..As Afe Babalola, Awolowo-Dosunmu others renew call for regional integration
By Daud Olatunji
abeokuta—FORMER interim chairman of the All Progressives Congress, APC, Chief Bisi Akande, has said that there is a need to unbundled the exclusive functions of the federal government and share them among the federating units.
Akande spoke along with founder, Afe Babalola University, Ado Ekiti, Aare Afe Babalola and the daughter of late sage, Ambassador Tokunbo Awolowo-Dosumu, who made renewed call for regional integration in the South-west geo-political zone.
They all spoke yesterday, at Olusegun Obasanjo Presidential Library complex, Abeokuta, at the maiden edition of the South-West Stakeholders Summit on education and economic development.
Chief Akande also identified devolution of power to federating units as one of the solutions to addressing the multifaceted problems confronting the nation.
Akande called for the discard of the present formula for allocating revenue to the 774 local governments from Abuja.
The summit was organised by the South-west Patriots Movement.
Both Akande and Babalola noted that the military incursion into the polity scuttle the growth of the region, saying,the region had obviously been ahead of its peers in education and other sectors.
In his keynote address, Akande, who was the special guest of honour, argued that the regions should be recognised as the first line federating units.
The former governor of Osun State, who was represented by Ogun State deputy governor, Mrs Titi Laoye-Tomori, said the non-devolution of powers had led to economic chaos.
He explained that unbundling the exclusive list would be the panacea to Nigeria’s woes, manifesting as ethno-religious masquerades like Boko haram, Indigenous People of Biafra, among others.
Akande called for a truly negotiated federalism, adding that there was a global demand for devolution of more power from the central to the constituent groups as being witnessed in Catalonia (Spain), Lombardy (Italy), Scotland, Wales, Ireland and England (UK).
In his presentation, Babalola said for the region to record resounding success in education sector, it must devote 52 percent of its resources to the sector, as was done by the Western Region under the late Chief Obafemi Awolowo.
He said it was quite saddening that apart from Awolowo and former President Olusegun Obasanjo who had devoted substantial portion of government budgets to education, every other administration had consistently devoted about 7 per cent of annual budget to the funding of education.
While presenting her paper at the summit, Awolowo-Dosunmu said her late father succeeded in his free primary education programme because it was a well thought-out programme for the masses.
She said the late sage had prepared policy papers and developed the party manifesto ahead the formation of the two political parties, Action Group and the Unity Party of Nigeria, which he led.
Ogun State governor, Senator Ibikunle Amosun, said the summit was timely and called for concerted efforts in order for the region not to lag behind among its peers.
He noted that negotiated federalism as was done in bringing about the 1960 constitution of Nigeria without coercion, would engender a harmonious co – existence among various nationalities and religious groups in the country
He said the allocation formula must be replaced with a more equitable one which would encourage allocation to local governments by their states.
The new formula, Akande said, should be based on the dictate of different houses of Assembly.
The national leader of APC said regions in their amicable variants must be recognised as the first line federating units.
He also called for a scientific approach towards ensuring acceptable future population census.
According to Akande, 1963 census, boycotted 1964 elections and massively rigged election of 1965 in the west, led to the collapse of the first republic and subsequent 13 year military rule.
He said there’s a global demand for devolution of more powers to the constituents national group as being witnessed in Spain, Italy, United Kingdom, amongst others.
This, according to him, are pointers to the inescapable fact that truly negotiated federalism would be the best panacea for harmonious coexistence among various nationalities and religious groups.
He noted the reason why Yoruba nation was in the current situation was the military coup of January 15, 1966.
He said this aberration supplanted the people’s constitution which was in operation, which allowed each region to develop at its own pace.
He said the then people’s constitution also engendered healthy competition among the regions, with the Western Region, emerging as the clear leader.
He said, “Unfortunately, we have been operating a military constitution since 1999, because the people of Nigeria had no input whatsoever in the constitution which was foisted on Nigerians by the military.
“ As a result of this military constitution which gave Nigerians a unitary government in disguise, the spate of development initiated by Chief Obafemi Awolowo was unfortunately. put in abeyance to the disadvantage of all of us.”
The governor who was represented by his Chief of Staff, Chief Tolu Odebiyi, said the South-west should institute a regional sovereign wealth, Oodua Television and Oodua anthem, which would further strengthened the component units.
The chairman of the occasion, Dr Christopher Kolade, however, called for moral reawakening, advising the region to embrace those old societal values, and mores that promote good governance and good neighbourliness.
The Governor of Ogun State, Senator Ibikunle Amousun also called for the establishment of Oodua sovereign wealth, Oodua television and Oodua anthem as a means of regional integration.