Memorandum Submitted By Kano State Delegation To the NPRC



Memorandum Submitted By Kano State Delegation To the NPRC

Daily Trust (Abuja)

DOCUMENT
March 16, 2005
Posted to the web March 16, 2005

Introduction:

It will be recalled that follow ing a resolution adopted by the conference, the
secretariat requested all delegates to submit their written memoranda. We have
the honour to forward the following, being our contribution.

The views canvassed herein, in summary form, contain our well-considered
recommendations and observations. They are the outcome of wide-ranging
consultations with key stakeholders in our society; public hearings conducted to
gauge the mood of and obtain popular mandate from the people of the state, and
are largely shared by delegates who aspire to common ideals, aspiration and
share cultural affinity with us.

It is our intention to submit, in an addendum, greater details to back up every
point made.

Some fundamental observations

Before making our recommendations, we wish to point out what, in our considered
view, are fundamental defects pertaining to procedural inadequacy, legal and
constitutional anomalies and representational distortions, all of which have
attended the constitution of the conference and its convening.

Questionable Process

With all due respect, we wish to observe that the basis of representation used
is undemocratic, inequitable, unbalanced and runs foul of all established and
conventional modes of constituting a body so important and invested with
authority so broad and unchecked to shape Nigerian polity, economy, the society
and its constitutional form of governance. It is unjustifiable, for instance, to
give one state, which, under the 1999 Constitution, has 10 members at the House
of Representatives, equal number of delegates with another which has 24 members.

The situation is made even worse, where the president appoints, as his nominees,
thrice as many members to the conference for that state against the other.

We wish to express our serious reservation regarding this lopsided manner of
constituting the conference, which leaves the process of its decision-making
prone to manipulations and its ultimate recommendations full of distortions and
their legitimacy suspect.

Shaky foundation

The absence of an enabling law, which sets out clearly the powers, functions and
limitations of the conference has, in our considered view, further worsened
matters. A process which has profoundly raised the hopes of Nigerians but is,
without doubt, fraught with dangers and great potentials, ought not to be
anchored on so shaky a foundation. The disavowal of the entire process by an
important organ of the state, the National Assembly, being a legitimate and
existing law-making organ under our constitution and the House of Assembly, its
state counterparts, both of which, like it or not, will have a thing or two to
do with the ultimate outcome of the conference, has further put to question the
entire process.

To cure, salvage or otherwise ameliorate the observed defects in the conference,
we recommend that:

(a) The president and all stakeholders should immediately embark on a deliberate
effort to re-engage the National Assembly (NASS) to bring them on board;

(b) that the president should propose to the NASS and get them to pass into law
a bill which sets up the conference and empowers it with specific functions; and
that the outcome of the conference be subjected to national referendum to confer
it with popular mandate and legitimacy.

Consensus building vs voting

We wish to note that an essential item on the agenda of the conference is how to
cultivate the wholesome spirit of consensus building in the Nigerian polity. We
commend the president for urging the conference to adhere to this mechanism in
arriving at its decisions. Otherwise, we continue to be apprehensive that
resorting to the mechanism of voting by a conference tainted by the inadequacies
listed above will negate such a spirit and further aggravate matters.

Indeed, the best way to commence cultivating such a spirit will be for the
conference itself to adopt consensus as the preferred means of resolving issues.
We strongly recommend this method. By adopting the mechanism of consensus to
decide issues, this conference will be following the ample and wholesome
precedent set by the Constitution Review Committee, the Constituent Assembly,
the Constitutional Conference and the Constitutional Debate Coordinating
Committee of 1987/88, 1988/89, 1994/95 and 1998 respectively. It may be recalled
that these bodies worked hard to engender consensus building around issues.

The few times when some of them abandoned this method and attempted to resolve,
especially controversial issues by voting, landed them into stalemate, threats
of boycott, needless acrimony and the avoidable overheating of the polity.

Below are highlights of our key recommendations and observations:

Structure of the federation and government

1. The people of Kano State reaffirm their resolve to keep Nigeria as a single
indivisible Federal Republic founded on the principles of democracy, liberty,
justice, fairness and pluralism.

2. All decisions made at the National Political Reform Conference should be
regarded as proposals for the amendment of the 1999 Constitution as may be
appropriate. All procedures prescribed in the constitution must be followed.

3. The Presidential system of government, as enshrined in the 1999 Constitution
should be retained. Accordingly, its structure of the government and the three
tiers namely: federal, state and local governments should be retained. Ways and
means of ensuring good governance, transparency and accountability should be
designed to strengthen the system.

4. The existing 36 states and 774 local government areas should be retained. But
more powers and resources should be devolved to them. The proposals contained in
the 1995 Constitution which seek to devolve more powers to the lower tiers of
government should be revisited with a view to borrowing a leaf there from.

5. We recommend the amendment of our constitution to incorporate the tested and
tried system of operating three distinct and clearly defined legislative lists
as provided for in the 1963 Regional Constitutions.

