By Christiana Ekpa
The South West Zone of Nigeria has demanded that the Supreme Court of Nigeria should be decentralized to ease the current burden of the appellate court by establishing the Supreme Court in the six geo-political Zones of the country to enhance true Federal State, even as it stressed that the Upper Court should concern itself mainly with issues bordering on constitutional interpretations and matters arising between states and the Federal Government.
This was just as the Zone equally demanded that, the Ministries, Departments and Agencies must be pruned to reflect the socio-economic realities of the moment, adding that, government at the centre must divest itself of this self-inflicted heavy burden for effective and impactful performance.
According to him, most two Ministers should be appointed to represent each Zone saying that Items on the Exclusive List must witness significant reduction, and that the Federal Government must not be seen to be competing with the states in service delivery to the people.
The Governor of Ondo State, Akeredolu Oluwarotimi Odunayo disclosed these at the Zonal Public Hearing organized by the House of Representatives Special Committee on Constitution Review in Akure on Tuesday.
Speaking at the International Cultural and event Centre, Akure, the Governor represent by his Deputy, Hon. Lucky Aiyedafiwa said that “The current situation imposes a heavy burden on the litigants and the jurists. It stalls economic activities in the geo-political Zones. It is stultifying. It is counter-productive. It will not encourage development in the country. To enhance quick and effective dispensation of justice, the Supreme Court should be established in the six geo-political Zones in the country. The CJN should remain in Abuja while other Justices should preside at the Zones.On the whole, the exercise will not be meaningful if the Chapter 2 of the 1999 Constitution, as amended,is not taken to Chapter 4.
“The Supreme Court should be decentralized to ease the current burden of the appellate court. In a true federal state, there should be a Supreme Court whose decisions are final in residual matters. The Supreme Court at the centre should concern itself mainly with issues bordering on constitutional interpretations and matters arising between and among the states and the Federal Government, as well as revenue generation by the Federal Government. It should also administer the National Judicial Council.
“I welcome you to the Sunshine State, most warmly, at this trying period in the country. It is only decent that we salute the courage and sense of duty exhibited by the elected representatives of the people, despite the current challenges. Indeed, we should expect no less from those saddled with the responsibility of reviewing the basic law which regulates all activities in the land.
“Constitution review is a very important assignment which must be undertaken with all seriousness. All segments of the society for which the document is being prepared must be availed of the opportunity to participate actively in the process which leads to the emergence of this new compendium. All issues which excite distrust and suspicion must be looked into dispassionately. Nobody must be shut out, all must be treated equally.
“ All decisions must be anchored on the principles of Equity and Justice.
Extremely conscious of the current mood prevailing in the entire country at the moment, I shall hasten to touch on the issues concerning the purpose of this visit. We should waste no time on niceties. We must be frank and direct. The country is in dire straits now. No efforts must be spared to stop the free fall. The current experiences stretch the limits of endurance. Everyone tries to remain calm amidst the raging storm. More than ever, this period calls for cooperation from all stakeholders in the survival of the country.
The position of the Ondo State Government has been made public. We advocate for a Federal Government largely reduced in size and scope of engagement. We want to see a Constitution that will enhance the performance of public office holders at all levels. It is possible to have a government that will serve the people in deed and truth. The law of the land must aid this realistic expectation. We must reduce the cost of governance and shift attention to service delivery in this trying period.