National Conference: Recommendations Can Restructure Nigeria’s System – Odumakin

Odunmakin YinkaA delegate at the on-going National Conference, Mr Yinka Odumakin, has expressed optimism that the recommendations of the delegates can restructure the nation to a large extent, moving it to a right direction.

The recommendations will only make the expected impact if the  nation will run with it, he said.

Mr Odumakin, who was on Channels Television’s Sunrise Daily on Monday, said that the next meeting of the conference is to ensure that all the recommendations reached would reflect in the report.

“As at the time we adjourned, plenary had ended. What we go for on August  11 is to look at the report to ensure that all the T’s and I’s are dotted. No more the debate, at this point is to ensure that the reports reflects the deliberation.”

The one time spokesperson for former political party, Congress For Progressive Change, emphasised, however, that there would be debate on whether the reports reflected the deliberations. He said that the delegates would also look at the gray areas and correct them.

He said that the 2014 national conference had looked in-depth into the issues of Nigeria than other conferences in the history of the nation.

“After formal deliberations, we passed over 600 resolutions in this conference and we touched many issues that the 1988, 1994 and 2005 conferences did not touch, for instance the structure of this country.

“For the first time we are able to take local government off the exclusive list of the federal constitution to make it residual. We were also able to create state police as well,”Mr Odunmakin said.

He further, revealed that the delegates removed many items from the exclusive list of the Federal Government such as aviation, ports, federal highways within the states, mines, and the military clause to mention a few.

Mr Odumakin said that Presidential System of Government was not modified to ensure that the cost of governance was cut down.

Afraid Of Change

He, however, edxplained that the conference limited some items in the Presidential System of Government that they considered as wasteful

“We introduced things that are alien to the Presidential System of Government such as the President and ministers to go to the parliament and defend their account of  stewardship.”

In his opinion, the report should not be left in the hands of the National Assembly if any meaningful progress could be derived from it, suggesting that it should be put up for a referendum.

“If the report goes to the National Assembly, it is dead as the members are afraid of change and will not be willingly dispose to change,” he stressed.

According to him, the Independent National Electoral Commission are backed by the 2010 electoral act to conduct a referendum in pursuant of the 1999 constitution provisions or any other law or Act of the National Assembly.

“Perhaps, if there is a need of an Act of National Assembly, when a referendum is to be conducted, the President can ask them to pass an Act for the referendum and it goes to the people of Nigeria who will decide that this is what they want.

“The old National Assembly will have to promulgate a new constitution based on the people’s desire.”

He revealed that the conference altered the revenue allocation formula, saying that more money should go to the states.

“As against the present 52% controlled by the Federal government (FG), we are saying that the FG should take 42% and more resources should go to the states.

“The fiscal module of the country is not sustainable as oil is the main stay of the economy. If Nigeria stops selling oil, Lagos will be the only state in the country that will be able to pay the salary of its staff.

“Looking at the 2012 figures of IGI in all the states, Lagos State generated 219 billion Naira with a wage bill of 75 billion Naira which means it can pay its salary 50 times over unlike other states that will not be able to pay the salaries of the workers if there is no oil,” he explained.

He said the rationale behind creating new states was the quest for self-determination and more importantly, the fact that every state in the geo-political zone in Nigeria has abundant deposit of natural resources, hence the rationale behind the states creation.

He also revealed that the conference decided to put five per cent of the nation’s budget over a period, to explore the resources in every state, a fund that would enable most states explore the natural resources in the state.

Mr Odunmakin was optimistic that all the recommendations in the conference would not be pushed aside by politicians who are not favoured by the resolutions, as the people of Nigeria would have the final say through referendum.

On issues around politics, Mr Odunmakin was of the view that Nigeria needed a third party, which would not necessarily be a political party, but comprising of patriots and statesmen that would look beyond all the discrepancies in the polity.

“The party I am talking about is a party of patriots that are not necessarily interested in political office but are focused on righting the wrongs of the polity.”

On the derivation principle and why the conference decided to forward the issue to the presidency, Mr Odunmakin said there were controversies in the conference on the derivation issues, as some delegates wanted the five per cent intervention fund for insurgency in the north alone. The development led to the decision of the conference to forward the issue to the President to decide what the derivation will be.

He further suggested that the country should move to resource control until states can start generating revenue for themselves.

