The two-day zonal public hearing of the Senate on the review of the 1999 Constitution, Thursday ended with stakeholders demanding creation of additional states, 25 per cent derivation, gender equality, free and compulsory education, among others.
The exercise was organised by the Upper Chamber in 12 centres across the country to collate the views of Nigerians on the key areas to be amended in the 1999 Constitution in order to address agitations in the country.
In Bauchi centre, the people of Southern Borno comprising nine LGAs Thursday disagreed with the position of the Borno State government and insisted on the creation of Savannah State.
Addressing newsmen shortly after presenting their memorandum, a representative of the movement for the creation of Savannah State and former Secretary to Borno State Government, Ambassador Dauda Danladi, said the southern part of the state is being marginalised, hence the need for the new state.
The Speaker, Borno State House Assembly, Abdulkarim Lawan, had on Wednesday kicked against the creation of an additional state from Borno.
Adamawa, Taraba communities demand new states
Similarly, communities from Adamawa and Taraba States Thursday demanded the creation of states at the Gombe centre.
Our correspondent reports that most of the submissions at the two-day public hearing were on gender equality, creation of states and local government areas, local government autonomy and roles for traditional rulers.
During plenary Thursday, some groups from Adamawa State sought for the creation of Amana and Gongola out of the present Adamawa, while groups from Taraba State demanded the creation of Mambilla out of present Taraba.
In his submission, leader of the movement for the creation of Amana State, Malam Ahmad Sajoh, said they have been struggling for state creation since 1961 when the area was moved into Nigeria from Cameroon.
Also, leader of the movement for the creation of Gongola State, Salihu Wobkenso, said the area deserved a state of its own.
On his part, Malam Ahmed Dahoji, leader of the movement for the creation of Mambilla State said the creation of the new state will help address the challenges being faced by the people of the area.
Chairman of the sub-committee, Senator Muhammad Danjuma Goje told newsmen at the end of the exercise that the committee has so far received over 70 submissions from groups and individuals from Adamawa, Gombe and Taraba States.
Give us 25% derivation — Wike
Rivers State Governor, Nyesom Wike Thursday said the 13 per cent derivation should be increased to 25. He also called for the devolution of powers, from the centre to the state, fiscal federalism, creation of state police, strengthening of the electoral system, allowing states to create and sustain local government council.
Wike who presented the state government position through the Deputy Governor, Dr Ipalibo Harry in Port Harcourt, said that the ongoing constitutional review is the third in the series the nation is embarking on without satisfying the generality of Nigerians.
Uproar as APC, PDP Senators disagree in Akure
There was uproar at Thursday’s sitting in Akure, Ondo State capital as Senator Opeyemi Bamidele (APC, Ekiti) described comments by Senator Nicholas Tofowomo (PDP, Ondo) as ‘views of the opposition party’.
Stakeholders at the sitting shouted ‘no’ to Bamidele’s comments.
Senator Tofowomo had expressed the need for the electorate in the Southern part of the country to always re-elect their representatives for good budgetary provision to their constituencies.
Reacting, Senator Bamidele described his claims as that of the opposition, assuring that the committee would submit a non-partisan report.
A constitutional lawyer, Dr. Tunji Abayomi, said the ongoing review of the 1999 constitution was a waste of time.
Prof. Funso Olorunfemi, in his presentation, urged the National Assembly to scrap the state of origin and replace it with the place of birth. He said it would aid commitment to the country.
Deputy Speaker of the Osun State House of Assembly, Hon Olufemi Gbogbola, who presented the position of the state called for a return to the regional government.
Ekiti State sought a review to allow for five political parties, a constitutional role for traditional rulers, diaspora voting, independent candidacy, creation of more local government and a law to allow state collect VATs.
Our correspondents report that there was no sitting in Minna, Niger State and Jos, Plateau centres of the hearing yesterday.
A total of 103 submissions were made at the North West, Sokoto Centre, a member of the sub-committee of the hearing, Senator Aliyu Wamakko disclosed this to newsmen on Thursday.
Wamakko said, “The memoranda will be streamlined and presented to the main committee, for eventual deliberations and approvals.”
State police will destroy our democracy – Tanko Yakasai
An elder statesman, Alhaji Tanko Yakasai has said the establishment of state police will destroy the country’s democracy, calling for the strengthening of Nigeria Police Force (NPF).
According to him, governors may use it to intimidate political opponents in their respective states.
Yakasai, while speaking at the Kaduna centre, said Nigerians have lost confidence in the local government elections being conducted by the state electoral bodies, saying the same thing will happen to state police if created.
Daily Trust reports that the COVID- 19 protocols were not observed at the Kaduna centre.
Only restructuring can prevent breakup – Ohanaeze
President General of Ohanaeze Ndigbo, Prof. George Obiozor has said that it’s only restructuring that can prevent Nigeria from disintegration.
He described the country’s present challenges as a political tragedy waiting to manifest at any time, adding, however, that it is not too late to salvage it.
Obiozor who spoke in Owerri centre, noted that the 1999 constitution has caged many Nigerians, preventing them from developing their potentials.
He said, “Countries are born with political tragedies waiting to happen. And our history shows that Nigeria is one of them. All signs of national tragedies foretold are present today in full force in Nigeria. In fact, it would require a restructured Nigeria to contain the present forces and tendencies towards a synchronised national crisis and even a possibility of national disintegration.”
Why 1963 Constitution cannot be adopted – Lawyers
Lawyers have explained that the desire to produce a new constitution that is similar to the 1963 Constitution is not possible with the ongoing amendment by the National Assembly.
Chief Niyi Akintayo (SAN) said the 1963 Constitution is a parliamentary constitution, adding that adopting the same cannot be achieved under the current amendment but through the convocation of a national dialogue.
While blaming former Head of State, Gen. Aguiyi Ironsi for abolishing Nigeria’s federalism by introducing the Unification Decree of 1966, he said the cardinal principle of federalism is that every part of the country should be allowed to develop at its own pace.
Speaking in the same vein, Buhari Yusuf Esq, said the 1963 Constitution was based on the parliamentary system of government with premiers and governors in the regions based on an agreement for quasi-autonomy of the regions.
He added that any return to the parliamentary system would mean that “we would dismantle the existing structure”, which he said was not envisaged by the constitution and cannot be attained before the 2023 general election.
However, Dayo Akinlaja (SAN) said the constitutional amendment may end up throwing six geo-political zones if states decide to merge. He said if that is agreed, the governors will be at liberty to accept it.
From Ismail Mudashir, John Chuks Azu (Abuja), Hassan Ibrahim (Bauchi), Haruna Gimba Yaya (Gombe), Victor Edozie (Port Harcourt), Bola Ojuola (Akure), Dickson S. Adama (Jos), Romoke W. Ahmad (Minna), Mohammed Ibrahim Yaba (Kaduna), Jude Aguguo Owuamanam (Owerri),Nabob Ogbonna (Abakaliki) & Abubakar Auwal (Sokoto)