Journalism of Courage

Akeredolu to Governors: Let’s challenge FG’s excesses, powers

Persecondnews reports that Akeredolu revealed this as keynote speaker at the meeting of Body of Attorneys-General of the 36 States of the Federation, held at Lagos Continental Hotel, Victoria Island, Lagos, on Thursday.

Worried by the over-centralization of authority in the hands of the Federal Government, Ondo State Gov. Oluwarotimi Akeredolu (SAN) has urged the governors of the 36 states to challenge the “excesses” of the government at the centre.

Akeredolu said too much powers have been concentrated in the federal government to the disadvantage of the federating units (the states) through the Exclusive Legislative List in the 1999 Constitution.

Describing the constitution as a document that has created crises for the polity, the governor suggested that the

Exclusive Legislative List in the Constitution should be limited to Nigeria’s external trade, customs duties, export duties, tax on incomes, profits and capital gains.

Others are interstate commerce, external borrowing, mining rents and royalties from mineral resources, among others.

Persecondnews reports that Akeredolu revealed this as keynote speaker at the meeting of Body of Attorneys-General of the 36 States of the Federation, held at Lagos Continental Hotel, Victoria Island, Lagos, on Thursday.

In attendance were Lagos State Gov. Babajide Sanwo-Olu, the Attorney-General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Mr Abubakar Malami (SAN), members of the Bar and the Bench, among other dignitaries.

The Governor pointed out that as a result of  the crises created by the 1999 Constitution (as amended), there have been agitations for its amendment and even a new constitution.

On the imperativeness of the 1963 Republican Constitution, Akeredolu said the attested to ingenuity, originality and vision, adding that It has been the only Constitution that represented the interest of the people.

He noted that the 1963 constitution was made by the representatives of the people who came together to enact a law on behalf of the Federation taking into account the fact of heterogeneity.

According to him, the 1963 constitution is enough evidence of the intention of the divergent peoples brought under the same political arrangement by colonial fiat, to act in unison to achieve a common destiny.

Akeredolu stressed that the Constitution, anticipated growth and ultimate development through cooperation borne out of the agreement of the various groups to remain in the union as one.

While saying that the country has been experimenting since the incursion of the military into politics in 1966, he accused the military through the promulgation of the Unification Decree of 1966 introduced a unitary system into the political arrangement of the country.

“The military, displaying their characteristic opportunism, abolished the existing regional structure and replaced them with the so called provinces.

“They consolidated their hold on the polity by yet another promulgation, the Supremacy Decree of 1966 after the counter coup.

“Nigeria has been striving to recover from the debilitating effects of this disruption. All subsequent legislations, since this aberrant incursion, have followed the unitary pattern despite pretensions to some federalist intentions”, the governor asserted.

Akeredolu said he was reluctant coming to the event because of the June 5 terror attack in Owo which left about 40 people dead and several others injured.

“The happenings in Ondo State about a week and half ago, I can not run away from the fact that I have to be here with some reluctance because of the respect I have for this body.

“And I have earlier accepted to be the key note speaker. If you don’t mind, I would like us to rise  and observe a minute silence for the victims of the mindless attack in Owo on the 5th of June”, he said.

According to him, the Federal Government has consistently rejected the suggestion, “presumably” because of the humongous 52% revenue allocation to it while the 36 States and the 774 Local Governments share the remaining 48%.

“The 1999 Constitution has been amended twice. There is another promise of further amendments arising from the manifest irregularity in many provisions.

“This has compelled many lawyers and educated citizens to insist on having a new Constitution which will reflect the agitations of the various groups which make up the country.

“The law is becoming increasingly less certain under these circumstances. The federal system, purportedly provided for, by virtue of Section 1 of the 1999 Constitution, as amended, is a legal ruse”.

The Governor said: “The 1963 Republican Constitution had 45 items on the Exclusive Legislative List. They are now 67 under the 1999 Constitution, as amended.

“Matters concerning elections of Governors and members of Houses of Assembly of States, pension and gratuities, police, prisons, airports, public holidays, labour and trade unions, Stamp Duties, among others, are included in the Exclusive Legislative List.

” It is high time we conducted a comprehensive review.

“It is exciting to note that this meeting will be deliberating on important issues such as the claims of London/Paris Club Loan refund, Value Added Tax, proposed amendments to the 1999 Constitution, as amended, proposed amendments to the Stamp Duties Act, State Anti-Corruption Commission, which will focus on the case of the AG Federation vs. AG Lagos State instituted on the legality of enacting the Lagos State Public Complaint and Anti-Corruption Commission Law and the establishment of the Commission and current developments in the Administration of Justice in the 36 States of the Federation”.

In his address, the President of the Nigerian Bar Association, Mr Olumide Apata and the Lagos State Attorney-General and Commissioner for Justice, Moyosore Onigbanjo, applauded Akeredolu for being the “rare gift of the Bar” to good governance in the country.

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