By Jake Otu Enya, PhD
The creation of the ministries of Aviation and Foreign Affairs by Governor Ben Ayade of Cross River State does not offend the provisions of the 1999 Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria (as amended) for the following reasons:
ISSUE NO. 1: Whether or not a State Governor has powers to establish ministries
The answer is in the affirmative as supported by the express provisions of Sec. 192 (1) CFRN 1999 as amended that provides as follows:
“There shall be such offices of Commissioners of the Government of a State as may be established by the Government of the State subject to confirmation by the State House of Assembly and same to be spread across the Local Governments of the State – See s.14(4).
ISSUE NO. 2: Whether or not the State Government’s action is Legal?
By the provisions of S.5 (2) (a)(b) of the CFRN 1999 as amended which provides that the executive powers of a State shall be vested in the Governor of the State and may be exercised by him either directly or through the Deputy Governor and Commissioners of the Government of the State; the act of His Excellency, Governor Ben Ayade is founded on Law and is legal.
ISSUE No.3: Whether the mere use of the words Aviation and Foreign Affairs amount to an infringement of the Constitution?
The mere use of the words Aviation and Foreign Affairs has not be found to have breached the provisions of Sec. 5 (3) of CFRN 1999 as amended which state thus:
“the Executive powers of a state shall be exercised as not to:
(a) Impede or prejudice the exercise of the executive powers of the Federation.
(b) Endanger any asset or investment of the Government of the Federation.
(c) Endanger the continuance of the Federal Government.
ISSUE NO. 4:Whether the items listed in the exclusive legislative list enshrined in the second schedule to the 1999 Constitution – particularly item no. 3, Aviation and item 26, External Affairs have anything to do with executive action?
Under the rule of interpretation of Statutes and the Constitution, where the words are unambiguous, precise, plain and clear, the ordinary meaning should be given which involves the application of the literary rule of interpretation of Statutes as was held in the case of Awolowo v. Shagari (1979) 6-10 S. C. 37.
In addition, there is the expressio unius est exclusio alterius rule of interpretation of Statute that states that the express mention of one thing in Statute or the Constitution automatically excludes what was not mentioned. This was held in the case of F. C. Udoh & Ors. v. Orthopaedic Hospital Management Board and Ors(1993) NWLR pt. 304, 139. Therefore using the above two cannons of interpretation of Statutes, the phrases exclusive legislative list is precise and unambiguous, which means that it has expressly excluded executive action.
ISSUE NO. 5: Whether there is any conflict in the functions performed by the Cross River State Ministry of Foreign Affairs vis-à-vis the Federal Ministry of Foreign Affairs.
A closer look at the functions performed by the two ministries shows there are totally different and not in conflict.
The functions of the Cross River State Ministry of Foreign Affairs include:
a) Logistics and protocol in respect of State Affairs
b) Initiation and conclusion of MoUs with foreign partners
c) Coordination of foreign activities and liaison services for State Government.
d) Engaging in projects and activities that will enhance industrialization drive of the State Government.
Federal Ministry of Foreign Affairs
1. Matters relating to international arm control.
2. Handles bilateral and multilateral treaties.
3. Participates in formulation of policies relating to maritime, land and boundary.
4. Oversee consular work.
5. Handles diplomatic affairs in the UN etc.
ISSUE NO. 6: Whether a State with an existing licence from the Federal Government to operate an Airport can establish Ministry of Aviation.
Since there is an existing operational licence in respect of the running of the Babe Airstrip at the Obudu Ranch Resort, it is legal for the State Government to establish the Ministry of Aviation by saddling it with the following responsibilities:
1. Expanding the run way to accommodate bigger aircrafts
2. Purchasing and managing State Carrier – Cally Air.
3. Construction of the Obudu International Airport.
4. Training and provision of manpower for the development of the Aviation Industry in the State and Federation at large.
OTHER STATES PERFORMING EXECUTIVE FUNCTIONS IN THE AVIATION SECTOR
1. Akwa Ibom-Ibom Air and Airport, Uyo
2. Jigawa State-Airport at Dutse
3. Delta Airport-Warri
Given the facts above, the establishment of the Ministries of Aviation and Foreign Affairs by the Governor of Cross River State, Senator Prof. Ben Ayade, has not infringed on the provisions of the CFRN 1999 as amended.
Dr. Enya, a former lawmaker, a law teacher, is currently the Commissioner for Aviation, Cross River State