Chairman, Nigeria Governors’ Forum (NGF) and Ekiti State Governor, Dr Kayode Fayemi in this interview with MUYIWA ADEYEMI spoke on how to advance the cause of democracy in Nigeria, his achievements and regrets as he prepares to handover to his successor on October 16.
Congratulations on your election as President, Forum of Règions/States of Africa. What is the essence of this forum and what does Nigeria stands to gain from it because we are hearing of it for the first time?
YOU are hearing of the Forum for the first time because this is the first time sub-national entities that are between the local and central authorities are coming together as the engine room of the development of our people and as a unifying voice for the integration of the continent.
The idea behind the forum of regions is really to have sub-national entities as drivers of growth, as well as engines of development and policies.
In many African countries, policies are often developed at the central government level and then they get implemented at the sub-national level, either at the state, province or prefecture, depending on the country you are referring to and at the local level, I mean the council level, policies on economic development, on health care provisioning, on social security, on education at the primary and secondary level, all of these policies get implemented at the sub-national level even if they are regulated at the central level. So, in other words, the subnational entity is really where the rubber meets the road, that is where people feel the impact of government in most cases.
Central governments are often too distant and the engines of implementation are usually the sub-national entities. So if sub-national entities work effectively, the pressure gets inevitably reduced on the central authority, but in a federal entity such as ours, sub-nationals are more critical to development because they are co-ordinated and interdependent rather than subordinate to and dependent on the central authority. They have executive authority, they have a parliament, they have a separate budget, they have institutions of states that are independent, and in some cases they have constitutions.
In other countries, they even have the basis to leave the union if they choose to. And this is the forum of sub-nationals across Africa, we held our meeting where I was elected in Morocco, there were at least 24 countries. The direct benefit of the course revolves around experience sharing, peer learning, exchange programmes and partnership for development. Just like we do now in Nigeria Governors’ Forum.
Are you the first president of the forum?
Yes, I am the first President of the forum because this is the first time an election of this nature will take place. This process was inspired by the United Cities and Local Governments Forum of Africa. This is the Forum of mayors and council chairmen. Even at that, the forum identified a gap. While it is good that we have a united cities forum, cities often exist within a larger sub-national entity, which is not necessarily the central authority. And that thinking coincided with our thinking too.