On whether the resources in the offshore belongs to the Federal Government, he insisted that the FG owns no resources and the that resources belong to the federating units as Nigeria was a Federal State.

“That is why there are talks of derivation and resource control.”

On the fear that the removal of immunity will open the president and governors to all sorts of litigations, Mr Odunmakin is of the view that those elected to political offices were called to serve and should not contest for political offices if they could not stand the heat.

He insisted that the removal of immunity would put a stop to impunity and enhance the enforcement of the corruption law.

Mr Odumakin was optimistic that the recommendations from the conference would go for a referendum despite fears in some quarters that there was no law backing it.

Nat’l Conference: Derivation Has Been Settled 12 Years Ago – Clarke

Robert Clarke-SunriseA Legal Practitioner, Robert Clarke, is not surprised that his earlier statement that the National Conference was not going to have a successful end because there was no legal basis upon which to put their recommendations into constitutional effect has not been proven wrong.

He, however, expressed shock that despite President Jonathan making it clear that “the only no-go area was that Nigeria should not be divided” and the expectations were that Nigeria had been given the opportunity to have a new system of governance, the delegates failed to work towards a new constitution, which was the most important need for the country to move forward.

Speaking on Channels Television’s breakfast programme, Sunrise Daily, he aligned with the view that all that the National Conference had done for its four months of deliberations was to amend the already existing 1999 Constitution, an act already being performed by the National Assembly.

He stated that they have bordered on the issue of derivation, which should have been the least problem because of their different approach, as he revealed that “the question of derivation has been settled well over 12 years ago by the Supreme Court judgment” adding that “the present Chairman of the Conference was one of the judges who wrote one of the leading judgements.”

Explaining the factors that determine the ownership of resources, based on the International Conference on International Law that was held in the 1970s and which created “a new maritime economic zone”, he revealed that “from 1991 Nigeria started looking for petroleum products from the deep sea and today 55% of the oil Nigeria owns comes from the deep sea.”

He submitted that the judgement in the 2002 court case between the Attorney-General of the Federation and the 36 states of the federation on their joint ownership of the resources is what answers the question of derivation.

“Any state that has resources within its geographical borders should be entitled to it. All states that have boundaries and are producing oil within Nigeria should be allowed to take everything that comes out of it but they should pay royalty and pay tax to the Federal Government.

“If that is done there would be no problem of 13% or 15%”, he said.

Citing the American state of California, which has been adjudged to be the 5th largest economy in the world, he noted that this was possible because the state was allowed to develop its own resources despite being within another sovereign state.

He also noted that the restructuring involved letting the average Niger-Delta people know that all the oil in the country does not belong to them. There was need, according to him, for Nigerians to be aware that only 40% comes from the south-south, the rest comes from the deep sea, which they all have rights to.

The veteran lawyer went down memory lane to explain how the deregulation of the oil and gas sector would make Nigeria’s economy better. He cited the revolutions initiated by former Head of State, Ibrahim Babangida, in the media, telecom and other sectors as those that should be replicated in the oil and gas sector.

He expressed the view that President Jonathan must have had good intentions for convening the National Conference and his declaration that Nigeria’s unity was non-negotiable was an opportunity to rebuild the country but there seemed to be sabotage.

Clarke maintained that he knew from the beginning that nothing was going to come out of the National Conference as the signs were obvious from the representation of some geopolitical zones.

Adamawa Illegality

The Senior Advocate of Nigeria expressed more regrets on the National Conference’s alleged failure to give Nigeria a brand new constitution but ended up offering an amendment of the same constitution which he said was Nigeria’s main problem.

He referred to the crisis that led to the impeachment of Adamawa State’s Governor Nyako and the activities of the Acting Governor since assuming office as evidences of how faulty the Nigerian Constitution was.

He alleged that the former House of Assembly Speaker, Umaru Fintiri, within one week of becoming the Acting Governor, paid out a sum of 120million Naira to each of the 24 lawmakers in the State House of Assembly and in addition all Local Government Chairmen in the state decamped back to the PDP.

He stated that this should not have been so if the constitution did not allow such financial and political liberty, maintaining that the Nigerian Constitution has given too much power to state governors and the President.

Speaking further on the Adamawa impeachment, Mr Clarke provided legal explanations to prove the illegality of the Speaker’s assumption of office and the circumstances surrounding the resignation of the Deputy Governor, whom he said should have become the Governor.

