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Review of the 1999 Constitution- Edo Politician tasks National Assembly members from Niger Delta on true fiscal federalism.

By Edo Benin

In view of the sustained agitation mounted by Niger Delta patriots since the last three decades for the resource control or fiscal federalism of all states in Nigeria; which culminated to the militant dimension and the attendant “criminal” perspectives inform of hostage taking, I make bold to say that the destiny of Nigerians and Niger Deltas particularly rests squarely in the hands of the National Assembly members from the region. This is so because, the good people of the region expects nothing short of an unequivocal demand for true fiscal federalism from our representatives as it is undoubtedly the only panacea that will guarantee enduring peace and hospitality in the region particularly and Nigeria at large.

It thus appear that most Niger Delta leaders are currently basking in the euphoria of the contemporary declaration of amnesty and the huge sums allocated for the rehabilitation and upgrade of militants and the creeks respectively; this in all modesty is a diversionary, although it is a palliative measure as it provides all stakeholder the opportunity to meet at a round-table. I join Nigerians of goodwill in commending President Yar Adua for the grant of amnesty and his clear-cut resolve to challenge the age-long problems of the region. However, it will be most appropriate to frontally and sincerely set the tone for a long-lasting resolution, it is on this score that the return to true fiscal federalism becomes very expedient as all states (federating units) will maximise the theory of comparative cost advantage in enhancing production of goods and services to meet their ever-growing budgets and needs.

The leaders of Niger Delta must seize the opportunity of the current efforts by the National Assembly to review the 1999 constitution to make a strong and unequivocal case for the true practice of fiscal federalism as it stands out as the last bus-stop in our much touted effort to rebrand Nigeria. Any effort at rebranding Nigeria that does not seek to transform Nigeria's dysfuntionality and aberrations will turn out to be another federal-policy-of-slogan. The fear by some northern elites that their region will suffer if Nigeria returns to true fiscal federalism as has be espoused by some political literatures is unfounded and diversionary because the intrinsic tenet of capitalism is the maximization of available potentials as all parts of Nigeria have the natural and human wherewithal to tremendously develop and contribute to the overall development of the federal republic of Nigeria. So we truly desire to rebrand Nigeria, we must try in no small measure to practice federalism which we claim we are practicing; otherwise, we will be mocking ourselves at the international arena.

The National Assembly members should eschew chauvinism as exemplified by the recent demand by their Peoples Democratic Party counterparts for automatic ticket from their party; and allow their overall contributions to the growth and development of Nigeria through their separation of powers advantage speak for them on the judgement day in their respective parties. The point should be made that most Nigerians are further disillusioned by their seeming parochialism for return to power by all means at a time the clamour for the eradication of all tendencies of do-or-die politics ought to be the guiding rule of political activities in Nigeria, in the spirit of rebranding.

The National Assembly members from Niger Delta should not lose sight of the yearnings and aspirations of the good people of the region by the seeming “carrots on the ground” by ensuring that the campaign for true fiscal federalism is giving a boast. I challenge the Assembly members to fight for this issue the way the last National Assembly members fought against the 3rd term agenda; which enjoyed the solidarity of all Nigerians of good conscience. Let us imbibe the values of history by squarely addressing Nigeria's dysfunctional federal structure ones and for all.

Comrade Aiyamenkhue Edokpolo- Senior Special Assistant to Edo State Governor on Politics and Strategy.