Romanus Ugwu, Abuja
The Director General, Voice of Nigeria (VON), Osita Okechukwu, has called on Nigerians to look beyond the frenzy of restructuring canvassed by the Southern Governors during their summit held recently in Asaba, Delta State.
Okechukwu, a chieftain of the All Progressives Congress (APC), also warned that conceding more powers to the Governors would put the country’s democracy grave danger.
In a statement he issued in Abuja on Thursday, the VON boss advised Nigerians to tread carefully, urging them not to see the socio-economic and security challenges facing the country as reason to give more powers to the governors who are already mismanaging their powers as emperors.
According to him, giving more powers to the governors will by omission or commission create Frankenstein monsters which will put our democracy in harm’s way.
The VON DG recalled that President Muhammadu Buhari in 2018 endorsed the amendment of the 1999 Constitution of Nigeria, granting financial autonomy to the State Judiciary and State Legislatures, as foundation for real restructuring, but painfully, two years down the line, the governors have refused to implement it.
Okechukwu warned that Nigerians cannot expect good governance when the governors acting as “emperors” had locked up all democratic institutions in the state.
“Whereas one endorsed the Southern Governors’ communiqué that the progress of the nation requires that urgent and bold steps should be taken to restructure the Nigerian federation leading to the evolution of state police, review of revenue allocation formula in favour of the sub-national governments and creation of other institutions which legitimately advance our commitment to and practice of true federalism, one is however of the candid view that we need dual-restructuring.
“We need dual-restructuring to restructure democratic state institutions so as to unlock State Judiciary, State Legislatures and Local Government Councils.
“It will be paradoxical for us to expect good governance at the sub-national level when the governors have locked up democratic institutions.
“We need to devolve relevant powers from the Exclusive Legislative List to States and Local Government Councils,” he argued.
While insisting that Nigerians must tread carefully, Okechukwu warned that they should not because of the palpable insecurity, despondency and despair in the land hand over more powers to the governors who are already mismanaging powers as emperors.
Doing so, he insisted, will by omission or commission create Frankenstein Monsters which will put our democracy in harm’s way.
“Let us introspect and come to the reality that all is not well at the grassroots. For instance in 2018, President Buhari endorsed the amendment of the 1999 Constitution of Nigeria, where the State Judiciary and State Legislatures were granted financial autonomy, as foundation for real restructuring.
“Two years down the line the governors breached this amendment by refusing to implement Section 121(3). By this flagrant infraction of our Constitution the governors painfully demonstrated their phobia to independent judiciary and legislative oversight functions – planks which good governance is rested in all successful liberal democracies.
“To give life to Section 121(3) two years down the line Mr. President signed Executive Order 10 in 2020 and the governors in uncommon bi-partisanship headed to the Supreme Court to block the Executive Order 10. The outcome is the paralysis of activities at the judiciary nationwide by JUSUN.
“Earlier on Parliamentary Workers nationwide were on strike, at huge collateral damage to national development. The question is why didn’t the governors implement the amendment of the Section 121(3)?”
“Can the rights of the citizenry be guaranteed if State Police is enacted under Emperor Governors without independent judiciary and legislative oversight functions?”
“What happens to the opposition under State Police with His Excellencies like my dear friend Malam El-Rufai and Wike? This is without being immodest or personal, just samples.”
“Can transparency and accountability be guaranteed when more money is devolved to States with rubber stamp legislatures? For our collective good and prosperity of the greatest number of our people, we should shine our eyes and use the golden opportunity presented by adversity to embark on dual-restructuring. Luckily Mr. President has commenced this patriotic and democratic journey,” he quipped.