Politics, Seat of Power

Tourism programme of the federal government is a constitutional violation and subversion of supreme court authority

The Attorney General of Lagos State, Mr. Ade Ipaye, has described recent attempts by the Federal Government to continue implementation of tourism projects in States across the country as unconstitutional. He also noted that by interfering in tourism, the Federal Government was deliberately disregarding the clear pronouncement of the Supreme Court in the case of Attorney-General of the Federation v. Attorney-General of Lagos, which was decided only last year.

On Tuesday, March 4, 2014, the Minister of Culture and Tourism informed the National Assembly that the Federal Government required the sum of N25 Billion to implement the country’s Tourism Master-plan. The Director General of Nigerian Tourism Development Corporation has also gone to the press recently with the tourism plans of the Federal Government for implementation in States.

It would be recalled that on July 19, 2013, the Supreme Court in the case of Attorney-General of the Federation v. Attorney-General of Lagos held that the power or jurisdiction of the Federal Government on tourism matters, as specified in Item 6(d) of the Exclusive Legislative List (1999 Constitution), was limited to the regulation of tourist traffic. The Supreme Court interpreted this as covering only the entry and exit of international visitors through visa and immigration regulations, and concluded that regulation of tourism in Nigeria was a residual matter within the jurisdiction of State Governments.

To support his viewpoint, the AG of Lagos quoted from the lead judgment delivered by Honourable Justice Galadima, where the Justice of the Supreme Court said:

In my view the Dictionary definition of ‘Tourist’ and ‘Traffic’ would accord to my own understanding of simple and natural meaning of the two words. The words ‘tourist traffic’ used in Item 60(d) of the second schedule of the Constitution, alludes to the ingress and egress of tourists from other countries. These are international visitors or foreigners.

In the light of the foregoing, the contention of the plaintiff that matters pertaining to the regulation, registration, classification, grading, of hotels, motels, guests houses, restaurants, travel and tour agencies, and other hospitality and tourism related establishment are matters within the Exclusive Legislative List, cannot be sustained. In effect, the Federal Government lacks the constitutional vires to make laws outside its legislative competence which are by implication residue matters for the State Assembly: the National Assembly cannot, in the exercise of its powers to enact some specific laws, take the liberty to confer power or authority on the Federal Government or any of its agencies to engage in matters which ordinarily ought to be the responsibility of a State Government or agencies. Such pretext cannot be allowed to enure to the Federal Government or its agencies so as to enable them encroach upon the exclusive constitutional authority conferred on a state under its residual legislative power.”

Mr. Ade Ipaye also pointed out that tourism and cultural festivals that take place in Lagos State, such as the Adamu Orisa, Black Heritage Festival, Lagos Carnival and New Year countdown were promoted and funded by Lagos State Government without any input from the Federal Ministry of Tourism and Culture or its agency. He expressed the fear that money allocated from the Federal purse to support festivals may end up with States perceived as friendly, to the detriment of others.

Instead of allocating funds to tourism, which is a local and residual matter for States, the Lagos State Attorney General urged the Federal Government to pay more attention to the Police and Prison Authorities. According to him, poor funding of both federal institutions was putting pressure on State security and adversely affecting the criminal justice system. He noted that States like Lagos were already spending billions of naira to supplement federal agencies on security, hence the need for the Federal Government to focus more on its core responsibilities.

Bola Akingbade

PRO, Lagos State Ministry of Justice

 

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