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Afenifere Renewal Group Hails Removal Of Prison Service From Exclusive List, Insists On Sovereign National Conference

Source: thewillnigeria.com
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SAN FRANCISCO, May 21, (THEWILL) – A Pan-Yoruba socio-political and economic think-tank group, Afenifere Renewal Group (ARG), has hailed the subtle removal of the Prison Service from the exclusive legislative list which only the Federal Government has control over.

Describing a recent announcement by the Senate that State Governments can now build and operate prisons, which hitherto has been an exclusive right of the Federal Government, as a bittersweet indication, the group, in a statement issued on Monday, said “The bitter sense, which lingers more, is the fact that liberalising prison service is actually a trifling portion of the heavy burden weighing down the country.”

The statement signed by the Media/Publicity Secretary of the group, Kunle Famoriyo, quoted the Chairman of the Senate Committee on Judiciary, Human Rights, and Legal Matters, Senator Umaru Dahiru, as saying, in a media report, that “under the new arrangement, states can now build, fund, and maintain prisons in their domains” without seeking any approval from the Federal Government.

It however called on the Senate to muster the same courage in calling for a total re-arrangement of the country through a Sovereign National Conference. “While we would love to commend the Senate for this development, we dare ask why it is finding it difficult to muster the courage needed for total rearrangement. We hope our Senators know that building prisons involve funding, which many states may not have. Many of them are still struggling to pay the minimum wage because the near-scandalous revenue allocation formula is still preferred. We live in a country where federating states are not allowed to control their own resources and Value Added Taxes generated in the states are hauled off to Abuja,” the group said.

It added: ”We charge the Nigerian Senate to be great leaders of our people. They should take the bull by the horns, by facilitating the convocation of a SOVEREIGN NATIONAL CONFERENCE (SNC), to solve Nigeria’s problems once and for all.”

The ARG statement, titled PRISONS: Is that all? read in full:

“The Senate has said that state governments can now build and operate prisons, which hitherto have been an exclusive right of the federal government. Media reports quoted Chairman of the Senate Committee on Judiciary, Human Rights, and Legal Matters, Senator Umaru Dahiru as saying: “under the new arrangement, states can now build, fund, and maintain prisons in their domains,” without seeking any approval from federal government.

“This development, we want to believe, means that prison service has been removed from the old-fashioned Federal Exclusive List, even though this was not explicitly stated in the reports.

There is a sense in which Dahiru’s statement makes a patriotic Nigerian wants to cry because it is a tacit confession that Nigeria’s foremost democratic institution knows that Nigeria needs a new arrangement, which the senate should have spearheaded by allowing the Constituents Assembly produce a new constitution for the country through a Sovereign National Conference.

“So, while we would love to commend the Senate for this development, we dare ask why it is finding it difficult to muster the courage needed for total rearrangement. We hope our Senators know that building prisons involve funding, which many states may not have. Many of them are still struggling to pay the minimum wage because the near-scandalous revenue allocation formula is still preferred. We live in a country where federating states are not allowed to control their own resources and Value Added Taxes generated in the states are hauled off to Abuja.

“For us in Afenifere Renewal Group (ARG), removing prison service from the Federal Exclusive List is a bittersweet indication. The sweet sense is the gratification that the senate knows that our call for restructuring of Nigeria’s political governance is essential to the country’s survival. The bitter sense, which lingers more, is the fact that liberalising prison service is actually a trifling portion of the heavy burden weighing down the country.

“It is said that a leader takes the people where they want to be, but a great leader takes the people where they ought to be. We charge the Nigerian senate to be great leaders of our people. They should take the bull by the horns, by facilitating the convocation of a SOVEREIGN NATIONAL CONFERENCE (SNC), to solve Nigeria’s problems once and for all.