The Director-General, Voice of Nigeria (VON), Osita Okechukwu, has disclosed that the Nigerian Governors Forum (NGF) have remained a clog in the Federal government’s wheel towards achieving true federalism
Okechukwu regretted that state governors ganged up to frustrate the good intentions of Executive Order 10 of the All Progressives Congress (APC-led) federal government.
The APC chieftain, who made the claim in his goodwill messages at the 2020 Annual Conference of the APC Press Corps held on Friday in Abuja explained further that Executive Order 10 is aimed at advancing financial autonomy of the State Legislature and State Judiciary in compliance with Section 121(3) of the 1999 Constitution of Nigeria, (as Amended).
He further lamented that in the govenors’ opposition to Executive Order 10, they had adopted bi-partisan toga and headed to hang it on the maze of Supreme Court’s shelf, noting that it is a wake up call to hold governors accountable and hasten good governance.
Okechukwu said: “A cursory digest of your topic – Contestation, a veritable process in deepening democratic norms, permit me to submit that in the midst of national security challenges and our poverty pandemic; the contestation today is the issue of restructuring, in other words devolution of powers from the center to the states and local councils.
“We all agree that the center is too heavy, that True Federalism is the answer, as some items listed in the Exclusive Legislative List is unnecessary, akin to extra-meat. That at best such items should go under Concurrent Legislative List.
“Yes, restructuring is in the manifesto of our great party, secondly it is reflected in some sections of the 1999 Constitution and it has no doubt taken the center stage of contestation in our public domain; however, it is been difficult to build national consensus on this very important issue. Why? The simple answer is that our contestation over restructuring is fouled by – I pass my neighbour syndrome! My dear countrymen lets change it.
“As Press Corps covering the ruling party, please in line with the ethics of our profession, we must as a matter of urgent national importance, discreetly fashion out ways and means of changing the assertion-narrative – I pass my Neighbour syndrome. This change of narrative is very important, because to my assessment no ethnic nationality in Nigeria is at the zenith of development.
“When reality check is applied, we are all undeveloped and according to World Poverty Clock – World Poverty Capital.Therefore, it is high time we start thinking collectively as Nigerians, and people of one nation state. For the contestation that my ethnic nationality is better than any other is making national consensus impossible, not only on restructuring, but on other crucial matters. I pass my Neighbour syndrome cannot deepen our democracy,” he said.
Speaking further, the Enugu State-born politician explained: “When the Boko Haram started a decade ago the initial victims were the churches and some loudly proclaimed, serves them right. Today it has became a monster.
Our narrative should be how best to lift our people out of poverty pandemic. What we share in common is the uniformity of poverty ravaging our dear country. Poverty has neither ethnic nationality nor religion. And we have been duly informed that poverty is the material condition which bred insecurity and other crimes.
“In the midst of this mind-boggling tag of our dear country as the World Poverty Capital, we still carry on as if all is well. This does not mean that we are at zero level, not at all. Albeit join our leadership in telling the true story that a lot has been achieved with meager resources in the last five years in agriculture, physical infrastructure, more prudent management of finance and incremental restructuring.
“On incremental restructuring one is referring to Executive Order 10, a harbinger of true democracy at the State or sub-national level. Executive Order 10 is a decoder to I pass my Neighbour syndrome. It will wipe out the syndrome and create a cadre of democrats who will provide the necessary checks and balances at the State level.
“For the avoidance of doubt the Executive Order 10 is aimed at advancing financial autonomy of the State Legislature and State Judiciary in compliance with Section 121(3) of the 1999 Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, (as Amended).
Speaking further, Okechukwu argued that “The objective of Executive Order 10 is to strengthen the legislative and judiciary institutions at the state level, make them more independent and more transparent. This great achievement of APC led federal government up to date did not received much press attention. Even when the governors ganged up against this incremental restructuring, we all kept quiet.
“Let us support this arsenal meant to advance democracy at the sub-national level. If you like make it the stepping stone to more elaborate restructuring. For without democracy at this tier of government, we will be surreptitiously running monarchy where Emperors preside. Imagine what will happen with State Police in the hands of governors who are presiding over rubber-stamp Legislatures, unelected local government councils, and pliable State Judiciary?
“To me without being immodest,Executive Order 10 is the harbinger of true restructuring, as it will remove the shield of I pass my neighbour syndrome, which camouflage Governors sometimes less than transparent dealings.
“To be exact, no meaningful restructuring can be effected under rubber stamp State Houses of Assembly, pliable State Judiciary and local government councils not democratically elected as enshrined in Section 7 of the 1999 Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria as amended, ” he noted.