Tuesday, 28 February 2017

True Federalism As A Stimulus For Economic Growth

                                                  Cocoa seeds
There is no doubt that true federalism is the only stimulus the country needs in order to make the fed­erating states competitive and self-sustaining. There is no de­nying the fact that the reason why the country is undeveloped is simply because the states are not authorized to explore and exploit the natural resources in their lands.
For instance, the in­hibiting Petroleum Act of 1990 says thus: “An Act to provide for the exploration of petroleum from the territorial waters and the continental shelf of Nigeria and vest the ownership of, and all on-shore and off-shore rev­enue from petroleum resourc­es derivable therefrom in the Federal Government and for all other matter incidental thereto.” Likewise, the Nigerian Minerals and Mining Act 2007 says: “The entire property in and control of all mineral resources in, un­der or upon any land in Nigeria, its contiguous continental shelf and all rivers, streams and wa­tercourses throughout Nigeria, any area covered by its territo­rial waters or constituency and the Exclusive Economic Zone is and shall be vested in the Gov­ernment of the Federation for and on behalf of the people of Nigeria.”
With these two prohibiting laws in place, the country is be­ing run as a unitary state under the guise of a federation. Thus, the states go to Abuja month­ly to receive their beggarly allo­cations from the Super central controlled Unitary Govern­ment! Another albatross to de­velopment in the country is the suppressive Land Use Decree No 6 of 1978 (Now Land Use Act) which empowers only the government to control all lands in the country. This has trans­formed the citizenry to mere tenant in their ancestral lands! This is the reason why Nigeri­ans do not have land titles with which they can obtain loans from banks to set up cottage in­dustries!
Considering the fact that the states can’t explore and exploit their natural resources due to these extant laws, the country therefore needs true federalism or resources control. Howev­er, whenever some undiscern­ing Nigerians hear the demand for true federalism or resource control, they hurriedly conclude that the people in the oil produc­ing states are greedy and want to enjoy the money derivable from crude oil all alone! This is a mis­judgment because resource con­trol is not about crude oil money alone. Resource control covers all resources: natural resources, agricultural resources, tourism resources and internally gen­erated revenues. So, resource control is not about oil money. It goes beyond that; it is about the states mining, exploring and exploiting their natural resourc­es such as solid minerals domi­cile in their lands. Resource con­trol is about the states harnessing their agricultural resources. Re­source control is about the states tapping the enormous potentials in the tourism sector and paying taxes to the federal government as it is practiced in other federa­tions across the world.
Good enough, every state has numerous natural resources, ag­ricultural resources and tourism resources to control. How great will the country be if the states are empowered to tap and har­nessed their numerous natural resources? Can anyone imag­ine the industrial upspring the country will witness if the states are authorized to explore and exploit their natural resources? Just imagine the number of in­dustries that will spring up to mine nickel, bauxite, lead, ore, uranium, kaolin, gold, lime­stone, gemstone etc. that are in large deposits across the country if the states are allowed to mine them. This will also lead to em­ployment opportunities across the land.
Nevertheless, since the fed­eral government controls eve­rything and gives monthly sti­pends to the states, the states have also become indolent and lethargic hence they have failed to harness the immense poten­tials in agriculture and tourism. States like Sokoto, Kebbi, Kano, Katsina, Niger, Kogi, Ogun Eb­onyi States have the potentials to produce rice in large quantities yet Nigeria spends about N365 billion annually on the importa­tion of rice! It is sad! Many states are also endowed with tourism potentials but they are not uti­lizing them for their advantage.
It is evident that few Nigerians who benefit abnormally from the unitary system, do not want to hear talks about true federal­ism. Such Nigerians resist talks about true federalism with such irrational zeal as if they love the country more than other Nigeri­ans! They assume the posture of those who love the country be­cause of the unquantifiable ille­gal wealth they make from the warp and uncoordinated coun­try. For the country to move forward, there is urgent need to abolish the unitary system and embrace true federalism.

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