Sunday, 05 August 2012 00:00
From Alemma-Ozioruva Aliu, Benin City
Sunday Magazine - Sunday Magazine
SENIOR citizens in Edo State are of the view that the existence of the Governors’ Forum is for enlightened self-interest that does not have any space in the country’s constitution.
But they however believe that some of the issues canvassed by the Forum are germane to Nigeria’s democracy and the resolve by some persons to ensure that principles of federalism are adhered to.
Chief John Oyegun, former governor said the call for state police by the Forum despite opposition by some members was timely.
Oyegun said it depends on what the governors are divided over. “To me, that basically is the essence of democracy, people have views they must canvass, and at the end of the day everybody will have to make up his mind as to which part of the argument he needs to belong to.
“Like the issue of state police, we are running away from something that is inevitable; for as long as we are running a federation, we must go back to true federation and we must eventually have state police. What is going on now is unacceptable and the fear that governors will use it against their perceived political enemies is not sincere; what of the federal system; are they not using it against their enemies? I have no doubt it will get abused yes, but they won’t be governors forever? Let everybody remember that fact, they won’t be governors forever. The instrument that they used in oppressing their present enemies will also be used on them. Today, somebody you think is your enemy may be in a position tomorrow to retaliate, these abuses will come, but they must stop one day, that must not stop us from doing what is right and what is right is true federation.
“States must have authority over security within the limits of the powers granted them by the constitution. The same things goes for prisons, federal government is running prisons and majority of those that come there are from state high courts. This is part of a lot of things that we just senselessly centralized.”
He said the northern governors have the right to agitate for a review of the revenue allocation formula like their counterparts in the South have called for resources control. “They have every right to agitate, we are in a democracy, we too have every right to agitate like we are agitating for sovereign national conference and a bit of a loosening of the federal structure to allow the components to develop at their pace. That is the sole reason the conference is essential.”
Professor Omo Omoruyi said the existence of the Governors’ Forum is not in the country’s constitution and whatever they say there is for their interest.
“We have to go back to what the founding fathers had in mind, there was nothing called governors forum in the constitution, it wasn’t there. It’s a contrivance of governance; let’s get together and see how best we can share information, we can share notes. It is not a political forum now, let the PDP governors get together and share information on how best they can run their states, let the ACN governors get together and see how best they can run their state governments and then let the governors get together and share information on how they can run their states. Many states are in shambles, they are not run well, so the Governors Forum is not a body known to the constitution or known to law.
Jang is free to take his decision on what to do. States are provided for in the constitution, governors are provided for in the constitution; governors forum not provided for in the constitution, northern governors, not provided for in the constitution; all these contrivanceyou find being hatched by some governors; let us get together and share information, let us get together,” he said.