Lagos State Governor, Mr Akinwunmi Ambode has called on legal practitioners in the country to raise their voices in support of the demand for decentralization of power, especially on revenue sharing, to States.
By the current revenue allocation formula, the Federal Government takes as much as 52.68% of centrally-collected revenues in the federation account, while States and Local Governments share 26.72% and 20.60% respectively.
Governor Ambode, speaking at the opening ceremony of the 57th Annual General Conference of the Nigerian Bar Association (NBA) held on Sunday in Lagos, urged lawyers to utilize the golden opportunity of the ongoing review of the 1999 Constitution to lend their voices to the call for redress of all the aberrations that had stunted growth and inhibited capacity of States to harness their potentials.
In his words: “Let me use this opportunity to call on the Nigerian Bar Association as a body and members to raise your voices in support of the demand for devolution of power to States and fiscal federalism, especially the review of the current revenue sharing formula.
“These, in my view, are fundamental and critical to creating an enabling environment that will accelerate development in all parts of the country. The ongoing process for the review of the 1999 Constitution presents a golden opportunity for us to redress all the aberrations created by the interjection of the military that have stunted growth and inhibited the capacity of States to harness the huge potentials of our nation.”
Speaking on the theme of the conference, “African Business: Penetrating Through Institution Building,” Governor Ambode identified weak institutions as a major factor inhibiting growth in Nigeria and Africa, saying that the development had constituted a major disincentive for investment in the continent, which in turn, was hampering efficient and effective harnessing of the huge resources in the continent.
He said in most cases, institutions are weak because their establishment is influenced by personal and short-term considerations, while in some other cases, institutions are deliberately weakened in order to make them subject to the whims and caprices of the leadership.
As a way out, Governor Ambode said: “Building and sustaining strong institution requires our collective commitment to the rule of law. It entails building the capacity of such institutions to be able to discharge their responsibilities effectively and transparently while also being accountable to the people. It must create an atmosphere of confidence, mutual understanding and protection against arbitrariness.
“We must take a cue from developed economies where the integrity of their institutions is not compromised for whatever reason. In those climes, it is the institution that puts officials of the State in check and not vice versa as we have experienced and are still experiencing in most parts of the continent.”
The Governor said such ideal situation and global best practice was what Lagos State had been striving very strongly to attain in order to build an economy that is globally competitive.
“This has been one of our key commitments in the past two years as exemplified by the far- reaching reforms we are implementing by way of security and judicial sector reforms. Happily, these efforts are yielding the expected outcomes,” Governor Ambode said.