•’Gov Akeredolu Gift Of The Bar To Governance’-Body Of Attorneys-General
The Ondo State Governor, Arakunrin Oluwarotimi Akeredolu,SAN, on Thursday in Lagos decried the over-centralisation of authority in the hands of the Federal Government, calling on the federating units to challenge its excesses.
Governor Akeredolu said the 1963 Republican Constitution attested to ingenuity, originality and vision, adding that It has been the only Constitution that represented the interest of the people.
According to a statement signed by his Chief Press Secretary, Richard Olatunde, the Governor noted that the 1963 constitution was made by the representatives of the people who came together to enact a law on behalf of the Federation taking into account the fact of heterogeneity.
The Governor spoke at the meeting of the Body of Attorneys-General of the 36 States of the Federation, held at Lagos Continental Hotel, Victoria Island, Lagos.
The event was also attended by Lagos State Governor, Mr. Babajide Sanwo-olu; the Attorney-General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Abubakar Malami,SAN; members of the Bar and the Bench, among other dignitaries.
Ondo State Attorney-General and commissioner for Justice, Sir Charles Titiloye joined his colleagues from other states at the meeting.
The Governor noted that the 1963 constitution was enough evidence of the intention of the divergent peoples brought under the same political arrangement by colonial fiat, to act in unison to achieve a common destiny.
He stressed that the Constitution, anticipated growth and ultimate development through cooperation borne out of the agreement of the various groups to remain in the union as one.
While saying that the country has been experimenting since the incursion of the military into politics in 1966, Governor Akeredolu revealed that the promulgation of the Unification Decree of 1966 introduced a unitary system into the political arrangement of the country.
“The military, displaying their characteristic opportunism, abolished the existing regional structure and replaced them with the so called provinces. They consolidated their hold on the polity by yet another promulgation, the Supremacy Decree of 1966 after the counter coup.
“Nigeria has been striving to recover from the debilitating effects of this disruption. All subsequent legislations, since this aberrant incursion, have followed the unitary pattern despite pretensions to some federalist intentions”, the Governor asserted.
Governor Akeredolu disclosed that he had some reluctance coming to the event due to the June 5th terror attack in Owo which left 40 people dead and several injured.
“The happenings in Ondo State about a week and half ago, I can not run away from the fact that I have to be here with some reluctance because of the respect I have for this body and I have earlier accepted to be the key note speaker. If you don’t mind, I would like us to rise and observe a minute silence for the victims of the mindless attack in Owo on the 5th of June”, he said.
The Governor further explained that the crises created by the 1999 Constitution, as amended, have been unending, adding there have been agitations that the Exclusive Legislative List in the Constitution be limited to Nigeria’s external trade, customs duties, export duties, tax on incomes, profits and capital gains, interstate commerce, external borrowing, mining rents and royalties from mineral resources, among others.
According to him, the Federal Government has consistently rejected the suggestion, “presumably” because of the humongous 52% revenue allocation to it while the 36 States and the 774 Local Governments share the remaining 48%.
“The 1999 Constitution has been amended twice. There is another promise of further amendments arising from the manifest irregularity in many provisions. This has compelled many lawyers and educated citizens to insist on having a new Constitution which will reflect the agitations of the various groups which make up the country. The law is becoming increasingly less certain under these circumstances. The federal system, purportedly provided for, by virtue of Section 1 of the 1999 Constitution, as amended, is a legal ruse”.
The Governor further said: “the 1963 Republican Constitution had 45 items on the Exclusive Legislative List. They are now 67 under the 1999 Constitution, as amended. Matters concerning elections of Governors and members of Houses of Assembly of States, pension and gratuities, police, prisons, airports, public holidays, labour and trade unions, Stamp Duties, among others, are included in the Exclusive Legislative List. It is high time we conducted a comprehensive review.
“It is exciting to note that this meeting will be deliberating on important issues such as the claims of London/Paris Club Loan refund, Value Added Tax, proposed amendments to the 1999 Constitution, as amended, proposed amendments to the Stamp Duties Act, State Anti-Corruption Commission, which will focus on the case of the AG Federation vs. AG Lagos State instituted on the legality of enacting the Lagos State Public Complaint and Anti-Corruption Commission Law and the establishment of the Commission and current developments in the Administration of Justice in the 36 States of the Federation”.
Earlier, the President of the Nigerian Bar Association, Mr Olumide Apata and the Lagos State Attorney-General and Commissioner for Justice, Moyosore Onigbanjo, applauded Governor Akeredolu for being the rare gift of the Bar to good governance.
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