Mr. Chibuike Amaechi
By Olawale Olaleye
Rivers State Governor and Chairman of the Nigeria Governors’ Forum (NGF), Mr. Chibuike Amaechi, at the weekend dismissed insinuations that governors were frustrating critical amendments in the ongoing constitution review process.
Amaechi, in an interview with reporters in Port Harcourt, said the governors were no threat to the exercise because the sole responsibility of amending the constitution rests solely with the legislature, both at the national and state levels.
He, however, faulted the clamour for local councils’ autonomy, adding that everywhere in the world where federalism is practised, there are only two tiers of government: federal and state.
Confronted with allegations that the governors are trying to stall the constitution review, Amaechi said: “Just tell me one role the governors are playing in the process. Are we the legislative arm of government?
“That question does not require an answer because what it is saying is that there is no state and national assemblies; that the governors have constituted themselves into state and national assemblies.
“We have absolutely no influence; absolutely no influence. Did you watch the 2012 budget presentation of Rivers State? My speaker criticised me and as he finished, we sat here and ate together.
“Many people were shocked that there was no quarrel but I said no, he was playing his role as speaker. He criticised me on the number of projects we have on our plate and the fact that several are uncompleted. And I said thank you sir. If I controlled the House, would he have said that?”
On the issue of council autonomy, Amaechi said the governors, as a pressure group, would lobby both the national and state assemblies to ensure that Nigeria adopts the best global practices in such a situation.
“Look, there is no country in the world where there are three federating units; there are only two all over the world. Why should you say that there must be a third federating unit in Nigeria?
“I have given one example in Rivers State where not only do they collect their money directly; they collect my N2 billion monthly. I pay the salaries of all their teachers and that is N2 billion per month. If you take away that from my wage bill, it will come down to N6 billion per month. I can't beat that,” he said.