Professor Omoregie Advocates Urgent Correction Of Nigeria’s Federal System
A Professor of Comparative Constitutional Law and Governance, Edoba Bright Omoregie, (SAN), has advocated an urgent correction to the anomalies in Nigeria’s federal system in order to avoid the looming “violent disintegration.”
He warned that if the country continues to witness the kind of resistance to federalism reforms as experienced particularly in the last few years, the risk of disintegration may escalate.
Prof. Omoregie, a Senior Advocate of Nigeria (SAN), made these assertions while delivering his University of Benin Inaugural Lecture titled ‘Nigeria’s Federal System In a Quandary: The Whys and Hows to fix it.’
Omoregie who identified the principle of power-sharing; incoherent system of federal solidarity and non-obligation to provide a minimum standard of living for citizens, etc, as major banes of Nigeria’s federal system, said the “adoption in the quest for federalism reforms in Nigeria would be realises if the current imbalance in the distribution powers be reversed.”
“We must do everything possible to avoid the looming violent disintegration, because we are heading towards that direction. The sign of possible disintegration is glaring. This is happening in Ethiopia and other countries. So, we need to fix our faulty federal system to avoid violent disintegration.
According to him, lack of autonomy in horizontal and management of the states; lack of autonomy in access to significant tax revenue sources are all major challenges causing agitation for disintegration.
He added: “The 1999 Constitution institutes a federal system which denies the states their autonomy relative to the Federal Government… It is manifest in fiscal allocation and inter-government revenue relationship by which the states are denied direct and autonomous access to significant tax revenue sources.
He continued: “State governments have also been denied autonomy in the horizontal organisation and management of their internal administration. The first point where this is manifest is the enacting of a single national constitution and the implied prohibition of sub-national constitutions. This is in contrast to the country’s pre-1966 federal system when the regions had their own regional constitutions in addition to the national constitution.”
He, therefore, advocated that “high premium should be placed on federalism expertise to promote the imperative of federalisation and reform contested aspects of Nigeria’s federal system, while forestalling unprincipled constitution alteration of the system.”
He further said “a well-resourced expert-driven reform and constitution alteration of unsatisfactory aspects of Nigeria’s federal system,” should be put in place.”
According to him, “the deployment of policy federalism to address gaps in the dysfunctional aspects of Nigeria’s federal system pending constitutional alteration,” should be encouraged.
While noting that the Federal Government has taken more than it can deliver, the scholar further advocated establishment of institutions wherein true federalism would be taught.
In a goodwill message, a former Minority Whip, House of Representatives, Dr. Samson Osagie said the guest lecturer placed “within the context of the complicated federal structure Nigeria pretends to be operating at the moment.”
According to Osagie, “indeed in the midst of the confusion created by the constitution which vests all powers on the Federal Government, (as items in both the Exclusive and Concurrent lists are items on which the Federal Government has powers to legislate) Nigeria in actual practice is actually a Unitary State with abundant and unworkable principles of Federalism.”