By Henry Umoru
…As Tinubu calls for the scrapping of the Senate
ABUJA— FORMER Minister of Defence, Lt. General Theophilus Yakubu Danjuma rtd, Tuesday, took a swipe at State governors, describing some of them as sole administrators in their respective States.
Speaking at the 2012 Annual Conference and Awards Ceremony of Leadership Newspapers at the Ladi Kwali Hall, Sheraton Hotel and Towers, Abuja, the one time Chief of Army Staff, stressed that if democracy must be sustained and safeguarded, what he termed the excesses and abuse of power by the state governors must be checked.
According to him, they abolish local government councils and put in place caretaker committees as well as unilaterally send names of ministerial nominees to the Federal Government without the inputs and contributions of other stakeholders in the state.
Meanwhile, former governor of Lagos State, and a one-time senator, Bola Tinubu, yesterday, called for the scrapping of the upper legislative chamber, the Senate against the backdrop that it is expensive to run both the House of Representatives and the Senate.
General Danjuma who noted that no one gets nomination to any elective position at the local government, House of Assembly elections if the governors did not support, stressed that the governors handpick candidates for election. He said: “almost all the governors are sole administrators.
“They have abolished local government councils and name candidates for ministerial positions at the centre. There is nobody, including me who will emerge for positions without the governor. The governors are the most powerful people and until we phase out that power, there will be problem.”
Senator Tinubu, whose wife represents Lagos Central at the Senate said, “We have kept complaining about the cost of governance and the recurrent expenditure that is not even allowing the proportion of the country for developmental programmes. But we have never examined the structural problem of even the constitution that we are operating.
“Why do we need two Houses of the National Assembly whereas as the House of Representatives representing the smaller constituencies is enough in the same number of population? Why not get rid of the Senate for a slim and better legislative activities? Let us start examining that; congratulations to Leadership Newspapers because you have a great structural management.”
Power to appoint Resident Elelctoral Commissioners
On the need for the chairman of the Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC, to have powers to appoint State Resident Electoral Commissioners, Tinubu said: “Once you say somebody is Chairman/Chief Executive of a corporation, you have given him all the powers and authority to act on behalf of the people.
“We gave INEC the power and authority to act on our behalf, to be an institution that will be transparent and independent and the commission is being funded directly from source, from allocation, from tax and expenditure from our commonwealth and the wealth of the Federal Republic of Nigeria.
“Why would we not allow the buck to stop on the table of INEC Chairman so that if he messes up, we have somebody to blame. Why will an INEC chairman not be able to appoint those in the branches in the states – the Resident Electoral Commissioners who are representatives of INEC in the states? Why will they be appointed by the President who is equally partisan and a member of a political party which said they will rule Nigeria for 60 years? Why? If they are the one appointing RECs and card-carrying members of PDP, how would we have a reliable electoral system?
“Whether you have executive opposition or not, power is not served a la carte. It is not like a menu in Sheraton Hotel. You have to struggle for it. Let us first of all straighten the institutions. This is my proposition. We are ready as opposition to work together with other political parties to wrestle power from this government.”
In his contribution, former member of the House of Representatives, Dino Melaye, stressed the need for the National Assembly to put in place law that will allow for the computerization of all political parties.
The guest speaker, Professor Pat Utomi, who noted that there was no opposition in the country, however, called for a total overhauling of the political system, even as he called on INEC to provide for a level playing ground for all parties.
In his remarks for other award recipients, governor of Ekiti State, Dr. Kayode Fayemi, noted that Nigeria must pay serious attention to values and ethics if we must get it right, adding: “at every level, our people have become sceptical, if not downright cynical about leadership. And this is not just political leadership, but leadership of faith based institutions, leadership of corporate institutions, leadership even at the family level.
“I believe at the core of this loss of faith in leadership is a loss of values and ethics. Values are critical to societal transformation and no country succeeds without paying significant attention to ethics and values. Honours are used in most countries to reinforce the values that are cherished by a people. Values that are transformational, not transactional.”