Delegates root for devolution of powers

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Nnamani canvasses for rotational, 6yr presidency
Ogunshola seeks law for birth control

By HENRY UMORU, JOSEPH ERUNKE & LEVINUS NWABUGHIOGU

confab-new1111MORE delegates at the National Conference, yesterday, described the Federal Government as being too powerful and called for drastic devolution of powers to the federating units.
This came as former Senate President and a delegate to the National Conference, Ken Nnamani, canvassed for a single term, six year rotational presidency for the country.

Nnamani said as the country was working towards giving birth to a new constitution, it was imperative to include the two areas in the new law book so that all sections of the country could have opportunity of presiding over the affairs of the country.

The former Senate President, who spoke while contributing to the debate on the inaugural address of President Goodluck Jonathan, also suggested that decentralisation of the central government be captured in the new constitution.

Decrying what he referred to as do-or –die politics being played in the country, Nnamani insisted that rotational presidency and six-year single term were some of the ways to avoid crisis that have bedeviled the country’s polity over the years.

His words: “Our constitution requires panel beating everything. The federating units should be the zones and let the Presidency be rotational among the zones with six years tenure of office. It will give every zone opportunity to participate. In my view, we should focus on the future of Nigeria. The future of Nigeria lies on building a modern democratic stage. I am one of those who believe that our constitution is too cumbersome; it is like an encyclopedia because our constitution has given so much power to the centre.

“I see no reason why the Federal Government should be issuing drivers licenses. Why should the Federal Government be in control of prisons while the inmates are from the states? The issue of Local Government should be left for the states. One of the areas that should unify our country is to decentralise the central government.”

Rebranding Nigeria
Senator Nnamani said since the conference was convened to rebrand Nigeria so that there could be what he called justice and equity, it would be in the interest of the country to address such areas. But he suggested that there should be no longer state of origin in the constitution, saying rather, what the country would need at the moment was provision called “state of domicile’, to avoid crises arising from indigene and settler issues.

We must support military to avoid disintegration —Nwachukwu
On his part, General Ike Nwachukwu (rtd), also a delegate said Nigerians should support the military to avoid total disintegration just as he refuted claims of some delegates that the military had become tribalised and unprofessional in its operational responsibilities.

He said: “The Nigerian military is not tribalized nor is it run on religious basis. I urge our people to support our military else our country will embark on a path to total disintegration.”

Also, Mr Ezenwa Nwagwu, while contributing, condemned the 1999 constitution over what he called non provision for youths who are less than 40 years to vie for higher elective offices. “I am worried that in Nigeria, the youths will have to be 40 years before they can aspire to be President, 30 for National Assembly and 35 years for governorship. There is something that is unjust about the constitution. I am interested in the whispering of Nigerians. I am interested in a sports policy for the involvement of people who have been cheats in the past. ”

Delegate seeks constitutional role for Dep Govs
Erelu Olusola Obada, a delegate representing elder statesmen at the National Conference, has called for stipulated constitutional role for state deputy governors.

While commenting on President Jonathan’s inauguration speech, Obada, a former deputy governor in Osun State, said: “Currently, there is no specific role for the deputy governor of any state in the country’s constitution. Section 186 of the constitution says that for every state, there shall be a deputy governor. Section 193 says that the governor of the state, at his discretion, assigns role to the deputy governor. To ensure there is great harmony between governors and their deputies, there should be some clear cut roles for the deputy governors.”

Na’Abba, Nweke make case for quality leadership
Former Speaker of the House of Representatives, Ghali Na’Abba, said yesterday that good leadership was one of the basic elements required to reposition Nigeria for a better future. Na’Abba, who is representing the House of Representatives Forum at the confab, expressed concern that “the quality of leadership in this country is going down by the day,” adding that it was important for the drop in leadership quality to be addressed to ensure that Nigerians enjoyed the dividends of democracy.

His words:  “Central to any effort to fix anything in this country is the question of leadership and by that I mean good leadership. More than at any other time this country needs the best leadership that it can (have). Whatever we do here, no matter how good it is, unless we have the right kind of leadership nothing good is going to happen in this country… The system through which and with which leadership is recruited in this country is gradually being bastardised.

Similarly, Mr. Frank Nweke, the Director-General, Nigeria Economic Summit Group (NESG), said Nigeria should assert itself in the comity of nations through good leadership.

Nweke, a former information minister and a delegate representing the Organised Private Sector at the confab, said: “In this second decade of Nigeria’s second century we can have a new beginning but first we must mobilise a national consensus on a national development philosophy.”

Delegate seeks law for birth control
Former Chairman, Editorial Board of Punch Newspapers, Chief Ajibola Ogunshola, yesterday asked the conference to make provision for regulation of birth in the country.
Ogunshola said the law should allow couples a maximum of three children, saying the increasing number of Nigeria’s population was one of the problems the country was facing at the moment.

Ogunshola said: “Our current annual population growth rate is estimated at 2.5 per cent.  If we continue like that, the population will be double in about 30 years.
He blamed the high number of children on religious practice. ”Our cultural and religious practices encourage us to continue to have large number of children, ”he said.

A Nigerian woman gives birth to an average of 5.4 children, while a whopping 43 per cent of our population is less than 14 years old.
The excessive population growth, which is not counterbalanced with adequate productivity, is a major cause of the massive unemployment and other social problems mentioned by previous speakers.”

Extreme poverty: We must rebuild middle class —Obaigbena
Publisher of ThisDay Newspapers and a delegate to the National Conference, Nduka Obaigbena, advocated the rebuilding of the middle class, saying it is the surest way to fight what he called ‘extreme poverty’ in the country.

Obaigbena, who is at the conference on the platform of Newspaper Proprietors Association of Nigeria, NPAN, while speaking on the inaugural speech of President Jonathan, said a better welfare for the citizenry could be realized if the country looked into its structure and constitutional framework.

Referring to a recent World Bank report listing Nigeria among the countries with extreme poverty, Obaigbena insisted that inefficient management of resources in the country was responsible for inadequate middle class citizens.

He said,“We have to figure out how we can rebuild our middle class and in rebuilding our middle class; we have to fight extreme poverty. The World Bank Chief, the other day named Nigeria as one of the four countries with the highest rate of poverty; yes, people are making progress but poverty goes with corruption and unemployment goes with insecurity. All these go to one issue: we are managing our resources inefficiently. Why is it inefficient? “

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