President Goodluck Jonathan yesterday thumped his chest for organising a successful national dialogue, saying the peaceful ending of the 2014 National Conference has put the prophets of doom, who predicted its failure, to shame.
Jonathan said he meant well for the country, and promised to implement the recommendations of the 2014 National Conference, which officially closed yesterday.
The president made the pledge yesterday at the National Judicial Institute, (NJI), ýduring the closing ceremony of the conference, where he also received the 21-volume report from the conference Chairman, Idris Kutigi.
Jonathan also said the successful conclusion of the conference has proved cynics, who never gave the conference a chance, wrong.
He said some of the recommendations of the conference will be considered by the National Council of State, while the remaining ones will be sent to the National Assembly.
The convocation of the Conference was packaged by a 13-member Presidential Advisory Committee on National Dialogue headed by Femi Okurounmu, a former senator. The Committee submitted its 69-member report last December.
Apart from its 492 membership drawn from different spheres of life, the Conference was supervised and managed by a secretariat whose six members were also nominated by the Federal Government.
The others, besides Mr. Kutigi, were Bolaji Akinyemi, (deputy chairman), Valerie-Janette Azinge (Secretary), Akilu Ndabawa (Assistant Secretary, Conference Proceedings), Mahmood Yakubu (Assistant Secretary, Administration and Finance), and Akpandem James (Assistant Secretary, Media and Communications).
During the period the Conference sat, its stability was tested by some thorny national issues, which included resource control, derivation principle, Land Use Act, national security among others.
However, at the end of it all, the Conference made some far-reaching recommendations, key among which are Creation of 18 New States 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 certain conditions.
2005: NPRC said 36 states structure is too expensive and that the situation will become worse given the number of requests for the creation of new states some of which would need to be met for the sake of peace and stability of the economy.
1994/1995 Constitutional Conference recommended the creation of 20 new states namely Gombe, Apa, Nasarawa, Hadejia, Tiga, Zamfara, Sardauna, Katagum, Ghari, Kainji, Bayelsa, Orashi, Anioma, Ekiti, Ebonyi, New Oyo, Ogoja, Itai, Ijebu-Remo and Rivers East. Some of the states have since been created.
Resource Control/Derivation Principle/Fiscal Federalism
2014 NC: 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 recommends that Government should set up a Technical Committee to determine the appropriate percentage on the three issues and advise government accordingly.
2005 NPRC: Recommended an increase in the level of derivation from the present 13% to 17% in the interim pending the report of the expert commission. Massive and urgent programme of development of infrastructure and human resources of the Niger Delta should be embarked upon by the Federal Government.
1994/1995 CC: It said in determining the formula, the National Assembly shall take into account allocation principles especially those of population, equality of states, internal revenue generation, land mass, terrain as well as population density provided that the principle of Derivation shall be constantly reflected in any approved formula as being not less than 13% of the Revenue accruing to the Federation Account directly.
The various mineral resources should be controlled and managed by the Government of the Federation through an arrangement which involves Oil Producing States and Communities, in particular, the rights and privileges which the Mineral and Mining Act of 1999 confers on States, Local Governments, Communities and land owners should equally be extended to the case of petroleum resources
Public Finance/Revenue Allocation
2014: 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%
That the percentage given to population and equality of states in the existing sharing formula be reduced while that assigned to Social Development sector be increased to a much higher percentage so as to ensure accelerated development of all parts of the country.
2005 NPRC: No specific recommendation, but advised that the number of local government in a state should not count as a criterion for revenue allocation
1994/1995 Constitutional Conference: The National Assembly shall determine the Revenue Allocation Formula which formula shall each time remain in force for a period of not less than five years from the day the bill shall be assented to by the president.
Forms of Government
2014 NC: 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 Conference recommended the retention of Presidential System of Government.
The number of ministries at the centre should be reduced to between 15 and 18 and to a maximum of 10 at the state level. Similarly, appointment of Special Advisers should be pegged to six and not more than three at the state level. Appointment of special assistants should be made from within the public service.
1994/1995: Recommended presidential system and federalism.
2014 National Conference: Bi-cameral legislature, but all elected members of the legislative arms of all the tiers of government should serve on part-time basis
2014 NC: Recommended that the 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.
2005 NPRC: The principle of power rotation should be enshrined in the Constitution so that executive positions rotate at federal, state and local governments. The office of the president, governors and local government should rotate in such a way that all the geo-political zones in the federation, states, local governments, as the case may be should have a chance to produce a president, governor and local government. It should not however be included in the constitution because of the emotive nature of the issue.
There should be legislation by the National Assembly to ensure that the office of the president should rotate between the north and the south as well as amongst the geo-political zones of the country on the basis of equity, justice and fairness. The principle should be applicable to states and local government on senatorial basis for the governorship and at ward or district for the position of chairman of LGs.
1994/1995 CC: Rotational Presidency should be enshrined in the Constitution. The same logic should apply to rotation of the governors and chairmen of LGs. It recommended multiple vice presidents with a way to ensure that at least one comes from the same zone as the president.
