By Victor Olakiitan
A human right and constitutional lawyer, Mr. Femi Falana, (SAN) yesterday faulted the 36 state governors of the federation for their hard stand against financial autonomy for the judiciary and the states’ legislature.
Falana said the governors are working in unison against the actualisation of fiscal autonomy for the legislative arm and the judiciary to satiate their alleged selfish interests.
He spoke at the Ekiti State University, Ado Ekiti while delivering a lecture titled: ‘Restructuring and The Liberation of Nigeria’, as part of the activities marking the university’s 24th convocation ceremonies.
The legal icon regretted that despite two verdicts of the Federal High Court which direct federal and state governments to comply with the provision of Section 121 (3) of the Constitution, which gives fiscal autonomy to the judiciary and legislature, the states’ governors had deliberately ignored them without legal basis.
Falana called on President Muhammadu Buhari to heed the calls of Nigerians on restructuring to enable states and various ethnic nationalities to take control of their resources to better the lives of their people.
He warned advocates not to perceive the agitations for restructuring as secession and division but should be seen as a call for even distribution of wealth between the federal and state governments.
He stated that there was a need to really remove the confusion in the advocacy for restructuring, which he said was causing confusion between a more united Nigeria federation and agitations of secessionists and separatists.
“Nobody will give us restructuring. Even when APC campaigned, they promised to restructure, but when President Buhari got to power, he reneged on this. The governors must be bold enough to take up Abuja and demand for fair share of the country’s wealth.
“Restructuring without equitable distribution of wealth won’t bring the needed change and development that will build the foundation of our economy and make it gain global reckoning and work for the citizens.
“But I am warning that power devolution to the states without democratising such powers is dangerous to our system,” he said.
Corroborating Falana’s position, the institution’s Chancellor and former Emir of Kano, Muhammad Sanusi II, admonished Nigerians to resist anyone deploying the restructuring agitation to divide Nigeria.
According to him, “There is a difference between restructuring and secession, there is a difference between restructuring and division, there is a difference between restructuring and civil war. Some are using ethnic profiling to divide us. Ethnicity and religion are mere identities, they don’t really represent our values and who we are truly are.
“Nigeria has problems that are far more beyond restructuring, though restructuring is important, let us follow the rules and build a strong system through our strong moral values and approaches to issues”.
Sanusi appealed to Nigerian leaders not to allow religious and ethnic barriers to divide the nation but rather serve as unifying factors.