Governor Kayode Fayemi of Ekiti state hit the bull’s eye recently when he said Nigeria remained underdeveloped and an infant at 60 because of foundational errors and concentration of power in the centre, while calling for devolution of power and fiscal federalism to allow Nigeria attain greatness.
Addressing a lecture at the Arewa House at 50 anniversary in Kaduna recently titled, ‘Unfinished Greatness: Towards a More Perfect Union in Nigeria’, Fayemi, who chairs Nigeria Governors’ Forum, called for reallocation of powers and resources to states, review of revenue sharing formula in favour of states and co-sharing of policing and internal security with the federal government.
Speaking on the recent #EndSARS protests across the country, the former minister of mines and steel development called for prompt investment in the youth sector and creation of job opportunities to enable the teeming youth be gainfully employed, create wealth for themselves and contribute to the growth of the country.
“In our quest towards a more perfect union, the main challenge is one of re-creating the union. A way to reinvent our country to make it work well for everyone. Our idea of restructuring must be motivated only by our responsibility to perfect our union and to build a nation where peace and justice shall reign, a country that works for everyone, regardless of the language they speak, or how they worship God.
“Our quest for a more perfect union revolves around reallocation of powers and resources and reconfiguring the country’s federating units. Long years of military rule has produced a concentration of powers and resources at the centre to the detriment of the federating units. Other topical issues include derivation principle; fiscal federalism and revenue allocation; land tenure, local government creation and autonomy; etc.
“Exclusive federal list focus on national defence and security, macro-economy, foreign affairs, customs and excise; joint responsibility in respect of certain functions that are currently assigned exclusively to the federal government and primary responsibility of the sub-national governments in respect of the other functions in the second schedule of the 1999 constitution whilst the remaining powers devolve to states.
“On revenue collection and sharing, the position of the Nigeria Governors’ Forum is that the sharing formula should be reviewed in favour of the states. In the context of the proposed new federal structure, governors have argued for a formula along the lines of 42% to states, 35% to the federal and 23% to local governments,” Governor Fayemi said.
Speaking in the same vein, Governor Nasir el-Rufai of Kaduna state said the APC Committee on true federalism, which he chaired in its report submitted in 2018, called for restructuring and devolution of power to the states to enable Nigeria achieve its promise. “I had the privilege of chairing the APC Committee on True Federalism with membership across the political and demographic spectrum to layout our party’s roadmap for our nation’s greatness.
“The committee’s recommendations cover how the states can generate the resources that will fund their envisaged expanded burdens, responsibilities and authority. This includes a holistic review of the share of federation revenues accruing to the states and federal government.
“Our report also upheld the derivation principle as a primary component of fiscal federalism and recommended that control of mineral resources be vested in the states who will then pay applicable royalties and taxes to the Federation Account for distribution between all tiers of government. Our report regarded derivation as being applicable as well to hydro power, solar, wind and other forms of renewable power generation.
“We recommended that the following items be transferred from the Exclusive, to the Concurrent List and therefore fall under the policy oversight and legislative control of both the states and federal government: Police – thereby enabling the establishment of State police; Oil and Gas (other than offshore resources); Mines and Minerals (other than offshore minerals); Railways; Prisons; Fingerprint and criminal identification records.”
According to governor el-Rufai, the APC committee’s equally recommended the following items’ transfer to concurrent list, “Stamp Duties; Registration of Business Names; Food, Drugs and Poisons (other than Narcotics); Minimum wage. State Judicial Councils should be established, while the National Judicial Council’s remit should be limited to the federal and appellate courts.
Indeed, Fayemi;s postulates cannot be overemphasized as many Nigerians in agreement on the need for restructuring, mainly the devolution of powers to the states. It is, therefore, pertinent for the President Muhammadu Buhari government to dust up the El-Rufai committee report on restructuring, with a view to implementing its recommentions. This is more so considering that that the report is the brainchild of the ruling APC.