Constitution Review: Southsouth Demands More Derivation Cash

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The Southsouth geo-political zone yesterday called for the review of the revenue allocation to satisfy the yearning of oil-bearing states in the Niger Delta.

Rivers State Governor Nyesom Wike proposed that the derivation to oil-bearing states should be increased from 13 per cent to 25 per cent.

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His Akwa Ibom counterpart Udom Emmanuel, asked for 100 per cent derivation to justify the status of the zone as the goose that lays the golden egg.

The governors spoke at the public hearing on the review of the 1999 Constitution held in Port Harcourt. The session was presided over by Senator Betty Apiafi.

Wike, who was represented by Deputy Governor Ipalibo Harry-Banigo, said: “Although this is the third time the National Assembly is embarking on constitution review without successfully producing a constitution that satisfies the generality of Nigerians, the Rivers State government, nevertheless, welcome the exercise.”

Wike said: “Rivers believes in one progressive Nigeria. We believe in the unity and indivisibility of this country and therefore, will not support any move, by any person or group to dismember or divide this country.

“We believe as most others that Nigerians would be better, secure, prosperous and greater together as a united country, than to go our separate parts.

“But there can be no peace without equity and justice, no security without inclusion and economic progress and stability without democratic freedom.

“We, therefore, need a constitution that addresses the lingering issues, including but not limited to the following: devolution of powers from the centre to the state, fiscal federalism, creation of state police, strengthened unilateral system, increasing derivation fund to not less than 25 percent, allowing states to create and sustain local government councils and reducing the cost of governance at both federal and state levels.”

Governor Emmanuel, who was represented by a director in the Ministry of Justice, Aniete Bassey, said: “On the issue of derivation policy, we are of the position that states should be allowed to enjoy 100 per cent of revenue generated in it and pay at least 20 per cent revenue to the Federal Government and 30 per cent to the Local Government from what was generated by the state.

“Income generated by the Federal Government from other sources should be shared at the ratio of 50/ 35/15 between the three tiers of government.”

He also asked for five per cent seats for women and vulnerable persons in the country as well as free and compulsory education for the group.

On Federal structure in governance and power devolution, the state said all tiers of government be made independent.

He said: “On the issue of devolution of power, like their Rivers counterpart, the state believes that the Federal Government is grossly over burdened and that some of the responsibilities should be shared with the state and local government.

“The list no fewer than 25 items that should be delisted from the exclusive legislative lists and moved into the concurrent lists.”

Don’t leave Nigeria, Goje begs ex-Cameroonians

The Northeast Zonal Chairman of the Senate Committee Senator Danjuma Goje appealed to the ex-Cameroonians in Taraba, Adamawa and Cross River not to contemplate leaving Nigeria.

Goje, who acknowledged claims of marginalisation and lack of representation at the federal level, said their demands will be given special attention by the Senate.

The former Cameroonians who joined Nigeria via a referendum in 1961 are demanding for the creation of Amana, with Mubi as capital, Gongola from Adamawa State and Manbila State from Taraba State.

Saliu Buba from Ganye Local Government Area of Adamawa, who presented the position of his Chamba race for Amana State said  those of them that came to Nigeria after the 1961 plebicite have never been represented either as Permanent Secretary or in ambassadorial position.

He said: “We agreed in earnest to come over to Nigeria and they made us a lot of promises which Ave not been met today. Our demand is that the former Cameroonians be given two or three states just like our counterparts in Southern Cameroon who now have their own separate states. Instead of giving us our own states in Nigeria, they succeeded in splitting us into three different states. Part of us in Borno, Adamawa, Taraba and a few number of us in Bakassi Cross River State.”

‘Southeast needs more states’

Former Ohaneze Ndigbo President-General Nnia Nwodo appealed to National Assembly to support the South East in actualising the creation of Adada State out of the present Enugu state.

Nwodo made the appeal in a presentation at the Public Hearing on Review of 1999 Constitution in Enugu.