Accordingly, provisions should be made for Exclusive, Concurrent and Residual
list for the states. We also recommend the adoption of state constitutions
which, as in 1960 and 1963, will embody all those aspects of the 1999 which
pertain to states. This will minimise undue uniformity and reflect diversities.
It will augur well for and confer greater sense of autonomy to the federating
units.

6. The traditional institution should be given a role in the constitution. This
is in view of the significant role the traditional rulers play in resolving
civil disputes and restoring peace among the Nigerian citizens.

Rotationa1 Presidency

7. Rotational presidency is undemocratic and therefore it should not form part
of the constitution. We wish to endorse the current practice whereby political
parties build the principle of rotation in their strategy and electoral
calculations by deploying its dynamics. As a matter of fact, since 1979, when
the NPN introduced the idea of zoning and rotation, the practice has been
gaining wide acceptance as a convention. We will not support fossilising such
fluid concept in hard cast constitutional provisions which may cause problems of
interpretation and implementation leading, as a result, to unnecessary political
crises which may thereby be generated.

Sovereign Nationa1 Conference/Nationa1 Conference

8. Some commentators and agitators have called for a Sovereign National
Conference, instead of a National Conference. It is unconstitutional to hold any
Sovereign Conference when there is a lawfully constituted authority in power.

Po1itica1 Parties

9. Nigerian people should be allowed to form parties as guaranteed by the
constitution. In addition, party supremacy should be upheld by disallowing cross
carpeting of elected officials as in the 1979 Constitution. Independent
candidature should also be allowed to foster the spirit of greater participation
and discourage party croynism. The funding of political parties should be based
on the principles of transparency and accountability. And any government funding
of parties should be based on the party’s ability to raise funds independently
as well as their performance at election.

Human and Natura1 Resources Mobi1isation

10 The nation should formulate a comprehensive agricultural policy that will
ensure upward review of federal budgetary allocation to the sector which also
takes into account the proposals of international agencies to developing
countries. A policy which will facilitate a substantial and sustained provision
of subsidies and other forms of incentives to farmers, including export subsidy,
the creation of enabling environment and provision of protection to them, should
be adopted.

11 Food securities must be accorded high priority as in most other nations of
the world because the nation’s ability to feed itself is gradually dwindling in
view of technological deficiency and increase in population. The National
Assembly should, by law, set up a trust fund or set aside a substantial amount
of money to be sourced from the Consolidated Revenue of the federation or the
windfall from oil sales accrued in the last few years or such other sources as
they may deem appropriate, which should be deployed and dedicated solely towards
the regeneration of the agricultural sector throughout the federation.

12 Appropriate instruments and guidelines should be put in place in order to
monitor and evaluate all agricultural policies periodically. The agricultural
research institutes should be adequately funded.

13a The federal government should hold in trust, control and facilitate the
exploitation of all mineral resources in the country as enshrined by Section 44
(1.3) of the 1999 Constitution which states that: the entire property in and
control of all minerals, mineral oils and natural gas in, under or upon any land
in Nigeria or in, under or upon the territorial waters and the Exclusive
Economic Zone of Nigeria shall vest in the Government of the Federation and
shall be managed in such manner as may be prescribed by the National Assembly.

13b The revenue accruing from off-shore oil resources, which fall within the
territorial waters and the 200 nautical miles by Exclusive Economic Zone
guaranteed by international law and practice, belongs to the entire federation
and should not be subject to the derivation principle.

14 The exploration of oil, gas, bitumen and other minerals should be intensified
in the Chad Basin, Benue Basins or troughs and other areas in order to exploit
the abundant availability of the resources in the country. The National Assembly
should, by law, set up a trust fund and allocate a substantial sum of money to
be sourced from the Consolidated Revenue of the federation or the windfall from
oil sales accrued in the last few years or such other sources as they may deem
appropriate to be deployed and dedicated solely to a sustained exploration and
exploitation of the resources in these and other areas.

15. The nation should diversify its sources of energy for strategic reasons in
line with the global trend since hydro-carbons are not renewable and the nation
has abundant renewable sources.

16. Desertification should be declared a national emergency because desert
encroachment continues to devastate vast arable land and threatens the whole
nation gradually as the Sahara is moving southwards fast. A National
Desertification Commission should be established. It shall benefit from the
agricultural trust fund recommended above. We strongly support the immediate
establishment of the Solid Minerals Areas Development Commission and the
allotment to it of commensurate means to ameliorate the depletion of the ecology
and erosion, all caused by flooding and the depletion fishing and agricultural
activities in these areas.

Revenue Allocation and the Economy

17. There is need for a review of the revenue allocation formula in order to
increase the share of the states and local government councils to facilitate the
discharge of the additional responsibilities devolved to them. All revenue
allocated from the Federation Account should be paid directly to the beneficiary
federal, state and local governments. Local Government Joint Accounts maintained
by the states should be abolished or else, some transparent rules be introduced
to ensure accountability and participation of all stakeholders in the process of
disbursement.

