The Federal Government under President Muhammadu Buhari has transformed relationship between the Federal and State Governments, from one marked by constant acrimony and vindictiveness, to one that encourages mutual support and collaboration. The APC Legacy Awareness and Campaign, a voluntary think-tank group of the governing party, rejoice that the old tense relations between Federal and State Governments is now history.
Nigerians could recall the extent to which the years prior to 2015 were marked by unnecessary and debilitating tensions between national and subnational governments in Nigeria, often on the basis of personal and partisan differences between senior officials.
Many will recall the following:• The withholding of Lagos State funds by the Federal Government, from 2004 onwards, in spite of a Supreme Court Judgement to the contrary. • The constant impeachments and attempted impeachments, engineered from the highest levels of government, of State Governors considered to be opposed to Federal Government, between 1999 and 2007.• The splitting of the Nigeria Governors Forum, following the 2013 Chairmanship elections that threw up a winner who was not the favoured candidate of the powers-that-be.
• The suspension of meetings by the National Economic Council (NEC), following unresolved tensions relating to the management of Federation finances.• The stalling of the NLNG Train 7 project between 2011 and 2015, because of a desire to promote another project sited in a more favored State.
President Buhari has been elected twice on the platform of the APC, but he has consistently demonstrated that he is a politician for all of Nigeria, regardless of political or regional affiliation. All of the administration’s policies and programs have been made available for all State Governments to take advantage of, and benefit from, for the benefit of all of the people of Nigeria.
The Bailout programs of the Federal Government – including more than 600 billion Naira in Budget Support, and 575 billion Naira in commercial loans restructuring – that helped the States through the recession of 2016 and its immediate aftermath, were extended to all interested States in the countryirrespective of partisan differences.
The President has approved trillions of Naira in vital Refunds to State Governments, since 2015. These include more than $5 Billion in Paris Club Refunds, owed since 2006, and 700 Billion Naira in Refunds for construction work carried out by State Governments on Federal roads. In the case of the latter, the highest benefiting State was Rivers State, receiving more than 10% of the entire amount disbursed to all the States. The State Government has since acknowledged receipt of the funds. That these actions can now be taken for granted demonstrate just how much President Buhari has done to restore normalcy to the dealings between the tiers of Government. Governors have often testified to the support they have received from the President and his administration, and his willingness to listen to them and find ways to help them achieve their governance agendas for their States.
Every State in Nigeria has benefited from the landmark programmes of the APC-led Federal Government, in infrastructure, social investment, agriculture and other areas. The President’s only concern is the welfare of the people of Nigeria, and he will wholeheartedly support any and all efforts to move the country forward.
President Buhari has brought an end to the tradition of Presidents lording it over State Governors, and trying to remove those deemed to have ‘offended’ the Federal Government. Even his harshest critics know this.
The President has also been a strong advocate for the autonomy of Local Governments, and has affirmed this on several occasions. The ongoing efforts to ensure financial autonomy for LGAs, are in line with the President’s core beliefs and vision.
This is in addition to the Executive Order No. 10 of 2020, which the President signed on May 22, 2020, for the implementation of Financial Autonomy of State Legislature and State Judiciary. No President of Nigeria since 1999 has been this resolute in the commitment to democratically strengthening every tier of Government, for improved delivery of the dividends of democracy to the Nigerian people.
There is no doubt that President Buhari has set a new standard for national-subnational government relations. He has put a stop to toxic actions and attitudes of the past, and restored normalcy, and we expect that all succeeding administrations will toe his path and ensure that Nigeria never returns to the dark days of unnecessary animosity and poisonous relations with elected Governors.
Barr. Ismail Ahmed
Mr. Lanre Issa-Onilu
Mr. Tolu Ogunlesi
Mr. Salihu Moh. Lukman
July 6, 2021