Constitution amendment: Create 6 NEW STATES, Intersociety tells National Assembly
Posted by News Express | 14 November 2012 | 5,350 times
The National Assembly has been advised to use the window of opportunity presented by the ongoing Constitution Review to create six new states, thus bringing the number of states in the country up to 42. Two of the new states should be from the South-East while each of the other geo-political zones should get a new state each, according to the International Society for Civil Liberties & the Rule of Law (Intersociety Nigeria).
The group in a memorandum submitted to the House of Reps Constitution Review Committee during its sitting in Onitsha, Anambra State, on Monday made wide-ranging submissions, point-by-point, based on the Reps Committee’s template for voting on key constitutional issues needing amendment or retention. The Intersociety memo was endorsed by Emeka Umeagbalasi, Chairman, Board of Trustees, and Comrade Justus Ijeoma, Head, Publicity Desk. It was received by Hon. Victor Afam Ogene, Member, Representing Ogbaru Federal Constituency, during the public hearing held at the Ogbaru LGA Secretariat, Atani, Ogbaru, Anambra State. Below are intersociety’s recommendations:
Section 8 of the Constitution should be amended to rob it of ambiguities inherent in the creation of more States. The processes should be devoid of parochialism and sectionalism, but predicated on demographical, geographical and geopolitical equity. Section 8(1)(c) that requires all the States in the country to approve the result of the referendum for the creation of new State(s) by simple majority supported by simple majority of their Houses of Assembly should be amended to include simple majority reflecting federal character principle.
Six new States should be created to bring the total number of States in the country to 42. In creating the six new States, the Southeast geopolitical zone that presently has five States should be given two more States, while others apart from the Northwest zone that already has seven States, should be given one more State each.
The six geopolitical zones in the country should be constitutionally recognized for administrative and political purposes.
The six geopolitical zones should not be included in the Constitution as a tier of government because that will be utterly wasteful and expensive, except Nigeria adopts religionalism and abolishes statism.
Indigene-ship of an area within Nigeria should be defined to include persons who have resided in an area for a continuous long period and should be entitled to accruing rights, duties and privileges.
The Chapter Two (Fundamental Objectives & Directive Principles of the State Policy) should be made justiciable akin to Chapter Four of the Constitution (Fundamental Human Rights) by expunging Section 6(6) (c).
The laying before the National Assembly of the annual budget estimates should be done at least three months before the end of a fiscal year. To this effect, Section 81 should be amended.
Section 121 should be amended in a like manner for a Governor to do same before his or her House of Assembly.
The State House of Assembly does not need any financial autonomy to be independently administered and assertive. That given to itself by the National Assembly was a fatal blunder and a mistake. Financial autonomy in Nigerian context means immunity for fiscal roguery.
10. If the 774 LGAs are to be granted full autonomy as an independent third tier of government in Nigeria, then Section 162(6) should be expunged to eliminate State/LGA Joint Account so as to ensure direct allocations to the LGAs from Federation Account.
11. Only on condition that the LGAs’ autonomy is discarded and all the 774 LGAs removed from the Constitution and disqualified from receiving allocations from the Federation Account, then States should be allowed to create LGAs and assume their administrative and financial responsibilities.
12. The LGAs should be accorded the status of a third tier of government with designation of a residual legislative list for their independent legislative jurisdiction. If this is to be the case, then there should be equal number of LGAs for each of the six geopolitical zones. The present case whereby Southeast has 95 LGAs as against Northwest’s 186 is demographically, geographically and geo-politically criminal and grossly lopsided.
13. Because the issue of un-elected LGA officials would be taken care of once the LGAs’ autonomy is ensured and the seizure of LGAs’ revenues will no longer arise.
14. There should be a defined tenure for chairmen/councilors of the LGAs akin to the tenures of presidents and governors.
15. Some contents of the Exclusive Legislative List like prisons and railways should be duplicated into concurrent list.
16. Let Section 197(1) (b) be amended to expunge the States Independent Electoral Commissions and replaced with Independent National Electoral Commission, which will conduct elections into the country’s approximately 14,483 elective offices at federal, State and LGA levels.
17. Section 315 (5) (a) of the Constitution should be amended to remove, not abolish the National Youth Service Corps Act, the Land Use Act, the Public Complaints Commission Act and the National Security Agencies Act from the Constitution. This will enhance their amendment processes by lowering stringencies inherent in their amendments owing to their direct attachment to the Constitution.
18. Section 308 should be amended to confer civil responsibility on serving presidents, their deputies, governors and their deputies. For criminal aspect, indictment clause following credible and conclusive criminal investigations should be incorporated and entrenched in the Constitution with indictment bodies clearly mentioned. Once such indictment is certified judicially, impeachment follows and arrest and prosecution commence immediately after the impeachment.
19. Section 215 (4) that requires the Commissioner of Police under a governor’s directive to request or refer such directive to the president or minister for approval, and Section 215(5) which forbids such development from being inquired in a court of law, should be expunged, and replaced with a provision empowering the governor and the House of Assembly to remove any disloyal or incompetent commissioner of police by way of two-thirds votes and executive proclamation. Once such legislative approval is obtained and proclamation made, such CP stands removed and posted out of the State, to be sanctioned further by the PSC.
