Here is the full text of the statement by Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu.
“I am gratified and feel fulfilled that a good number of Nigerians have demonstrated understanding and appreciation of my position on the national conference of still indeterminate character proposed by President Goodluck Jonathan in his October 1, independence anniversary broadcast to the nation.
In an interview with journalists on arrival to the country from my recent medical vacation abroad, I described the proposal as a deception and Greek gift, which must be viewed with utmost caution and suspicion. I later gave a detailed elaboration of why I considered the proposed national conference ill-conceived, ill-timed, Ill-motivated as well as why the President Goodluck Jonathan administration is demonstrably and incurably incapacitated to successfully oversee and actualize the objectives of such a crucial and sensitive exercise.
Unfortunately, rather than respond to me on points of fact and logic, the administration’s officials went on a fruitless voyage of personal attacks and insults. Of course, that does not bother me. Millions of Nigerians are becoming increasingly too sophisticated to be taken for a ride. They can separate the wheat of reason from the chaff of illogic and brazen opportunism.
It is, however, obvious that unfolding events are beginning to vindicate my stand. Those who prematurely celebrated what they saw as an impending ‘Sovereign National Conference’ and adulated President Goodluck Jonathan for refraining from imposing ‘no go areas’ on the National Conference Advisory Committee were soon in for a rude shock. Apparently they were swimming in an ocean of fantasy. The President has since declared that the outcome of the conference, dialogue, conversation or whatever eventually transpires will be sent for the National Assembly’s consideration and ratification.
As I will demonstrate shortly, we are thus set to undertake an absolutely wasteful and barren exercise. Those who argue that as a long standing advocate of a Sovereign National Conference, I should automatically and unreflectively jump on the bandwagon of the Jonathan administration’s new fancy of a national conference are being either mischievous or plainly ignorant. I remain unrepentantly fervent in my belief in and commitment to fundamental structural and constitutional changes in Nigeria as an indispensable imperative to liberate the country from perennial crises, instability, disunity, poverty and underdevelopment.
But I am exceedingly suspicious of the motives of a party and an administration, which has ignored calls for a national conference for years only to see the light less than 15 months to the next general elections. There is surely more to this somersault than meets the eye.
As a former Governor of Lagos State, Nigeria’s commercial and industrial nerve centre, no one is more conscious and sensitive than I of the urgent need to re-direct the country to the path of unfettered federalism. Although our administration between 1999 and 2007 laid a firm foundation for the on-going transformation of Lagos under the dynamic leadership of Governor Babatunde Raji Fashola, we could have done much more if the country was practising a genuinely federal system.
For instance, I was the first in the country to articulate the case for the establishment of state police in order to enable governors effectively play their roles as Chief Security Officers of their states and enhance the capacity to safeguard lives and property nationwide. With the virtual breakdown of law and order nationwide – rampant kidnappings, armed robbery, assassinations, crude oil theft, extremist terrorism, communal conflicts, ritual killings etc. – many more voices across the country are now calling for state police.
Can the Jonathan presidency sincerely support this demand given, for instance, the way the Nigeria Police is being cynically and brazenly manipulated from the centre for partisan political purposes in Rivers State and during isolated elections in Ondo and Delta states as witnessed recently for example?
In the same vein, I have insistently advocated the separation of the office of the Accountant General of the Federation from that of the Accountant General of the Federal Government. The conflation of both offices as currently obtains violates the tenets of true federalism and is responsible for much of the atrocious corruption associated with the management and disbursement of funds from the Federation Account. No one accountant should keep the books of two distinct corporate entities as expressly provided for in our federal constitution.
A separate Accountant General for the Federation will ensure a more transparent, accountable and just distribution of funds from the Federation Account in such a way that the Federal Government is no more able to short change the states as routinely happens now. But again, can a Jonathan administration that continues to condone a hopelessly corrupt and opaque Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC), which makes its statutory payments to the Federation Account according to its arbitrary whims, accept or encourage such a far reaching change? It is doubtful.
This is why we are witnessing today, persistent under-reporting of revenue to the Federation Account to the detriment of the states and the obvious benefit of the Federal Government.
The current Revenue Allocation formula, which allows the Federal Government alone to control more revenue than the entire 36 state governments and 774 local government areas combined, is patently unjust and incapable of fostering rapid socio-economic development.
Today, the centre is awash with so much fund that fuels massive corruption while millions of Nigerians that live in the states are impoverished due to the financial incapacitation of most state governments to live up to their responsibilities. A review of a revenue allocation ratio that gives the Federal Government alone 52.4% of the nation’s monthly revenue while the 36 state governments share 26% has most certainly become urgent and imperative.
To cite another example, Lagos State would today have been generating sufficient electricity to meet the needs of her people but for the monopolistic control of electricity supply by the Federal Government. In 2001, our administration initiated the first Independent Power Project (IPP) in the country. It was only after much difficulty that the Federal Government allowed the take off of the first phase of the project, which is today generating between 260MW and 300MW of electricity from Ikorodu. Even then, under our unjust federal structure, the power generated goes to the national grid rather than being dedicated to Lagos.
Thereafter, the Federal Government frustrated the actualisation of the second phase of the project, which by 2003 would have been generating 540 MW of electricity from Morogbo in Badagry.
I thus have first- hand experience of the negative effects for development of an overbearing and suffocating federal government that prevents the states from maximising their potentials in the best interest of their people.
I remain strongly in support of the devolution of greater powers, responsibilities and resources from the centre to the states as a necessary condition to achieve rapid development in Nigeria. This will necessarily involve the kind of fundamental constitutional changes being advocated all along by proponents of a Sovereign National Conference.
However, apart from the questionable timing of President Jonathan’s latest initiative, other critical issues must be raised as regards the exercise.
For the last 14 years since 1999, Nigeria has had the PDP in control of the Federal Government. There has thus been continuity of the same party in power at the centre. How then can the Jonathan administration behave as if it is oblivious of the efforts of President Olusegun Obasanjo’s government in the area of constitutional and political reforms?
How can the administration behave like the board of a corporation that commences each meeting without reference to the minutes of previous meetings?
“The simple truth is that the decision of the Jonathan administration to commence another national conference from scratch while completely abandoning what was done in this respect under Obasanjo is a most irresponsible and insensitive waste of the country’s scarce resources.”
We will recall that former President Obasanjo’s PDP-controlled Federal Government inaugurated a National Political Reform Conference on 21st February, 2005, at the International Conference Centre, Abuja. A substantial amount of national resources was undoubtedly expended on this exercise even though the cost was never made public. Apart from representatives of the 36 states and the Federal Capital Territory, other categories represented at the National Political Reform Conference include respectable elder statesmen, retired civil servants, retired diplomats, traditional rulers, labour, women, civil society, religious leaders, Manufacturers Association of Nigeria (MAN), National Association of Chambers of Commerce, Industry, Manufacturing and Agriculture (NACCIMA), students, journalists, the physically challenged, ethnic nationality groups, political parties, youth organizations, retired military, police and SSS personnel and Nigerians in diaspora among others.
To enable us appreciate the quality of representation at the National Political Reform Conference, I will give a brief overview of some of the eminent and accomplished Nigerians who were the delegates. They include Dr Uma Eleazu, Senator Mahmud Waziri, Chief Emeka Anyaoku, CHIEF EDWIN CLARK, SENATOR FEMI OKUROUMMU, Chief Arthur Nwankwo, Alhaji Sule Katagum, Alhaji Femi Okunnu, Chief Barnabas Gemade