Tinubu seeks more power for states
All Progressives Congress (APC) stalwart Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu has said that for the nation to develop as a federation, the Federal Government must devolve powers to the states.
He said there is too much concentration of power at the Centre.
Tinubu said Nigeria is practising what he called unitary federalism in total violation of the principles of federalism.
Delivering a lecture entitled “Daily Times at 91: Building the future by respecting the past”, the former Lagos State governor also took a swipe at the nation’s budgetary system which according to him lays too much emphasis on the intake of dollars, a system which, he said, has long been abandoned by other nations.
Nigeria, in his view, needed to break away from the self-imposed dollarisation of our fiscal space. “The intake of dollars determines our budgets. We operate under an implicit dollar standard. However, the global dollar standard was formally abandoned over 40 years ago,” Tinubu said.
Represented by Osun State Governor Rauf Aregbesola, the frontline politician said: “The Constitution declares Nigeria a federation of 36 states. However, we still grapple with the vestiges of our past under military rule. In many ways, we still function like a unitary state despite the constitution.
“More powers and resources need to devolved to the states. The Federal Government is taking on too much. We cannot flourish with over concentration of powers at the centre. Some of the 68 items on the Exclusive Federal List should be transferred to the Residual List, as it is in most federal constitutions.
“A notable feature of even our own 1963 Constitution was the extensive powers granted to the regions which enabled them to carry out their immense responsibilities as they best saw fit. This was because the regions inherently had a better sense and feel for the needs of their populations simply by virtue of the fact that they were closer to the people than was the centre.
“Some items which ordinarily should be state matters, like police, prisons, stamp duties, taxation of incomes, profits and capital gains, regulation of tourist traffic, registration of business names, incorporation of companies, traffic on federal truck roads passing through states, trade, commerce and census, among others, were transferred from the Concurrent to the Exclusive List.
“I’m opposed to federalism operated as a unitary monster. As Lagos State governor, I challenged several Federal Government decisions for overreach and for violating the principles of federalism.
We created additional local governments because the constitution empowers states to regulate local council affairs. Today, those 37 additional councils have helped Lagos significantly as development centres. We took the Federal Government to court on issues, like the regulation of the hospitality industry, fiscal planning, and on who had the authority to issue Certificates of Occupancy.
“Regarding electrical power, we must move beyond limiting states to generate, transmit and distribute electricity to areas not covered by the national grid. Our problem is lack of power, yet we preclude states from helping to resolve this chronic problem that stabs at the very heart of economic development.
“It is not right to say states can generate power but cannot sell it where they want. Without yielding any countervailing benefit, this policy suppresses the generation of needed power instead of enhancing.”
The former Lagos State Governor endorsed the analysis of Governor Akinwunmi Ambode and others that interest rate levels bridle growth by making borrowing for long-term investment too costly.
Saying that the government correctly seeks fiscal stimulus to energise the limping economy, Tinubu argued that efforts in this direction are perhaps too modest, given the situation that confronts us.
He said: “Our monetary authorities have done better recently but they need to take additional steps to increase the fiscal space available to government and the private sector. I endorse analysis of Governor Ambode and others that current interest rate levels bridle growth by making borrowing for long-term investment too costly.
“Monetary authorities appear to be more concerned with battling inflation than in sparking growth. However, the nature of our inflation – mainly cost driven – is beyond the purview of interest rate policy to contain. Instead of surrendering growth to curb inflation, current policy sacrifices both.”