18.1 The derivation principle and other variables embodied in section 162 (2)
which are to be taken into account by the NASS in the formulation of a law to
regulate revenue allocation, should not be tampered with. We are not persuaded
by and are unable to endorse the case made for any upward review of the amount
due to states on grounds of derivation for the following reasons:

(a) It is grossly unreasonable and inequitable

(b) It fails to take into account the contribution Nigerians from all walks of
life have, over the years, made and continue to make with their blood and toil
to protect the territorial integrity of the nation, including the protection of
the oil wells and other vital and strategic installations;

c) Advocates of this position have easily forgotten and continue to ridicule and
even belittle the incalculable material contributions made from the resources of
other parts of the country to make the initial investment at the exploration
stage which ultimately led to the discovery of oil and its subsequent
exploitation in these areas;

(d) The argument which canvasses total control over natural resources is against
existing laws, constitutional provisions in the country;

(e) Such an argument ignores universal practice by which it is the nation state,
and not the component units, which exercises absolute control over such natural
resources. Such an argument have been used only selectively in pointing to the
American practice, preferring to ignore the pervasive pract1ce elsewhere, such
as in Europe, South America, the Middle East etc.

(f) while fairness demands it and we can relate well to and sympathise with the
argument which canvasses the need to attend to the devastating ecological and
environmental problems associated with the exploitation of oil and gas in these
areas, those in authority in these areas, to whom billions have been paid on
grounds of derivations on the basis of the current formula, have neither
justified nor rendered satisfactory account in the way they have deployed the
funds made available to date. Rather than ask for more, we should all vow to
hold such leaders accountable.

18.2 On the whole, we are convinced that the language embodied in the section
referred to above, is flexible enough to accommodate any changes which may, in
future, be considered desirable. Be that as it may, the Supreme Court judgment
which is to the effect that the boundary of all littoral states ends at
Nigeria’s low-water marks and not extending to the continental shelf, must be
respected and upheld for the purpose of derivation principle in the revenue
allocation. Any attempt to tamper with this provision by the conference will
amount to contempt of court as the matter is pending before a court of law for
determination. It will also violate Order III, Rule 3.12 of the Standing Orders
of the Conference.

19. The federal government should pursue the protocols and principles of ECOWAS,
AU and NEPAD by ensuring the development of infrastructure such

as the Transaharan Railway and Road network projects that will facilitate the
integration of West Africa Sub-Region and the continent with the rest of the
world. The River Niger should be dredged and the inland waterways along the

River Benue and Niger Delta should also be developed. In concert with other
members of the ECOWAS, Nigeria should pursue the desirable goal of the
declaration of River Niger as an international waterway. In pursuance of this
objective, Nigeria and other member states of ECOWAS will enhance cross border
trade, provide other less expensive means of transportation which will
facilitate the movement of goods and persons and regional integration.

20. In order to foster economic balance between all sections in the country, the
National Economic Council, which is established by section 153 (1) (h) of the
1999 Constitution should be empowered to ensure participation of states in the
formulation of fiscal and monetary policies of the nation. Government should
set-up a financial structure that would ensure full participation in all
strategic investments by all parts of the country in accordance with
geographical spread.

21. The privatisation process should be revisited in order to ensure fairness
and equity. The need for sequencing of the privatization process should be
stressed. This will help in redeeming Nigeria’s image in the comity of nations.

Constitutional amendments

22. Section 1 sub-section (1) on the Supremacy of the Constitution should be
amended and read as follows: – “If any other law, save Islamic Law, is
inconsistent with the provisions of this CONSTITUTION, this CONSTITUTION shall
prevail and that other laws shall, to the extent of the inconsistency, be void”.

23. Similarly, the word “personal” in section 277 of the 1999 Constitution,
should be deleted to read Islamic Law. It should be recalled that 1979
Constitution was similarly amended in 1990 and 1995 constitutions.

24. In addition, item 23 of part 1 of the second schedule of the 1999
Constitution should be amended to transfer “Evidence” to the Concurrent List.

25. All the relevant legal and constitutional provisions on the federal
character must be respected, and in order to strengthen the Federal Character
Commission, the constitution should be amended to make it an independent body
under the National Assembly just like the Public Accounts Committee. It should
also be funded from the consolidated revenue fund.

The federal electoral commission

26. The constitution should be amended to rename INEC to become the Federal
Electoral Commission and place it under the supervision of the National Judicial
Council.

27. The Federal Electoral Commission should be funded from the consolidated
revenue fund or from such other sources, as the NASS may deem appropriate and
which will enhance its autonomy and independence.

28. Political parties should be afforded equitable representation in the Federal
Electoral Commission based on their strength in the National Assembly. The
parties should nominate commissioners of the Federal Electoral Commission to the
president for confirmation by the Senate.

29. A state governor shall be empowered to nominate one person to the president
for confirmation by the Senate as a resident electoral commissioner to be posted
by the commission to any state. The political parties should formulate the
framework for the establishment of the Federal Electoral Commission.

30. State electoral commissions should be under the supervision of the State
Judicial Service Commission. Their mode of appointment should be based on the
same principles as pertain to the appointment of members of the Federal
Electoral Commission.

 

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