Memorandum On True Federalism By Asiwaju Olorunfunmi Basorun

Asiwaju Basorun 3
Asiwaju Olofunmi Basorun, first Secretary to the Lagos State Government


  1. Preamble

Nigeria has been bedeviled with myriad of problems, especially in three decades (1985 – 2015). Major among these problems are insecurity, leadership corruption and mass unemployment. Efforts made by various administrations to address these problems have not only failed to produce the desired results, but have also led to people propounding irrelevant panacea. That is why we talk about restructuring, fiscal federalism, true federalism, regionalism, resource control devolution of powers, et el. The time is ripe for us to move away from these “jargons” and settle for what will be in the interest of majority of Nigerians, irrespective of tribe, ethic nationality, religion or creed.
We must consciously develop optimism and prayers in seeking the WELFARE of our people. The Western and Eastern blocs are now silent (or have abandoned) SOCIALISM, CAPITALISM and COMMUNISM:  they all practice WELFARISM.
Let Nigeria take a cue from this and put in place a Constitution that will guarantee the well-being and genuine aspiration of all Nigerians.
My memorandum will seek to address a Constitution that will ensure this noble objective is achieved. I am happy our President, Muhammadu Buhari, is laying a solid foundation for a Welfare State of my dream.

  1. Creation/Merger of States

No new States should be created; there is also no need to merge the existing ones. We should continue on the basis of 36-State structure. State creation is an engine of growth sort of, but we should not continue to proliferate it.

  • We should give the 36 States more time to develop and overcome the teething problem of funding.
  • From 3 regions at independence in 1960, we have moved from 12 to 19, 19 to 21, 21 to 30 and 30 to 36 States as at 1996.


  1. Devolution of Power

In our own federalism, the central government has certain legislative powers (in the Exclusive Legislative list) as part of the second schedule to the 1999 Constitution (as amended) while the State holds and operates on the residual powers. There is also the Concurrent Legislative list in part II of the Second Schedule to the 1999 Constitution (as amended) where the central and states operate pari-pasu.
My recommendation is as follows:

  • Transfer some powers from Exclusive List to Concurrent list and add new ones to Concurrent list. See Annexure I.
  • Remove some powers from Exclusive List to become part of Residual Powers. See Annexure I.


  1. Federating Units

We should maintain the 36-State structure. For administrative convenience and because they are already being used in certain circumstances with approval of all States, 6 Geopolitical zones should stay and their existence should be legalized with a law by the National Assembly, but merely as administrative units.
They are;

North Central Benue, Kogi, Kwara, Nasarawa, Niger, Plateau
North East Adamawa, Bauchi, Borno, Gombe, Taraba, Yobe
North West Jigawa, Kaduna, Kano, Katsina, Kebbi, Sokoto, Zamfara
South East Abia, Anambra, Ebonyi, Enugu, Imo
South South Akwa Ibom, Bayelsa, Delta, Edo, Rivers
South West Ekiti, Lagos, Ogun, Ondo, Osun, Oyo

REGIONALISM should not be contemplated at all.
See Annexure II for my detailed position on this subject.

  1. Revenue Allocation and Fiscal Federalism

The new sharing formula shall take care of the additional function transferred from the Exclusive List to the Concurrent/Residual functions which by implication become more functions for the States.

  Current Formula Recommended New Formula
Federal 52.68 35
State 26.72 40
Local Government 20.60 25

On Fiscal Federalism, especially in the area of remuneration for political office holders in the State and Local Governments (Governors and Council Chairmen in particular), uniform rates across the 36 States and 774 Local Governments should stop.
Instead, every State and Local Government should fix such remuneration based on the quantum of fund available, both Statutory allocation and internally generated revenue; the principle of “cut your coat according to your cloth” should apply.

  1. Form of Government

The form of Government should remain Presidential/Federalism.
Central government with Exclusive Legislative Powers and 36 States as federating units with Residual Powers.
As discussed above, geopolitical zones shall be legally recognised as mere administrative units.

  1. Independent Candidacy

I fully support a constitutional provision to allow qualified Nigerians to contest election at all levels, viz Councillor, Council Chairman, State Governor, State Assembly Member, House of Representative Member, Senator and President.

  1. Local Government Autonomy

The current Section 7(1) of the 1999 Constitution (as amended) should continue to be the grundnum of Local Government System in Nigeria. For avoidance of doubt, I reproduce the Section as follows;
“The system of local government by democratically elected local government councils is under this Constitution guaranteed; and accordingly, the Government of every State shall subject to section 8 of this Constitution, ensure their existence under a Law which provides for the establishment, structure, composition, finance and  functions of such councils.”
Their functions should remain as in Schedule IV of the 1999 Constitution (as amended). I still maintain and reiterate that Local Government System as specified in the Section 7(1) quoted above should be constitutionally remitted to the State government.
A comprehensive paper on the subject of remission is attached to this memorandum as Annexure III.
On autonomy, I do not agree that local government administration in Nigeria should be autonomous. If “autonomy” by dictionary definition is (1) “immunity from arbitrary exercise of authority; or (2) political independence”, our Local Government Councils are not ripe for it. The proponents of autonomy are complaining that State Government manipulates the Joint Account to the detriments of the Councils; this is not general.
What we have heard and seen in many cases is that, most Councils owe council staff and Primary School teachers several months’ salary; and even have no fund for performing their constitutional functions because their States tamper with funds in the Joint Account.
My recommendation is for other States which have not done so, to take a cue from Lagos State by deducting at source all payments due to the Councils’ Staff and Primary Schools’ staff and remitting same to the Councils and, in the case of Primary Schools, to SUBEB; the balance is then credited to the Councils for other services.
We should instead of seeking autonomy prematurely, address two major lapses in the revenue allocation and distribution to the Local Governments.
First, the provision of Section 162(7) of the 1999 Constitution (as amended) that States should give a proportion of their total revenue to local government is not being implemented in virtually all the States.
I suggest that the various state assemblies should ensure compliance, and I propose that it should be 10% of total revenue (the Constitution is not definite on the quantum).
Secondly, Section 162(8) of the Constitution (as amended) requires the State House of Assembly to make a law to prescribe the modality for sharing the federal allocation to Local Governments in a state in bulk to the state government and the state contribution. The State Assemblies should be bold enough to enact this sharing formula law and thus stop the arbitrariness currently involved in the sharing of the fund in Joint Account.

  1. Power Sharing and Rotation

We should have a policy of rotation of key elected positions – an extension of section 14(3)(4) of 1999 Constitution (as amended).

  • President shall rotate between the Northern and Southern (3 Zones) Nigeria provided that it will rotate among the zones in either side of the divide.


  • Vice President shall be from the side of the divide not producing the President and shall rotate among the zones – either side of the divide.

Governorship shall rotate among the three Senatorial Districts of a State.
Deputy Governor shall be produced by any of the two other Districts.
1, Olorunfunmi Basorun Crescent, Igbogbo, Lagos State.
Mobile: 08022912498
September 14, 2017     

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