He said: “At a political meeting held in Imo,  four state demands were presented to States Creation Movement for consideration.

“The four states includes Aba, Adada, Njaba and Orashi but Adada was selected after winning the highest votes.

“The implication of this is that Adada State demand is the first choice of the Southeast.

The former president-general noted that Adada State would comprise of Igbo Etiti, Igbo Eze North, Igbo Eze South, Isi Uzo, Nsukka, Udenu and Uzo Uwani Local Government Areas (LGAs) of the state.

The Aba Movement commended the Ohanaeze State Committee on Creation of State for the submission of its report to the South East Governors Forum.

Senators clash in Akure

There was uproar in Akure as Senator Opeyemi Bamidele described comments by Senator Nicholas Tofowomo as ‘views of a member of the opposition party’.

Stakeholders at the sitting shouted ‘No’ to reject Bamidele’s comment.

Tofowomo alleged that any money added to any budget presented by the President usually went to the Northern part of the country.

“We are all slaves. You need to wake up and shine their eyes. If N3trn is added to the budget, that money goes to the North. You go to the Senate you see three, fourth term Senators from the North but here once a person is elected, the people are already looking for a replacement.”

Senator Bamidele assured that the Committee would submit a non-partisan report.

He said the amended 1999 constitution would be ready by December this year.

However, 28 memoranda were presented from Ekiti, Ondo and Osun States.

Deputy Speaker of the Osun State House of Assembly, Hon Olufemi Gbogbola, who presented the position of the state called for amendment o section 91, 112 and 114.

He called for increased number of seats in the State House of Assemblies and a return to regional government.

The NDD called for amendment of Section 275 to allow for establishment of Shariah Court and Shariah Court of Appeal in every State of the Federation.

Ekweremadu: how review can be possible

Former Deputy Senate President Ike Ekweremadu said while a new constitution is possible and will become ultimately inevitable, the nation need to amend the 1999 Constitution to create a provision for achieving that.

He said that while calls for a national dialogue was not a bad idea, operationalising the outcomes of previous dialogues and botched constitution amendment efforts would help the nation faster.

Ekweremadu, according to a statement by his Special Adviser on Media, Uche Anichukwu, in Abuja, said:  “If you say we need a new constitution, the answer is simple. When other countries like Kenya and Brazil had a similar challenge, what they simply did was to amend the original constitution in order to make a provision for how a new constitution can be enacted.

“We (the National Assembly) did it the last time, specifically in the 7th Assembly, including making a provision for a referendum, but it was not accepted.

“So, we need to amend Section 9 on how we can create a new constitution, including the issue of referendum, to be able to do that” he stated.

Lagos insists on true federalism

In Lagos venue,  participants demanded for fiscal federalism; implementation of the Child Rights Act and Disability Act in states, local government autonomy, judicial autonomy and creation of state police.

Chief Wole Olanipekun (SAN), represented by his son, Oladapo, advocated that judicial outcome be respected and adhered to so that the common man can feel protected and their rights protected.

According to him, the Electoral Act should be amended to allow governorship election cases to terminate at the Supreme Court. This, he said, is important to stem the tide of conflicting judgments arising from Appeal Courts. He also said more judges be appointed into the Supreme Court to reduce the workload of judges.

Rights activist Femi Falana (SAN) advocated that the Child Rights Act enacted in 2003, and the Disability Act, be domesticated and implemented in states if the constitution review must make meaning to the common man.

Falana also proposed a change of name from the Nigeria Police Force (NPF) to the Nigerian Police Service (NPS). To him, there must be sanctions for impunity.

ALGON: we want council autonomy

The Association of Local Government of Nigeria (ALGON) reiterated its call for local government autonomy.

Plateau State ALGON Chairman Ezekiel Vulgap, who spoke in Jos said what was obtainable at federal and state legislatures should be replicated in the local government legislatures.

Northeast: On state creation we stand

States creation topped the list of demands by  groups from Adamawa and Taraba, according to Thursday’s public hearing on the review of 1999 Constitutional in Gombe.