2014 NC: 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 RMAFC with representatives of LG 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.
2005 NPRC: The Conference retained three levels of government comprising federal, state and local government councils
1994/1995 CC: The Local government shall be a third tier of government in Nigeria, but in order to save costs, a local government council shall consist of the Chairman, Vice Chairman and elected Councillors without a legislative arms.
Each State shall maintain a special account to be called “State Joint Local Government Account” into which shall be paid all allocations to the Local government councils of the state from the Federation Account. State Houses of Assembly to create local governments and the life of local government officials will be three years.
2014: The immunity clause should be removed if the offences attract criminal charges to encourage accountability by those managing the economy.
2005 NPRC: Recommended that immunity clause as enshrined in Section 308 should be amended to remove immunity provision for crimes bothering on corrupt practices, economic and financial crimes and other serious offences such as suicide and murder.
2014 NC: It recommended that every Nigerian who meets the specified condition in the Electoral Act should be free to contest elections as an independent candidate.
2005 NPRC: Recommended the recognition of Independent candidate in election
1994/1995: The Conference recommended that Independent Candidature should be recognized and should be in the constitution
2014 NC: The creation of the office of the Accountant General (Director-General) of the Federation as a distinct and separate office from the Office of the Accountant General of the Federal Government. The Office of the Accountant General of the Federation shall oversee the accruals of revenue into and disbursement from the Federation Account as and when due; and shall administer these funds as required by the Constitution, while the office of the Accountant General of the Federal Government shall oversee the accounts of the Federal Government.
2005: Separation of the offices of the Attorney General and Minister of Justice. The Attorney General for the Federation shall be appointed by the President for a single term of six years subject to the confirmation by the Senate
2014: A Special Courts to handle corruption cases should be established 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.
2005: Special Courts should be set up for prosecution of cases emanating from corrupt practices and such cases should not last more than 90 days. Secondly, it recommended that the authorities should Investigate and confiscate corruptly acquired wealth of past rulers and bring them to justice.
Re-introduction of the War Against Corruption and EFCC and Code of Conduct should be made members of Screening Committees at all levels of government to screen all candidates aspiring to political office before elections
Land Tenure Act
2014 NC: The Land Tenure Act should remain in the Constitution but 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
1994/1995 CC: Recommended that the Land Use Decree should be reviewed in line with the recommendations made by the Nigeria Law Reform Commission in 1991. It rejected the suggestion that the law should be completely abrogated.
2014 NC: Re-introduce the old National Anthem
2104 NC: 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.
2023: CAN Pushes For Christian President, Self-Defence
The Youth Wing of the Christian Association of Nigeria (YOWICAN) has said that the next President should be a Christian to ensure balance in leadership.
YOWICAN also said rotation of the office of the President will promote equity, unity and peace.
The youths further protested the activities of bandits and kidnappers, threatening to resort to self-defence if nothing is urgently done by the government.
They warned bandits and kidnappers to desist from perpetrating evil and put a stop to the ongoing kidnappings and killings.
The Christian association also pledged collaboration with Muslims and Nigeria Inter-religious Council (NIREC) towards peace building.
These were contained in a communiqué at the end of the National Executive Council (NEC) meeting of YOWICAN and read by its National President, Belusochukwu Enwere.
Enwere said, “The next President should come 2023 should be a Christian because the present administration, the president is a Muslim and so the President should rotate amongst the Christians and Muslims so that there will be balance in the leadership of Nigeria.
“We have competent Christian leaders who can represent and manage the affairs of this country. We urge our leaders to fully participate in politics so that we can produce a good president for Nigeria.
“As such the emergence of a Christian and youthful President come 2023 will be a true expression of equity, fairness and justice for Nigeria and Nigerians.
“That YOWICAN shall continue to collaborate and work in concert with brothers from the Muslim faith to pursue the desired peace, unity and progress of the nation; and more particularly under the auspices of the Nigeria Inter-religious Council (NIREC),” the group said.
“YOWICAN decries the increasing rate of insecurity in Nigeria, yet commends the efforts of government and security agencies in combating the nefarious activities of bandits, killer herdsmen, insurgents etc.
“YOWICAN in the performance of Christian tenets and faith believes strongly in peaceful coexistence, but this piety should not be construed as cowardice, therefore kidnappers, bandits, killer herdsmen, terrorists and unknown gun men should not push Christian youths to the extreme, such as to make them consider deploying self defence strategies as the last option,” Enwere said.
According to him, despite the efforts so far made in combating crime, YOWICAN observes the urgent need to curb the rising wave of attacks, killings, destruction of lives, properties, farmlands and livelihood of innocent citizens within the Northern states, and specifically within Christian communities in Southern Kaduna.
The CAN youths demanded the immediate release of all abductees and particularly the students of the Bethel Baptist High School, Kaduna State, who have been in captivity.
The NEC meeting held at the National Christian Centre on Saturday was attended by National Executive Members, Zonal Leaders, State Leaders (drawn from the 36 States of the Federation plus the FCT) and representatives from the Blocs/denominations under CAN.
