Devolution of Power: Atiku, Buhari lock horns

By Amako Nneji May 18, 2015 13:19

Devolution of Power: Atiku, Buhari lock horns

Former Vice-President and Presidential aspirant Alhaji Atiku Abubakar has called for the devolution of power in stark contrast to the manifestoes of the General Muhammadu Buhari-led All Progressives Congress, APC, that postulates that powers should be concentrated at the centre.

Atiku who spoke on Channels Television on a programme tagged “Politics today” stated that the Federal Government has too much power, stressing “that is why I advocate for devolution of power.”

President Goodluck Jonathan had set up a Presidential Committee to study and draw up implementation strategy for the 2014 National Conference Report.

The leadership of the National Conference headed by retired Chief Justice of Nigeria, Justice Idris Legbo Kutigi had submitted to Jonathan, the report of the confab convoked by the President to discuss challenges facing the country and proffer the way forward.

After four days of consistent debate and disagreement, the Committee on Devolution of Power at the concluded National Conference reached a consensus on the modification of item 39 of the Exclusive Legislative List.

The item deals with the exclusive rights of the Federal Government to legislate on issues regarding “mines and minerals, including oil fields, oil mining, geological surveys and natural gas.”

The modified version indicates that in carrying out mining activities across the country by the Federal Government, Governments of States where such natural resources are deposited shall be involved.

The item was reframed to read: “Mines and all minerals, including oil fields, oil mining, geological surveys and natural gas, provided that: (A) The Government of the State where mining activities take place shall be involved in matters relating hereto; (B) The Government of the Federation shall make special grants to develop mines and minerals in States where such resources are undeveloped.”

The confab had recommended devolution of power a decentralization process, which gives a greater degree of self-rule to sub-central units or self-identified communities, often ethnically based.

Devolution can be viewed as the transfer of power from a central Government to sub-national (e.g., State, regional, or local) authorities.

Politically, such an arrangement takes power to the people right down to the village level, a move to democratise the nation from grassroots level.

It promotes popular participation in national socio-economic development as decisions and their implementations, will be carried out by the people.

Accountability is greatly enhanced and, as a result, corruption, tribalism, nepotism and favouritism are virtually eliminated.

Psychologically, devolution of power creates the perception in the people, that they are an effective part of the state, governing and not being governed.

Buhari had said during his presidential campaign at a town hall meeting with some youths at the MUSON Centre in Lagos that the National conference that recommended the devolution of power was a waste of time.

    “This Government voted N7 billion to do a national conference, which is the duty of the National Assembly. The money should have been put in education. Our students in the universities and other tertiary institutions would have had no cause to be home as a result of incessant strikes,’’ He stated.

Atiku who spoke on Sunday on Channels television insisted that devolution of powers was necessary to give more resources to States in the country.

      “Anytime I go to South Africa to visit my brother and friend, I don’t find anybody that comes to bug him, but here you see everybody from Local Governments rushing to the President to solve his problems”

“This is simply because the institutions that should satisfy their aspirations are either the Local Government level or at the State level,” he insisted.