A former Minister of National Planning and Director-General of the National Institute for Legislative and Democratic Studies, the academic arm of the National Assembly, Prof Abubakar Suleiman, has stated that state governors form a major chunk of Nigeria’s problem.
He stated this during an interview with The PUNCH.
While addressing his recent criticism of Nigeria governors, whom he said are using their domineering influence to cause high turnover of members in the National Assembly.
Suleiman said, “The governors are our major problem. When you want to rank problems and the actors that propel these problems, Nigerian governors are our problem. And if there is anything we can do to them, better for us?
“They have created a lot of problems. When there are issues that bother on the plight of Nigerians, you hardly see them coming on board. But if there are issues that bother on their selfish interests, at times they hide under collective will to say ‘yes, we are patriotic; we are speaking for the Nigerian people.’
“Look at the issue of constitution amendment: local government autonomy, state police and legislative autonomy, what has been their role? They stood against it. Are they representing the Nigerian people? Is that what their people have asked them to do? Since they control enormous resources, they use the resources to suppress the local governments.
“Most of them hijack the local governments’ allocation and give the local councils peanuts. That is why today, the local governments all over the country are no longer viable. Look at the issue of autonomy for legislature or state assemblies, they stood against it.
” Only a few of them allow the local governments access their funds from the first line charge. Look at the issue of the high turnover (of lawmakers); once they don’t like your face, no matter how vibrant a member of the Senate or House of Reps is, their will come to pass because they control resources and they use those resources to buy over their people.
“They starve their people and when the election comes, some of them roll out money to buy votes. When there are policies and laws that will serve the interest of the people in their various states, they stand against it.
“If a governor wants to remove his deputy, he lobbies the members (of the state House of Assembly), give them money to remove (the deputy). I can count and you know them – the numerous programmes, projects and initiatives of the Federal Government that governors have stood against,”he added.