 

No Poor States In Nigeria, Only Poor Leaders – Adegbulu

Femi AdegbuluAn Associate Professor at the Redeemer’s University, Dr Femi Adegbulu on Saturday debunked the assertion that there are poor States in the federation, noting that there was only a prevalence of poor leaders and ideas.

Adegbulu who appeared as a guest on Channels Television’s Saturday breakfast programme, Sunrise, commented on the debate over Nigeria’s resource control, at the National Conference.

According to him, no State in the nation was poor because each State reportedly had resources that can be developed for sustenance. He maintained that the problem of most States was poor leadership and “poverty of ideas” which led them to abandon what they have for oil.

He argued that the government would buckle up if nations of the world reject Nigeria’s oil or the oil should dry up.

“When oil gets dried, it is then all the regions will now come together and face what they have abandoned all this while,” he said, arguing that many of the States are considered poor because they are not tapping anything that nature has bequeathed to them.

He noted that the Constitution does not encourage the States.

Social Commentator, Bala Zaka, who was also a guest argued that Nigerians are only united geographically and are not so in all other ramifications.

He complained about the composition of the National Conference, noting that President Goodluck Jonathan must have been in school, during the reign of most delegates.

According to him, “what the conduct of the delegates has demonstrated is that Nigerians are only united geographically and are disunited in all other ramifications”.

On the issues of resource control being debated at the Conference, Zaka advocated that the economic life of each State should be examined and if there is a need, come up with suggestions and see if you can collapse some States, merge some States.

He argued that the creation of more States would only lead to political balancing but “what we need is economic balancing; Adding more to the aggregate economy. So the issue of resource control has practically shown that Nigeria is only united geographically”.

On his part, immediate Past President of NBA, Ikeja Branch, Onyekachi Ubani, berated the self centred attitude of leaders and citizens, which was tearing the nation apart. He noted that the National Conference should have provided a platform for Nigerians to discuss their unity, so that they can agree to chase a singular ideal.

He noted that the assumption that all stakeholders want to be together is wrong.

Adegbulu further argued that the nation’s leaders were not patriotic and that if the National Conference did not come forth with “true federalism”, the whole exercise would have been a waste.

Northerners Are Still Not Thinking Of A United Nigeria – Ayo Adebanjo

A delegate at the ongoing National Conference, Ayo Adebanjo, speaks on this edition of View From The Top.

Enjoy the conversation.

Nat’l Conference: Law Professor Recommends Resource Management Instead Of Control

Sunrise Prof OyewoA former Dean of the Faculty of Law, University of Lagos, Oyelowo Oyewo, believes that the early issues being experienced at the National Conference are expected structural issues that would not affect the integrity and productivity of the Conference.

Professor Oyewo was on Channels Television’s Sunrise Daily on Tuesday to discuss developments from the Conference and he was quick to admit that some of the issues should not have been, if there had been proper planning and creation of ground rules ahead of the convening of delegates.

Beyond this though, he believes “these are just preliminary issues, the moment they into committees and they have to discuss substantive issues, I think they’ll be more engaged with the substance than all these (issues).”

One of the substantive issues is the outcome of deliberations at the conference. He noted that there had been no constitutional provision for a referendum in the Nigerian Constitution and this should have been noticed in President Jonathan’s speech at the inauguration of the Conference.

He also said that the Government having acknowledged that there is an ongoing process in the National Assembly to amend the constitution and calling for the process to be hastened in order to accommodate a referendum is proof that Jonathan acknowledges that fact.

He, however, could not give a guarantee that this would work out as expected, citing the possibility of the constitutional amendment being concluded before the end of the conference. This also led to an admittance of the view that the National Conference might not be one that would be concluded in 3 months.

He feared that the outcome of the Conference may be in a limbo if the constitutional provisions are not resolved.

Composition of Delegates

Oyewo acknowledged that indeed he was aware of complaints that the representation at the Conference tilts more in favour of very old people, with some of having been in the system since the independence.

He expressed the view that arguments in this regard could be seen in different ways. While some people advocating for better youth representation are of the opinion that the older generation caused the problems in Nigeria, some others see them as being more experienced.

He noted that the composition was politically inclined and not based on a wide consultation for wide representation, but nevertheless they are all Nigerians. He said that the most important thing was to look at the substance, otherwise the Association of Law Teachers, which he belongs to should also be protesting non-representation at the conference.

