When President Muhammadu Buhari delegated the Attorney-General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Abubakar Malami, to inaugurate the 24-man Committee on Constitution and Electoral Reform headed by Senator Ken Nnamani early in October 2016, huge question marks trailed the exercise.
Questions were raised as to the need for yet another such panel in this economic recession when the Federal and State governments rely heavily on borrowings to fund the cost of governance. What is the need to further increase the size of government which the panel implies?
Again, why is it that a Federal Government under a brand new ruling party, the All Progressives Congress (APC), which promised “change” continue along the wasteful attitudes of past regimes, which it spared no venom in referring to?
All the three presidents who ruled this country under the PDP banner – Olusegun Obasanjo, Umaru Yar’ Adua and Goodluck Jonathan – set up similar committees ranging from national conferences to electoral review panels which gulped huge sums of money and turned out documents which were subsequently abandoned.
What can the Nnamani-led Committee accomplish that national conferences set up by Obasanjo and Jonathan could not? Why was the widely acclaimed fantastic job on electoral reforms by the Muhammadu Uwais Committee set up by the late Yar’Adua consigned to the dustbin when it innovatively prescribed a method of appointing the Chairman and Board of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) in a manner that would guarantee the electoral umpire’s independence?
The APC, as the main opposition party, had officially boycotted the National Conference empanelled by former President Jonathan in March 2014, describing it as “deceptive”. Why would it, as a ruling party, embark on a similar venture when there already exist comprehensive ideas waiting to be implemented?
Another shadow of doubt about the real interest of the Federal Government in the Nnamani Committee was the fact that the job of setting it up was delegated to a minister, a major departure from the President personally inaugurating it to show how apparently seriously government took the programme. Besides, the Committee has overshot its 16-week period to complete its work by more than two extra months.
Meanwhile, Nnamani, who rose to the exalted post of Senate President under PDP has defected to the ruling APC, and has since been named an arrowhead of the party’s quest to make inroads in the South East zone, thus portraying the panel as a mere partisan political gambit. We call on the political class to put an end to such duplicitous, unnecessary and wasteful use of public funds when many areas that impact on the life on the ordinary Nigerian, such as education, health, infrastructure, agriculture, power and energy supplies are yearning for adequate funding.