Professor Itse Sagay
As the National Assembly continues with the moves to amend the constitution, legal luminary, Professor Itse Sagay, has called for states to have powers to create local governments.
Sagay spoke Tuesday in Port Harcourt, in a solidarity message he sent to the inauguration of South-south Intellectual Think-Tank.
He said local government autonomy and true federalism were incompatible and, therefore, should not feature in the constitution.
“Local government autonomy and federalism are incompatible. Local governments must not feature in any new constitution. States should create and fund a 100 per cent their local governments at will,” he said.
Sagay also decried the use of zoning and ethnic considerations as basis for selection of leadership in the country, stating that they would not allow the nation to get the best leaders.
He said based on empirical evidence, “it is futile to anchor the search for political leadership on the zonal or ethnic origins of the potential leader. We must agree on factors which together constitute or represent the core interest of the Niger Delta. We must then canvass the acceptance of these factors or programmes nationally. Only then should we look for a leader, who has character, integrity, discipline, high principles, intellect and courage, who also espouses principles and programmes, in conformity with the interest of the Niger Delta, as defined by us.’’
He called on the think-tank group to disassociate itself from the current calls for political leadership to be based on zonal arrangements. Sagay advised the group to rather focus on excellence and insist on quality leadership no matter where it comes from.
“Zonal turn by turn misrule is a function of political backwardness and immaturity.
No developed democracy is based on tribal rights to misrule, misgovern, plunder and under-develop. Let us be different. Let us introduce political maturity and civilisation to Nigeria. By God's grace i shall be with you at the next retreat,” he said.
In his welcome address, the convener of the meeting and Cross River State Resident Electoral Commissioner, Mr. Mike Igini, said the objective of the think-tank was to proffer solution to the political challenges facing the country.
He said the forum was non-partisan but would look at issues of fiscal and true federalism, and revenue allocation, among others and proffer solutions to the Federal Government on the way forward.
He disclosed that the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) would come out with measures that would ensure that in 2015, the votes of the people would count and that the people would not only have representations but also representation.