Yesterday, senior lawyers supported the governors’ call for reform.
Senior Advocates of Nigeria (SANs) Chief Wole Olanipekun, Dr Olisa Agbakoba, Ahmed Raji, Femi Falana, Gboyega Oyewole, Louis Alozie, and Kunle Adegoke urged the governors to follow up their words with action.
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Olanipekun said that the governors simply “re-echoed and restated” calls made by him and other influential Nigerians for a long time.
The former president of the Nigerian Bar Association (NBA) believes restructuring will save the country.
“It is better late than never,” Olanipekun said.
All of the governors’ resolutions arrived very late, but they state the obvious.
“They are calling for and restating what people like us, those who love Nigeria, have been saying. They are re-emphasising and re-echoing it because of its importance and potency.
“The options are not many. Let us hit the nail on the head. This (restructuring) is the only option for Nigeria. This is the only way out.
“Those who love Nigeria and who don’t want it to disintegrate should buy into it, so that the country does not lose its sovereignty, both internationally and municipally.
“Let people of goodwill, wherever you come from, North or South, save this country. The situation on ground threatens our sovereignty.”
Agbakoba agreed with the call for restructuring but does not think another dialogue is necessary.
He said: “It is a development long overdue but never too late. I see no need for yet another national dialogue.
“It’s clear what needs to be done so let the governors set the process in motion by submitting bills to amend the Constitution to the National Assembly.”
Raji noted that in addition to calls for dialogue and restructuring, the governors restated their commitment to the country’s unity, which he believes is significant.
“I agree with the governors. The Federal Government should look into the proposals seriously,” he said.
Oyewole said the governors should push for a constitutional amendment to actualise the restructuring they want.
He emphasised that the governors are well-placed to mobilise federal lawmakers from their states and convince their colleagues from the north to make power devolution a reality.
“They should lead the challenge for an amendment to the constitution,” Oyewole said.
According to Falana, the Southern governors’ resolutions tally with those of their Northern counterparts.
“In other words, the positions of the Northern and Southern governors are not dissimilar with respect to restructuring, state police and ban on open grazing.
“The 36 governors met on February 11 and unanimously reached a consensus on the need for the country to transit into a modern system
of animal husbandry that will replace open, night and underage grazing…
“Similarly, the security challenge in the country has compelled all state governments to have a unanimous position on state police.
“Concerning power devolution, the All Progressive Congress has restructuring boldly written in its manifesto.
“I am also aware that all the nationality groups in the country have embraced restructuring.
“The trade unions, human rights groups and other civil society organisations have voted for restructuring provided that it is horizontal and vertical.
“In other words, the powers that are going to be transferred from the centre to the states or regions have to be democratised,” Falana said.
Chief Alozie urged the Federal Government to act on the governors’ recommendations.
He said: “The call for revenue allocation formula is justified in the sense that there is a lot of concentration of resources at the centre resulting in the states becoming beggars.
“Restructuring of the federation leading to the evolution of state police will go a long way to empower state governments who are closer to the people to help manage national security better and at least protect the lives and property of their citizens.”
Adegoke said that it was past time to rethink tax sharing and fix the centralized fiscal structure.
“It is more unitary than territorial, which is why many states in Nigeria are not viable.
They are merely appendages of the federal government, let alone local governments,” he said.
The SAN hopes that reform would aid in the end of agitations and the suppression of racial champions’ practices.
Culled from The Nation
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