The committee on true federalism set up by the All Progressives Congress (APC) to collate the views of Nigerians has recommended the abolition of local government as a third tier of government from the country’s constitution.
The committee chaired by Kaduna State governor, Nasir el-Rufai will present its report to the public today.
Confirming the submission of the report today, APC national publicity secretary, Mallam Bolaji Abdullahi, said yesterday that the public presentation is part of the process that will lead to its validation by other organs of the APC before the party’s final position would be announced.
On the scrapping of local government from the constitution, the committee report obtained by LEADERSHIP noted: “ In conformity with conventional principles of federalism, LGAs should be no more than administrative units and in line with empirical findings during consultations, the committee recommends that the LGA should be removed from the federal constitution and states be allowed to develop a local administrative system that is relevant and peculiar to each respective states”.
The special panel also endorsed the establishment of state police, including a recommendation that the Petroleum and Land Use Acts be amended to allow all the states to control their mineral resources, except as it affects offshore oil.
While submitting the committee report to the National Working Committee (NWC) at the APC secretariat last Thursday, Governor el-rufai had hammered on the subject, saying the committee was surprised at the outcome of the submissions it received on the matter.
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 for 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 considering the details of and the nature of that local government system, the number of local governments should be left to the states and state 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 that 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, recognizing 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.”
On resources control, the committee in the report noted the “the growing agitations for states to exercise control over natural resources within their respective territories and pay taxes or royalties therefrom to the Federal Government”.
el-Rufai argued during his presentation that, while there will be amendment to legislations governing this, 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 amendment that will ensure that minerals, mining and oil are vested in the states except offshore minerals”, he added.
The APC national chairman, Chief John Odigie Oyegun, promised that the report will be considered and decided upon by mid-February by the various organs of the party.
Oyegun said: “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 NEC and 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”.
We’ll Mobilise To Reject It – NULGE
But the Nigeria Union of Local Government Employees (NULGE) yesterday vowed that it will mobilise to reject at all levels, the report of the APC committee on true federalism, which recommended the scrapping of local government from the constitution.
The Union also called on the leadership of the APC to discard the report, saying it will have grave implication on the political fortune of the party.
Speaking to LEADERSHIP on phone last night, NULGE president, Ibrahim Khaleel, noted that the union has since condemned the report in its totality, saying it does not reflect the true position, which it made during the public presentations.
He said, “The good thing is that the report is not a final report. It still has to go through some stages, but this is not the true position that was made during the public hearings. We were there for instance in Kano, Sokoto and Zamfara.
“The position of the people there were very clear. We are aware that this report by el-Rufai is a pre-determined report by some APC governors who are not comfortable with an autonomous local government system.
“It is a well established facts that Nigerians through their representatives at the National Assembly have spoken in support of autonomy for local government areas. So, we condemn in totality the el-Rufai report and we will mobilise to reject it at all levels”.
Ijaw Leaders Insist On Restructuring
Meanwhile, arising from a meeting well attended by leaders of thought, prominent Ijaw leaders across the country yesterday vowed to only support candidates and particularly presidential candidates who genuinely believe and support a restructured Nigeria.
The meeting, which held in the country home of the foremost Ijaw leader and elder statesman, Chief Edwin Clark, in Kiagbodo, Burutu local government area of Delta State took far reaching decisions.
The leaders urged President Muhammadu Buhari to show political will in ensuring that the country is restructured before the 2019 elections.
They maintained that they want a restructured country within the context of a corporate, united and peaceful Nigeria that guarantees equal right for all Nigerians, adding that only restructuring can guarantee peace in the country.
Shedding more light on the position of the leaders of Thought, Bayelsa State governor, Seriake Dickson said the 2019 election will be a referendum on restructuring, with its concomitant derivatives of resource control, devolution of power, state police and, indeed, fiscal federalism.
He said, “Restructuring is about our existence as a people, it is not about APC or PDP. We as Ijaws want a Nigeria that is fair, just and equitable and this is what restructuring represents.”
A press statement signed by the special adviser on Ijaw Affairs to the governor, Dr Felix Tuodolo, noted that the meeting also set up committee to present a coherent position on restructuring from the Ijaw point of view.
Prominent amongst those at the meeting were: Chief Edwin Clark, Deacon Kingsley Otuaro, Alabo Tonye- Graham Douglas, Chief Brodericks Bosimo, former ministers, Ambassador God knows Igali, Prof. Dagogo Fubara, Prof Nimi Briggs, Prof Joe Ajienka, Prof C. Dime and Prof Steve Azaiki.
Others are Dr Pius Sinebe, Chief Wellington Okrika, Bayelsa State Commissioner for Culture and Ijaw Affairs, Hon Dressy Dressman, top government functionaries and a host of other Ijaw leaders.
Separation Of Powers Key To Democracy’s Survival
Meanwhile, Senate President Bukola Saraki observed yesterday that full adherence to the principle of separation of powers is crucial to the survival of the democracy, good governance and enhanced national security.
Saraki stated this in his lecture titled ‘Separation of Powers and National Security in Nigeria: An Appraisal’, presented to Course 26 Participants of the National Defence College (NDC) in Abuja.
A statement by his chief press secretary, Sanni Onogu, quoted Saraki as saying a situation where people frown at the actions of the legislature taken in the course of carrying out its constitutional duties negates the principle of separation of powers and the rule of law.
He noted that, while each arm of government is intended and designed to be free of coercive influence from another, “regrettably, that is not always the case in practice in the Nigerian experiment.
Saraki said, “Section 60 of the 1999 Constitution provides that: ‘Subject to the provisions of this Constitution, the Senate and the House of Representatives shall have the power to regulate its own procedure, including the procedure for summoning and recess of the House.
“We, in the Legislature, as representatives of the people, strive to carry out our oversight functions in line with the doctrine of Separation of Powers – because it is our duty as stipulated by the Constitution.
“We also do so to guard against Lockean ‘human frailty’ – by which I mean the tendency towards abuse of power, where such power is absolute. To one’s chagrin, however, our actions are often misconstrued, because few understand that the Legislative arm of government is not a rubber-stamp, driven from pillar to post by the whims and caprices of another organ of government.
“Let all listening to me today note the unassailable position, which is this: the Executive, the Judiciary and the Legislature are co-equals; none is subordinate to the other. Indeed, as former Senate President Ken Nnamani once opined, ‘The Legislature and the Executive are co-managers of the economy.’”
He further said, “A successful regime of Separation of Powers would require much more than enacting more laws and amending existing ones. It would require the active compliance with the doctrine from all arms of government.
“As the Legislature, we would require the Executive to give due regard to legal decisions, invitations and resolutions of the National Assembly. Let me quickly add that we will hold ourselves to the same rules vis-a-vis our co-equals.
“Going forward, we have set up a Committee headed by the Vice President to look into ways of improving the relationship between the Legislature and the Executive; and indeed, it is increasingly apparent that relations have improved greatly, although there is still much to be done.
“The joint presentation of the Budget to both Houses, now done for two years in a row, is evidence of cordiality between the two arms of government. This is the way forward”.
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