Governor Abiola Ajimobi of Oyo State
Governor Abiola Ajimobi of Oyo State has called for the removal of local governments from the 1999 Constitution to make it a residual responsibility of the state.
He also advocated for the review of the revenue allocation formula to emphasise the derivation principle and allocation of larger percentage of resources to states.
The governor made the call in a keynote address delivered at a Roundtable on Federalism in Nigeria in Chicago, United States of America, at the weekend.
Ajimobi, who spoke on the topic “The Need for True Federalism in Nigeria: A Perspective from Oyo State,” said the 1999 Constitution should be reviewed to grant more responsibilities to states.
The review of the constitution, he said, should also ensure the reduction of the responsibilities of the Federal Government to common services like Foreign Affairs, Currency, Immigration and Defence.
The governor, while expressing his support for the creation of state police, said that there should only be inter-state and federal checks and balances to prevent or reduce abuse.
He said there were too many responsibilities being undertaken by the Federal Government, a situation which, according to him, had made it practically inefficient and too far away from the people.
“From my experience as a senator between 2003 and 2007, and Governor of Oyo State since last year, I make bold to say that there are too many responsibilities and resources at the federal level to allow for efficiency,” he said.
“The Federal Government has become so big that it is theoretically and practically impossible to guarantee efficiency. For instance, a report has indicated that the Federal Government is executing over 1,000 projects at a time. There is no way, given the capacity of the bureaucracy at the federal level, that efficiency can be guaranteed in the deployment of resources in this circumstance,’’ he submitted.
Besides, Governor Ajimobi also noted that Nigeria was too far-flung for a central authority to effectively perform some of the duties ascribed to the central government, such as agriculture and food security, provision of water and management of water resources, policing, maintenance of roads and provision of tertiary education among others.
“As a governor of the oldest state in Western Nigeria, we are faced with challenges in the area of public infrastructure, security, food security, tax collection and provision of educational services.
“Many of these functions are jointly performed by the federal and state governments, with the bulk of resources needed to perform them residing in the federal government,’’ he said.
The governor said that his experience had shown that there was no way the Federal Government could effectively maintain urban roads, a role which had been ascribed to it under the present constitution.
“First, it is too far removed from the locations where such services are needed and the bureaucratic process of meeting such needs between the federal capital and under-funded state-based federal agencies are cumbersome and long.
“More importantly, with an estimated 50,000 km - long federal roads, it is logically impossible for the Federal Government to promptly respond to infrastructure challenges as they emerge in the states.
This, he said, explained why potholes that emerged on federal roads grew into craters unattended to, while files move from federal highway offices flung across the expansive country and the Federal Capital, Abuja.
Ajimobi said that the solution to this malaise was to grant the responsibility of all roads within a state to the state government with the complementary resource allocation to maintain them.
Citing an instance, he said that the Federal Government, under the present Minister for Agriculture, had embarked on many initiatives to improve food production and guarantee food security,’’ adding “But the laudable exploits are structurally hampered. Food production takes place at the local level and the states are better placed to oversee agricultural services.”