—- Federal govt should only coordinate, receive royalties
—- Allow each region flower in its areas of comparative advantage
— No section of the country should be shortchanged
By Dayo Johnson
Chairman of the South West Governors Forum, Rotimi Akeredolu has asked the Federal government to shed itself of the excess weight it has appropriated over time.
Akeredolu declared that the present arrangements “is the major cause of friction in the country and reason for politics of bitterness.
The governor who insisted that the current system is not sustainable said that the Federal government should only coordinate and receive royalties.
He said this at the Public Hearing by the Senate Committee on review of the 1999 constitution in Akure, the Ondo state capital
” All the agitations of the peoples of this country must be looked into with a view to improving the economic power of the average citizens.
” The best way possible is to allow each region flower in its areas of comparative advantage.
“The behemoth called the Federal Government must shed the excess weight unduly appropriated over time. It is the major cause of friction.
” It is the reason for the politics of bitterness. It explains why everyone wants the power at the centre. It promotes ethnic chauvinists and encourages mediocrity.
“The new law must view, critically, the current misnomer which sees the Federal Government appropriating humongous amounts for moribund agencies whose duties overlap with those of the states.
“The fiscal policy of the country must be restructured to encourage ingenuity and uncommon resourcefulness.
“The Federal Government should only coordinate and receive royalties. The current system is not sustainable. All of us are beginning to appreciate this fact.
“The current exercise will derive its legitimacy if taken to the people for revalidation.
“Nothing must be taken for granted. Everyone must be treated as an equal partner in this whole enterprise of nation-building.
“The constitution of a country should reflect the aggregate of the realistic expectations of the components parts which form the union.
” It is the basic law which must define the powers and responsibilities of the offices created to serve the people.
” lt must address the possible areas of anxiety. Nothing must be taken as given. All aspects of concern must be looked into with a view to reaching a consensus.
“All disparate aspirations must be harnessed to evolve a national ethos. No section of the country must feel shortchanged.
” The document produced must be a true reflection of collective bargaining and concessions secured in an ambiance of frank exchanges among members of the same family.
” The current attempt at Constitution amendment should be taken beyond the usual jamboree conceived and executed to arrive at predetermined result.
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Akeredolu advocated for the return to the 1973 constitution describing it as ” the best practicable guide towards nationhood.
According to him ” The 1963 Constitution retained Regionalism and upheld the principle of autochthony, an organic development of the law using local experiences.
“The Republican status of the country was reflected. Each Region had considerable latitude to blossom at her own pace. There was devolution of powers in the true sense of the term.
” This was the period when even outsiders noticed the potential greatness of the nascent post colonial country.
“The major provisions which allowed the three regions which existed before independence were retained in the 1963 Constitution.
“That remains the best document for a country as heterogeneous as Nigeria. It was the best practicable guide towards nationhood.
The governor said “unfortunately, the military coup of 1966 destroyed that when it abolished regionalism and created the so called provinces while imposing a unitary system on the country.
“Any honest analyst will agree that this act marked the beginning of the crises of confidence among the peoples of this country.
“This gross commission led to the civil war and the attendant loss of lives and property on monumental scale.
“The country still smarts from the effects the needless war among brothers till date.
“The 1979 Constitution was a departure from the 1963’s but it lacked originality. The 1995 Abacha document was not used for a day.
” The 1999 Constitution has been described as a document which tells lies against itself. It was just decreed into existence by the departing military. This explains the several amendments in barely two decades of its existence.
“The current exercise, therefore, must not toe the path of the previous attempts at tokenism.
“The basic law of any country must not be reduced to frivolities reflecting preferred whimsies.
” lt must not be oppressive of the minorities. Its provisions must indeed give teeth to the primary purpose for which the government exists.
“No provision of the law must not be justifiable as Chapter Two of the current 1999 Constitution seeks to impress on us.
The leader of the committee, Senator Ajayi Boroffice said that the review provides a platform for Nigerians to express their opinions on the fundamental law that governs their lives through proposals that will lead to the highest good for the greatest number of our people.
Boroffice said “No doubt, we are going to have diverse and differing views on the different themes of the exercise. However, the focus for this Committee is how to manage the review exercise in a fair, inclusive, credible, and transparent manner.
” Public Hearings are critical to participatory democracy and indispensable in a Constitution amendment exercise if the Constitution is to be seen as the people’s Constitution.
He noted that “These Zonal Public Hearings have been designed in such a manner as to give citizens greater opportunities to make inputs more than ever before in the Constitution amendment process.