Hamzat: 1999 Constitution Limits Roles of State Govts

Obafemi Hamzat

Gboyega Akinsanmi

The deputy governorship candidate of All Progressives Congress (APC), in Lagos State, Dr. Obafemi Hamzat has described the 1999 Constitution as unprogressive, noting that the legal instrument largely limits the role of state governments.

Hamzat, former Commissioner for Works & Infrastructure, has equally assured Lagos residents that refuse collection would be prioritised if elected in next month election, saying the Lagos Waste Management Authority (LAWMA) will not be subjugated.

He made the remarks at an interactive session with journalists in Ikeja, explaining why Lagos residents should vote for the APC governorship candidate, Mr. Babajide Sanwo-Olu in the next election.

Beyond canvassing support for Sanwo-Olu, Hamzat explained how the 1999 Constitution “has been inhibiting the roles of the state governments in providing basic social and economic services for the citizens.”

He observed that land reform was critical “to housing development in the country. But we live in a country, which has a constitution that limits the roles of governments. That is why people talk about restructuring.

“Why do we federal government having land registry in Lagos? It is an abnormality. Under the Land Use Act, the constitution says the power over land is vested in the governor. How do we create local government in Nigeria? Is it based on people? Is it based on land?

“If land is a parametre, why should Kano have more LGAs than Niger? Ordinarily, Niger should have more LGAs. If the parametre is people, why should Kano have LGAs than Lagos? If you are using population, Lagos should have LGAs. So, it is skewed. It is really skewed.”

He, also, cited the example of the consolidated revenue, noting that federal government “takes 52.68 percent; state governments 26.72 percent and local governments 20.60 percent. It is no good enough.”

Constitutionally, the deputy governorship said local governments “are to pay teachers of public primary schools. But they lack capacity. We forgot how we got to the point we are today. The state government took over when the arrears of primary schools’ teachers were not paid.

“The state government paid on their behalf. And it was agreed that the local government allocation come, it is a first-line charge. We forgot how we got here. It was to solve a problem. After paying salaries, a lot of local governments have nothing.

“In some cases, the state government has to give subvention. Ikorodu LGA is a good example of such cases. The idea that LGAs have been taken over is a mirage. It is just a mirage. Our fault is that we have LGAs listed in our constitution.

“Normally, it is the two entities that federate – states and the federal. We copied it from some people. Why are we doing our own in a crude way? That is the crudeness we are seeing,” Hamzat explained.

On the plan to achieve cleaner and safer Lagos, Hamzat stressed that the Lagos Waste Management Authority (LAWMA) would not be subjugated, rather made to function effectively.

He explained the party’s plan on environment, saying the current waste structure would be rejig to ensure that LAWMA deliver on its mandate.

He noted that as regulator of the Private Support Participation, (PSP) would be made “to respond better in collection of waste in Lagos. We cannot make the mistake of subjugating LAWMA.”

Aside waste, Hamzat disclosed that when elected, the Babajide Sanwo-Olu administration would embark on massive reconstruction of roads especially the inner roads across the state to reduce travel time.

He hinted that the APC team had identified over 60 gridlock points on major roads which “has become persistently reason for traffic in Lagos.We will fix all bad roads and expand our road infrastructure. We will complete existing road projects and fix inner city roads.”

He said the Sanwo-Olu administration would integrate road, rail and water transportation in Lagos to solve the problem of commuting within the metropolis.

On other mode of transportation, he stated that the waterways would be dredged and channels created to improve navigation and reduce boat mishap, saying policies would be embarked upon to promote private investment in the sector.

Hamzat said about 144,000 people commute through the waterways on monthly basis, which he described as small, adding that the incoming administration would work to boost water transportation in Lagos.

According to him, part of our plan is to complete the ongoing Blue Line rail project from Okokomaiko-Marina and kick-start the Red line from Agbado to Marina.

On education, Hamzat said the plan of the APC government would be to increase access to public education in Lagos, especially public primary and secondary schools, as the government would immediately embark on renovation of schools and make them conducive for learning.

“Teachers will be trained for capacity enhancement in modern teaching methodology. We want to make teaching a more lucrative field of interest and attract the best of teachers to Lagos schools. We want to work with our educational institutions to improve curriculum and include entrepreneurial studies in our educational programmes,” he said.

He said cases of where a teacher would live in Ikorodu and teach in Mushin would be eradicated as such teacher would never be effective, saying that proximity would be considered when deploying teachers to work in schools for maximum effectiveness.

Hamzat said the APC government would pursue aggressively the free school feeding meal and would also ensure that the Parents Teachers Association (PTA) was involve in the management and running of education in Lagos State.

On technology, he said “we also want to create a smart economy on the back of technology. We will create incubation hubs in Lagos for technology startups to flourish, while also ensuring that we introduce coding into our public school curriculum.

“Technology will improve the rule of law, education, ease of doing business and government processes. Technology will reduce approval process circle in public-private sector dealings.

“It will improve government efficiency. Giving Entrepreneurs and SMEs the opportunity to thrive will lead to more jobs and more public-private sector partnerships.”