★Says Series Of Amendments Yet To Yield Desired Results
★Wants Power Devolved To States, Local Govts
★Calls For Review Of Derivation Formula, Role Of NASS In RMAFC
By Wilson Macaulay
Delta state Governor, Sen. Ifeanyi Okowa has said that what is more sensible and economical is for Nigeria to have a new constitution by adding a clause to section 9 of the 1999 constitution to enable the legislature repeal and rewrite a new one.
He said the need for a new grand norm has become necessary since previous amendments have not yielded any positive result as expected.
He stated these on Thursday while addressing members of the House of Representatives committee on the review of the 1999 constitution, led by the deputy speaker and chairman, Ahmed Idris Wase who paid him a courtesy visit in his office in Asaba.
“Okowa asked: “Is it possible to have a brand new constitution when there is one exiting? As the constitution is at the moment there is no provision to allow that. But I believe that if we have a deep thought and look at Section 9 of the constitution it would be possible to add a clause and when that clause must have been approved and has become law, it would now be possible under such a condition for the National Assembly to rewrite an entire constitution which would come into effect after all the process have been done.”
The Governor also called on the National Assembly to prioritize devolution of power from the center to the subnational (component states) as requisite for growth and development.
“There is a need for devolution of power. We believe that the exclusive list is too burdensome for the Federal government to handle. It is not about this administration. It is about all the administrations at the Federal level. When you take too much for yourself, you find it difficult to be as efficient as you would have been ordinarily.
“And whether we like it or not the truth is the sub national governments are closer to their people and are best situated to represent their people and to reach out and to touch them in ways and manners that the people would best appreciates we think there is a need to looking at that exclusive list and to make adjustment to devolve more power to the sub-national government.
Touching on the fiscal federalism, governor Okowa charged members of the House to look at amending section 162 of the constitution with a view to guaranteeing fiscal independence of states and local governments in the country.
To this end, he stressed the need for the review of revenue allocation to states, as well as an upward review of the 13 percent derivation formula currently in use for oil producing states, adding that the Niger Delta as a region faces more difficulties trying to achieve infrastructure development than other regions of the country.
“Of course going through on that would be that there would need to be the reallocation of resources to be able to make the sub-national government more impactful than they are at the moment. When we concentrate too much power at the national level it creates a lot of challenges. We can help ourselves as a nation by devolving those powers.”
Okowa regretted that since 1999 till date there has been no review of the revenue allocation formula.
“We also believe that on the issue of derivation, the oil communities are not well treated. We know that the provision of the constitution is that derivation shall be at least 13 percent, but from all our workings, with all; that goes out, the states that are oil producing do not get up to 13 per cent,” he said.
The governor also called for the creation of state police to tackle the problem of insecurity in the country.
“There is need for the establishment of state police not because we believe that the federal police is inefficient, but we believe that it would be difficult for them to have enough personnel with such a command structure that will be functional enough to handle the level of insecurity in the land today. We are not asking for a scrapping of the federal police, but there is a need for the creation of state police. Nigeria would not be the first nation to have that and it can be worked out in a manner that would correlate with each other,” he said.