Devolution of Power: State lawmakers accuse N’Assembly of betrayal

Some Speakers of State Houses of Assembly have accused the leadership of the National Assembly of betrayal over its refusal to approve the clause on devolution of power to states during the constitution review.

According to some of them, the National Assembly did not go through with the agreement to approve the clause.

While speaking with Punch, they said
the leadership of the state Houses of Assembly made an agreement with the National Assembly leadership during the visit of the Constitution Amendments Committee to their zones that the issue of power devolution would be paramount during their final deliberations.

Speaker of the Kwara State House of Assembly, Ali Ahmad said it was surprising that the clause was turned down by the National Assembly.

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He said, “The decision of the federal legislators on devolution of power was surprising to me. When we met in Lagos, we agreed that some issues should go to state. We agreed but unfortunately during voting, they did otherwise.

“Although majority of them voted in its support, their number was not up to two-thirds, which is required to pass it. It is not the end of the day. We at the state levels will go back to restrategise on how to build consensus and mobilise support for it.”

Speaker of Cross State House of Assembly, John Gaul-Lebo said the resolution of the National Assembly on devolution of power and the scrapping of the state electoral commissions was a breach of trust.

He said there was no agreement made in scrapping of State Electoral commissions.

He said, “The conference of speakers of the state houses of assembly had a retreat in Lagos two weeks ago with members of the House and Senate committees on constitution review, which was chaired by the Deputy Senate President, Senator Ike Ekweremadu. All of the 36 states consented to support the constitution review under certain conditions.

“We agreed on devolution of power from the exclusive list to the concurrent, so that the states will have issues to handle in terms of level of control over resources.

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“We were not also opposed to local government autonomy and other areas, but we were opposed to removing the powers to conduct local government elections from states. We did this because that position was a product of constitutional review in 2007, which was an amendment.

“To say that states have not carried out that task well by taking advantage of it is another matter but not to scrap it. Scrapping it has not solved the problem.

“The fact that state electoral commissions are not doing well in the conduct of local government elections does not give credit that the Independent National Electoral Commission has done well. INEC also has their challenges and what we were looking at was how to harmonise the challenges.

“For me, the resolutions by the National Assembly are a breach of trust. The conference of speakers has scheduled another meeting in a few days time.

“We will be consulting widely and we shall have town hall meetings. All the 25 members of the Assembly in Cross River State will go back to their constituencies and consult with their constituents. It is whatever that is agreed that will be articulated.”

The Speaker of the Oyo State House of Assembly, Michael Adeyemo said the decision of the National Assembly on devolution of powers has killed calls for restructuring.

He said, “Power must devolve. We should decentralise so that all these agitations can stop. This is our position in the house. Why are the legislators rushing the amendment?

“A constitution set up by the people will not have all these anomalies. Let’s go back to the 2014 confab report, which addressed issues and proffered solutions to them. The process of amendment is however still ongoing.”

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