By Akeem Abas/Ibadan
The National Leader of the All Progressives Congress (APC), Asiwaju Bola Tinubu, Gov. Kayode Fayemi of Ekiti and other eminent personalities have advocated for more funds and powers to states in Nigeria.
They spoke Wednesday at the Third Annual Abiola Ajimobi Roundtable and posthumous birthday of the late former Oyo State governor, held in Ibadan.
The event was organised by the newly-established Sen. Abiola Ajimobi Foundation (SAAF), in collaboration with the Institute of Peace and Strategic Studies (IPSS), University of Ibadan.
Tinubu, Fayemi and other dignitaries present at the occasion spoke on the theme: ‘States and the Burden of National Development in Nigeria’.
Tinubu, who was represented by the Deputy Governor of Lagos, Obafemi Hamzat, noted that the burden being carried by states was too much.
He attributed this to the over-centralised system being operated by the country.
The two-term former governor of Lagos said that more funds and powers must be devolved to the states, if the expected development must happen in the country.
“Our system remains too centralized, with too much power and money remaining within the government at the centre.
“This imbalance has led to relative state weakness. We need to overhaul how revenues are allocated between the states and the Federal Government,” he said.
Tinubu, who was the chairman of the occasion, stressed the need for states to get more funds to enhance development in their respective areas.
“Thus, it is imperative that states are given more revenue so that they can do more things. However, I am not advocating blank cheques for them
“The more revenue they get, the more they must do and the more they assume the responsibility of using the revenue judiciously because the fate of their people is at stake,” he said.
Tinubu said for Nigeria to catch up with other nations of the world in terms of development, it was imperative for them to improve on their efficiency in governmental fiscal roles and operations.
“If we begin these fundamental changes, then our states will become stronger and more able to serve as catalysts for economic development.
“By instituting true federalism, we open the door, not only for prosperity but, for greater democracy and openness throughout Nigeria.
“This will help bring peace and tranquility where there are now tension and uncertainty regarding the pathway on which our country is,” the APC leader said.
Fayemi said that the primary functions of the federal government were macro in nature, calling for more funds for the states to enhance their efficiency and effectiveness.
Fayemi, who contributed to the discourse via zoom, said that the federal government was conceived to be a facilitator of national development, while state governments were expected to be actualisers.
“The resources that are required to actualise the expected national development in an accelerated manner have remained a major challenge.
“Yet, government is daily confronted with new challenges that require serious financial resources, which continuously get reduced,” he said.
Fayemi, who is also the Chairman, Nigeria Governors’ Forum, expressed hope that the roundtable would proffer more functional and realistic ways through which the federal system could be made more responsible and responsive to the yearnings of the people.
Earlier, the SAAF President, Dr Florence Ajimobi, said that the roundtable would provide the platform for discussing the critical roles which states could and should play in facilitating national development.
The widow of the late Sen. Ajimobi, also said that that the roundtable was aimed at interrogating specific, probable, practicable and sustainable solutions, in line with the mandate of SAAF and IPSS.
According to her, by virtue of the provisions of the country’s federal system, the federal, state and local governments, and even individuals, are expected to play vital roles in the compelling task of national development.
“However, over the years and indeed very recently, series of observations, comments, reservations, agitations and demands have shown the need to enhance the levels and phases of development in the country.
“A number of amendments had been made to the country’s laws, yet complaints about inadequacies still abound all over the geopolitical zones of the federation.
“These have far reaching implications for the growth and development of the Nigerian state and even its future,” she said.
The Lead Speaker and Emeritus Professor of Political Science, Olubunmi Ayoade, called for devolution of powers in favour of the states for the country to attain the desired development.
Other discussants, Prof. Olanrewaju Olaniyan, Prof. Yemisi Bamgbose and Mr Seye Oyeleye also corroborated the earlier comments on the theme of the roundtable.
The event featured the turning of sod for the 450-seater research auditorium, to be constructed by SAAF to the University of Ibadan, while a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) was also signed.
The event was attended by Gov. Abdullahi Ganduje of Kano; Gov. Dapo Abiodun (Ogun), Gov. Rotimi Akeredolu (Ondo), Mr Benedict Ajayi (Osun Deputy Governor), Sen. Teslim Folarin and Sen. Abdulfatai Buhari.
Also present were Chief Bisi Akande, the Ooni of Ife, Oba Adeyeye Ogunwusi, Chief Folake Solanke, SAN, Chief Onikepo Akande, Chief Kola Daisi, Chief Adebayo Adelabu and Dr Olusola Ayandele, among others.