Two senators - Suleiman Adokwe (Nasarawa South) and Olubunmi Adetumbi (Ekiti North), Monday disagreed on twin issues of local government autonomy and state creation.
The Senate Committee on the Review of the 1999 Constitution had listed creation of more states and local government autonomy among proposed issues to be incorporated into the constitution.
About 56 requests have been sent to the National Assembly on state creation. Both senators expressed their divergent views on these issues in separate media sessions in the National Assembly Monday.
While Adokwe said for effective service delivery at the grassroots, there is need for delegation of authority which he said local government autonomy could guarantee, Adetunmbi disagreed, saying there was no federal system in the world where local government exists as a third tier of government.
According to him, when local governments obtain autonomy, they would be empowered to handle minor issues such as clashes between herdsmen and farmers instead of waiting for governors.
But Adetumbi said granting autonomy to local councils amounts to allowing another man to give your wife money because you can’t afford it.
He said a situation where the Federal Government had to give money directly to local governments at the expense of the states amounts to allowing your wife’s employer to give her money.
"Will you allow that?" Adetumbi queried. On the other hand, while Adokwe said the jinx that civilians cannot create states needs to be broken, Adetumbi said creation of more states will imply increasing the cost of governance since such states will have to establish new civil service, judiciary, executive and legislature.
He argued that creation of more states by the Federal Government would bring succour to minority groups who are daily being marginalised in their respective states.
His words: "Although the process is laborious but there is need for us to correct the impression that only the military government can create states because since independence, no civilian government has ever created any state in the country. Also, creation of more states will also allow minority groups in a particular state to produce a governor because there are some states in the country that will never create an avenue for the minority to govern a state."
While opposing Adokwe’s position, Adetunmbi said state creation this time was unnecessary, noting that the level of poverty in Nigeria was higher with 36 states when compared with the time there were 12 states in the country.
He insisted that proliferation of states in the country would only increase the cost of governance since recurrent expenditure of such states will be higher than their capital votes.
"I am not a believer of proliferation of states in the country that is not benefiting our people. When the country had four regions, the quality of life our people was better than what we have in the country right now," he said.
Speaking on the planned merger of opposition parties, Adetunmbi said the merger talks would uproot the ruling party at the 2015 general election, adding that the merger talk within the opposition parties has made the ruling party to have sleepless nights.