[dropcap]T[/dropcap]he national leader of the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu Saturday said that the federal government cannot withold Paris Club refund meant for states.
“The federal government has no right to withhold funds that constitutionally belong to the states. The fear of possible misuse of funds is no reason to violate the constitution.”
“Money that is owed the states belongs to the states. We all support propriety of expenditure. The sentiment behind the withholding is understandable if not laudable.
Tinubu made the statement in an address he sent to the 2017 Annual Dinner of the King’s College Old Boys’ Association (KCOBA) in Lagos.
“The imbalance between the roles of the federal and state governments lies at the root of our difficulties. We need to re-balance the duties of the federal and state governments. The quest to correct the imbalance is the essence of federalism that I have advocated for so many years,” he said.
“Provide the funds to the states as legally required. Committed and fine governors will use the funds wisely. And the people will be better off. As to those who squander the money, there are appropriate ways to expose and sanction them. This is where the federal government can appropriately step in. However, to withhold the funds, no matter how well intended, is to undermine federalism and the rule of law. It will have adverse long-time consequences; as such, it is too high a price to pay.”
“Due to our particular political history and its military legacy, the quality of our federalism and the quality of our democracy are intertwined. The more we repair federalism, the more we improve democracy.
“In my mind, federalism denotes a division of labour between the federal and state governments that functions to maximise the benefits of governance to the people. True federalism is that brand which provides that the federal government should focus on those few but essential things only it can provide such as foreign policy, defence, and national economic policy.
“All other matters should be left to the states. If there is doubt over a particular issue, the presumption should be that the states, not the federal government, should take the lead.
“Here, I say to those so eager to dispense with federalism in favour of more rash and impractical remedies, let us first truly practice federalism before we deem it a failure. If given but a fair chance, we just might perfect federalism by making it work for the benefit of all of us.”
Tinubu warned against ignoring the agitations in some parts of the country.
“We argue over matters that long ago should have been settled. The longer such fundamental questions fester, the more extreme become the proposed answers.
“Thus, we have people clamouring for secession and the murmur of such a course grows stronger in other sections.
“These other areas resent that some have advocated secession. Blame and recrimination become the political currency. Statesmanship falls in short supply. The dominant urge is to confront instead of reconcile.
The address was presented on his behalf by one-time Lagos State Commissioner for Finance Mr. Wale Edun.
e this land will become a great nation and a leader among other African nations. We can resolve our dysfunctions in a manner that will make this nation rise as a standard of decency, justice and prosperity for all Nigerians.”