Ekiti State Governor, Mr. Biodun Oyebanji, has said the emerging Bola Ahmed Tinubu Presidency is an opportunity to address the structural imbalance in the Nigerian federation and fully entrench true federalism in the polity.
He said the election of the President-elect marked the first time a core and committed progressive would be in the saddle hence the need to begin to interrogate issues around restructuring and a workable federalism for Nigeria.
The Ekiti helmsman made the remarks on Friday in Akure, the Ondo State capital, while delivering a lecture at the public presentation of a book in honour of his Ondo State counterpart, Mr. Oluwarotimi Akeredolu. The book was titled “Aketi: The Courage to Lead in Trying Times.”
In his lecture titled “Reawakening the Restructuring Debate: Setting a National Rebirth Agenda,” Oyebanji identified security structure, devotion of resource, national industrial planning, environmental matters and listing of local government areas in the Constitution as issues that require the urgent attention of the incoming President to have a more equitable and result-oriented political system.
Oyebanji praised the role played by Akeredolu in ensuring the establishment of the Amotekun Corps in the Southwest which was a response to the security challenges faced in the zone, the inadequate personnel of the Federal Government-controlled Police and its command structure.
According to him, “it is absolutely ridiculous that a state will have a state assembly that can legislate on concurrent and residual matters as ascribed by the constitution, can have a state judiciary to interpret its laws and administer justice within the state powers but cannot have a police to enforce the law through its own police authority.”
Specifically, Oyebanji pointed out that some funds which are supposed to be chanelled to the States are still domiciled in the Federal Government like the ecological fund and the Universal Basic Education fund with the States being the epicentres of where the funds are most needed and not the central government.
He said further: “Let us look at the special funds such as Ecological Fund and the Universal Basic Education Fund. Ecological fund is a fund set aside to tackle ecological problems in the country. This fund is administered by the Office of the Secretary to the Government of Federation, yet, apart from the FCT, FG does not have a land of its own where it can apply this fund.
“So, the states which bear the direct consequences of environmental degradation will have to pray to receive the favour of the FG to access the fund. Similarly, whereas the federal government does not run basic education, the fund that is created to help promote basic education in Nigeria is administered by the Universal Basic Education Commission.
“Of course, there are many areas of concerns that continue to agitate our attention and which we must begin to set agenda around. As the Asiwaju Bola Tinubu’s Presidency begins in a matter of weeks, the call for true federalism that serves our people better and brings more equity and fairness that guarantee peace should begin to occupy the attention of the progressives.
“Good enough, a committee of the Progressive Governors’ Forum has done an impressive work on how to attain a more perfect federal system. We now have a duty to dust off this document and push for its consideration at the highest level of legislative and executive authorities.”
In his response, the Ondo state Governor, Arakunrin Oluwarotimi Akeredolu, while commending the author for his thoughtfulness in putting together his reactions to national issues in recent years added that the book highlighted his modest attention in the area of security of lives and property of the people of Ondo state in particular and Southwest in general.
While noting that the people of the state look forward to government for leadership, the Governor, who was represented by his Deputy, Mr Lucky Ayedatiwa wondered why the Nigeria nation was still grappling with basic issues of existence at 63 years of independence rejecting persistent call for a just and egalitarian society by misplacing their sense of patriotism at this crucial period in the history of democratic governance in Nigeria.
He assured that his government would continue to strengthen the operational capacity of all security agencies in the state both in terms of equipment and welfare of their personnel as demonstrated over the years.
“Let me reiterate for the umpteenth time that the Nigerian state must be administered through to its acclaimed federal status. The government and the people of Ondo state hoped to engage the federal government vigorously on these issues, majority of us believe we are better of being together than succumbing to pressure to act separately. We must as a country imbibe the tenets of true federalism, this has influenced our calls for the restructuring of the polity that will give power to the federating units for the benefit of our people, on this struggle, we will never waver.
“It was in this direction that the Governors of the South west midwifed and created the Amotekun Corps, during this period, our people have unarguably felt safer and we will therefore continue to strengthen the Amotekun Corps and will not relent our calls for the Corps to be allowed to bear the tools and weapons allowed by law to protect the people and their property.