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Tinubu Slams Northern Governors, Gana Over Resource Control

By Kenneth Ehigiator, Vanguard Daily (Lagos), 27 February 2001

Lagos—Governor Bola Tinubu of Lagos State yesterday berated his Northern counterparts over their recent claim that the continued clamour of Southern governors for resource control and institution of true federation would lead to the disintegration of the country.

Gov. Tinubu also attacked Information Minister, Prof. Jerry Gana, who expressed a similar view.

Gov. Adamu Aliero of Kebbi State had on behalf of the Northern Governors said Nigeria could not afford to operate true federalism, arguing that a situation where the component states of the Nigerian federation were stronger than the Federal Government would spell doom for the country. But Gov. Tinubu, responding, contended that without the convocation of a Sovereign National Conference, which would result in the enthronement of true federalism for the country, there was no way out for Nigeria. In a statement, yesterday, shortly before departing for this year's Hajj, Gov. Tinubu said: I am compelled to respond to the recent statement of Alhaji Adamu Aliero, the Executive Governor of Kebbi State and Prof. Jerry Gana, Information Minister on the issues of true federalism and the restructuring of the polity.

The two gentlemen canvassed the impracticability of federalism in Nigeria and argued that it would lead to its disintegration. They think federalism would lead to the states becoming stronger than the Federal Government. Interestingly enough, Alhaji Adamu Aliero was quoted as speaking for the Northern state governors.

Without prejudice to the personal convictions of my colleagues in the Northern states as well as the Minister of Information and National Orientation, it is my sincere opinion that these arguments do not involve a basic understanding of the requirements of development and democracy in a multi-ethnic society like Nigeria.

According to Tinubu, my colleagues in the Northern Governors Forum would attest to the fact that even the North had made better progress when Nigeria had a federal structure.

Perhaps, without true federalism in the days of Ahmadu Bello, Obafemi Awolowo and Nnamdi Azikiwe, there might not have been an Ahmadu Bello University, Northern Nigerian Development Corporation (NNDC) and most of the assets being shared today by the Northern governors would not have been developed for their heritage.

Tinubu contended that the present unitary system of the country concentrates too much resources at the centre, to the extent that the other tiers of government had over the years been rendered almost prostrate.

Even his Excellency, Alhaji Aliero confirms that we have a bully of a Federal Government on our hands and has called for a review of the revenue allocation formula, the governor noted.

The governor, who also noted the admission of the three political parties of the imperfections of the current system in the country, observed that federalism remained the right of every Nigerian and not a privilege, stressing it is what makes it possible for an Ibo man, a Yoruba man or an Hausa man to go to school and invest in any part of the country without being discriminated against as to conditions of investment or differential payment of tuition fees.

On state police, Gov. Tinubu said those against it were the rich and wealthy elite who were only concerned with their safety and that of their immediate families at the expense of the larger society. He wondered why it should be unconstitutional for a state government to defend the majority of the defenceless citizens of their states, where it was not unsafe to have private security outfits for the rich and wealthy.

Nigerians are getting tired of all this emotional defence of a moribund and exploitative federal system that can only lead us to an ignoble situation where the rest of the country will be expected to catch cold each time the Federal Government sneezes out some toxic air, Tinubu stated.

The governor, who stated the willingness of the Southern Governors Forum to react to their Northern counterparts' stand on the issue of true federalism, said he had to hurriedly react to prevent Nigerians from being confused by opponents of true fiscal federalism.

I have no doubt that the Southern Governors Forum will, through our spokesman, respond to this issue at the appropriate time. My quick personal response stems from the fact that I wouldn't go to sleep over an orchestrated attempt to confuse the Nigerian citizenry with respect to what I and many lovers of democracy and true federalism have always advocated, he said.