On Wednesday, the ongoing discussion about the need to restructure Nigeria, got a major boost, as the Senate mandated President Muhammadu Buhari to submit the report of the 2014 National Conference to the Red Chamber for deliberations.
The decision was reached, following the adoption of an amendment to a motion, sponsored by the Senate Leader, Ahmad Lawan and 105 others. The amendment was moved by Senator Mao Ohuabunwa from Abia State. His amendment motion was seconded by Senator Solomon Adeola from Lagos State.
There are however fears in certain quarters that the decision by the Senate to deliberate on the confab report is a political move, a feeling that has further been heightened by claims that the Senate wants to finally bury the confab report since it never supported the move abnitio.
As the discussion gains momentum, Nigerians are at a loss on what lawmakers will likely focus on when the deliberations start. Below are 12 key resolutions that may shock you.
They were reached by the 409 delegates who participated at the 2014 National Conference, organized by former President Goodluck Jonathan.
1) No more government sponsorship of pilgrimages
The conference recommended that there will be no government sponsorship of Christian and Muslim pilgrimages to the holy lands. It also resolved that churches and mosques should begin to pay tax to government. This issue may appear contentious, but also likely to feature prominently.
2) Land Owners to determine price and value of their land
Delegates agreed that the Land Tenure Act should remain in the constitution, but should be amended to take care of those concerns, particularly on compensation in Section 29 (4) of the Act to read “land owners should determine the price and value of their land based on open market value.” This has been a serious concern to stakeholders and this too will feature prominently.
3) Special courts to be set up to handle corruption cases
Delegates equally agreed that Special Courts be set up to handle corruption cases in the light of undue prolongation in the trials and prosecution of corruption cases in the regular courts. A non-conviction-based asset forfeiture law should be enacted with broad provisions to deal with all issues of proceeds of crimes by the anti-graft agencies and the courts. This will likely scale through in the Senate without stress.
4) You don’t have to belong to any party to run for an election
Delegates recommended that every Nigerian who meets the specified condition in the Electoral Act should be free to contest elections as an independent candidate. This is already in the works in the Senate and may likely get their nod.
5) Immunity clause to go
The delegates recommended that the immunity clause should be removed if the offences attract criminal charges to encourage accountability by those managing the economy. It will be a hard nut to crack.
6) Local Governments to be abolished
The report states that Local Government will no longer be the third tier of government. The federal and states are now to be the only tiers of government. States can now create as many local governments they want. The Joint State/Local Government Account be scrapped and in its place the establishment of a State revenue sharing board with representatives of local government and a chairman nominated by the governor. The constitution should fix the tenure for Local Government Councils at three years. Conference recommends the scrapping of State Independent Electoral Commission, SIECs.
7) Power to rotate North, South and between geo-political zones
Delegates recommended that presidential power should rotate between the North and the South and among the six geo-political zones, while the governorship will rotate among the three senatorial districts in a state.
8) Law makers to serve on part-time basis
Delegates agreed in the report that a bi-cameral legislature should continue to exist, but all elected members of the legislative arms of all the tiers of government should serve on part-time basis. This will likely die on arrival.
9) President to pick Vice President from National Assembly
The conference recommended the Modified Presidential System, a home-made model of government that effectively combines the presidential and parliamentary systems of government. The president shall pick the vice president from the Legislature.
“The President should select not more than 18 ministers from the six geo -political zones and not more than 30% of his ministers from outside the Legislature. Reduce Cost of governance by pruning the number of political appointees and using staff of ministries where necessary,” the report recommended.
10) Federal Government to cede more resources to States
The conference recommended that the sharing of the funds to the Federation Account among the three tiers of government should be done in the following manner: Federal Government – 42.5%, State Governments – 35% and Local Governments 22.5%.
11) Resource control/derivation principles/fiscal federalism to be reviewed
The conference noted that assigning percentage for the increase in derivation principle, and setting up Special Intervention Funds to address issues of reconstruction and rehabilitation of areas ravaged by insurgency and internal conflicts as well as solid minerals development, require some technical details and consideration. The Conference therefore recommended that Government should set up a Technical Committee to determine the appropriate percentage on the three issues and advise government accordingly.
12) 18 new states to be created
The 2014 National Conference recommended the creation of 18 new states (three per geo-political zone).. Among them are Apa, Edu, Kainji, Katagum, Savannah, Amana, Gurara, Ghari, Etiti (South East zone), Aba, Adada, Njaba-Anim, Anioma, Orashi, Ogoja, Ijebu and New Oyo. Apart from the 18 proposed states, the Conference also recommended one new states for the South East to make the zone have equal number of states with the other zones except the North West which has seven. It also recommended that states willing to merge can also do so based on agreement and referendum. This will die on arrival.
By Ehisuan Odia…