Edo State Governor Adams Oshiomhole yesterday took a swipe at those criticising state governors over reckless spending of state allocations, saying the federal government, which receives 52 percent of the nation's monthly allocation, should rather be blamed for the nation's under-development.
Oshiomhole's comment was a reaction to the assertion by Hakeem Baba Ahmed, a former permanent secretary in the office of the Secretary of the Government of the Federation (SGF), that 28 percent of state's monthly allocations were being spent on frivolities in Government Houses.
Oshiomhole, who was chairman of the 1st Sir Ahmadu Bello Lecture, with the theme:' Challenges of Good Governance and Leadership in Nigeria', lamented that governors were always at the receiving side of criticisms, while nobody cared about the large chunk of funds being pocketed by the federal government with little to show for it.
The Edo State governor said: "We need to revisit the federal revenue allocation formula, for while all states of the federation share 26 percent of the nation's monthly revenue, the federal government alone collects 52.4 percent.
"This in effect means that if you have 52 percent and you perform at that level, you will get 52 marks; that's a pass mark; but if you receive 26 percent and you deliver at the level, would you be adjudged to have passed? This is the predicament we must deal with. As it is, even if you put angels as governors, they can't give you what they don't have."
Oshiomhole further contended that what was required was attitudinal change by Nigerians, leaders and followers alike, and the building of strong institutions, rather than strong individuals.
Earlier, ex- permanent secretary, Hakeem Baba Ahmed, had attributed one of the reasons for under-development in the country to the misappropriation of funds by state governors, adding that 28 percent of states' allocations was squandered in Government Houses.
He posited that the Boko Haram problem was created by the North and asked the region's leaders to find a solution to it, adding that the North was suffering economically, socially and politically as a result of the activities of the sect.
While he canvassed for a return to regionalism in place of states governance units, Baba-Ahmed blasted governors for not supporting local government autonomy because of their interest in hijacking local governments' monthly allocations, in addition to their own state allocations.
Ahmed called on the governors to rise up to the occasion, warning that except significant effort is made ahead 2015, the consequences might be dangerous.
"There are millions of angry youths. They are frustrated and angry. Please do something as the electoral process may not be an option, but a revolution will sweep you away," the former permanent secretary warned.
Earlier, guest speaker at the lecture, Prof Ibrahim Gambari, CFR, had advocated a national dialogue, saying all hands must be on deck to entrench nationalistic values in the country.
Gambari stated that for good governance to be entrenched, then "we must not normalise the abnormal".
"Everyone and every region feels marginalize; so who is not marginalised and how do we then solve and entrench the solutions? Every part of the country must be part of the historic struggle to find lasting solutions to issues which tend to become serious challenges to us a nation," Gambari said.
A number of dignitaries attended the event, including Alhaji Adamu Ciroma, Etsu Nupe, HRH Yahaya Abubakar, Senator Isaiah Balat, and Governors Adams Oshiomhole, Idris Wada (Kogi) and Babangida Mu'azu (Niger).
Others in attendance were Speaker Aminu Tambuwal, ANPP chairman Chief Ogbonnaya Onu, Sokoto State deputy governor Alhaji Muktar Shagari, former military governor of Plateau State Lawrence Onoja and retired Justices Maman Nasir and Mohammed Uwais.
Speakers extol Sardauna's virtues at memorial lecture
Meanwhile, speakers at the event took turns to eulogise the virtues of the late Premier of Northern Region and Sardauna of Sokoto, Sir Ahmadu Bello.
The guest speaker at the First Annual Sir Ahmadu Bello Memorial Lecture, Professor Ibrahim Gambari, while delivering the paper, "Leadership and Good Governance in Nigeria: Sir Ahmadu Bello, the Ghost of 1914 and the Audacity of Hope for Nation-building," described the late Sardauna as an advocate of stability and change.
He said: "The man who stood so strongly and resolutely against change was also the greatest change agent in the history of northern Nigeria. When change threatened to impose disorder and violate the spirit of the ancient values that defined the life of northern Nigeria, the Sarduana was its implacable enemy.
"But when change sought to leverage his people and provide them with access to the best offers of modernisation and good governance, he was its unsurpassable advocate and defender. Sir Ahmadu Bello was a paradoxical figure of history."
Other eminent Nigerian leaders also weighed in on the late Sardauna's virtues.
Vice President Namadi Sambo, represented by Senator Isaiah Balat, said: "I am an unapologetic proselyte of the late Sardauna, not for the reasons everyone is mentioning, but for the things I did see. If you can tell a leader from seeing him afar, Sardauna was one such man; he oozed confidence and quality in decision-making and had the diplomacy many a diplomat will give anything to have. If we learn from examplary men, then the lessons we have learnt from Sardauna must not go to the dogs."
The Etsu Nupe, Alhaji Yahaya Abubakar , who represented the Sarduana of Sokoto, also showered praises on the late Sardauna: "The qualities inherent in the person of the Sardauna is one which should be imbibed by present-day leaders who wish to promote peace and unity. A man of pragmatic, realistic and people-oriented leader he was. In this age and time, they are hard to find, but they are there."
For his part, Niger State governor, Dr. Babangida Aliyu, said: "Sardauna was a man interested in the integration of all those whom he led. Left to him, he would have taken his gospel of peace and integration all over the country, but that was not to be. In the Nigeria of today, our resources beg for managers, just as the people beg for good leaders: only when we get these right that we can beat our chests with pride and agree that we have a destination."