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CONSTITUTION REVIEW: AMAECHI HARPS ON TRUE FEDERALISM

By NBF News

Rivers State Governor, Rotimi Amaechi
Rivers State Governor Rotimi Amaechi, on Saturday said that for democracy to thrive in the country, the ongoing constitution review should include true federalism.

Amaechi, who stated this in an interview with journalists in Lagos, said that the Peoples Democratic Party's governors would play an active role in the emergence of the party's presidential candidate in the 2011 election.

The governor denied saying that the governors would determine the next president of the country, adding that he only said their roles in the emergence of the presidential candidate of the PDP could not be undermined.

Commenting on the constitution review, Amaechi said the amendments must go beyond electoral reforms and other changes to include fiscal federalism.

The governor said, 'The problem of Nigeria is not just the constitution, but constitutional. Are we truly a federation? If we are, why should my money be coming from Abuja? There is what is called fiscal federalism. I should be the person paying Abuja, not Abuja paying me.

'Under federalism of the Nigerian type, labour is on the exclusive list. To hire and fire my staff, I have to go to Abuja for permission. Is that federalism?

Advising Nigerians, he said, 'The amendment has taken place at the federal level. I don't know if it will be successful at the state level but we need to go beyond electoral reforms or whether the National Assembly will have the first line charge, to establishing true federalism.'

He also clarified his position on the 2011 elections. Amaechi said, 'By the PDP constitution, there are delegates that are there by the virtue of the offices they occupy. Most of those delegates are appointed to those offices by the governors.

'For a presidential candidate to emerge, the governors can speak to the delegates, who are their appointees. If the governors speak to the delegates, they can determine, they presidential candidate. I am not talking about the President of the country because those delegates cannot constitute the majority of voters in Nigeria.'

Explaining further the roles of the governors in the emergence of the party's presidential candidates, he said, 'You cannot ignore that fact (the role of the governors). How many commissioners are independent of their governors? Commissioners are automatic delegates.'

The governor said that parties must allow internal democracy to thrive, adding that personal interests must not override those of the majority.

He said, 'The name of anybody who emerges through properly held elections within the party must be forwarded to INEC. That is what we should be talking about.'