Oyewo noted that there were too many problems that Nigeria needs to fix and the delegates would need to focus on solving issues of inept leadership, power, education, insecurity, inability to conduct free and fair elections, empowering the youths and many more.

Resource Control

Oyewo believes that resource control is the most prominent issues in Nigeria’s federalism and with the 75% requirement for decision making on substantive issues, it would be hard for any group to force through its own position.

He noted that there were many aspects of federalism to talk about; the structure of the Federal Government in relation to the states and local governments, which he said has been a challenge, the legislative competence of the Federal Government which tilts too much in favour of the Federal Government and the issue of state police, as insecurity is an issue that requires concerted efforts.

He opted for the term Resource Management rather than Resource Control, emphasizing the view that focus has been too much on oil, without considering generating other resources, forgetting that each region has resources that it can live on.

Professor Oyewo noted that Nigerians have not been considered in all the amendments made to the country’s constitution in the past and the National Conference provides the opportunity to build one that is truly by the people.

He said that the same constitutional provision that says every Nigerian has a right to get education should be given to them to determine how their resources would be managed and to compel every government to provide healthcare, housing, employment, security and other amenities.

Oyewo believes that while some people are at the conference just to fill up space and prevent good Nigerians from adding value, there are still people who are there with ideas and vision for Nigeria, and he prayed that those are the people whose voices would be heard at the conference.

If there was one thing Professor Oyewo would recommend to be discussed at the conference, it would be good governance. He explained that governance should be made to benefit the people and once this is achieved, other things would follow.

Natl. Conference Modalities: There Should Not Be ‘No Go Areas’ – Adegbulu

A Security Analyst and Associate Professor at the Redeemers University, Dr. Femi Adegbulu has said that the forthcoming Nigerian National Conference should be a platform to discuss how the country would live together if at all it is to be together.

He made this assertion while appearing as a guest on Channels Television’s breakfast programme, Sunrise Daily, where he criticized the designation of the unity of Nigeria as a topic that should not be the discussed at the conference.

He explained that the unity of Nigeria was dependent on issues like the problems of Boko Haram, religion and the quota system which were rooted in culture and must be addressed at the conference. He provided his views on some of the issues.

While noting that Sharia law, as particularly practised in some parts of the country, has been politicised, he said that Nigeria’s security challenges had also worsened, with Boko Haram having grown into three categories; namely, religious, political and criminal. He pointed out that how to identify them was a responsibility of government.

He said: “We need a deterrent mechanism whereby culprits are well dealt with for the people to see”. He also berated the legal system in Nigeria and the slow judicial process, insisting that it affects the fight against terrorism.

Speaking further on the issues of Boko Haram, Adegbulu blamed the government for being part of the issues and berated the governments’ religious inclinations. He said that government should not have a hand in religion. “Why should government be sponsoring people to Hajj and Jerusalem? Religion is personal”, he queried.

While he suggested tactical interventions, he also admitted that there was no way the country could grant all the demands of the sect. “There is also a place for counter terrorism to ensure that they are wiped out,” he stressed.

Dr Adegbulu also said that the National Conference must also acknowledge that “one of the things to be discussed is true federalism”, which according to him is the same as resource control, which is a system that empowers regions to control their resources with government paying tax based on the resources of those regions.

“The system whereby states begin to go cap in hand to get allocation from government is an anomaly”, he said.

He also protested that a system whereby someone who scores 60% and is not admissible sees someone else with 12% having access to the commonwealth must not continue and must also be discussed at the conference.

Although Government representatives have said at different occasions that such irregularity would not be allowed anymore in the country, Adegbulu said that most of the policies must be seen implemented before he would believe any promises made by the government, because government officials would always tell Nigerians “we are working on it”.

Adegbulu insisted that the idea of having the unity of Nigeria as a ‘no-go area’ during the National Conference was not acceptable.

He asked: “Are we really united?” He noted that Americans do not ask questions about their citizens’ state of origin; because being an American was enough to enjoy privileges they are entitled to.

The Associate Professor admitted that the fear of the Nigerian government was a possible breakup, pointing out that the panacea for breaking up is to discuss it. “We must inaugurate a system of equity where everyone feels a sense of belonging.”

He stated that Nigeria cannot expect the best of patriotism from a Nigerian who having scored good marks still feels cheated while seeking admission to a university, all in the name of catchment area.