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Your Excellency, The Deputy President of the Senate & Chairman of the occasion, Senator Ike Ekweremadu CFR,
Your Excellency, The Deputy Speaker of House of Representative; Chief Emeka Ihedioha CON,
Your Excellency, The Governor of Delta State, Dr Emmanuel E. Uduaghan CON,
Your Excellency, The Deputy Governor of Delta State. Prof. Amos Agbe Utuama, SAN
Distinguished Senators of the Fed Rep.,
Hon Members of House of Reps.,
Distinguished Deputy Speaker, Delta State House of Assembly,
My lord, the Chief Judge of Delta State,
My Lord, the President, Customary Court of Appeal,
My Lord Justice Francis Tabai (JSC) rtd
My esteemed colleagues,
Members of the Delta State Executive Council Present,
Permanent Secretaries,
Clerk of the State House of Assembly,
Heads of Extra Ministerial Depts.
Our Highly revered Traditional Rulers,
The Guest Lecturer, Alh. Kabir Alkali Mohammed, President of ICAN
Panel of Discussants,
Members of the 4th estate of the realm,
Ladies & Gentlemen

I am pleased to welcome you to the 2nd Anniversary lecture of the 5th Assembly. The idea of a lecture as part of our anniversary celebration is informed in part by our desire to bring important issues challenging us as a nation to the front burner for intellectual discourse and also seek solution to them.

This is hinged on our hope, that such discourse will collectively form part of the compass, through which we can navigate our way through, in our journey to self-discovery in this stage of our national development.

So important are the issues for discourse today that we are fortunate to have in our midst, the Deputy President of the Senate, Senator Ike Ekweremadu, to give the keynote address.

Your Excellences, ladies and gentlemen, the topic of our first interaction, is ‘Legislative Issues in Fiscal Federalism in Nigeria’ The idea of fiscal federalism suggests that each tier of government in a federating state is allowed to pursue its financial policy initiative, as this is perceived would ensure rapid development of the country.

Indeed, decentralization has become a feature of reform agenda promoted and supported by the World Bank and other multinational institutions. For us in Nigeria, given the historical commitment to Federalism as the basis for co-existence and unity, fiscal federalism has long been the subject of several committees, commissions since the fusion of Southern and Northern Protectorates, in 1914. The issue remains in the front burner today, still evoking a great deal of passion and virulent contestation. However, I do not think such hair letting is necessary, for going by what existed pre independence, many argue that it might ensure positive competition and development.

Distinguished guests, it might not be out of place if we contribute to the ongoing debate on the need for true fiscal federalism and return to pre-independence era, when the regions controlled their economies and ensured healthy rivalries among them or do we continue to tread on this current path, which many allege is alien to international best practices?

On this very topical and necessary discourse, we have no doubt that the distinguished Deputy Speaker of House of Representative; Chief Emeka Ihedioha will navigate us through, especially concerning the legislative issues involved.

Mr chairman sir, in the second lecture, our effort here, must be seen in the true light of what it is, simply, a collaboration with the executive in finding answers to the problem of underdevelopment, occasioned by paucity of funds, over reliance on oil and even more odious, the operation of what many call ‘Abuja handout’ (in apparent reference to the tradition of states trooping to Abuja for the monthly sharing of Federation Accounts Allocation Committee) What is more, our over dependence on a mono product economy has in a way arrested development in some parts of the country.

In order not to be caught hamstrung in this ‘mono product economy’ the State Government ably led by Dr. Emmanuel Ewetan Uduaghan, had, as part of both futuristic and immediate plans, developed an economic strategy known as Delta beyond oil. It is an economic blue print developed by His Excellency, aimed at extricating the state from overtly relying solely on revenue from oil, as, is presently the case.

The point being made here is that many countries abound in the world, though not blessed with oil, but have witnessed phenomenal growth by developing the real sectors of their economies, hence, the need to diversify the economy.

Many have argued that one way of doing this is through proper taxation. While it is true that the fortunes of the state might have greatly improved, due to the gradual but indeed steady increase in the internally generated revenue, (IGR), due principally to taxation, great as this effort may be, one thinks we are not yet fully where we ought to be.

Efforts, must be intensified to minimize lapses as humanly possible, while individuals and organizations who under declare their yearly profit by doctoring the books or who are in active connivance of tax officials to evade payment of tax, ought to be punished.

Your Excellences, Ladies and Gentlemen, it is, in line with the thinking of the state that we decided as a house, to contribute to the ongoing discourse on diversifying the state economy that we chose to discuss ‘Delta beyond Oil: Taxation as a Catalyst for Socio Economic Development of Delta State. A lecture to be delivered by the President of the Institute of Chartered Accounts of Nigeria, Alh. Kabir Alkali Mohammed 49th President of ICAN

Distinguished guests, I do know we are in good hands, hence, I must pay obeisance to the Deputy Senate President, Senator Ike Ekweremadu CFR, who in spite of avalanche of pressing state duties has found time to be with us not only to chair this occasion but to also give the key note address.

How do I thank our amiable and ebullient Deputy Speaker of House of Representatives, Rt. Hon. Emeka Ihedioha? Your Excellency, I am deeply grateful, knowing your very busy schedule, yet finding time to be with us today.

We are equally grateful, for your nationalistic desire to facilitate an amendment to our constitution, if the people so desire. Almighty God is your strength. To my Lord, Hon. Justice Francis Tabai(JSC) rtd, your acceptance to preside over a session of this occasion bears eloquent testimony of your deep love for our state; indeed, your contributions to the enrichment of the legal profession will forever remain green in our minds.
 
We are also indebted to the 49th President of ICAN, Alh. Kabir Alkali Mohammed for finding time despite his very busy schedule to be with us, even having just been elected to the topmost position. And to my brothers, Prof .Epiphany Azinge(SAN),Mallam Yusuf Alli(SAN), Odua Clement Ofuani (FCA) and Hon. Joel Onowakpor (FCA). I am deeply touched by your acceptance to be with us today, thank you. Permit me also, to appreciate the erudite Vice Chancellor of Delta State University, Prof Eric Arubayi for finding time to be with us, despite the obvious very short notice. While I am not all together surprised, being such an accomplished academic, who is ever ready, never the less, we appreciate your sacrifice sir.

We must never get tired of appreciating our own, the highly cerebral, focused, governor, His Excellency, Dr Emmanuel Ewetan Uduaghan CON, for truly keeping faith to his 3 point agenda, and which has greatly turned the fortunes of our state in all spheres for the better.

We must also, salute his courage for being such a bastion of support and a democrat in ensuring that truly, the principle of separation of power holds sway in Delta State.
 
To my distinguished colleagues, I owe it all to you. I remain ever grateful for your support, invaluable advice and for being such worthy allies.
 
Your Excellences, Ladies and gentlemen thank you and welcome.

 
Rt Hon. (Engr) Victor O. Ochei. (FNSE FIAS)
Speaker
DTHA, Asaba, 14th June 2013.

 

 

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