22nd June, 2012
Governor Babatunde Fashola of Lagos State, Southwest Nigeria, has described the agitation for the creation of additional states by some Nigerians as an attempt to cause confusion that may result in balkanising the existing states.
The Governor made this position known on Friday during a one-day public hearing on the proposed amendment to the 1999 Constitution by the National Assembly, organised by the State House of Assembly.
Fashola, who maintained that the country would incur huge cost for administrative and personnel purposes in creating more states, added that the agitation should be for the creation of more Local Government areas as this would enhance the much needed development at the grassroots and bring government closer to the people.
According to him, “most states are currently not sufficiently viable to justify further subdivision.
“It may well be that the agitation for more inclusiveness in governance and for rapid development may be better addressed by the creation of more local governments than it can be done by the creation more states.”
Fashola also opposed the removal of the immunity clause from the Constitution as canvassed by members of the public, arguing that it is meant for the office as against individuals who occupy privileged offices.
Emphasising that the office preserves its dignity and ensures the effectiveness of administration, the Governor said: “while it is regrettable that there may have been actions which are indicative of abuses of the privilege by some office holders, the privilege of immunity is not for the benefit of the office holder.
“Retention of the clause would prevent unfounded allegations of criminality against top public officials which, if allowed, would bring massive distractions.
“Even where the allegation that necessitates trial relates to corruption or other criminal offences, it is trite that time does not run against investigation and prosecution of offenders. What would have been achieved with the removal of the immunity clause could be achieved at the expiration of the tenure of the serving officials.”
Most of the contributors at the hearing supported the creation of more local governments with some advising that states be given the powers to create local governments instead of what currently obtains.
They also called for the scrapping of the list of local governments from the constitution.
By Eromosele Ebhomele