Former President of the Nigerian Bar Association, NBA, and human rights activist, Olisa Agbakoba (SAN), has told President Muhammadu Buhari to divide the country into eight regional structures.
Agbakoba, one of the greatest heroes of democracy in Nigeria, noted that there are so many unclear issues in Nigeria about how people of the country want to organise themselves and how they want to live together.
The senior lawyer told reporters at the weekend that insecurity and other serious issues facing the country “can’t [be] fully arrested,” if the central government remains so strong as it is now.
He added: “This is because community policing or state policing is a tactical tool to deal with the problem, but the strategic tool is the bigger question of the national question.
“There are so many unclear issues in Nigeria about how we want to organise ourselves, how we want to live together, this is what some people have called the restructuring question, some call it the national question, but I call it devolution of powers question.
“Whatever it’s called that is the central issue that needs resolution so that even if you use tactical tools like community policing, but the bigger issue remains then I don’t know if we can resolve it.
“What Nigeria needs is space, there are diverse ethnicities and they are living in such close proximity that one ethnic community is in the face of the other with counter-cultures, counter-religious beliefs and that is not healthy. Even in America in spite of all their advanced democracy, they take care of diversities.
“So, I think if I were to advise the president, for instance, the first thing to do is create space…,identify the ethnic regionalities, create eight big blocs, even though we have 6 to make it 8.
“And then I will give them the power to do things at their own local level, it’s called the principle of subsidiarity; let them work at their own local level. Subsidiarity is where people engage themselves at the local level such that you find in Wales, Scotland, Ireland and England.
“Part of the challenge they had when they were living closely was to create an act of settlement of 1705, that was when peace began to come and each of the regions recognised themselves.
“They all had their own prime ministers and they call them first ministers, so the prime minister of the UK is the one we see internationally, but on local matters like school, refuse collection, education, agriculture, employment, health issues, it’s local.
“So, imagine where eight of the regional structures in Nigeria were fending for themselves at their local level and not depending on federal allocation from Abuja, things will be different.
“Immediately they will take control of what is around them, they will create state police, they will create the relevant security apparatus to deal with any threat, therefore, you don’t need one Chief of Army Staff, and they don’t need one Inspector General of Police to be running around entire Nigeria.
“For instance…say in the South-south region, they will have all the relevant apparatuses to deal with whatever situation that they need to survive as a region.
“They could have courts; they might like to have a Supreme Court of the South-south where cases end in the Supreme Court of the South-south, so they do not have to go to the Supreme Court of Nigeria because the Supreme Court of Nigeria has no business dealing with issues arising from there.
“That is the kind of space I think that should be paramount in the issue concerning where Nigeria is heading to.
“Because that discussion is not on the table, all these ethnic issues flare up as major national insecurity challenge. So, that is what I will do or suggest if I had the opportunity to advise on it. The Federal Government is too strong”.
“The Federal Government is actually not a Federal Government, ours is a unitary government because the states have no power on the legislative list so there are 68 items on the Exclusive List and as the name implies in Exclusive List only the Federal Government handles it.
“There is 30 on the Concurrent List, concurrent is between the federal and the state to legislate, but if the Federal Government legislates then pursuant to what is called the doctrine of covering the field the state is not allowed to do anything. In other words, the states have no legislative authority, that creates a problem.
“Why should the Federal Government be dealing with Universal Basic Education for primary schools? What is the Federal Government responsibility with that? I don’t understand.
“What is the Federal Government responsibility with setting up a JAMB process so that you equalize educational activities, but if my grandchild from Anambra scores 282, but my friend’s grandson from Zamfara scores 100, my friend’s grandson gets into the university, but my own does not get in. Why don’t you simply say ….look each region can just organize itself and take your examination?
“So, it is this centrifugal federalism, that means federalism that has a pyramid that has only one leader that is our problem.
“We just have to blast the structures and allow regional leaders as we had under the 1960 Constitution. So, when you have regional leaders you will have people who will like to play regional politics or regional law.
“There is no reason, for instance, in my own profession the eight regions I propose should not be awarding SAN to their best lawyers. Why must it only be Abuja? In the UK, the SAN in England is different from the SAN in Scotland.
“So, the formula that worked for Nigeria was to recognize the differences and I think the best example of the agreements that we can apply is the Aburi Accord.
“The Aburi Accord recognized that Nigeria’s problems were as a result of our diversity not being well managed. We need to manage our diversity that is the way we can move forward.”
Edo PDP Decries Obaseki’s Poor Performance
The Edo State Chapter of the PDP has again descended on Governor. Godwin Obaseki, describing his tenure as a hardship phase for the people.
Addressing a news conference on Wednesday in Benin, the Chairman of the PDP in the state, Chief Dan Orbih, said that Obaseki had failed to offer leadership to make the people enjoy the dividends of democracy.
According to Orbih, the governor should face governance and stay out of the endless crisis rocking the state’s chapter of the APC.
Orbih, who has been a vocal critic of Obaseki’s style of governance, said his advice was imperative because the crisis in the APC had become a distraction for the governor, preventing him from offering meaningful governance.
He lamented that Obaseki’s three-year tenure had only brought agony and deprivation to the populace, denying them the benefits expected from democracy.
The PDP chieftain also advised Obaseki to desist from the “yearly jamboree” of inviting people for talks in the name of marking anniversary but to channel resources to tackling problems.
