The Ekiti State Governor, Mr Biodun Oyebanji, has stressed the need for the country to practise true federalism as he said it was the only way out of the problems confronting the nation.
The governor, who called for the return of the nation to the 1963 Constitution, noted that the 1963 Constitution guaranteed true federalism and peaceful co-existence among the tiers of government in the country.
Oyebanji stated this on Friday in Akure, the Ondo State capital, in a lecture he delivered at a book presentation titled ‘Aketi: The courage to lead in trying time.’ The book was written in honour of the Ondo State Governor, Mr Rotimi Akeredolu, by Prince Ebenezer Adeniyan.
The lecture was titled ‘Reawakening the restructuring debate: Setting a national rebirth agenda.’
Represented by the Secretary to the Government of Ekiti State, Mrs Abibat Adubiaro, the governor frowned on the way federalism is being practised currently in Nigeria, noting that restructuring is the call for a more perfect union that will be just, fair, equitable and functional.
He said, “For me, the call for restructuring is the call for a more perfect union that is just, fair, equitable, and functional. I see restructuring as a holistic surgery for the healthy living of our country for a more effective, balanced, prosperous, and peaceful nation that guarantees happiness for all.
“Even though it has been argued in some quarters that there is nothing like ‘true’ federalism and that the call for true federalism was a theoretical construct, I hold a contrary view. I do agree that every federal system is unique in its power relations between the federal government and the federating units, yet, it is correct to refer to the original federal arrangement as conceived in the 1963 republican constitution, in terms of power relations, as representing the ‘true’ federal system for Nigeria.
“I do believe that our political independence forebears studied widely about all federal systems, reviewed our unique situation, and came up with what was best suited and true to our socio-cultural and historical reality. For me, the challenge is the operationalisation of the concept by the political establishments.”
The governor added, “Apart from the fact that the federal police are grossly inadequate in number, the motivation and morale are low because of the poor condition of service. Furthermore, the issue of enforcement of state that are best suited to be enforced by the state or local police systems is another reason I am in support of multilevel policing. I am of the firm belief that any government that is incapable of policing its area of jurisdiction upon which it legislates and superintends, is a lame duck because security and welfare are fundamental rights of the citizens guaranteed by the 1999 Constitution (as amended).
“It is 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 police to enforce the law through its police authority. More so, with the new amendment that now makes Correctional Services concurrent, it will mean that there should be state-owned prisons and correctional centres which should be manned by state correctional officers.
“Will these officers be armed with just cudgels and batons? I ask this question because the greatest opposition to state police is the issue of arming them adequately to respond to attacks and for self-defence. The state correctional officers will have to be equipped with modern weapons like their federal counterparts to be effective and fit to discharge their duty.”