By BARTHOLOMEW MADUKWE
Lawal Pedro (SAN) is the Permanent Secretary, Lagos State Ministry of Justice. In this interview, he speaks about economic development in the country, creation of new states and stressed the need for state policing. Excerpts:
Do you agree that the Nigerian Constitution hinders economic development?
No matter the type of Constitution you have, it depends on the operators and how focused they are. It is not just leaving some set of people to operate it. Infact, it is a problem of the system and not the Constitution alone. When we talk about development, it is for the Constitution to devolve power to a type of government that is closer to the people. That is the type of government we should be running.
Do you see state policing as a way of curbing crime?
The uniform alone on the street would be a deterrent to small criminals. Go to other countries, you will see state police that are particular to a thing. Don’t we have LASSMA, VIO and KAI on our roads; are they not particular to certain things? The same thing with a state police, with minimal power. Give them gun, walkie-talkie, communication gadgets.
Do you you support creation of more states at this time?
Well, the present states are not viable. I would support the creation of more states if the federal government is willing to devolve power and ensure that the revenue allocation favours the states more than the federal government. The federal government should limit itself to its core jurisdiction such as international affairs, customs, aviation, maritime, finance, CBN, economic etc. What is the federal government building road for, instead of giving the state the money to build its road and account for it? Most of the things the federal government is doing ought to have been done by the state. It is only when the federal government makes the state responsible, then I would share the opinion of the people who want more states to be created.
What do you think should be the reason for creating new states?
Issue of development should be taken into consideration. Even some states do not have enough finance to survive and pay salary without money from the federation account, what states are you then creating? The issue of state creation should go beyond issue of personality. If federal government is willing to make it devolves power and resources, and allow the states themselves to control their resources, then there would be reason for creating more states.