By Timothy Ekpo
In a bid to tame the ravaging spate of insecurity in the country, the Akwa Ibom governor, Mr Udom Emmanuel, has reiterated the fact that fiscal federalism and devolution of powers from the central government to other federating units are the best options to guarantee justice, unity and peace in the nation.
The governor stated this at the stakeholders meeting and public hearing on the alterations of the 1999 Constitution (as amended) by the Akwa Ibom State House of Assembly Ad hoc Committeeon Transmitted Constitution ( fifth alteration) Bills which took place at Akwa Ibom State House of Assembly, Uyo.
Represented by the deputy governor, Mr Moses Ekpo, at the event facilitated by the National Assembly, Abuja, the governor said that for Nigeria to grow and develop as a nation, there is a consensus of letting go of parochial interests and adoption of goals bigger than tribes and religion.
He told stakeholders and participants at the hearing that a time had come for the decentralisation of the police force to allow state set up well equipped and motivated police force to effectively complement the federal police to put an end to the growing insecurity in many parts of the country.
The state chief executive pointed out that if the respective states were allowed control of their natural resources, it would call for a healthy competition among the federating units to discover their potentials and become more productive, a development he stressed would drive the economic indices in the right direction.
Mr Udom Emmanuel said that the nation cannot continue to toy with the education sector, the productive manpower and the empowerment of the women and as such primary and secondary school education should be the right of every state and free. The governor called for gender equality as no nation could progress without the women being given opportunity to prosper.
The governor noted that if the 1999 Constitution (5th alteration) Bill could be amended with a review to reflect fiscal federalism, devolution of powers, resource control and other issues as would be required by the various houses of assembly, Nigeria would progress.
Mr Emmanuel charged the Akwa Ibom State House of Assembly to play a key role in the task of nation building vis-a-vis given valuable inputs into the transmitted constitution.
The speaker of the State House of Assembly, Mr AniekanBassey, whose address was read by the deputy speaker, MrsFelicia Bassey, said the State Assembly could not neglect its sacrifice and mandate on a crucial assignment such as contributing inputs to the 1999 Constitution in considering a message from the National Assembly to Akwa Ibom State Assembly proposing some amendment to the 1999 Constitution (as amended).
He stated that the 9th National Assembly in March 2022 initiated a process geared towards restructuring within the polity by transmitting the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, 1999 (5th alteration) Bill, 2022 to State Houses of Assembly to deliberate and offer concurrent approval.
Bassey said the 7th Assembly of the State House under his watch set up an ad hoc committee on transmitted constitution (5th alteration) bill 2022, chaired by the House leader, Sir Udo KierianAkpan, to organize stakeholders meeting on the bill on issues of devolution of powers, political parties, elections, political office-holders, the three arms of government, local government, Federal Capital Territory and statutory judiciary.
He told them that 44 bills were transmitted by the National Assembly to the House to work on. Bassey said it was on that premise that the stakeholders were converged to do justice to the bill and thanked the state government for the support.
The chairman of the committee, Sir Udo Kierian Akpan, said the National Assembly after months of deliberation considered and forwarded to state houses of assembly 44 bills covering areas of concern for consideration.
Akpan noted that in fulfilment of the assignment, the Akwa Ibom State House of Assembly had come up with the forum to allow the state give inputs to the amendment of the 1999 Constitution. He said four panels would handle the project and thanked participants for honouring the event.