They called for the creation of Amana and Gongola out of the present Adamawa and Mambilla out of present Taraba.

Mr Ahmad Sajoh, the leader of the movement for Amana State, said the struggle for the creation of the state had been on for years.

He said that since 1961 when the area was moved into Nigeria from Cameroon, it had been an independent entity and it was the wish of the people to have a state of their own.

“The then Premier of Northern Nigeria, Sir Ahmadu Bello, the Sardauna of Sokoto convinced us to be part of Nigeria on the condition that the area shall be an autonomous province with a guaranteed equality of status.

“We were also promised equal treatment and equality of access to opportunities as any other Nigerian province of the time, so we are calling on the senate to help us achieve this noble desire,” he said.

Sajo stated that the area had been deprived of the benefit of being part of  Nigeria.

He said the area has the population and geographical criteria needed for a state.

“When Bayelsa was created, it had only three Local Government Areas (LGAs), whereas we have five.

“We have a population of about 1.7 million people with 4,088square kilometers as landmass which is bigger than Lagos State and some states in the Southeast,” Sajo stated.

Uzodimma: redress past injustice

Uzodimma advised Ndigbo to take advantage of the opportunity of the review to seek redress of all that have been agitating their minds in recent past.

Youth Party calls for national integration

The issues proposed by the party included judicial and electoral reforms, local government administration, allocation of funds, state police, gender equality, residency and indigeneship, local government elections and public revenue, fiscal federalism, and revenue allocation, among others.

YCE: 1999 constitution outdated

Yoruba Council of Elders (Igbimo Agba Yoruba) appealed to most especially the socio-cultural groups, elders and youths to remain calm and desist from issuing inflammatory statements while identifying social injustice as the bane of the country’s instability.

The Council also declared support for the resolution of the Southern governors at their Asaba meeting, noting however, that mere dialogues and conversation cannot save the situation but a withdrawal and replacement of the 1999 constitution.

Presenting the communique, YCE president Justice Ademola Bakre who was flanked by the Secretary-General, Dr Kunle Olajide, faulted the 1999 constitution and described it as ‘Abdulsalam Military Constitution’, saying it was written and designed by a handful of people to perpetuate the military in civilian government.

“Nigerians reside in the local government and in the states but power reside in Abuja. With 68 items on the Exclusive list and less than 30 on the residual list with the President retaining precedence over the states in all matters.

“Nigeria is living a lie, experiences and reality of the last six years of the Buhari administration bring to the fore the reality that we still remain a mere geographical expression.

Why Afenifere did not participate

Afenifere General Secretary Sola Ebiseni, has explained why the group did not present any proposal in the just concluded stakeholders meeting on the review of the 1999 Constitution.

He said the organisation advocated fundamental restructuring of Nigeria for the reinvention of a federal constitution as the agreed principles of governing Nigeria and its diverse ethnic nationalities by its founding fathers.

Ebiseni, who spoke with reporters in Akure, Ondo State capital, said the federal constitution from the restructured Nigeria would replace the imposed 1999 unitary constitution.

He described amendment of the constitution as an exercise in futility and a waste of time and public fund.

“We cannot claim to be a federal Republic and be governed by a unitary constitution.

Tanko Yakasai: State Police will destroy democracy  

Elder stateman Tanko Yakasai has called on those agitating for the establishment of a state police to stop what he refers to as “daydreaming”.

Giving his presentation in Kaduna, venue of Northwest public hearing, he said “the creation of State police will cause problems for the country and destroy democracy and also promote abuse of power as the ruling party in these states would use the police to intimidate opponents”.

Yakassai advocated that the present police structure should be retained rather than wasting resources to careter for the State police instead more police should be recruited at the Federal level.

He further said that the local government system be abolished and funds meant for local governments shared between the Federal, Regional and State governments.

“I advocate and suggests the 3-levels of federal, regional and states be included in the constitution.

“In amending the constitution, I advise that the local government be abolished while allowing the three tiers of government fund themselves.”

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