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Sunday, 03 March 2024 12:58

[PRESS STATEMENT] Do Governors need restructuring before implementing 4th, 5th amendments of 1999 Constitution - Okechukwu

 

A foundation member of the All Progressives Congress, APC, Mr Osita Okechukwu has hit out at state governors over the non implementation of the 4th and 5th amendments to the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria.

Okechukwu, spoke amid the renewed calls for restructuring. Nobel laureate, Prof Wole Soyinka further put restructuring on the frontburner, weekend, while delivering a lecture at an event organised by the Punch Newspaper.

Soyinka at the Punch's 50th Anniversary, said, “When the word restructuring is booted around, we often have the challenge, what do you mean by restructuring? Well, I don’t even like the word restructuring, I prefer the expressions like reconfiguration, decentralisation. And those who lead us, they recognise the necessity of it, they recognise the importance and almost the inevitability of decentralisation until they get in power.”

And former Secretary General of Commonwealth, Chief Emeka Anyaoku added his noble voice. “I am on record for saying that these challenges cannot be effectively addressed under the constitution and governance system we have at the moment.
“We cannot effectively address these challenges that have assumed a nationwide dimension, especially insecurity which has pervaded the Northern part of the country and other communities,” he said.

However, addressing journalists on Sunday, Okechukwu, who is the immediate past Director General of the Voice of Nigeria, said though he was not against restructuring, if restructuring is patriotic search for prosperous society and the good of greatest number of Nigerians.
“If restructuring is for prosperous society and the good of the greatest number of Nigerians; do governors need restructuring before implementing the 4th and 5th amendments of the country’s constitution?” Okechukwu retorted.

It could be recalled that many governors have been foot-dragging towards the full implementation of financial autonomy for the state Houses of Assembly and the Judiciary, which is the 4th Amendment.

Expressing his views on the renewed restructuring calls, Okechukwu cautioned that “the lukewarm attitude of majority of the governors to adherence to the rule of law, welfare and security of our citizenry; dampens our zeal to advocate for concession of more powers to Governors cum Emperors.”

He stressed that, “Whereas one is not against restructuring or reconfiguration, especially the imperative of devolution of powers to the sub-national units, once more do our dear governors need restructuring before they implement the 4th and 5th amendments of the 1999 Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria?”

“Simply put, is financial independence of the State Judiciary and the State Legislatures, not deepening of our democracy and fundamental restructuring?” Okechukwu asked.

Reminded that why the agitation for restructuring gained momentum and President Tinubu’s attention was being drawn to it is because he was an advocate and apostle of restructuring before he assumed presidential powers; and therefore to whom much is given much is expected.

He agreed that much is expected of President Tinubu as a progressive; but he reminded those who haul blame game at his doorstep that “sincerely under our rigid constitution, Mr President should be given benefit of doubt, for he cannot restructure single handedly, he has the National and State Assemblies to contend with and some them are pessimistic and cynical of devolving more powers to governors who ape emperors with their authoritarian antics.”

When told that the indigenes of the sub-nationals will automatically swing into action when restructuring comes into play, and flush out any authoritarian state governor.

The APC chieftain disagreed with such puerile assumption, recalling that the governors had in the last 24 years entrenched and consolidated authoritarianism.

He said for example the governors had in bi-partisan unholy alliance serially voted against first line charge of funding to local councils, made a mess of State Independent Electoral Commissions and blatantly refused to implement the first line charge funding of state judiciary and state legislatures which is the 4th amendment.

“And since the 5th Amendment we are yet to see visible cooperation of state governments from any of the would be regional bloc or geopolitical zone embarking on regional electricity chain or railways project?”

“May the question be asked- did we forget why issues like region failed in all the constitutional conferences - 1978/9, 1988/9, 1995/6, 2005 and 2014? Reason in a nutshell - phobia of local hegemony.

“And where were the guardrails, guardians or muscle men who would flush out governors cum emperors when they were trampling on our civil liberties, squandering our commonwealth and violently breaching all the extant provisions of the constitution highlighted above.

“Or are we going to go to heaven after restructuring to plead fervently with Almighty God for secondment of our holy ones from heaven?” Okechukwu quipped.

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