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Quickread: Akeredolu charges Tinubu on devolution of power to states. Four other stories we tracked and why they matter



The Ondo State Governor, Rotimi Akeredolu, last week charged President Bola Ahmed Tinubu to ensure the devolution of power to states.

This and four other stories we tracked dominated public discourse last week.

1. Akeredolu charges Tinubu on devolution of power to states

On May 23, Akeredolu urged the new president to take the subject of power devolution seriously in his government in order to fast-track the country’s growth.

The governor made the call at the 59th Founders’ Day Anniversary Lecture of the Adeyemi Federal University of Education, Ondo.

He said: “The Federal Government must divest itself of the overwhelming but self-imposed duties for the country to breathe. The states must be encouraged to explore their domains and be creative. The Federal Government must ban the importation of all items which the country is capable of producing. The taxation on luxury goods must be heavy.”

Why it matters

Akeredolu’s regular push for devolution of power to the federating units lends credence to Nigerians’ desire for lasting solutions to the myriad of challenges in the country.

The governor’s latest position on this subject is a reminder of the unfinished discussion on restructuring of the country which demands an honest dialogue between and among its various entities in a bid to address the separatist agitations and misgivings in Nigeria.

It also reopens discussion on the vexed issue of state police as an ideal solution to the security challenges in many parts of Nigeria.

2. El-Rufai dares predecessors on corruption

The former Kaduna State governor, Nasir El-Rufai, on May 21 challenged his predecessors to prove their innocence of corruption.

El-Rufai, who made the call in his valedictory media chat on the Hausa Service of the Kaduna State Media Corporation, challenged all former governors in the state to swear with the Holy Qur’an that they did not steal the state’s funds while in office.

He said: “I challenge the past governors, let them face the people of Kaduna State and swear with the Holy Qur’an that they never stole from the government coffers. I can swear I never stole a Kobo from the government coffers.
“I am happy with what we have seen. The work we have started and the quality of the work. I am sure we are going to spend several years enjoying them.”

Why it matters

The governor’s remark speaks to the culture of corruption in Nigeria, a country where the stealing of public funds has been accepted as statecraft.

It also confirms the widely held perception on the management of state resources by the governors, many of whom live in opulence while their subjects groan under harsh conditions induced by unfavourable policies.

Indeed, it brings home the question of accountability and whether indicted public officials involved in barefaced corruption are being sufficiently punished as a deterrent to others.

The slap-on-the-wrist sanctions adopted by successive administrations has, without doubt, slowed down the country’s growth and eroded public confidence in the system.

3. Soludo’s push for Kanu’s release

The Anambra State Governor, Charles Soludo, on May 26 made a last-minute appeal to former President Muhammadu Buhari to release the detained leader of the Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB).

In the letter to Buhari, the governor stressed that Kanu’s detention had continued to have negative effects on the residents of the South-East.

He appealed to the former Nigerian leader to release Kanu to enable the activist to travel to the United Kingdom for medical attention.

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Soludo said: “In the light of the foregoing, it is my earnest prayer that Mr. President may kindly consider the immediate and unconditional release of Kanu as demanded by the United Nations Human Rights Council and the Federal High Court.”

Why it matters

The former president may have lost the golden opportunity to redeem his badly battered image, especially among the large populace in the South-East with his refusal to release Kanu before leaving office.

However, the onus is on the new government to restore calm in the troubled region by quickly resolving the Kanu impasse and exploring a political solution to the separatist group’s agitation.

4. Health workers’ indefinite strike

The Joint Health Sector Union (JOHESU) on May 25 directed its members to embark on an indefinite nationwide strike over the Federal Government’s failure to address its demands.

The National Vice President of JOHESU, Mr. Obinna Ogbonna, disclosed this at a media briefing in Abuja.

Ogbonna said: “The strike is consequent upon the nonchalant, biased, and lackadaisical attitude of the Ministry of Health against JOHESU members and the resolution of the expanded National Executive Council meeting of the JOHESU held on May 8.

“Our members in federal health institutions nationwide are hereby directed to withdraw their services indefinitely commencing from 00:00 hour on Thursday, May 25, 2023.”

Why it matters

The decision of the health workers to embark on the strike of their own a few days after the resident doctors decided to down tools over the same reason may have thrown the sector into disarray with ordinary Nigerians likely to be the biggest victims of the latest face-off between the government and its employees.

The current crisis is a sad reminder of the government’s neglect of the health sector where the workers are left to operate under poor conditions while its officials hop on the next flights abroad in search of treatment for all forms of ailments.

It also means the new government has its work cut out already in its bid to clear the mess created by the immediate past administration in virtually every sector of the Nigerian state and quickly too.

5. EFCC’s position on Buhari’s anti-graft drive

The Chairman of the Economic and Financial Crime Commission (EFCC), Abdulrasheed Bawa, on May 25 described the anti-corruption drive of former President Muhammadu Buhari’s administration as excellent.

Bawa, who spoke at the passing out ceremony of the Inspector Cadet Course Six 2022 of the EFCC at Police Mobile Force Training College (PMFTC) in Ende Hills, Akwanga, Nasarawa State, said the Buhari’s administration’s fight against corruption surpassed that of previous administrations in the country.

He said: “The assessment of the president’s anti-corruption drive is of course on top and it has been excellent.
“Yesterday (Wednesday) I was with him, and we presented to him the graph presentation of the rise in the conviction we succeeded in securing under his leadership.
“In 2016, the EFCC only recorded 103 convictions and in 2022 we recorded 3,785, all credits go to him. This signified a sharp increase from the previous year’s conviction records of the commission.”

Why it matters

Although the last administration’s anti-graft crusade recorded a few successes with the conviction of some high-profile Nigerians, there are question marks about the exercise and approach adopted by the anti-graft agencies.

There are cited instances of the government harassing perceived enemies with the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) or attempting to hound up those in opposition on trumped corruption charges in a bid to whip them in line while the corrupt members of the ruling party walk freely in public.

This reinforces the call for the strengthening of the EFCC, in particular, to carry out its functions effectively when the need arises and wean itself completely of allegations that it is sometimes used as an instrument to harass or oppress perceived enemies.

By Ahmed Shobiye

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