CALABARâ€”Gover nor Liyel Imoke of Cross River State, has called on the National Assembly to use the opportunity thrown by the review of the 1999 constitution to create more local government areas in the state.
He said when this was carried out as a matter of fairness and equity, it would foster national unity and even development at the grass roots level.
Imoke, who was represented by his deputy, Mr. Efiok Cobham, made the call when he received members of the House Committee on State and Local Government Affairs, led by its chairman, Emmanuel Adedeji in Calabar.
He argued that with Cross Riversâ€™ vast land mass, the state deserved more than 18 local government areas, compared to others that do not match it in size but have over 30 council areas.
On the relationship between the state and its local government areas, Governor Imoke said the state had enjoyed a great deal of partnership with the councils over the years, maintaining that such collaboration has led to unparalleled development in spite of lean resources.
He called on the House to order the Revenue Mobilization Allocation and Fiscal Commission (RMAFC) to effect upward review of statutory allocations to the state by adopting a more workable formula that will ensure fairness in the distribution.
He also urged them to fashion out ways of ensuring that much money was not allowed to get stuck at the centre when the actual grassroots development was in the hands of the states.
The governor argued that a situation were the federal government only imposes responsibilities like Police funding on the state without commensurate funding was uncalled for, stressing that the trend must be checked.
Imoke expressed sadness at the poor state of federal roads across the state which, he observed, had made access to the various tourist sites difficult and called on the lawmakers to join forces with the state in calling on the relevant agencies to attend to the roads without delay.
House committee chairman on State and Local government Affairs, Emmanuel Adedeji, said in his response that the committee, which is one of the committees enshrined in section 62 (1) of the constitution was in the state as part of it oversight functions and in fulfillment of its duty to act in liaison with the state on matters that will foster development and improve administration of states and local governments.
He noted that the greatest threat to the continuance of the democratic system of government was the almost complete failure of quality of governance at the local level.
According to him, â€œwhile we are encouraged by the several bright spots of effective performance that do exist at those level of governance, the real challenge for this committee is to depart from the realms of the theoretical and find the actual ways of gliding through the constitutional road blocks to partner with states and local government administrations in the critical mission of impacting significantly on both the standards and quality of living of the majority of our people.â€