By Amb. Dr. Godknows Boladei Igali
Most of our 36 States Governors have so far done well in measures to combat COVID 19 and must be commended. Most of them, are leading by example and that is good.
But to close Air, Land & Sea Borders: No Way! They do not have such powers. If l may ask, where are their big Lawyers and top Civil Servants?
Under the Second Schedule of 1999 Constitution the following provision place all these powers under the Exclusive List or only the purview of the Federal Government. These powers include:
Section 3 – Control of Air travels;
Section 11 – Construction and Maintenance of Federal or Trunk Roads connecting States;
Section 36 (b) – Control of Inland Waterways & Sea travels;
Section 54 – Power on Quarantine of Persons;
Section 63 – Control of Traffic on Federal Roads and above all,
Section 60 (a) – Promotion and Enforcement of Fundamental Objectives and Directive Principles of State Policy, which includes guarantees Right of Free Movement for all citizens.
At a critical time like this of a global emergency, our top bureaucrats must be courageous in advising the political authorities to consult appropriately and ensure that the right decision is taken. Needless energy must not be dissipated on controversies on issues specifically and clearly provided. Let’s try to avoid panic and panic measures.
The concerned Governors should, therefore, kindly allay the fears and anxiety of Nigerians by rescinding the orders or advising the personnel at the control points from not subjecting Nigerians to more suffering. Most states are already carrying out tests at interstate borders and that could be intensified.
From personal experience, the Federal Government does not rush to announce decisions or exercise such powers but weighs so many considerations and l believe it will do so, concerning such movements at the right time.
May Almighty God have mercy on mankind and our country and let this pass early.
Dr. Igali is a former Ambassador and Retired Federal Permanent Secretary.