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*By Khodijah Awojoodu, Ibadan.

Governor Makinde has commended state Assembly speakers for stabilizing democratic governance.

9Janewshub.com.ng reports that the Oyo State Governor, ‘Seyi Makinde, said on Saturday that the time has come for lawmakers at the National and State Assemblies to have a robust debate on resource control and state police.

Governor Makinde, who stated this while speaking at the Conference of Presiding Officers of Nigeria Legislature, in a keynote address entitled: “Imperatives of Constitutional Amendments,” held at the International Institute of Tropical Agriculture (IITA), Ibadan, said the debates have become imperative irrespective of political affiliations.

A statement by the Chief Press Secretary to the governor, Mr. Taiwo Adisa, quoted the governor as saying that democratic governance must ensure equitable service delivery.

The governor explained that it is high time the legislatures in the country engaged in a robust debate on the twin issues of resource control and state police.

According to the governor, if the lawmakers rigorously debate and come up with answers on these two issues, which are capable of giving Nigerians a fair deal on all counts, they will go into the annals of history as the best Assembly Session ever.

He added that Nigerians are demanding that their governors play the role of Chief Security Officers of their States, noting that the introduction of state police would help in routing insecurity in the state and across the country.

Governor Makinde also used the opportunity to commend the members of the National Assembly and the State Legislature, for ensuring that true democracy continues to evolve in Nigeria by delivering the Electoral Act 2022 to Nigeria.

He said: “Thank you for inviting me to be part of this event to present the keynote address on an issue that is very dear to my heart.

 “Last year, I presented a version of this keynote address on the occasion of the Democracy Day Summit held as part of our two years in office celebrations.

“Then, and now, I will be hinging the discussion on one very important aspect of the Nigerian constitutional amendment, which seems to have eluded the nation.

“But before I delve into this, let me first appreciate you, members of the National Assembly and the State Legislature, for the role you are playing in ensuring that true democracy continues to evolve in Nigeria.”

He thanked the legislature for  delivering the new Electoral Act 2022 to Nigerians, adding that though it might not yet be Uhuru, but it is a step in the right direction.

Governor Makinde, who urged the legislators to pay closer attention to some of the neglected conversations around constitutional amendments, said: “The various agitations that have rocked our nation over the years, including the more recent EndSARS protests and the rise of banditry and terrorism, are all reasons for the Legislature to pay closer attention to some of the neglected conversations around constitutional amendments and reforms.

“Yes, each new Assembly embarks on constitutional amendments, but the major reforms that will finally address many of the concerns that Nigerians have regarding how our nation works are often ignored.

“These conversations have become like the elephant in the room. Everyone knows it’s there, but no one wants to acknowledge it. But the thing about elephants is that they can’t be ignored for too long, they will move, and when they move, we will be forced to confront them.

“We don’t have to wait to be forced to take action. “Actions that are taken under pressure and without due consultation often fail to accomplish desired objectives. And so, it is high time the twin issues of resource control and state police are subjected to robust debate at the Legislature.

“I believe that any Assembly that puts those two issues up for rigorous debate and gives Nigerians a fair deal on all counts will go down in history as the best assembly ever. If you read the pulse of the nation, you will see that everyone is tired of the status quo, and they are ready for new vistas.

“Nigerians are demanding that their governors play the role of Chief Security Officers of their States. They are asking that the governors be empowered to run the security architecture of their states.”

The governor pointed out how the South-West governors’ decision to heed the people’s call resulted in the creation of the Western Nigeria Security Network codenamed Amotekun Corps, stating that the initiative has brought relief to the people.

He said: “Here in the South West, the governors came together to create an alternative that would support the efforts of the federal security agencies through the Western Nigeria Security Network.

The people can see for themselves how things are working out. The Amotekun Corps has brought relief to them.

“Having seen the success recorded by the Amotekun Corps in a little over a year of operations here in Oyo State, we took a step to strengthen them further. We are recruiting 500 more members – we started with 1,500 corps members. I must say this is by far the largest number in any state in the South-West.

“Just yesterday, we supplied them with an additional 100 operational vehicles. The people are happy about this because they can see the work that Amotekun is doing. So, there is no better time than now to discuss state police,” the governor added.

Speaking on the need for the legislature to also engage in a robust discourse on resource control, the governor went further to say: “There is an ongoing national conversation about equity and fairness. We have seen the press release figures that show that it is just a few states that are contributing to the Value Added Tax, which everyone is sharing.

“We have long talked about the states that are producing the oil that we all are sharing proceeds from.

“Everyone has seen how some states do not even make an effort to raise their Internally Generated Revenue (IGR) because they are comfortable with receiving federal allocations from work done by others. But now that the receipts are dwindling, even those states are waking up to the conversation and asking if they can keep what they make.

“Can there be a better time to discuss resource control Constitutional amendments are a must.

They are a big reason why we have the legislative arm of government. As time passes, new generations are born, and new conversations emerge. We must, as a people, be ready to move with the times. This is the only way to move forward.

“So, as you meet, I hope you can raise these thorny issues that have eluded those who came before you. You may not be able to resolve them, but you would at least acknowledge that there is an elephant in the room. This is an important first step.”

Earlier, in his welcome address, the Speaker of the Oyo State House of Assembly, Rt. Honourable Adebo Ogundoyin, appreciated the participants in the first edition of the quarterly general meeting of Speakers of State Legislatures in Nigeria, noting that the theme of the meeting, “is apt and germane to the development of our nation.”

He explained that the Nigerian Legislature is poised to play its part in bringing fruition to the agitations of millions of Nigerians on the need for alterations to the 1999 Constitution Of The Federal Republic Of Nigeria.

Similarly, in his goodwill message, the Chairman, Conference of Speakers of State Legislatures of Nigeria, Rt. Hon. Abubakar Suleiman, appreciated Governor Makinde for hosting the First Quarter (2022) General Meeting of the Conference of Speakers of State Legislatures of Nigeria.

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