THE Chairman of Nigeria Governors’ Forum (NGF) and Rivers State Governor Chibuike Amaechi, has blamed the Boko Haram menace on the inability of the leadership of Nigeria to govern properly.
On his part, Speaker of the House of Representatives, Aminu Tambuwal, said the fresh effort at amending the constitution was not aimed at witch-hunting anybody or group of persons.
Amaechi said the reason Nigeria is suddenly drifting towards regionalisation is because of failure of the constitution, which has centralised power at the detriment of the federating units.
He made this assertion at a retreat of the House of Representatives ad hoc committee on the review of the 1999 Constitution, which commenced yesterday in Port Harcourt.
The governor, while urging the committee toconcern itself with crucial national issues, said Boko Haram was a consequence of the inability of the Nigerian leadership to offer good governance.
Amaechi lamented that those involved in Boko Haram-related activities were persons mainly between the ages of 18 and 21 years,whom, according to him, the ruling class hadvisited with political and socio-economic violence by denying them light, schools, water, education, hence their resort to physical violence.
“If you don’t want them to react with physical violence, then you must provide for them free education, water, roads and light. When you are busy in your school, you will not have time to be actively involved Boko Haram activities.
“Members of the Nigerian elite are yet to riseabove board to know that Nigeria is a nationand that what is more important to Nigeria is the interest of Nigeria, not the interest of individuals, who make money to the detriment of Nigeria,” he said.
He traced the existence of insecurity to whathe called political and socio-economic violence visited on the people by the elite, adding: “So, if you want to stop insecurity, the first thing to do is to provide for the people’s socio-economic realities: they must have food, water, light, hospitals, etc.
“If you provide these, the next thing to do is ensure that the states are properly policed.”
The governor urged the National Assembly to check the excesses of some federal agencies, such as the Nigeria National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC), which he saidhad consistently violated the constitution of the country through spurious claims.
“Why are there agents that don’t obey the constitution? The constitution says all revenues accruable to the nation must go to the federation account, but because some people are above the constitution, the monies that are accruable to the country are not paid into another account and they say the appropriation laws passed by the National Assembly include a clause that says they can take their money upfront.
“Your law cannot supersede the constitution. The courts said that your laws cannot override the constitution, because you and I derive our existence from the constitution, and that is what they call the rule of law,” he said.
The governor charged the lawmakers to ensure that the oil sector is deregulated, even if it means including it in the constitution.
He called for an accountant for the Federal Republic of Nigeria, whose responsibility should be separated from that of the accountant of the Federal Government of Nigeria.
An advocate of state police, Amaechi disclosed that the NGF was presently divided about the issue, but urged the National Assembly to give it a thought, even if it means limiting their role to investigation andcrime prevention.
The governor, who described the National Assembly as pragmatic and progressive, appealed to members to help recue Nigerians from the shackles of bad leadership and obnoxious laws that have kept them down for too long.
He noted that unless the National Assembly enacted a constitution that was truly federal in nature, the issue of constitutional amendment would continue to reoccur.
He declared that the last constitutional amendment would have been disastrous for the country, but for the swift intervention of the NGF.
Tambuwal emphasised that the fresh effort at amending the constitution was not aimedat witch-hunting anybody or group of persons and announced that the National Assembly, in collaboration with the state Houses of Assembly, would conclude the exercise by April next year.
He decried the impression in some quarters that the proposed granting of first line charge status to the Houses of Assembly wasaimed at weakening the powers of state governors, saying the exercise was rather aimed at capturing the wishes and aspirations of Nigerians in the constitution.
In an address earlier, Deputy Speaker of the House and chairman of its ad-hoc Committeeon review of the Constitution, Emeka Ihedioha, hinted that issues that would be covered in the fresh amendment would include federalism, political restructuring, devolution of powers, local government administration, indigeneship & citizenship,electoral reforms, state creation, national security & the Police