By Chinelo Obogo
Former governor of Lagos State and National Leader of the All Progressives Congress (APC), Bola Tinubu, has said only true fiscal federalism will strengthen and revive the economy.
Speaking during the 91st anniversary of Daily Times newspaper on Tuesday night, he said the country can not flourish with over concentration of powers at the centre, advising that more powers and resources be devolved to the states.
“We still grapple with the vestiges of our past under military rule. In many ways, we still function like a unitary state despite the constitution.
“More powers and resources need to devolve to the states. The Federal Government is taking on too much. We cannot flourish with over concentration of powers at the centre. Some of the 68 items on the exclusive list should be transferred to the residual list, as it was in most federal constitutions.
“A notable feature of our 1963 Constitution was the extensive powers granted to the regions which enabled them to carry out their responsibilities as they best saw fit. This was because the regions inherently had a better sense of the needs of their populations simply by virtue of the fact that they were closer to the people than the centre. I am opposed to federalism operated as a unitary monster. As Lagos State governor, I challenged several Federal Government decisions for overreach and for violating the principles of federalism.
“Our problem is a lack of power, yet, we preclude states from helping to resolve this chronic problem that stabs at the very heart of economic development. It is not right to say states can generate power but cannot sell it where they want. Without yielding any countervailing benefit, this policy suppresses the generation of needed power instead of enhancing.”
He also stated that the slump in oil prices has exposed the weakness of the economy for even the blind to see. He said even though this weakness always existed, the country’s leaders did nothing to cure it when fixing the gap would have been less painful and less urgent.
He stated that through indifference, selfishness and ignorance, the country’s leaders failed to forge a consensus on how to resolve the collective problem.
“This failure speaks to a problem of our politics because the decision on how to structure the economy is essentially political in nature. We cannot fool ourselves into believing that the prices will rebound to prior levels and things will return to normal. We must have the bravery to embark on the hard work and progressive reforms needed to turn the fine dream into a living and material reality.”