The All Progressives Congress, (APC) Committee on True Federalism inaugurated last August by the Chief Odigie Oyegun led the national working committee on Thursday submitted its report with far-reaching recommendations.
Kaduna state governor and chairman of the Committee, Nasir el-Rufai, told the gathering of the party chieftains and leadership that his Committee has recommended that local councils be scrapped while the nation should run two-tier system of government.
The Kaduna state governor premised his Committee recommendations on views of Nigerians who sent memoranda and spoke with his team across the country. His team also recommended State Police.
Giving further insight into the report, Mallam el-Rufai said the predominant position of Nigerians on resource control was that states should be vested with rights to issue a prospecting license for mining of mineral resources, oil and gas.
He said: “Local government autonomy is a very interesting subject in which we were surprised at the outcome. There were divergent opinions on this issue.
“We recommend that the current system of local government administration provided for by the constitution should be amended and that states should be allowed to develop and enact laws to have local government administration system that is peculiar to each of them.
“What we heard from Nigerians is that as far as local government is concerned, there is no one size fits all. We all come from different histories, different cultures, different administrative systems and we believe that the constitution should ensure that there is a democratic local government system in every state but the details of, and the nature of that local government system, the number of local governments should be left to the states and states houses of assembly.
“We proposed amendments to Sections 7, 8, 162, the first schedule, part one and the first schedule of the constitution to give effect to our recommendations. The section that lists the local governments and their headquarters should be removed, so local governments are no longer named in the constitution. States can create their local governments and determine the structure of their local governments.
“We are by this, recognising that in a federal system, you cannot have more than two tiers of government. Having three tiers of government is an aberration. There is nowhere in the world where our research has shown us that you have more than two federating units.
“We have proposed that mining, minerals, oil should go to the states. Then there will be certain constitutional amendments. The Petroleum Act will be amended to show that states can now issue oil mining licences; the Land Use Act, Nigeria Minerals and Mining Act, the Petroleum Profit Tax Act 2007 would all need to be amended. So, we have proposed an amendment that will ensure that minerals, mining and oil are vested in the states except for offshore minerals.’’
“Derivation principle, it is 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 a recommendation to the president who shall table the same before the National Assembly for necessary action.
Physical federalism and revenue allocation. We propose an amendment to subsection two of the constitution to give more revenue to the states and reduce the federal government share.
There was an overwhelming popular demand that there should be devolution of power to the states and the committee recommended same. We have recommended that the first schedule, part one and two be amended to
transfer some powers to the states.”
Besides the scrapping of local councils, another controversial recommendation of the Committee is the merger of existing states, as Governor el-Rufai, even as he admitted that majority of Nigerians were against it.
“The first item that we felt needed legislative action is the merger of states. It is pertinent to note that only 36% of Nigerians wants more states created while the majority of Nigerians don’t want more states. For us, since the creation of states is already in the constitution, there is no action needed than to implement that.
“So, the first recommendation for which we have proposed a draft bill for a constitutional amendment is the merger of states. Though there was no consensus’ from stakeholder on the merger of states, we felt that we should propose a bill that allows states to merge and it is left for the National Assembly, the party and the people of Nigeria to decide on that.
The Kaduna governor equally revealed that his team ‘’proposed an amendment to create the State Judicial Council that will appoint and discipline judges within a state while the National Judicial Council will exercise control over the appointment, the discipline of judges of the federal government only.
We have proposed the creation of the state court of appeal so that from the High Court, you can first appeal to the state court of appeal before it goes to the Supreme Court of the federation. Again, this is consistent with federal practice all over the world.
“We also propose a constitutional amendment to allow for a referendum to be conducted on burning national or state issues before decisions are taken. Right now, the constitution has no room for a referendum, but only in the creation of states.’’
Receiving the report, APC national chairman, Chief Oyegun, expressed delight over the report and assured the Committee that its recommendations would be given the needed attention by all the statutory organs of the party.
He said: ‘’From the presentation of the chairman of this committee, everybody now has an idea of what the APC stands for with regards to true federalism and restructuring. This is the totality of our views,
but it is still going to go through the mill.
“What I will promise you, Mr. Chairman and members of the committee who have put in so much hard work -you have not only provided the details, but you have gone ahead to provide the mechanism for implementation both in terms of law and necessary presidential action, is that this report is going to get the expeditious consideration of
this party, the APC.
“I am going to promise that before the middle of February, it would have been considered and decided upon by the major structures of this party, the National Executive Committee, the Caucus of the party. And whatever is thereafter agreed, will be presented to the authorities as the considered views and decisions of the APC for appropriate implementation.
“What you have done is very challenging. What you have done will be controversial but what you have done still has given the basic foundation for the building of a new nation and a new way of doing business in this country; that we will not only devolve power and spread the wings of development nationwide but that will enable the people of this country to not only hold the president accountable but to also hold the states accountable because once this report is approved and implemented, states will become important routes of economic activities and development nationwide.” (Nigerian Tribune)