Clamping Down On Agitators Can Fuel National Crisis -OPC
The Oodua Peoples’ Congress (OPC) has advised the Federal Government against clamping down on agitators for self-determination, warning that such could lead to a national crisis.
OPC said this in a statement by its Publicity Secretary, Barrister Yinka Oguntimehin, weeks after the raid on the residence of Yoruba rights activist, Sunday Adeyemo aka Sunday Igboho, by operatives of the Department of State Security (DSS), during which two persons were killed.
The statement also followed Igboho’s arrest in the Republic of Benin after he was declared wanted by the DSS.
In the statement, the group “flayed Federal Government’s approach in Igboho’s ordeals, maintaining that the use and application of force on self-determination agitators has only justified Federal Government’s lack of respect for human rights and intolerance to the views of others.”
The group described the “treatment meted out to Igboho in Nigeria and also in Cotonou as very unpleasant, insisting that Federal Government ought to know that the citizens have rights and that such rights must be protected under the law.”
Oguntimehin said, “Unfolding events have shown that there are lapses in the way the Federal Government handles cases of self-determination agitators like Sunday Igboho, and I will like to state it clearly that the Federal Government must desist from clamping down on self-determination agitators because such move can only fuel national crisis.”
The publicity secretary urged the Republic of Benin to be fair with Igboho as he revealed that the rights activist will be facing immigration-related offences in the country, adding that he can also seek asylum to ensure his safety.
He warned against having Igboho brought back to Nigeria the way the leader of the Indigenous People of Biafra, Nnamdi Kanu, was brought back from Kenya.
He said, “The Federal Government has been silent on the extradition order because it might trigger more crisis. You cannot treat Igboho the Nnamdi Kanu way, it would not work, so I am appealing to the Federal Government to learn from history and ensure that the fundamental human rights of the citizens are protected in such a way that we can begin to appreciate the fact that we truly follow the tenets of democracy.”
The statement said Nigeria and the Republic of Benin have no extradition agreement, adding that Nigeria has not been able to come up with charges that could lead the court to order Igboho’s extradition to Nigeria.
Oguntimehin said, “What Federal Government came up with were mere allegations against Ighoho such as trafficking in arms and inciting violence that could result in the social disturbance without evidence and the Government of Benin Republic had considered all that to be untenable and insufficient to warrant extradition.
“The case has been adjourned till Monday, July 26 to allow the Federal Government bring up whatever evidence they may have, and Mr. lgboho has been taken back to the police custody.”
He pointed out that the rights activist had been peaceful with his agitation, as he urged traditional leaders not to ignore him at his trying time.
Nasarawa Monarchs Console Odili Over Brother’s Death
The Nasarawa State Council of Traditional Rulers has commiserated with former Governor of Rivers State, Dr. Peter Odili over the death of his elder brother, Chief Fidelis Obi Odili.
The Chairman, Nasarawa State Council of Traditional Rulers and Emir of Lafia, Hon. Justice Sidi Bage Muhammad 1 (rtd), said monarchs and people of his state were saddened by the bereavement of the Odili family.
The Emir, who was accompanied by the Andoma of Domia, Alhaji Ahmaou Aliyu; and the Chief of Staff to the Governor of Rivers State, Engineer Emeka Woke, stated this during a condolence visit to Odili in Port Harcourt, last Friday.
He described Odili as a very generous, hospitable personality and one of the best leaders that Nigeria has produced.
To this end, he declared that whatever affects him (Odili), affects people all over the country.
“We have come here to commiserate with you, to pass our condolences to you on behalf of all of our people, the people of Nasarawa State and our respective kingdoms.
“As one of the elders of this nation, very respectful elder of this nation, anything that affects you, will touch us, will affect us. We ask you to take heart.”
He further added, “You’re one of the best we have in this country. You’re very generous, hospitable. Your Excellency, not because you’re here, this is a statement of fact. You’re one of the best that this country has produced.”
The Emir of Lafia, prayed God to grant the Odili’s family the fortitude to bear the loss of their beloved one.
He also urged God to continue to keep Odili in good health so that he’ll continue all the good works that he has been doing and will continue to do for the nation.
“On behalf of all the chiefs that are not here, we commiserate with you”, he said.
Responding, the former Rivers State Governor, Dr. Peter Odili, said he felt honoured by the condolence visit and words of encouragement by the Emir of Lafia.
“I can’t find words appropriate to thank you for this consoling honour.”
Odili said he felt elated by the kind gesture of the Emir of Lafia.
According to him, the visit has further demonstrated the importance the Emir attaches to his relationship with the people of Rivers State.
“You’ve come with your colleague to pay this condolence visit, which was totally unplanned and unscheduled. But, like they say, people make out time for what they consider important.
“We feel honoured by your gesture, and so, we want to thank you and your colleague for this rare honour and for your kind words. Your friendship with our state goes back in history.
“Your new position in Nasarawa State has not altered it, rather it has strengthened it”, Odili added.
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