Awka – The Director-General, Voice of Nigeria (VON), Mr Osita Okechukwu, has cautioned against conceding more powers to the governors, saying it would put the country’s democracy in grave danger.
Okechukwu’s statement is coming on the heels of the outcome of the recently held Southern Governors Summit.
The Southern governors had met last week in Asaba to discuss issues around the rising insecurity in Southern Nigeria.
A major outcome of the meeting was the decision by all the States, to ban open grazing, a decision that has not gone down well with many in the country.
Speaking to newsmen in Enugu, Okechukwu called on Nigerians to look beyond the frenzy of restructuring as canvassed by the Southern Governors’ Summit in Asaba, Delta.
He advised Nigerians to tread carefully and not to see socio-economic and security challenges facing the country as a reason to give more powers to governors who are already mismanaging their powers as `Emperors’.
The VON boss recalled that President Muhammadu Buhari in 2018, endorsed the amendment of the 1999 Constitution, granting financial autonomy to the State Judiciary and State Legislatures, as foundation for real restructuring.
“But, painfully, two years down the line, the governors have refused to implement it,’’ he said.
Okechukwu maintained that Nigerians cannot expect good governance when the governors acting as `Emperors’ had locked up all democratic institutions in the state.
“First, we need Dual-Restructuring to restructure democratic state institutions so as to unlock State Judiciary, State Legislatures and Local Government Councils. It will be paradoxical for us to expect good governance at the sub-national level when the governors have locked up democratic institutions.
“Secondly, we need to devolve relevant powers from the Exclusive and Legislative Lists to states and local government councils. Let us introspect and come to the reality that all is not well at the grassroots. For instance in 2018, the President endorsed the amendment of the 1999 Constitution, where the State Judiciary and State Legislatures were granted financial autonomy, as foundation for real restructuring. Two years down the line the governors breached this amendment by refusing to implement Section 121(3). By this flagrant infraction of our Constitution the governors painfully demonstrated their phobia to independent judiciary and legislative oversight functions — planks which good governance is rested on in all successful liberal democracies. To give life to Section 121(3) two years down the line, the President signed Executive Order 10 in 2020 and the governors in uncommon bi-partisanship headed to the Supreme Court to block the Executive Order 10. The outcome is the paralysis of activities at the judiciary nationwide by the Judicial Staff Union of Nigeria (JUSUN). Earlier on, Parliamentary Workers nationwide were on strike, at huge collateral damage to national development. The question is why didn’t the governors implement the amendment of the Section 121(3)?” he queried.
Okechukwu said there are doubts if the rights of the citizenry can be guaranteed if State Police is enacted under `Emperor’ governors without independent judiciary and legislative oversight functions.
“What happens to the people in the opposition under State Police with His Excellencies? This is without being immodest or personal. Can transparency and accountability be guaranteed when more money is devolved to states with `Rubber Stamp’ legislatures?’’ he said.