By Onyedi Ojiabor, Assistant Editor and Sanni Onogu, Abuja
Deputy Senate President Ike Ekweremadu has called for the immediate decentralisation of the Nigeria Police in line with the federal system of government in the country.
Ekweremadu also urged Nigerians to spare a thought on a possible return to regionalism where the six geopolitical zones would become the federating units especially with demand for creation of new states rising to 46 and still counting.
Ekweremadu spoke at the Sixth Annual Oputa Lecture at the Osgoode Hall Law School , York University in Toronto , Canada .
A statement by his Special Adviser, (Media), Uche Anichukwu, said Ekweremadu spoke on the topic, “Nigerian Federalism: A Case for Review.”
Ekweremadu was quoted to have said that “prevalent global trend in crime-fighting and the realities of security challenges in Nigeria make the decentralisation of policing pertinent as it makes it easier to track and burst crimes, gives the police the advantage of knowing the environment- geographically, culturally, socially, politically, and even economically.”
He said the unhealthy and unviable state of the component states of the federation had made it imperative for the country to take a second look at the continual proliferation of states and the dispersal of resources.
Ekweremadu commended states that are streamlining their development policies and agenda as well as aggregate their resources and areas of comparative advantages to develop their regions.
He said: “A return to the regions in the long term seems a major plausible thing to do if we are to nurse any hopes of reversing the dwindling fortunes of our federalism by engendering viability and self-reliance of the component units, massive development, healthy competition, reduce cost of governance and enthrone acceptable level of equity.”
The Deputy Senate President identified the period between 1954 and January 1966 as the golden era of Nigerian federalism, saying that the socio-economic prosperity recorded in the First Republic were possible because the Regions were neither subservient to nor dependent on the centre.
He said: “The brand of fiscal federalism in place today looks every inch that of master and servant relationship and therefore killing industry, initiative, and creativity, while promoting indolence, bad governance, and rentierism.”
He said the resurgence of debate on Nigeria ’s fiscal federalism underlines the fact that the nation needed to “move away from the current military-imposed ‘feeding bottle’ federalism to enthrone one predicated on self-reliance, hard work, enterprise, resourcefulness, and ingenuity to catalyse development”
He faulted the power sharing formula. He added that between the Independence Constitution and the 1999 Constitution, 16 out of the 28 items on the Concurrent List, which translates to about 57 per cent, had been lost to the Exclusive List.
He listed such powers to include: the power of the original regions to control resources within their territories, have diplomatic representations in London, appoint judges without reference to a central body (the National Judicial Council), own constitutions and coat of arms, and right of the local governments to have their own police forces.
He said: “One major step, therefore to returning Nigeria ’s federalism on a strong and prosperous footing is to reengineer politically viable federating units by devolving more powers to the States.”
Ekweremadu observed that irrespective of how much constitutional reform the nation carried out, little progress would be made unless Nigerians rise quickly enough to build structures for the proper management of the nation’s diversities and to secure the optimal right to settlement, establishment, and happiness for all citizens in every part.
He said: “All constitutional provisions that tend to or are liable to manipulations to aggravate the nation’s fault lines must be revisited, while we need to replace State of Origin (indigene) in Section 147 with State of Residence .”
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