growth would remain stalled unless the country practiced true federalism.

True fiscal federalism is the only solution to Nigeria’s many socio-political problems, the Osun State Governor, Rauf Aregbesola, said in his message on Nigeria’s 52nd Independence anniversary.

Mr. Aregbesola said that injustice and conflict would continue to fester for as long as the constitution is constantly and unnecessarily breached, and federal laws flagrantly broken. The governor called for a partial constitution review which would ensure that more powers devolve from the centre, thereby enabling true federalism.

To back his claims, Mr. Aregbesola cited Section 7 (1) of the 1999 Constitution, which states that it is the duty of the state government, subject to Section 8(3), (5) and (6)), to ensure the existence of the local government councils under the law, thus providing for the establishment, structure, composition, finance and functions of such councils.”

Such powers, he said, were no longer absolute once they are subject to an Act of National Assembly amending Section 3 and Part 1 of the First Schedule of the Constitution, failing which any new local government area created by any state government remains inchoate and not properly constituted.

“This is a classic example of constitutional anomaly, where a provision confers rights on the one hand and a subsequent one takes it away with whim in another moment. The provisions thus vest the creation of new local governments in both state and Federal Government, where both are expected to exercise separate but complementary roles in order to bring a local government into existence.

“Such contradictions have made it impossible for states to single-handedly create more local governments. This is certainly incongruous and antithetical to the spirit and letter of federal constitution,” Mr. Aregbesola said.

Security challenges, infrastructural decay, and weak national institutions are all products of what the governor described as a bogus system and concentration of power at the centre.

Mr. Aregbesola suggested that the National Assembly implement a comprehensive legal framework that would ensure political stability and uniformity in all tiers of government.

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