From Ighomuaye Lucky, Benin
Professors of Law from various Nigerian universities, at the weekend, made a case for true federalism in the country where states would take full control of the natural resources in their regions.
They made the call in Benin at the maiden reunion lecture of the University of Benin Law Class of 1985.
Delivering the lecture, entitled: “True Federalism: The Imperative of Resource Control in Nigeria,” Vincent Akpotarie of the Western Delta University, Oghara, Delta State, said sticking tenaciously to the principles of federal system of government remained the remedy to fiscal confusion in the country.
The professor, who is the dean, Faculty of Law of the university, said the current system where full ownership of natural resources was vested in the Federal Government to the exclusion of other units did not give a good picture of a true federalism.
“It is our belief that a tripartite system of ownership may provide solution to the agitations and conflicts in the country,” he said.
Akpotarie described as unitary system the present practice where states visit Abuja every month to seek allocation from the national revenue.
The don advocated legislative action that would consider more allocation for states based on the natural resources deposit, pending a constitutional review or convention that would take care of the ‘misnomer’.
This, he said, would address the prevailing agitations for self-determination and conflict.
Nathaniel Inegbedion of the University of Benin blamed the 1999 Constitution for the confusion in the Nigerian system of government.
Inegbedion, also of the law faculty, said the constitution was federalism in name, but the content distorted to promote the principles of unitary system.
For instance, he said putting the mainstay of the economy on the Exclusive List and others on the concurrent where the Federal Government still exercised overriding control was antithetical to the gospel of federalism.
In his submission, Dominic Badaiki of the Ambrose Alli University, Ekpoma, Edo State, said ongoing agitation for revenue control and devolution of power were informed by power play, politics and sentiment.
The dean of Faculty of Law in the university observed, however, that the view of the antagonists of resource control by states needed to, as well, be considered when charting a new course.
One of the views, he said, was that taxes and income from natural resources were a form of royalty, due to all units of the federation.
Badaiki, nonetheless, advocated restructuring that would be reduced on over-reliance on oil.