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Thursday, December 1, 2022

‘Structural solutions ‘ll douse ethnic agitations in Nigeria’

By Adekola Afolabi

The Governor of Ondo State who also doubles as Chairman of South-West Governors’ Forum Arakunrin Oluwarotimi Akeredolu, SAN, has again called for urgent structural solutions to douse ethnic agitations in the country.
Akeredolu said, for equity and justice in the country, most of the items on the Exclusive Legislative List, as reinforced by Section 251 of the 1999 Constitution, must be amended and moved to the Residual and Concurrent List.
The Governor who was a Guest Lecturer at the 45th Convocation ceremony and 60th anniversary of Obafemi Awolowo University (OAU), Ile-Ife, delivered a lecture entitled: “When Is A Nation? Exploring the socio-Political Crisis In Post Independence Nigeria.”
The event was attended by the Vice President, Prof Yemi Osinbajo; the Governor of Osun State, Gboyega Oyetola and his deputy; the Ooni of Ife, Oba Adeyeye Enitan; Founder of Elizade University, Ilara-Mokin, Chief Michael Ade-Ojo; members of diplomatic corps; Vice Chancellors from other sister Universities; traditional rulers, and eminent personalities.
Also at the ceremony were, the Ooni of Ife, Oba Adeyeye Enitan and Chief Michael Ade-Ojo were conferred with Doctor of Letters and Doctor of Business Administration (Honoris Causa) respectively, by the University.
Akeredolu emphasised that Nigeria must return to the path of rectitude where all ethnic nationalities are given enough space to soar as far as their ingenuity can take, insisting that Items such as education, health care, judiciary, police, prison services and resource control should be on the Concurrent List.
He maintained that the Federal Government should divest itself off the too much burdens and allow the component units to flower, adding that states should control their resources and maintain their internal security while the Federal Government coordinate and not take over.
The Governor further said the arrogant posturing that the unity of the country is not negotiable must be jettisoned for a more humble and intelligent response to natural agitations against discontent.
He lamented that the states are almost entirely dependent on hand-outs from the Federal Government, saying no state is empowered to take independent decisions for the benefit of its people.
“Approvals must come from the centre on virtually everything. This Constitution vests all the lands in a State in the State Governor who holds same in trust for the people. The incessant attacks on farmers by criminal herders, who destroy the crops of these long suffering downtrodden members of the society, expose the impotence of State Governors.
“Strange elements have been invading states to prospect for mineral resources without recourse to the authorities. Farmlands have been destroyed and the people are constantly exposed to ecological disasters to assuage greed.
“Unscrupulous elements grant prospecting licenses to people who move into lands with marauders. The security of these States is compromised, heavily. This Constitution also provides for “Federal Character” for “National Cake Sharing”. There is a Commission which oversees the sharing of offices and other spoils of politics among the major ethnic groups.
“This manifest injustice is promoted as care for equity. In the same breath, the same document is silent on rotation of offices to complete the tragicomedy. Federal Character is good for as long as it affords certain persons the opportunity to benefit from the sacrifice of merit on the altar of mediocrity.” He added.
The Governor, who identified adoption of a common language acceptable to all the ethnic nationalities as a medium of communication as one of the features of a Nation, insisted that power must be rotated between the North and South.
He said he would be happy to see a southerner emerge the President of the country in 2023.
Governor Akeredolu also condemned the current situation in the country which ensures that emphasis is on revenue allocation and not generation.
“Some states are in court to ask the Federal Inland Revenue Services, an agency of the Federal Government to hands off the collection of sales taxes as this duty rests with the states.
“The Federal Government, through the Office of the Attorney General and Minister of Justice, is asking all States to “remit” Stamp Duty, tax collected on contracts awarded by State Governments, to it.
“We will ask to be apprised of the justification for this latest onslaught. The Federal Government also wishes to take over “Inland Water ways”, whatever that means. Our fishermen will soon need licences to fish from the Federal Ministry of Water Resources, Akeredolu said.
The Governor who contended that the six geo-political zones in the country should be sustained to hasten the process of real integration among the diverse groups, also added that the group-political zones should be free to determine their laws and the application, as well as design their own curriculum of education to meet peculiar challenges.
“This geo-political should be allowed to take charge of economic activities in its jurisdiction and pay taxes to the Federal Government as appropriate. It should take-over most of the roads tagged “Federal”, repair and toll same, if necessary”, the Governor stressed.
Speaking at the event, the Vice President, Prof. Yemi Osinbajo saluted Governor Akeredolu for his thoughtful lecture, noting that the Governor has given much to pounder and reflect upon.
Earlier, the Vice Chancellor of the University, Prof. Eyitope Ogunbodede, appreciated Governor Akeredolu for the support he has been giving to the University, his Alma Mater, and for accepting to deliver the Convocation Lecture.
He said the University is proud of the Governor’s fearless approach to issues, commitment and achievements, describing him as a worthy alumnus of the institution.

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