Resource Control; the bone of contention on True Federalism
“We all know that resource control is the biggest obstacle to the actualization of true federalism in Nigeria. If we are honest to ourselves, we will all admit that we cannot separate resource control from true federalism. They are inseparable. But how do we explain this to the average Nigerian without been labelled as a bigot or secessionist? You cannot give the states more fiscal responsibilities and yet deny them access to maximize their areas of natural comparative advantage. You cannot let the states or regions generate their own electricity and yet deny them access to the gas beneath their land for gas plants and water for their dams. Whatever their comparative advantages is, be it human made or natural made, they must be controlled by the govt closest to the people. You cannot tell Kano state to have its own state and community police system and yet deny them access to the natural resources which they would use to fund their new fiscal responsibility. This is why we cannot separate resource control from true federalism.
Now that we know what the most contentious feature of federalism is and who are in opposition to it, we now have a duty to solve it. Now that we know why the North is against true federalism; fear of losing crude oil, we now have a duty to think for them. We now have a duty to study the North and see how their comparative advantages can be maximized in the interest of their region. This is not suppose to be so but because we know this is imperative, we now have to think a way out. If it is indeed axiomatic and even incontrovertible that Nigeria needs true federalism as we strongly believe, then we have not just patriotic duty but a moral duty to make it happen. There is need for the intellectual community of Nigeria to take a position on this…”
Tony Osborg discussing with friends ealier today at the University of Port Harcourt on the need for more intellectual engagement on the issue of true federalism.