BY MARK ITSIBOR, Abuja
Sokoto State governor Aminu Tambuwal has said former President Goodluck Ebele Jonathan’s failure to sign the 2015 constitution amendment Bill truncated a process that would have given birth to devolution of power, State Police and other components on the exclusive legislative list of the federation.
Tambuwal who was Speaker of the House of Representatives in the 7th National Assembly said Nigeria missed an ample opportunity to experience restructuring and true federalism when the former President quashed efforts of the lawmakers and the civil society organisations to give Nigerians a legal framework that would have addressed fundamental issues still bedeviling the nation.
“I believe that we lost a chance at that moment! We even attempted to unbundle the office of the accountant-general of the federation to give effect to the issues of true federalism,” Tambuwal said during a panel discussion at the ongoing 26th Nigerian Economic Summit with the theme: Building Partnerships for Resilience.
The former Speaker said the 2015 constitution amendment process was “a multifaceted approach to address all of those challenges Nigeria was facing in terms of security, power, general development, infrastructure development, even by removing the items that have to do with education and primary health care. From chapter 2 to chapter 4 – all of those sections that were not justiciable.”
Governor Tambuwal disclosed that the lawmakers also removed policing from the exclusive legislative list to concurrent legislative list which would have allowed States to have State Police by now.
He said what came out from the constitutional amendment was that the people of Nigeria wanted a Nigerian constitution and a legal framework that can work for all; that will minimize the unitary component of the Nigerian constitution “and most of it are still there now because that attempt was truncated by the refusal of the then President, Goodluck Ebele Jonathan to sign the constitutional amendment Bill which would have by now possibly address some of the issues we are talking about in terms of issues about restructuring, issues about devolution of power, even issues of development of power sector, development of rail system, development of local government as a real tier of government and all of that.”
Ekiti State governor, Kayode Fayemi who was also on the panel said Nigeria needs to reorder her priorities. “We should prioritise our needs right to reduce poverty, grow technology. We need cooperation.” He added that the NGF will work with the federal government. “We have to deal with the urgency of now and deal with our reward system which is flawed.”
Stating that the restructuring of Nigeria should happen now, governor Kayode said “We need to get to brass start now. We don’t have time.”
Tambuwal said the 2015 constitution amendment was the first elaborate constitutional amendment effort in the history of Nigeria, saying the National Assembly made sure that it conducted people’s public sections in 360 constituencies of Nigeria. “That was the first time it happened.”
He said the talk about how to address some of the challenges facing the country would have been translated into real action.
“In that effort that was made, we attempted to reduce the number of items that were under the exclusive/legislative list of the federal government by transferring them to concurrent/legislative list. Issues about power generation, transmission and distribution, railways, and a host of others; we attempted to unbundle them because we know that they are very important to development. You cannot develop without power,” he added.