Restructuring is not the solution to insecurity and other challenges facing Nigeria, Governor Nasir el-Rufai of Kaduna state has said.
The governor rather said devolution of power will address governance imbalance and help Nigeria achieve it’s potentials.
Addressing the Northwest zonal public hearing on the proposed alterations to the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria 1999 on Wednesday in Kaduna, el-Rufai said there are 10 items that ought to be moved from the exclusive to the concurrent list to enable states partake in their governance.
“Restructuring will not solve our problem as a nation, but it will help us solve some of the problems. Devolution of power will enable Nigeria achieve its potentials. There is need for devolution of power to states and local governments to attain true federalism, with federal Government concentrating on defence, security, foreign policy and macro economics,” he said.
According to el-Rufai, current structure overburdens the federal government with too many responsibilities which it cannot efficiently handle.
He said the APC committee on True Federalism which he headed, had identified legislative interventions that the National Assembly can more easily undertake to achieve a truly balanced, equitable and fair federal structure.
He proposed 10 items that should be shared responsibilities between the state and federal governments, such as, “police, control of oil and gas (other than offshore and continental shelf), control of mines and minerals (other than offshore and continental shelf), railways, prisons, fingerprint, stamp duties, registration of business name, food and drugs other than narcotics and national minimum wage”.
“Police Service Commission is an unnecessary and unneeded clog in the wheel of security in Nigeria, hiring and firing of police officers should revert fully and totally to the IGP, under the supervision of the National Police Council, as envisaged by the Constitution. Nigeria must strengthen its military and security agencies. This includes decentralizing the police to enable the states to exercise effective control in securing their residents and communities.’’
“We need to have federal, state and community police, with each granted sufficient powers to make them effective in securing the areas assigned to them and cooperating closely with each other. Those expressing concerns about the ability of the states to bear the cost of policing should realize that apart from the payment of salaries by the federal government, most of the operational and capital costs of the Nigeria Police are borne by state and local governments.’’
The governor argued that fear of abuse of state police by sub-national governments is misplaced because constitutional or statutory framework can be enacted to ensure federal intervention in cases of such abuses.
“One of the reasons why mining has not quite taken off in our country is because of the dichotomy and total disconnect between the federal institution that issues licenses for mining and the state agencies that ultimately control not only the land and title thereto, but any approval to undertake any development on the land.
‘’It is an anomaly to have a National Judicial Council appointing high court judges for states. This should be the responsibility of State Judicial Councils. The remit of the National Judicial Council should be limited to the federal high and appellate courts. The constitutional amendment should clarify that the states can establish courts to exercise jurisdiction at first instance, or on appeal on matters for which the states can make laws.
‘’In essence, I am suggesting that judges of State High Courts, Sharia Courts of Appeal and Customary Courts of Appeal should be nominated by the State Judicial Council, subject to confirmation by the House of Assembly. States should also be enabled to establish State Courts of Appeal, similar to what we used to have at the regional level under the 1963 Republican Constitution.
‘’This arrangement will make our judicial processes faster, encourage competition, deepen our jurisprudence and restore citizens’ trust. It will also significantly reduce the burden on the Federal Court of Appeal and the Supreme Court of Nigeria,’’ he added.
‘’Each state should decide how many local governments it can efficiently run and fund for better governance and delivery of public goods. No state government shall be allowed under any guise to take control of local government funds, and the Constitution should entrench safeguards and sanctions, including withholding state funds due from the Federation Account in the event of any reported diversions, impoundment or misappropriation’’, he said.
‘’Why should the Federal Government be enabled by the Constitution to fix a national minimum wage that it can afford but most of the states, has been unable to implement? A minimum wage is certainly desirable to protect citizens from exploitation, but it should be on the Concurrent List due to variations in cost of living and ability to pay,’’ he added.