20. A provision should be inserted in the Constitution for the rotation of the office of the president among the six geopolitical zones, not between North and South.
Our position in item 20 has answered this question.
It should be filled both on merit and by zoning. Every geopolitical zone has eminently qualified sons and daughters to govern Nigeria and no zone is born to rule.
Section 135 should be amended to provide for a single term of six years for the office of the president because it is the most controversial seat in Nigeria and its occupation has been very lopsided over the years.
Our position in item 23 has also answered this question.
The office of the governor should rotate among the State’s three Senatorial districts with a single tenure of six years.
Office of the governor should be filled both on merit and by zoning because there is no Senatorial zone in Nigeria that is wholly peopled by morons and political buccaneers.
Section 221 should be amended to allow for independent candidacy in Nigerian elections.
In line with the international best practices, certain percentage of elective and appointive public offices should be reserved for women.
The current qualifying age for elective offices in Nigeria is in line with the international best practices.
There should be specific constitutional provisions to take care of the interests of persons with disability with the inception of mentally deformed in matters of elective and appointive public offices.
Section 77 (2) should be amended to allow Diaspora Nigerians voting rights to ensure demographic justice, provided it will not be used as an instrument of election rigging.
The existing bi-cameral legislature should be allowed but its individual and corporate fiscal allowances and overheads should be drastically trimmed down.
Let Sections 4 & 5 on presidential system stay. But let them be clothed with local contents that are not repugnant to the international democratic standards such as fiscal prudence and minimized corruption or profligacy.
Nigeria should implement the practice of Federalism that allows States more percentage of nationally accrued revenues than federal and local governments.
The 13% derivation component of revenue should be extended to States with natural and non-natural resources, which generate revenues for the country.
The traditional rulers need not be made members or having representation at the National Council of State. They should be confined to their States and LGAs of origin.
The new amendment to the Constitution, setting time limit for the determination of election petitions should stay.
Since such powers are no longer exercised by the President or Governor but by the National Assembly and the State House of Assembly with respect to modifying or amending existing laws under the transitional provisions of Section 315 (2) and the definition section related thereto, the relevant section should be expunged. The National Assembly and the State House of Assembly as new exercising powers should be constitutionally stated.
The Constitution should further be amended to address issues of electoral reforms including incorporation of salient provisions of the Uwais reports and times for conducting bye-elections and determination of electoral petitions into same.
The Constitutional provisions on judiciary should be amended to achieve reforms of judicial institutions and processes in order to ensure quicker dispensation of justice.
The Constitution should be amended to separate the office of the Accountant General of the Federation from the office of the Accountant General of the Federal Government of Nigeria.
The Constitution should be amended to separate the office of the Attorney General of the Federation from the office of the Attorney General of the Federal Government of Nigeria.
The Constitution should be amended to enable the Revenue Mobilization, Allocation and Fiscal Commission to send proposals for revenue allocations directly to the National Assembly in order to avoid undue delays in preparation of the revenue allocation formulae.
Nigeria should have one police organization which shall be constituted in such manner as to give the State Governors reasonable control over the Commissioners of Police in charge of their States. The Governors’ disciplinary powers over their CPs should be exercised in conjunction with two-thirds votes of their State Assemblies so as to avoid abuse.
Nigeria should maintain the present police structure and system with some modifications as recommended above.
Section 12 (3) of the Constitution, which requires the ratification by a majority of the Houses of Assembly of States in matters of a bill for domestication of international treaty by the National Assembly before the president’s assent, should be expunged. This has substantially been responsible for the stagnancy of outstanding international treaties, which are yet to be domesticated years after they were signed and ratified by the Federal Government of Nigeria. Once the National Assembly passes a bill for the domestication of an international treaty and the president signs it, let it be binding on all authorities and persons in Nigeria.
A provision should be inserted into the Constitution conferring Nigeria’s courts of superior records powers to assume international jurisdiction in matters of special public interests (i.e. heinous rights abuse and economic crimes). A typical example of a country with this noble modern justice administration is the Republic of Belgium.
A new constitutional provision for the award of ex gratia compensations for victims of crimes including victims of inter-personal violence/crimes should be created.
Section 174(1)(c) of the Constitution and its sister section should be amended to make the powers of the Attorneys-General of the Federation and the States to discontinue at any stage before judgment is delivered any such criminal proceedings instituted or undertaken by him or any other authority or person very stringent to exercise so as to further strengthen the public interest, the interest of justice and further forestall the abuse of legal process, in accordance with Section 174(3) of the Constitution.
The Constitution of Nigeria should be gender oriented and depart from traditional and archaic law language of he/him and adopt modern norm of he/she and the like.
The attention of the National Assembly is also drawn to the existing anachronistic Acts of the Federation needing fundamental amendments. Many, if not most of these Acts have outlived their social usefulness to Nigeria and Nigerians, thereby begging to be upgraded to modern standards. Examples are Police Act, Prisons Act, Evidence Act, Criminal Code, Criminal Procedure Act, Penal Code, Criminal Procedure Code, Private Guards Act, Land Use Act, Companies & Allied Matters Act, to mention but very few.
*Photo shows Hon. Ogene, who received the Intersociety memorandum.