“It is obvious that the APC has nothing to offer to the people of Edo State. As at today, Edo State is the only state where only a few elected members of the State Assembly are sitting.
“More so, the governor has not delivered on the 200,000 jobs he promised youths in Edo State.
“Our roads are begging for attention. There is worsening insecurity, in spite of the huge amount of security vote he withdraws monthly.
“He should, henceforth, commence the support of security agencies in the state for efficiency and if he cannot, he should stop withdrawing or collecting security votes.
Orbih also decried the inability of the government to pay bursaries and grant scholarships to Edo students in various institutions of learning, lamenting the dilapidation of various schools in the state.
According to him, the least the government can do for the youths is to employ more teachers to tackle the dearth of teachers in the state.
“The APC promised better days for Edo State and more than 11 years after the people have nothing to show for the promise.
“Edo people should remain resolute and committed in effecting a change in government come 2020.
Orbih also condemned the state government’s clampdown on civil society groups for demanding accountability to determine the status of infrastructure in the state.
“The governor owes it a duty to account for every action of his in the state.”
On the defection of Mr Osagie Ize-Iyamu, the PDP’s flag-bearer in the 2016 gubernatorial elections to the APC, Orbih said that Ize-Iyamu was yet to inform the PDP of his decision, noting however, that the PDP in the state was intact, stronger, more united and bolder.
He disclosed that the party had concluded plans for mass mobilisation of voters, ahead of Edo 2020.
According to him, Edo PDP knows how to manage itself, and in 2020, we will do the needful because we want a party that can manage crisis.
Kogi Poll: Court Hears Suit Challenging Bello’s Eligibility, Today
A suit challenging the eligibility of Yahaya Bello, Governor of Kogi State to contest the November. 16 governorship election in the state will be heard today, Friday, at the Federal High Court, Abuja.
The originating summons, which is instituted by Natasha Akpoti, the Social Democratic Party (SDP)’s governorship candidate in the forthcoming poll, will be mentioned at Court 5 before Justice Inyang Ekwo.
The Tidereports that while SDP candidate is the plaintiff, the All Progressives Congress (APC) and the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) are1st and 2nd defendants respectively.
The suit, dated October. 10 and marked: FHC/ABJ/CS/1221/2019, filed by Chief Mike Ozekhome, SAN, on Akpoti’s behalf, sought the court’s determination on the eligibility of Governor Bello in the Saturday election, having allegedly been involved in double registration as a voter.
Akpoti said “that by his wilful act of making double registration as a voter, Yahaya Bello, candidate of the 1st defendant is not a fit and proper person to be allowed by the 2nd defendant to vote or be voted for in the forthcoming Kogi State governorship election, having committed an act of electoral fraud.
“That Mr. Yahaya Bello, the candidate of the 1st Defendant.,was initially registered as a voter sometime in 2011 in Abuja, by the 2nd defendant.
“That Bello. the candidate of the 1st defendant again fraudulently procured from the 2nd defendant. a second registration as a voter on 23rd May,. 2017, at Government House. Lokoja, while his 2011 first registration as a voter in Abuja was still live, extant and subsisting.
“That the said Yahaya Bello, the candidate of the 1st defendant carried out the double registration with the 2nd defendant so as to scuttle due electoral process.
“That such a person is not a fit and proper person to be voted for in any election, let alone for the high office of the governor of a state.”
Recall that Justice Ekwo had, on Tuesday, delivered judgment, disqualifying the APC Deputy Governorship Candidate in Bayelsa, Sen.
Udom’s Victory, Justice Directed By Law
The Peoples Democratic Party, Akwa Ibom State chapter, has described the victory of Governor Udom Emmanuel at the Appeal Court in Calabar as justice directed by law and not through federal might or political colouration.
The Publicity Secretary of PDP in the state, Ini Ememobong said this in a reaction to the ruling of the Appeal Court on Wednesday which upheld the verdict of the Governorship election petition tribunal.
In a statement, Ememobong said, “the judgement of the Court of Appeal sitting in Calabar on the Appeal filed against the verdict of the Governorship election petition tribunal by the All Progressives Congress and her Governorship candidate, Obong Nsima Ekere, delivered today has again aligned with reality by confirming the sanctity of the ballot.”
“ In the well-considered judgement, the noble Lords of the penultimate court, held that the Appeal was lacking in merit, agreeing with the tribunal that the APC did not lend credible evidence to prove their case and that they had dumped documents in the panel without linking them, as required by law.
“By this judgment, the judiciary has again shown that justice is directed by law and not federal might, partisan colouration or other extra-legal dispositions. To this, we are deeply grateful to the court and wholeheartedly welcome the judgement.”
The Publicity Secretary, however, renewed the call for partnership with the opposition APC, in the execution of Akwa Ibom Project.
He noted, “We acknowledge the zeal and emotional investments committed to the Governorship quest by Obong Nsima Ekere, an illustrious Akwa Ibom son, who rose to the exalted office of Deputy Governor through the instrumentality of our party. He has fought the fight, ran the race, but the results are not in his favour. We urge him to avoid the temptation of escalation of commitment and rather view the Akwa Ibom project as the cynosure and act in the benefit of the larger interest of the people.
“We commend Akwa Ibom people who have continually stood firm with our party, through their votes. Our legal team for diligent and excellent representation. The legal department of our Party led by the State Legal Adviser, Goddy Umoh Esq has shown great dedication in the pursuit of this case deserves commendation. God Almighty deserves our praise for His mercies and protection throughout the elections period.”
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