Wednesday, February 29, 2012
IT is really not surprising that the Northern political elite and technocrats are calling for a new revenue allocation formula, arguing that some states, especially in the South South, are favoured by the formula in operation. Speaking on behalf of his colleagues during the week, Governor Babangida Aliyu of Niger State, who is also the chairman of the Northern Governors Forum, argued that the existing sharing scheme is inequitable and unsustainable. He posited that many of the states in the North, including Niger, are barely surviving and lack the capacity to undertake major capital projects. He therefore called for a review of the formula within the year. This has been the song of many political leaders, patriots and scholars from the South in the past decades. However, the prisms are different. During the Obasanjo National Political Reform Conference (NPRC), delegates from the Niger Delta argued strongly for resource control, fiscal federalism and genuine restructuring of the country. Delegates from the residue of the South backed their Niger Delta counterparts. Those from the South East who had, in the past, canvassed the need for devolution of power to the federating units and went through a civil war to push a demand for secession, saw their Southern neighbours as fresh converts to the idea. The earlier Ahiara Declaration and the Aburi agreement set out the eternal position of the Igbo. And, the men and women from the South West remain committed to best practices as exemplified by the freedom and fairness that recommend federalism to plural societies like Nigeria. The delegates from the West have continued to campaign for the fairness and equity embedded in true federalism. This informed the summit held in Ibadan between March 13 and 15 where legislators, governors and leaders from the region emphasized the need for devolution of power to the states in the long-term overarching interest of the country. The heat resulting in terrorism in different parts of the country and spearheaded by different organizations are believed to have stemmed from the concentration of resources and power at the centre. The President can virtually have his way in every situation. He decides what happens in all parts of the country and has enough money to force his views on the people and regions. This inequity finds expression in unbridled inter-regional struggle for scarce resources and mutual suspicion that can only lead to violence on different scales and form. I still vividly recall the logical presentation by South South delegates to the NPRC that the areas bearing oil and other mineral resources should be allowed to tap them and market them and merely pay agreed tax to the centre. The North opposed the moves on the same grounds that they have just raised. The North is suggesting that the 13 per cent set aside for the despoiled by oil exploration is too much. It is patently unfair to suggest that people who enjoyed wide latitude to market and retain revenue from agricultural products when they meant so much in the First Republic would now want to deprive others canvassing a return to that formula. If fund generated from the groundnut pyramid and cotton in the 60s could be retained in the North and only 50 per cent paid into the coffers of a Northern-dominated federal government, why the hues and cries now? Many of the federal agencies, commissions and departments are needless and should be scrapped. Why should the federal government be involved in the establishment and running of primary health care centres? Why should the federal government get bogged down by running primary and secondary schools? Where else is this done? It is now time to reexamine the structure of this federation. Unless something is done to strengthen the federating units and wean them off the overweening power of the supermen at the centre, we should expect more flashpoints. Boko Haram, even if this war is won, is likely to resurface in a different form and shape at some point in the near future. Yes, the cake sharing formula must be equitable, but the cake should be baked in various centres and the states must be encouraged to be more ingenious in generating the revenue to sustain their operations. Sheer jealousy will not pay. Watch it, Jega Chairman of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), Professor Attahiru Jega and his commission have come under fire in recent times. Some commentators have accused the Political Scientist of playing the PDP game. I have no facts to support the charge. I still maintain that Jega is too decent and polished to do the bidding of the ruling party. But, I agree with those who contend that the commission has made many erroneous calls in recent times. I do not see his business in deciding who should be the rightful governor of Kogi State. His duty is to conduct the election. That he did last December 3. If there was a controversy over whether the Speaker of the House of Assembly or the then governor-elect should step in, that should be left to the law courts, not the Jega court. The adjustment of the timetable is a matter that would likely end up in the courts, too, especially as concern the governorship election in Cross River and Sokoto States. It would be a tragedy if Jega loses his head to the praises following INEC’s performance so far. We still have a long way to go.
DEVELOPING STORY: Nigeria’s newest pop sensation Davido might have bitten off more than he can chew when he hooked up with an undergraduate on a trip to Ghana yesterday. Barely 24 hours after arrived in Ghana, there’s been a leak; with very private pictures of him in bed with an undergraduate emerging on Blackberry Messenger and Twitter. It’s gone viral already, just like it was with the Wande Coal nude photo leak. Just this morning, 19 year old Davido trended worldwide on Twitter; with thousands commenting on the pictures showing him in bed with a lady believed to be 18-year-old undergraduate Sonia Jumbo. Different images show the lady fondling and kissing him while he was asleep. In one, she’s seen licking his tattoo. Sources say Sonia, a Port-Harcourt based Nigerian currently studying in Ghana, had used the images as display pictures on her Blackberry Messenger, leading to some of her contacts copying them and sharing them on social networking sites, causing a major frenzy. Davido had travelled to Ghana along with his manager Asa Asika and crew member Sinarambo to perform at the Miss ISA 2012 beauty pageant, put together by the International Students Association of Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology. We’re not immediately able to reach Davido or his manager. Phones were switched off and messages had not been replied as at 11:30am.
Some politicians on Wednesday hailed the plan by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) to try former Delta Governor James Ibori for corruption in spite of his trial by a London court.
The EFCC on Tuesday said it would still try Ibori when he returned to Nigeria. Ibori pleaded guilty to a 10-count charge of fraud, stealing and money laundering before a Southwark Crown Court in London on Monday.
He will be sentenced in April. In separate interviews with NAN, the Public Relations Officer of the KOWA Party, Prof. Oluremi Sonaiya, said that there was the need to still try the former governor in Nigeria.
`` Justice must always pursue its course; it is important that nobody be made to feel that he is above the law; any one who has committed a crime should pay for it,'' she said.
Sonaiya called for the removal of immunity clause for public office holders to enable them to realise that they were not above the law. ``The challenge is for us to build a system which will treat everybody equally before the law,'' Sonaiya added.
Also commenting, the National Chairman of the Advanced Congress of Democrats (ACD), Malam Yusuf Buba, commended the plan. He said Ibori's plea before the London court could be a sign of his repentance but that should not prevent his trial in Nigeria.
The Lagos State Chairman of the Justice Party (JP), Mr Ayo Akintayo, also supported the EFCC's plan. ``The EFCC will have to further try him once he returns to Nigeria.
Since he has confessed in London, he also has to confess here,'' he said. Akintayo said that the former governor did not plead guilty in Nigeria in the hope that he could escape conviction.