By Sola Omoboyowa
Ondo State Governor,Arakunrin Oluwarotimi Akeredolu, SAN has described the consultative zonal meeting on true federalism as an opportunity for Nigerians to remove the albatross which some sections of the present Nigerian constitution impose on the country.
The Governor stated this at a True Federalism Zonal Meeting on Restructuring, held at the State International Cultural and Event Centre (The Dome), Akure.
Akeredolu charged stakeholders from Osun , Ekiti and Ondo States to cease the opportunity provided by the meeting to right the wrongs in the constitution and the Nigerian structure, saying this would go a long way in managing the affairs of the nation maturely as well as ensure amicable resolution of all contending issues within the polity.
In his words”We must take steps that will make Nigeria focus on sustainable human, social and economic development”.
The Governor who was represented by his Deputy, Hon. Agboola Ajayi, stressed the need to come up with series of reforms that will in turn culminate in a new constitutional order adding that thus cannot be overemphasised.
Stakeholders at the meeting expressed concern about devolution of powers, what should be the federating units, fiscal federalism, revenue allocation, derivation principles, form of government, creation and/or merger of states, regionalism, state police, federal character and local government autonomy among others
Akeredolu noted that the call by most Nigerians for true federalism is an indication that something must be done urgently to assuage the nerves of all concerned and navigate the country’s ship from the precipice.
We call on all concerned to allow the true spirit of patriotism and nationalism to prevail at the end of the exercise which we must see to a logical end ” The governor said.
In the same vein, Secretary, All Progressives Congress (APC) Committee on True Federalism, Senator Olubunmi Adetunmbi said the Committee would look into the reports of the 2005 Political Reforms Conference, the 2014 National Sovereignty Conference and reports of previous national conferences in its assignment to determine the party’s position on restructuring.
Senator Adetumbi who was represented at the meeting by a member of the Committee, Mrs Rachael Akpabio,said the Committee met four times and identified 12 key issues for discussion at the public hearing.
According to him, the public hearing which will hold in Benin, Enugu and Ibadan will end with a meeting with civil societies, organisations and professional groups in Abuja on October 9th, this year.
He added that 12 issues Nigerians will have opportunity to share their opinions on are: Creation/merger of states and the framework and guidelines for achieving that;
Derivation principle bordering on what percentage of federal collectible revenue should be given back;devolution of powers on what item on the exclusive legislative list should be transferred to the recurrent list and federating units, especially state and community policing, Federating Units: Should Nigeria be based on regions or zones or 36-state structure; Fiscal federalism and revenue allocation and Form of government (parliamentary or presidential)
Others are; Independent candidacy; Land tenure system; Local government autonomy; Power sharing and rotation; Resource control; and Type of legislature.
Adetunmbi noted that the committee welcomes contributions from Nigerians who have something important and valid to say concerning the development of the country, saying the assignment is not limited to APC members.
“We must recognise that the work of nation building is an ongoing process in which every stakeholder has a role to play, by making his own contribution. In this case, the APC as a national political party is an institution and a stakeholder that has a role to play in making his own contribution’ . he said.
Adetunmbi stated further “This exercise is its own way of making that contribution. The APC felt that it is not necessary to think alone among ourselves, but to also ask members of the public what they think. That is why everything this Committee is doing is not about its own opinion, but harvesting the opinion of the ordinary people in order to form an opinion. After all, no political party exists just by itself, but by the mandate of people.
Senator Olorunnimbe Farukanmi, from Akure North Local Government, decried the excessive proliferation of states and local governments in Nigeria, which he said has created numerous problems in the presidential form of government being funded with the crude oil wealth.
He admonished the adoption of a parliamentary system of government as against the Presidential system which had impacted negatively on social and economic development of the country.
He also lend his voice to local government autonomy to enable the resources acruable to the third tier of government be used for its development.
In a separate interview , the representative of the chairman of the committee on public hearing on restructuring Mrs Akpabio said APC is taking a position on how and when the Country would be restructured,stressing that they have collected memoranda from those at the meeting which will in turn be presented to the party (APC) for further action
In his remarks, Olukare of lkare, Oba Akadiri Momoh,said traditional rulers in the state are in support of whatever will bring development and unity of the country.
Oba Mohom who is the chairman council of traditional rulers in the state charged the committee to do a perfect job and consult widely.
Also speaking, the Osenawe of Ondo Kingdom, Oba Victor Kiladejo,stated that Nigeria is a diverse social entity with many ethnic -linguistic groups,noting that there must be equity , justice and sense of belonging for all through empowerment of the constituents.
Participants were drawned from Ondo, Osun and Ekiti.
Photos: Olawale Abolade