BY AMOS DUNIA, ABUJA – The South-East South-South Network (SESSNet) Conference has resolved to champion a thorough amendment of the Nigerian Constitution to strengthen true Federalism in which each region would exercise the right to self-determination.
The conference, which took place in Owerri, the Imo State capital, noted that over centralisation of the economic and political powers at the Centre, has over the years, crippled the initiatives for growth and development by the Federating Units.
The one-day conference equally canvassed for all elected officials from Abia, Anambra, Imo, Enugu, Ebonyi, Akwa-Ibom, Edo, Bayelsa, Rivers, Cross-River and Delta to urgently champion legislative measures to entrench Fiscal Federalism in line with constitutional requirements.
A communique released by SESSNet, said the conference resolved to forge an Economic/Social integration between the South-east and South-south states to hasten economic development within the regions, focusing on and advancing specific areas of comparative advantage and interest.
The Conference regretted that prolonged military interventions in the polity has stifled democratic development of the country and therefore urged the Federal Government to as a matter of urgency seek avenues to return Nigeria to True Federalism.
It stressed that an amendment to the constitution will allow each of the federating units to draft its constitution that will outline the means of development within its own available resources and other logistics.
Towards this end, the conference resolved that each federating state should be allowed 100% control of her natural resource endowment, while royalty would be contributed to the federal government at the centre, adding that this would encourage states to become creative and industrious while also deeply changing the nation’s political system.
The SESSNet also canvassed a clear-cut approach by the Federal Government to separate all local governments from the strong grips of the states as enshrined in the Nigerian constitution, saying that the muzzling of local authorities by state governments has deprived the local populace of democratic dividends.
It further said; “Against this background, it stressed amendment of the constitution so that Security, Primary Education, Water, Development of Infrastructure, Health Care Delivery, Trade and Commerce, and Manpower development among others should be left to the States so as to promote development at the grassroots.
“It also canvassed that the States should be granted the exclusive right to build railways, refineries, and generate their electricity. States should enjoy the right to issue licenses for exploration of mineral resources located within their territories with a workable agreement on sharing proceeds with the Federal Government.
“The Conference urged the Houses of Assembly in the South-East and South-South to work with the National Assembly in working out modalities for amending the constitution to restructure and strengthen the federation, anchored on power devolution to the Federating Units.
“The conference resolved that only tested, and vision-driven individuals, who imbibe the above principles will henceforth be allowed to taste leadership at all levels in the region. Hence a new generation of young leaders would be groomed and supported to emerge.”