Lagos State Governor, Akinwunmi Ambode yesterday said that the present structure of the Nigerian constitution is why the federal government is failing in effectively performing its duties.
Speaking at a joint working retreat of Senate and House Representatives Committees on the Review of 1999 Constitution held in Lagos, Ambode said,
“We believe that the principle of appropriateness should guide the sharing of powers between the federal and state governments.”
He also described the continuous operation of the Federal Land Registry in Lagos as an aberration, which the current ongoing Constitutional amendment process must address in line with the principle of fiscal federalism.
He called on the National Assembly to jettison the proposed Stamp duties Bill currently being considered, which according to him, would cripple the internally generated revenue due to States in the federation if allowed to scale through.
While highlighting some of the unhelpful provisions in the Constitution, Ambode attributed the imbalance in the financial resources of States and Local Governments to the current unhealthy revenue sharing formula which is heavily tilted in favour of the Federal Government, calling for an urgent review to enable other tiers of government realise their potentials and accelerate growth and development.
Ambode also reinstated his call for special status to be granted to Lagos in the proposed Constitutional amendment being the former federal capital territory of Nigeria, the economic and commercial nerve centre of the nation, and taking into cognizance the high population density and continuous influx of people into the State.He said such was even more important considering the fact that whatever comes to Lagos would be in the overall interest of all Nigerians, as the state holds the trigger of Nigeria’s growth and development.
Besides, Governor Ambode said it was time for Section 214 (1) of the Constitution to be amended to allow States to establish their own Police Service, as the current arrangement was unhelpful to truly protect the citizens.
He said over the years, the Federal Government had been unable to provide resources necessary to pay, equip and train policemen to the level required by the challenges they face, adding that the situation whereby only about 300,000 policemen are policing more than 140 million which is a ratio of 1 to 467, confirmed the fact that the country was grossly under-policed.
He said the situation had negatively affected States like Lagos with huge population saying despite the massive financial support to security agencies by most States including Lagos, such was still inadequate mainly because State Governments have no influence over the number of men recruited for or deployed to their domains.
Meanwhile, chairman, Senate Committee on review of the 1999 Constitution, Senator Ike Ekweremadu and Deputy Speaker, House of Representatives, Yusuf Lasun have disclosed that all the sections of the constitution to be amended under the supervision of the Eighth National Assembly would be presented in separate bills and not in single document for speedy passage and assent by the President.
Making the disclosure yesterday during the opening session of the National Assembly Constitutional Amendment Committee joint working retreat in Lagos, Ekweremadu, who is the deputy senate president, enjoined all the lawmakers at the retreat to focus on issues during their deliberation on the constitutional amendment process.
He explained that the decision to break this particular exercise into separate bills and issues was based on past experiences. He said there is hope the process would conclude before the 2019 elections process takes off.
He also appealed to the 36 states House of Assembly to fast track whatever that is going to be altered in the constitution whenever it is transmitted to them for approval.
However, the Senate Minority Leader, Godswill Akpabio attributed a lot of the agitations in the country for restructuring to lack of true federal system. The former governor of Akwa Ibom State also called for reduction in the power and resources attributed to the Federal Government at the expense of state and local government development.
He emphasized the need to unbundle the Federal Government by reducing the numbers of responsibilities of the central government because it lacks the capacity to handle some of the things it currently handles.