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Resource control, true federalism top constitution review agenda

By Okey Ndiribe, Tony Edike, Peter Duru & Jimitota Onoyume

Calls for creation of more states,  resource control, true federalism, jettisoning of quota system, as well as Land Use Act, independent candidacy and removal of immunity clause from the constitution dominated presentations yesterday as the two-day Senate Public  hearing on constitutional review across the six geo-political zones ended.

While the South-South geo-political zone, particularly harped on creation of more states and resource control in Port Harcourt,  it found an ally on State creation in  the South -East with  Ikemba Nnewi Dim Chukwuemeka Ojukwu as a leading voice in Enugu  zone.

A royal call was, however,  added to South-West position as the Alafin of Oyo Oba Lamidi Adeyemi, demanded abolition of quota system and the Land Use Act in Lagos, just as Senator Abubarkar  Sodangi articulated North-Central requests on independent candidacy  and immunity clause.

The Urhobo Progress Union, in its presentation called for the creation of Urhobo state.

President General of the body, Olorugun Felix Ibru, said the constitutional review should include matters bothering on state creation. He said more states should be created in the federation. And it should include an Urhobo state.

He said the proposed Urhobo state is even more populous that several existing states in the country. “An Urhobo state will also be demographically bigger than 74 countries in the United Nations’ list of countries by population.”

He said the proposed state would be economically viable because it has at the moment 15 oil and gas fields with over 400 oil wells. This is in addition to several other natural resources like oil palm, rubber etc.

A second republic senator, Senator Gbene Saros Nunieh in his presentation called for the creation of an Ogoni state. There were also calls for the creation of Ahoada, Oil Rivers and Toru Ebe states from different speakers.

O.C.J. Okocha, SAN, who presented the position of the Ikwerres said states should be created along ethnic homogenous lines and on the basis of economic viability.

States that cannot survive on their own he said, should be merged with others. The Ikwerrres also called for states to be the federating unit of the country. While they should also be empowered to create the number of local governments they can fund.

The Ikwerres also called for the principles of derivation where federating units should retain whatever resources they generate. They also called for the abrogation of laws and acts that impeded development in areas like the Niger Delta.

Okocha listed some of them to include oil terminal use acts, exclusive economic zone acts etc. The Ikwerres also called for a situation where state governments should be allowed to create own security structures to assist in the safety of lives and properties.

Bayelsa State government in its presentation aligned with earlier calls by other states in the region for a constitution that would promote true federalism. Noting the relevance of fiscal federalism to a federation like Nigeria.

Secretary, Bayelsa state government, Gideon Ekeuwei who spoke also called for the abrogation of the land use act and other similar laws he described as oppressive and against natural justice.  Adding, the state called for state police to run alongside federal police with the position of the Inspector General of Police changed to Chief of Police Staff.

Calling for powers for states to create local governments the Bayelsa State government also called for constitutional roles for traditional rulers.

Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU) in its 122 page document said the 1999 constitution is no longer a grund norm because of its several weaknesses.    Chairman of the University of Port Harcourt chapter of the body, Dr Andrew Efemini who spoke called on the National Assembly to ensure it comes up with a comprehensive review that would go beyond electoral reforms

The new revenue formula according to the body, should be on the basis of derivation just as it stressed on citizenship as very crucial to the Nigerian state. According to Dr Andrew, Nigerians should be free to live in any part of the country and enjoy equal opportunities like any other person.


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