By Ozioruva Aliu, Benin-City
As the National Assembly continues its receiving of recommendations from Nigerians ahead of the planned review of the 1999 constitution of Nigeria, former Chief Whip of the Senate, Roland Owie has called for the practice of true federalism with proper devolution of powers.
In his recommendation to the Committee through the governor of Edo State, Godwin Obaseki, Owie said it is not in dispute that federalism is the best for Nigeria but the way to go about it remains the challenge.
He said: “I believe there is a simple solution. This is the devolution of powers. The constitution has two Legislative Lists, namely, Exclusive and Concurrent.
“These lists have 98 items of power. The Federal Government exercises exclusive power over 68 items on the Exclusive List.
“On the other hand, the states, in concurrence with the Federal Government, exercise power over 30 items on the Concurrent List, while the States exercise power on the concurrent list, only if the Federal Government has not already “covered the field” on any of the 30 items.
“ In effect, State Governments really have no power to regulate their affairs.
“ I wish to recommend that to resolve this, a holistic review of the 98 items in the Exclusive Legislative List and assign what is best to the Federal and what is best to the States, based on the principle of subsidiarity.
“ I also wish to recommend that the Exclusive list and Concurrent list be renamed as the Federal Legislative List and State Legislative List for clarity.
“ Finally there is also the need to define Federating Units as States and the Centre (Federal).
“The States can then create as many Local Governments that they can fund.”