Paul Obiajunwo, Port Harcourt
Former President Goodluck Jonathan has declared that the implementation of the recommendations of the 2014 National Conference, would address the lingering agitations and insecurity in the country.
Jonathan stated this yesterday, in his remarks during the Rivers State Golden Anniversary Lecture held at the Dr. Obi Wali International Conference Centre, Port Harcourt.
He stated that the gave approval for the National Conference to be held, after realising how germane it was to address “gray areas” of interest.
The former President said he had always advocated for a fiscal federalism, saying it would afford federating States opportunity for development.
Jonathan said: “One of the reasons I insisted on the National Conference, Prof. Darah (Guest Lecturer) made reference to, was the interest of Nigerians. Yes, in many areas as a nation, we are doing well. But, there are still other areas that agitate the minds of our people. And as a government, you need to address them.
“I remember in August, 2013, Professor Ben. Nwabueze led the patriots and met me, and one of the issues they raised was the National Conference. Others schemed for other conferences. But I insisted on the National Conference that would look at these gray areas that affect our people. Those areas that retard our development and fine tune it for the good of our children and grandchildren.
“I always believe that when you are in government, when you are making laws, or coming up with policies, don’t consider your position because that your position is very temporal.
“I was quite pleased with the outcome of the conference. There was nothing like voting. Every decision was by consensus. And I believe sincerely, that if government is able to implement most of those recommendations, some of the things that agitate our minds today, some of the social issues we have, including insecurity and otherwise, would be addressed”, the former president noted.
He added, “If we look at Federal Government supporting oil-producing areas, if you really sit down and calculate, a lot of funds have actually come into the Niger Delta area. But, we don’t see corresponding infrastructural development.
“And when you compare the 13 percent derivation that just started in 1999 or 2000, that the National Assembly now approved, you see that the development that can be in Rivers, Bayelsa, Akwa Ibom, Delta and other States, is not compared to when it was issue of intervention agencies that were to manage funds.
“The key thing is that intervention agencies are too political; the tenures of appointees are not protected. Every new government including mine, would set up a different team. When it comes, instead of completing existing projects, the award new projects. At the end, you see many uncompleted projects littered in Niger Delta and you cannot quantify the money.
“But, the 13 percent come directly to the State, being managed by the governor elected by the people with the approval of the State House of Assembly to have oversight functions. I have seen greater utilization of that money than the intervention agency.
“That is one of the reasons I think that fiscal federalism if properly done in a nation like Nigeria, will encourage every part of this country to generate income. I believe every part of Nigeria is viable. The only thing is that, in Nigeria, the local government chairman sits in the office, waits for allocation, distributes and goes asleep and waits for the next month” .