From Fred Itua, Abuja
Rights lawyer and Senior Advocate of Nigeria (SAN), Chief Mike Ozekhome, has revealed that recommendations contained in the report of the 2014 National Conference, if implemented, will solve some of the contending issues in the country.
Ozekhome, who spoke yesterday when South South journalists decorated him as the Patron of the association, urged President Muhammadu Buhari to look beyond the convener of the conference and implement some of the recommendations.
“I believe that Nigeria is an ongoing project. It is like clay waiting to be moulded into a good shape. I believe in true fiscal federalism. Regions should be allowed to develop according to their pace and culture, rather than the current system we are operating.”
He argued that the system of government as currently constituted, makes the central government too powerful. He urged the government to consider the devolution of powers from the centre.
“We have a central government that is too powerful. We are looking at the devolution of powers from the centre to the component units. All the issues coming up in the polity were discussed extensively during the 2014 National Conference.
“These days, nobody looks forward to the centre to survive. Every state in Nigeria has something to bring to the table. It is injustice for the Federal Government to insist that all mineral resources belong to it.
“The way out is to go back to true fiscal federalism. It is either we merge all the states together into regional blocs or make them truly independent. It will be such that what each state produces, 70 per cent will be given back to them. The structure we are operating is not working.
“I am appealing to Buhari to drop the mindset where he said he has not even looked at the content of the National Conference…”
He is looking at the convener instead of the message. He should not throw away the baby and the bath water.
“I appeal to him to dust up the report of the National Conference. He will be surprised that all the issues in the country are well captured in the report. He should go back to the report.
“Many Nigerians do not believe in the Nigerian project. That is why the country is still advocating for nationhood. The current constitution of Nigeria is illegal. It was formulated by the military. The constitution itself is unconstitutional,” he said.