Lagos State Governor, Babajide Sanwo-Olu, said on Tuesday true federalism would solve Nigeria security challenges and put the country on the path of accelerated development.
Sanwo-Olu, who stated this while delivering a paper at the Freedom Online third annual lecture, said the flaw in the 1999 Constitution had continuously limited the power of the states to pursue development at their own pace.
He said decentralisation of some exclusive functions of the Federal Government, including the provision of security, would provide instant answer to the current agitations threatening the unity of the country.
The governor, who was represented at the forum by his deputy, Dr. Obafemi Hamzat, said the emergence of “beggar-states” as the major constituents of the Nigeria’s federation would not take the country to the future it desires in the rapidly developing world.
He said: “Nigeria must holistically address the fundamental question of federalism if the political class is serious about lifting the country out of the current quagmire.
“One of the legacies of military rule was the abolition of powerful and largely financially independent regional governments, and replacement with weaker entities known as states. These states were of course beholden to a very powerful central government that doled out resources to them and used every opportunity to make it clear that the states were appendages of the centre.
“At the time, the regions worked hard, earned their revenues from exports, from taxes, and so on, and kept a large chunk of what they earned. None of them came to Lagos – the then Federal Capital – with caps in hands for what we now refer to as ‘Federal Allocation.’
“Provision of security must be highly decentralized. States must play significant role in providing internal security, while the Federal Government must face the issue of defence, foreign policy, border controls, currency, and customs among others.”
Sanwo-Olu also called for a review of the terms of fiscal federalism between the centre and state governments, saying the federal government must consciously devolve more responsibilities and resources to states and local governments as those entities are the closest to the people.
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