Rivers State Governor, Rt. Hon. Chibuike Rotimi Amaechi has urged the National Assembly to put forward a structure of two federating units only, between the states and the federal government at the centre in the ongoing constitutional review.
He spoke when members of the House of Representatives Committee on Youth and Social Development led by Hon. Kamil Akinlabi Mudashiru visited him in Government House, Port Harcourt, yesterday.
The Rivers State Governor said, “there are only two federating units in most countries in the world . In Germany, there are two federating units. In America, there are local governments but there are only two federating units – the states and the federal government. The local counties(or what we call councils) are not part of the federating units. So I want to urge the National Assembly to disregard this talk of autonomy for Local Government Councils that would make the Councils one of the federating units. We will not support it. Governors will not support. ”
On financial autonomy for the state legislature, Amaechi, who is also the Chairman of Nigerian Governors Forum(NGF) said governors and the legislature should meet and discuss how much money the States get and how much both the legislature and the judiciary could get, so that the executive could still perform its functions and responsibilities.
“No matter what you do or say, the responsibility of disbursing resources still lie in the hands of the executive. Now if you are compelled by law of the constitution that the governors pay whatever the Assembly passes as law, then you cripple the poor states in the North and probably in the South-East and probably some of the states in the South-West because budget is an estimate”.
He pointed out that the state governments’ bid to support the country’s democracy should be strengthened by allowing state governors have concurrent powers in some areas.
“What we are saying is that we should be allowed to have concurrent powers in those areas that the states should and can function. Anywhere there is a national interest then, the National Assembly can always make an overriding law that all states must comply with”.
He again called for devolution of power.
“The Federal Government is making the state governors not to keep to their responsibilities to their states. We are carrying too many responsibilities that belong to the federal government. Like for instance, it is not our(state) responsibility to take care of the NYSC but I would renovate the current NYSC camp in Onne, Rivers State and build more hostels. This is not my responsibility or that of any State governor. It is the responsibility of the federal government.”
“You can see why we are talking about devolution of power, that the federal government appears to be taking too many functions and some of them, I am not saying they are not discharging properly but they are not able to meet all of them because they are too many. So the best thing to do is that the powers of the federal government be devolved heavily and I mean heavily downwards, so that the states can perform some of those functions”, he added.