- Governors from 16 southern states met in Lagos on Monday
- It was the first southern governors summit in 12 years
- At the meeting, the governor discussed the need for true federalism
Twelve years after the first forum was inaugurated, governors from 16 southern states in Nigeria met again in Lagos on Monday, October 23, for a forum meeting.
The only governor who was missing and did not send a representative to the summit was the Imo state governor, Rochas Okorocha.
Legit.ng gathers that at the meeting hosted by Lagos state governor, Akinwunmi Ambode, the governors reiterated their support for true federalism in Nigeria.
The Nation reports that Governor Ambode while addressing counterparts at the meeting said states would benefit from the envisaged restructuring.
He said the goals of true federalism, which included the strengthening of autonomy and the enhancement of fiscal viability, would enable the states to develop at their own pace, based on their peculiarities.
He said: "States are disparaged for always carrying begging bowls to Abuja in quest of hand-outs from the federal government. This is a function of our present national constitution that burdens the federal government with activities and responsibilities that rightly fall within the province of states.
“The productivity and revenue-generating capacities of most states are thus stifled, thus turning them into no better than street beggar states incapable of even meeting routine obligations of paying workers’ salaries and pensions without federal support.”
Ambode clarified that while pushing for greater devolution of power, responsibilities and resources from the centre to the states, the goal of the forum is neither to a weak centre and strong states and vice versa.
He paid tribute to former Lagos state governor, Bola Ahmed Tinubu, for his initiative, in starting the Southern Governors Forum 12 years back.
The governor hailed the form for advocating for a special allocation to oil-producing states in the federation account, adding that its agitation led to the current 13% revenue derivation and allocation from the federation account.
He said: “Another major victory won towards strengthening the country’s practice of true federalism was the declaration by the Supreme Court in 2002 that the then prevalent practice of the federal government deducting monies from the federation account as a first charge for the funding of Joint Venture Contracts, the NNPC priority projects, servicing of federal government’s external debt, the judiciary and the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) and other federal obligations were illegal and unconstitutional.
“The Supreme Court in that case abolished the special funds created by the federal government to enable it draw funds from the federation account to pay for matters that fell within its exclusive responsibility before sharing whatever was left with states and local governments.”
Other governors present at the Southern Governors’ summit 2017 include the six southwest governors: Ekiti state governor, Ayo Fayose; Ogun state governor, Ibikunle Amosun; Ondo state governor, Rotimi Akeredolu; Osun state governor, Ogbeni Rauf Aregbesola and Oyo state governor, Abiola Ajimobi.
Also present were the governors of: Rivers state, Nyesom Wike; Edo state, Godwin Obaseki; Abia state, Okezie Ikpeazu; Enugu state, Ifeanyi Ugwuanyi; Akwa Ibom state, Emmanuel Udom and Ebonyi state, David Umahi.
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The deputy governors of Anambra, Dr Nkem Okeke and Cross River state, Professor Ivara Esu were also present at the event.
Meanwhile, Legit.ng previously reported that state governors have made a fresh demand of bailout funds from President Muhammadu Buhari.
The governors represented by Governor Abdulaziz Yari of Zamfara state urged the president to ensure the release of the 50% of the Paris Club loan refund.
The governors said the fund could be used to cushion the budgets of the state governments in 2018.
During the meeting which was held at the Presidential Villa with President Buhari, the Zamfara state governor said the federal government's intervention through the bailout funds were utilized by the state governments.
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