‘An aberration’ — Okupe faults FG over autonomy suit against states

 Doyin Okupe, a former director-general of the Labour Party (LP) presidential campaign council, says the federal government was wrong to have sued states over local government autonomy.


In the suit marked SC/CV/343/2024, the federal government is seeking full autonomy for the country’s 774 LGAs.


The federal government is also asking for an order from the court preventing the governors from arbitrarily dissolving democratically elected councils.


Speaking on Sunday, Okupe described the suit against the states as “needless and unfortunate,”  noting that there are only two component units—the federal and the states—in a true federal system.


 “We should run a true federal system in which there are two bodies coming together for a union: the federal government and sub-nationalities,” NAN quoted him as saying.


“The local governments are principally and completely issues of the state; it absolutely has nothing to do with the federal government, and it (the idea of LG as a third tier) should be expunged from the constitution.


“Let the nation’s money be shared between the federal government and the states. The federal government asking for local government autonomy in a federal system is an aberration.


 “It is becoming so sad that we seem not to know what is right and what is wrong in the country.


“Then, the state government can decide to have as many local governments as it desires for grassroots development and fund it as they like.”




Okupe also said the proposed single-tenure rotational presidency is a great idea for a developing country like Nigeria.


A bill seeking a single term of six years for the president and state governors was brought up recently by 35 members of the house of representatives.


The lawmakers are also proposing the rotation of the presidency between the north and the south, as well as the creation of a second vice-president.


“I don’t think we should do this kind of reform (constitutional amendment) in a haphazard manner. There is so much that is wrong with the constitution we are operating,” Okupe said.


“There is so much confusion and contradiction in the 1999 Constitution as prescribed and handed over to us by the military.


 “I would rather have us to have a holistic approach to this reform or amendment.


“The six-year single tenure for the president and governors is okay in a developing nation like this, and I have no objection to it.


 “Yes, it is good we can have a six-year single-tenure rotational presidency. However, the rotational part should be clearly stated in the constitution among the six zones.”


Okupe noted that the national assembly needs to implement other reforms as well, particularly in the electoral system, rather than merely reviewing the tenure.


He added that any reform must also address the ambiguity surrounding Nigeria’s political structure, whether it is a federal or unitary government.


Okupe stressed that the presidential form of government must be abandoned in favour of a parliamentary one “where we have a prime minister that would be elected by his colleagues from the parliament” if the country is to undergo the reform.


 “The prime minister will run the country under the supervision of the elected president. The role of the president will be limited and very clear,” he said.


“And if the people are not satisfied with the prime minister, they can go to the parliament to remove him and put someone else.


“This is a country of over 200 million; a lot of destinies are involved; there is no need for us to be patching and patching it. If the constitution is not okay let us attend to it properly.”

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