Former Attorney General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Chief Bayo Ojo (SAN) yesterday stressed the need for state governments to be abolished and replaced with strong geo-political zones and local governments.
Chief Ojo, who disclosed this in an interview with Blueprint, said devolution of powers where the zones and the federating units would be strong while the centre is weak is imperative because too much power is currently concentrated at the centre.
He said the federating units should be the zones as presently constituted, arguing that two more zones should be added to the existing six with local governments.
He said the zones should operate their own constitution with a court of appeal while final appeals will lie with the Supreme Court as operated in the parliamentary constitution of 1963.
This, he said, would ensure that the cost of running government is reduced.
Chief Ojo also denied knowledge of the much orchestrated third term agenda of former President Olusegun Obasanjo administration which led to discarding of the outcome of the national political reform conference by the National Assembly.
He said he had no idea of the agenda of President Obasanjo to continue in office after the stipulated constitutional second term.
He said: “As the former Attorney General of the Federation at that time, I was not aware of any third term agenda by President Obasanjo; till today as I’m speaking to you, the president never told me he wanted to do a third term, do you understand what I’m saying? So as the former judicial officer of the country, I was not aware that there was a third term. I hear that there was an alleged third term, people have bandied it several time, up till now as I’m talking to you, the president never told me and you can ask him if I’m lying. So I’m not aware.”
He said the outcome of the 2005 national reform conference convoked by Obasanjo was very beautiful and far-reaching in its resolutions but was thrown away due to ignorance.
He explained that it was unfortunate that some people wrongly perceived that there were some alleged underpinnings to that national conference.
He said the outcome of the conference would have uplifted the country but was thrown away out of ignorance.
On why he thinks the resolutions of the present conference would be implemented, Chief Ojo said: “Between 2005 and now, it has been nine years, so people have become wiser, what I mean is nobody will allow himself to be led by the nose; you can see that people are going to guard the outcome of this conference very jealously and the people are watching. In 2005, people were not as interested as they are today, people are watching.”
He said not all outcomes of the conference would necessitate constitutional amendment, adding that while some would become policy directives to be implemented almost immediately by government others would necessitate constitutional amendment.