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AMAECHI: We Should Commercialise Oil, Pay Tax To Federal Govt

Published by Guardian on Sun, 05 Aug 2012

All Mineral Resources Must Be Brought To The TableBEING position of Governor Rotimi Amaechi during a panel discussion on the Devolution of Power, Fiscal Federation and Concept Of Federating Units in the 1999 Constitution at the retreat by the House of Representatives Committee on the Review of the 1999 Constitution (as amended).On suggestions that oil mineral alone should come on the Federal Government legislative listTHE Constitution amendment will continue if you continue to visit injustice to people who are part of Nigeria. When you say let the Federal Government legislate on petroleum, but not on the rest, have you bothered to ask those people who own petroleum whether they have other natural resources. You take our oil and then you say it is for the whole Nigeria and you keep your own to yourself. Let us be careful so that we don't start a programme that we cannot manage.Nobody should suggest that it (increased derivation on oil) won't go through the National Assembly; we will resist it with everything that it will take to do so. If the Federal Government is going to legislate on natural resources, let them legislate on everything.Why is it that the Federal Government is sitting on our natural resources (oil) and there are other natural resources in other parts of the states and they are not bringing them to the table; the only thing they are bringing to the table is oil'What will work today is to make oil commercial. Let the Federal Government get-off the process so that people can do anything they want in the oil sector and then pay the Federal Government taxes. It will engender competition and ensure that people do not go to Abuja to collect money from the Federal Government.Devolution of PowersIf it is true that the Exclusive Legislative List is 68 (items) and the Concurrent one is 12 or 16, then something is wrong. Let me give you an example. Why do I, as a governor of Rivers State, employ workers and the Federal Government will tell me how much to pay the worker' It doesn't make sense.Why shouldn't I (we) have a state High Court and a state Court of Appeal and have a State Supreme Court on matters that the state government has jurisdiction' Why should I have a state High Court and go to the Court of Appeal of the Federation to make an appeal and then to the Supreme Court at the federal level for further appeal' All matters relating to the states should be left at the states.I have two more years as governor; God knows these suggestions are not for me; they are for those who are coming in future and for this country and it may be you.Fiscal FederalismFiscal Federalism is not about morals. Don't say, oh yes, I'm a good President; I will dash you people's money. Let the law say what Fiscal Federalism is. Let the law simply say, all the states can produce what they want and then pay taxes to the Federal Government.How is Ivory Coast surviving' There is a rumour going on in Nigeria that we go to Ivory Coast to import fuel; I don't know whether it is true. They have no oil, but we are importing fuel from them. They have cocoa and oil palm.In the 60s, the Southeast of Nigeria and partly Rivers State used to have oil palm plantations. They have all disappeared because of crude oil. In the 60s, we used to have the groundnut pyramids in Kano; they have disappeared. The reason you have this financial laziness is the oil syndrome; we should discard oil, make it a private affair and let us go into agriculture and taxes.But one thing is that all of us seated here claim we know the problem of Nigeria but when it is time to find solutions to the problems of Nigeria we begin to think, I am Yoruba, I am Hausa, I am Ikwerre, I am Rivers, I am Delta, I am South-South, I am this. Let us think as a nation; there is benefit in our size.State CreationIt is about injustice and it is about the fact that sharing of revenue is based on local government and state; thus, people want more local governments, more states so that they can share the revenue. Do the right thing and you will have fewer people asking for more states.Immunity ClauseI don't agree that there should be civil immunity alone because in Nigeria, people will file a case even when you are not criminally liable. They will file a case against you and you will be going to court because it is assumed that is a criminal case.Immunity is an essential tool for good governance. We can only demand good governance. We must find a way to put in the Constitution the minimum requirement somebody must meet to become a governor and if you don't meet this minimum requirement, let the Constitution discharge you.There is nothing that says that it must be through impeachment that a governor can be removed. If we all agree and we put the same in the Constitution, both at the federal and state levels that there are minimum requirements a governor must achieve and he automatically ceases to be the governor if he fails, then we can move ahead as a country.'Remove Local Govt From The Constitution'State PoliceI THANK God that nearly all of us here (at the Port Harcourt retreat) agree to State Police; so, it is not up for a debate. And the way to do it is that those states that cannot fund it can continue to remain with the Federal Police; the state that can fund can provide it (State Police) for themselves.I will give you an example. When I became governor, Rivers State was very charged (with security problems). We got 300 policemen trained by the Israelis and we got an agreement with Nigerian Police Force to allow them to remain in Rivers State for three years.However, a certain IG (Inspector General of Police) came and felt I was recalcitrant and deployed all of them (policemen) out of Rivers State; yet, they were trained with our money and we had agreement with the Police that they would be left for three years in Port Harcourt. Within the period they were in Port Harcourt, we had peace because they were properly trained.I congratulate the Senate and National Assembly for acceding to the request of Nigerians. Those states that have the capacity to maintain State Police should be allowed to do so. Look for consultants that will come-up with what it will take to create a State Police.All I am interested in is peace in my state and investigation of crimes. I hear there is no forensic laboratory in Nigeria. Probably if you permit State Police, some states can set up forensic laboratory for other people to come and benefit from.Finally, ask the governors, who amongst them is not funding the Nigeria Police or the Nigerian Security System to be able to achieve peace in their states.Local Governments as Federating UnitsWe need to look at whether there is any nation that has the local government as the federating unit. I have not seen one that has local government as federating unit. So, when you people (National Assembly members) talk about local government autonomy, I begin to remember a professor, who accused female writers of being male sex organ-envy (and) that is why they were fighting in the name of feminism.Is it a fact that states are allowed to manage local government' Even if it is so, there will be a time you will have in all the states good governors if you assume that there are bad governors now.If you want to see good governance, one thing you should put on ground is that local government should be found (included) in the Constitution. States can create as many as 50, 500, 3,000 councils for as long as they have the money to manage the same.
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