NASS members ready to push APC’s True federalism report as Private member bills, says El Rufai

Governor Nasir El Rufai of Kaduna State on Tuesday at the ongoing 26th Nigerian Economic Summit said contrary to public perceptions that the ruling All Progressive Congress is not ready to push up a policy from its campaign manifesto on True federalism, some members of the National Assembly had indicated support to convert the report to a piece of legislation.

El Rufai who spoke at a panel session which has the theme ‘Rethinking sub-national competitiveness’ said several members of the National Assembly had already approached him personally on the report and had indicated their support to explore the opportunities of the current constitutional amendment in the National Assembly and push some of the reports as a private member bill.

“Our party-appointed committee to look into this issue in 2017 and said this is a campaign promise, how do we convert this to policy and a piece of legislation. We made broad recommendations. The National Assembly had an ad hoc committee on constitutional review and we encourage them to pick the report in piecemeal and push legislation on it. Some had approached me already on that.”

The governor an influential member of the ruling All Progressive Congress, and a close ally of President Muhammadu Buhari also explained at the panel that President supported the report of the party on True Federalism when it was presented to him in 2018, adding that action was put on hold on the report by former APC chairman John Oyegun due to proximity to 2019 elections and fears of being politicised.

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The governor who raised several concerns with the Nigerian federating system said the federal Republic is only federal in name, pointing out that promotes overstretched and inefficient centre.

“The federal government is so overstretched, and which makes it not be effective in doing so many things.

We need to look at our constitutional arrangements, give more responsibilities to the state and hold them accountable.

According to the governor,”We need to have a very honest conversation on how to redesign our country to work better for it is currently not working very well. Nigeria consists of 36 states. Nigeria can only make progress if the 36 states are making progress and pushing in the same direction. These are my views based on experience in public service.

The political culture as it currently stands does not lead to the emergence of competent political leaders.

Politicians,he remarked had also tended to weaponise division to gain political power, observing however that, “Once you divide people to get power, it is difficult again to collaborate to make progress.”

The governor also raised concern with Nigeria’s culture of centralisation, pointing out that the country is only a federal Republic in name, frowning also at lots of concentration of power at the centre.

“Governors are chief security officers in name and are not in control of neither the police nor the military in the states.

He further frowned at states’ over-reliance on federation transfers, raising concerns that it has made several states to be lazy, and not working hard enough to realise the potential of revenue generations in their respective states.

Valerie Azinge, a Senior Advocate of Nigeria, SAN at the panel said decentralisation of power is key stating that good governance emanates as a ground norm.

Reformation and strengthening of existing laws that cannot be enforced, while re-engineering our system with enabling laws to work is key, she said.

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