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.”
Jonathan Debunks Rumour Of Planned Defection To APC
The media team of former President Goodluck Jonathan has debunked claims that he(Jonathan) was concluding plans to dump the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, for the All Progressives Congress, APC.
Following a reported disagreement between the former President and the Governor of Bayelsa State, Seriake Dickson, there are clear indications that the former president, his family and kinsmen backed the candidate of the APC, David Lyon in the just concluded governorship election in the state and also celebrated his victory.
Amidst rising speculations that Jonathan is about to decamp to the ruling party, his media, team, led by Reno Omokri, has refuted the claims, describing the ex-President as a loyal party member.
In a statement signed by Omokri on Tuesday, the ex-aide to the former President on New Media, said “Former President Goodluck Jonathan is a member of the Peoples Democratic Party.
Throughout his sojourn on Earth, he has been a member of only one political party.
“Dr Jonathan is known for his stability and loyalty. These are character traits that have been lifelong companions of his. He is also an elder statesman and that role requires that he accepts all Nigerian citizens, and indeed all the world’s peoples, in the spirit of the brotherhood of man’’.
“As an elder statesman and Chairman of the Goodluck Jonathan Foundation, Dr Jonathan will receive people of goodwill who apply to pay him a courtesy visit, irrespective of their political or religious leanings. Though a Christian, he has received Muslim groups and other diverse visitors.
“Dr Jonathan intends to devote the rest of his life on Earth to building unity, and engendering opportunity for Nigerians and Africans and he has no desire, or reason to engage in partisan politics beyond being a loyal member of the Peoples Democratic Party.
“His being a member of the Peoples Democratic Party is institutional. In fact, it is more accurate to state that his eternal party is Nigeria, for which he reminds all Nigerians that they are brothers and sisters born from the womb of one Nigeria.”
Lagos Assembly Tasks Sanwo-Olu On Environment
The Lagos State House of Assembly has directed Gov. Babajide Sanwo-Olu to fully enforce relevant environmental laws against indiscriminate dumping of refuse in the state.
The House made the resolution following a motion moved by the Majority Leader, Mr Sanai Agunbiade, representing Ikorodu I, on Monday.
The House frowned at a situation where Lagosians dump refuse in drainages and road medians, causing flooding and destruction of roads.
Agunbiade said: “We noted the effort of the state government towards taking the challenges and the campaign against indiscriminate refuse.
“Funds that could have been channelled to other meaningful sectors had been used to clear refuse in the state.
“We also want to urge Lagos residents to desist from dumping refuse across the state to ensure healthier living in the state.
“This is because refuse dumping have always been cleared by the state government and the Private Sector Participation (PSP).
“However, some unscrupulous individuals have continued to dump refuse; so as deterrence, arrest and sanction will be achieved.
“The combined effect of Sections 115 Part 4 and 126 Part 5 of the environmental laws probibits dumping of refuse at indiscrimate places.
He said the House, therefore, made a resolution to call on Gov. Babajide Sanwo-Olu to direct the Commissioner in the Ministry of Environment to enforce relevant sections of the environmental laws in the state.
Agunbiade said the House resolved that offenders be given community service sentence directed at refuse clearing within the locality of the offence.
Mr Bisi Yusuff, representing Alimosho Constituency I, while supporting the motion, said apart from sentencing offenders, they should be made to wear a uniform while performing the community service.
Yusuff said people would not want to dump waste indiscriminately if offenders were meant to wear uniform to perform their community service.
Mr Abiodun Tobun, representing Epe Constituency I, noted that despite government efforts, some people had refused to change their attitude towards complying with the relevant environmental laws in the state.
Tobun noted that laws that allowed community service should be enforced strictly by the governor
“We know what happened during the Buhari/Idiagbon regime when people were afraid to dump refuse indisctimate.
“There is need enforce our relevant laws for offenders,” he said.
Mr Speaker, Mr Mudashiru Obasa, thereby called on the state governor to direct the Ministry of Environment to ensure efficient enforcement of the relevant environmental laws in the state.
Obasa, therefore, asked the Clerk of the House, Mr Azeez Sanni, to write the governor on the resolution of the House on the issue.
Sex-For-Grades:1,700 Sign Online Petitions To NASS
ANon-Governmental Orgenisation, (NGO), Exam Ethics Marshals International (EEMI), says it has received 1,700 signed online petitions to fast- track the passage of the Sexual Harassment Bill before the National Assembly.
Mr Ike Onyechere, the founder of the organisation, made the disclosure in a statement issued in Abuja on Monday.
According to Onyechere, 56 per cent of the petitioners are women, while 44 per cent are men.
“This indicates that men and women are equally concerned about the sex-for-grade pandemic in the tertiary institutions,” he said.
He said that the objective of the NO-TO-SEX-FOR-GRADE Campaign was to get one million people to sign the petition to the National Assembly.
He noted that the first effort to pass the Sexual Harassment in Education Institutions Prohibition Bill started in 2016, but it died with the termination of the 8th Assembly.
“1,700 change agents have signed the online petition to Nigeria’s National Assembly to fast track action on the passage of the sexual harassment in educational institutions prohibition bill as at Monday, November. 18, 2019.
“The petition to fast track the sex-for-grade prohibition legislation, activated on November. 1; EEMI is in continuation of the Exam Ethics Campaign launched in 1996 to promote exam ethics and combat exam malpractice in education in Africa.
“Sex-for-Grade is one of the 33 types of exam malpractices that have been the focus of the campaign,” he said.
According to him, Sex-for-Grade is the practice of male lecturers blackmailing, forcing, intimidating and demanding sex from their female students as condition for awarding them pass marks in their courses.
He explained that the petition had inspired other petitions for the passage of similar sexual harassment prohibition laws in educational institutions in seven other African countries.
According to him, these countries include: Ghana, Liberia, Tanzania, South-Africa, Benin Republic, Egypt and Rwanda.
“In addition to signing the petition, some petitioners are also sharing their experiences.
“Ex-female students have narrated stories of their traumatic experiences in the hands of some of their male lecturers.
“Some female students narrated what they are currently going through. Parents also shared the experiences of their children.
“The story paints the picture of invasion of tertiary institutions by sexual predators masquerading as lecturers,” he said.
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