There are more routes than one to winning the age long battle for fiscal federalism in Nigeria. We neither need not be corralled into a huge auditorium and dictate to the unwilling ears of people whose amenability to the allures of power, what true federalism portends, nor stomach the palpable abnormal and dysfunctional system foisted on good Nigerians by the leadership gaffe of sight-tight poachers claiming saviours.
It would only amount to nothing shot of unmitigated duplicity to deny the current parasitic existence bestriding every facet of our national endeavours, though the pending tussle over sole collection of VAT by states rather than by the ever gluttonous central government, manifests a significant factor among the hosts of other determinants of our retrogressive federalism.
Tons of scholarly literature on principles and practices of supportive federal arrangements litter our storehouse of knowledge. Symposiums and degrees of conferences had been held before now on the burning subject of component states autonomy in some material respect to live out ideals of their creation. The coercive desire to detach substantially from the unhelpful federal apron which yields indolency and innovation drainage stares us in the face, like the sun casting its blinding rays on the bare earth. Although, viable states despite the financial handicap this pathetic system ruthlessly impose on their progression rung have refused to prostrate but to drag on. But to what extent and at what cost?
One of the weird creature of Nigeria political coinage which has fought its way to top ten abused and contrived terms in our brand of lexicon is that of “Restructuring”. Arguably, restructuring, a delicate template has been in adequate employment by crafty electioneerer to hoodwink the gullible electorates. Each successive governments would readily find solace in holding the country by the jugular using restructuring as campaign promises only to suppress with maximum force same horse of restructuring, the back through which they rode to power.
However, there are quite feasible measures to prune the federal czar like influence on affairs dear to states within her definable constitutional operational powers. All that is demanded of states inclined to shake off fetters to her advancement and improvement on citizens lives is the accumulation of political will to beat back federal forces together with the regretful constraints it enforces against them.
By the virtue legislative mandate conferred on each state House of Assembly, financial legislations that strategically prune the overstretched collecting arms of the central government can be enacted so far it conforms with larger provisions of the grundnorm. The VAT example as been stoked by sturdy Rivers State helmsman, Governor Nyesom Wike, comes handy to buttress the point canvassed here. It is equally inspiring that southern governors after the recent outing in Enugu State government house threw their weight behind the quest and encouraged others to oxygenate the good fight for fiscal federalism. Certainly, it is hyper- hypocritical to rob Peter to pay Paul in a nation acting within the fringes of ethno-religious divides. Nothing can make up the unconscionability of monkey working her butt off while baboon keeps fattening with alarming imprudence. It offends morality, equity and good conscience, reasonability and all known eternal principles of justice in its foundational sense.
Again, the fallacy of governors being chief security officers of their states under the warped constitutional provisions, can be remedied by industrious House of Assembly of state, enacting laws which establish security operatives with clearly defined sphere of operations in order to checkmate the astronomical rising of security breaches in the states rather than lie supinely at the mercy of internal bandits and ragtag criminals. The events of today aptly captures the helpless conditional travails our official operatives live with in their seeming incapacitation to contain the hydraheaded insurgency and terrorists herdsmen who make meat of innocent Nigerians on the daily. Of course, the Anti-Open Grazing Law now gaining altitude and rightly weight too amongst victim states of herdesmen daylight oppression, also justifies the potency of instrumentality of legislation to curb the excesses of Federal marauders. States that have passed such law at the moment enjoy unparalleled tranquility in their body polity and continued agricultural industry. With Enugu State Anti-Open Grazing Law featuring as the most recently passed law, no doubt the rural dwellers have reconstituted back to their moribond farm settlements. Even though, unequaled peace had enveloped the state since ascendancy of the firebrand Governor Ifeanyi Ugwuanyi, prior to the enactment, however, the existence of the law sparks reassurance of maximum security to rural inhabitants whose financial mainstay is agriculture.
Our much touted and self labeled nascent democracy stands chances of being challenged in a plethora of means to loosen up it calcified offensiveness, and the readable body posture of southern governors spur hope for a better and peaceful co-existence anchored on mutual respect, tolerance and equality in the scheme of things. The song of unity should not only hang on the lips of the composer but speak through actions worth patriotic ranking, anything else is an outright betrayal of one’s impeachable intentions.
Mrs. Bibian Anekwe
SSA to the Governor of Enugu State on Mobilization and Empowerment
Enugu Di N’akachukwu Movement ( DG