The All Progressive Congress (APC), Committee on restructuring led by the Kaduna State Governor, Nasir El-Rufai, presented its reports to the National Chairman of the Party, John Odigie-Oyegun.
The Committee, which was set up in August last year to formulate the position of the party on ‘True Federalism’ recommended State Police, merger of State, devolution of power, referendum, among others.
According to El-Rufai, the amendments, if passed by the National Assembly, will significantly re-balance the Federation, devolve more powers to the States, reduce the burden of the Federal Government, thus improving the Country’s effectiveness.
“This is something that people have been agitating for a long time and we have taken the reports of all previous constitutional and National conferences and put these before the Nigerian public in 2017 and these are the feedback that we got.
“10 recommendations to move from the Exclusive Legislative list to the Concurrent Legislative list and we have drafted the Bill that will enable that to be passed by the National Assembly and the State Houses of Assembly.”
According to the Chairman, the reports are in four volumes; Volume One contains background information of the research and recommendations, Volume Two are Action plans from the research to implement its resolution and draft of bills, Volume 3 shows Media reports and the result of the online survey of the issue, and Volume Four holds the appendix- summary of all memoranda received.
The Committee recommended that Policing should be at both the State and Federal level.
“Item six, Police, we have also moved it to the concurrent list. We are recommending that Police should be both Federal and State.”
The demands for State Police have been on-going for some time, with State Governors also clamouring for its needs in the Country.
Last year, the Nigeria Governors Forum (NGF), had a meeting with the Inspector General of Police, Ibrahim Idris, with expectations to “find ways to policing in Nigeria.”
The IGP explained that the Force is bedeviled with funds and thus, the Country is not matured for State Police yet, adding that the Federal Police arrangement remains the best for the Country.
In 2016, the State Police Bill passed second reading at the House of Representatives but was jointly rejected by the Senate and House Committee on Constitution Review.
MERGER OF STATE
The Committee proposed a draft bill that will allow States with desire to merge do so, although there was no consensus from stakeholders on the merger of States.
“However, it is appropriate to point out, Mr. Chairman, that only 36 percent of Nigerians want more states created, so majority of Nigerians don’t want creation of States.”
DEVOLUTION OF POWER
It highlights the overwhelming popular demand for the devolution of power to the States by the Federal Government, and the committee recommends the same.
“Accordingly, we have proposed that the Second Schedule of Part One and Part Two of the Constitution should be amended to transfer some items that are now on the Exclusive List to the Concurrent List that will enable both the States and the Federal Government to legislate on them.”
The need for States to be allowed to develop and enact laws to have Local Government administration system that is peculiar to each of them.
“States can create their local governments and determine the structure of their local governments. We are by this, recognizing that in a Federal system, you cannot have more than two tiers of Government, having three tiers of Government is an aberration.”
One of the most topical issues that were recommended was the need for referendum as stated by the committee, that serious National issues or State issues be decided by a referendum, which the constitution did not make provision for except in State creation.
This recommendation will also give a glimpse of hope to the proscribe Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB), which suggested that the way to settle the agitations for Biafra is through referendum.
According to the Spokesman of the group, Emma Powerful, “There is only one way to establish the truth and settle this matter once and for all time.
“That is referendum. If we lose in a referendum, we stop the agitation for Biafra same day. The will of the people is what must prevail under this and every circumstance.”
Committee recommended an option of independent candidacy provided an independent contestant has not been a member of any registered political party six months prior to the election one wishes to contest as a candidate.
The four safeguards put in place, include;
- Anybody that wants to stand for elective positions as an independent candidate, should not be a registered member of any political party at least six months before the date set for the election for which he intends to contest.
- His nominators will not be members of any registered political party.
- Independent candidate must pay an amount to INEC in the same range as the nonrefundable fees payable by candidates sponsored by political parties to their parties. So instead of paying to the parties, one pays to INEC.
- The candidate must also meet all qualification requirements by the Constitution or any other, which is better than the independent candidate amendment.
The Committee also proposes Constitutional amendment to give more revenue to the States and reduce the Federal Government’s share.
“The Committee noted the growing agitation by States to exercise control over natural resources within their respective territories and pay taxes and royalties to the Federal Government. If this recommendation is taken, then there will consequential amendment.”
It also recommends that Local Government or State of Origin be replaced with State of residence, as the current system is “discriminatory”.
“It is around this that we have proposed an amendment to the Federal Character Commission Act to allow people domiciled in a place to be considered as indigenes.”
The Committee proposed that public holidays be moved from the Exclusive List to the Concurrent List so that there will be Federal public holidays and State public holidays.
“This is already happening unconstitutionally. This will just make the action of State Governments lawful and legal and avoid confrontation from the Federal Government.”
An amendment proposed to create the State Judicial Council (SJC) that will appoint and discipline judges within the State while the National Judicial Council (NJC) will exercise control over the appointment and discipline of judges of the Federal Government only.
“We have proposed constitutional amendments on state re-alignment and boundary adjustment to Section A sub-section 2 and A sub-section 4, if required.”
It recommended that the Revenue Mobilisation and Fiscal Commission Act be amended to vest it with the power to periodically review the derivation formula and make recommendations to the President who shall table the same before the National Assembly for necessary action.
“We have therefore drafted a bill that will expand Section six sub section one of the Revenue Mobilisation, Allocation and Fiscal Commission act to give them that power. The bill is in Volume 2 of our report.”
MINING AND MINERALS
The Committee recommends mining, minerals and oil revenues go to the States but limited to onshore areas, offshore activities would still be owned by the Federal Government.
“We have proposed that mining, minerals, oil should go to the states. Then there will be certain constitutional amendments.
“I think it is time to take these bold steps and move away from over-centralisation.”
What does IPOB want?
Speaking with TheCable, IPOB Spokesperson, Emma Powerful, says
Nigeria’s condition is a condition that is clearly unsustainable. The best way to go is referendum….nothing can make IPOB back down from this divine quest to restore the lost sovereignty of Biafra. Only the will of the people, clearly expressed during a referendum…There is only one way to establish the truth and settle this matter once and for all time. That is referendum. If we lose in a referendum, we stop the agitation for Biafra same day.
Perhaps IPOB’s biggest support outside official Igbo land comes from Asari Dokubo, the Ijaw activist whose people are asking for resource control at the very least. There is also a minority argument among the Yorubas regarding the economic value of Lagos and how the Nation benefits from it instead of the “Yoruba Nation”. APC’s merger of States, devolution of power, revenue allocation, and derivative formula, as contained in its restructuring recommendation seem to address these problems, but to many who believe these agitations are product of political calculations and tribal bigotry, there seem to be no light at the end of the tunnel.