Key Confab Recommendations
WHEN President Goodluck Jonathan received the recommendations of the National Conference, on August 21, 2014, he assured the delegates that the government would set ball rolling to implement their recommendations. According to him, “The discourse reflected our latest challenges. We shall send the relevant aspects of your recommendations to the Council of State and the National Assembly for incorporation into the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria. On our part, we shall act on those aspects required of us in the Executive.”
State creation and status of Abuja
Alteration of section 3 Section 3 of the principal Act is altered – (a) by replacing the existing subsection (1) with the following as new subsection (1) -”(1) There shall be fifty-four states in Nigeria, that is to say, Aba, Abia, Adada, Adamawa, Akwa Ibom, Amana, Anarribra, Anioma, Apa, Bauchi, Bayelsa, Benue, Borno, Cross River, Delta, Ebonyi, Edo, Edu, Piciti, Enugu, Etiti, Ghari, Gombe, Gurara, Ijebu, Imo, Jigawa, Kaduna, Kainji, Kano, Katagum, Katsina, Kebbi, Kogi, Kwara, Lagos, Nasarawa, New Oyo, Njaba-Anim, Niger, Ogoja, Ogun, Oil Rivers, Ondo, Ose, Osun, Oyo, Plateau, Rivers, Savannah, Sokoto, Taraba, Yobe and Zamfara,” and (b) by deleting subsections) (2) and (6); and ( c) in subsection (3) by replacing the word “third” with the word “second.”
The long standing agitation for the creation of a mayoral status for the Federal Capital City was approved, just as additional two area councils were approved for the FCT in addition to the existing six area councils with strong warning that all compensations be paid.
Presentation of the annual budget, revenue sharing and type of legislature
The conference resolved that the Minister of Finance, not the President will now present the annual budget to the National Assembly, even as it threw out recommendation for a unicameral legislature and voted that the bi-cameral legislature be maintained.
The sharing formula is to be: Federal Government (42.5 per cent), State governments (35 per cent) and Local governments (22.5 per cent).
Status of government-acquired school
In tandem with what is obtainable in a number of states in the federation, the report also stated that public schools taken over by various state governments across the country 42 years ago would henceforth be returned to the original owners.
‘Modified’ presidential system
The conference voted in favour of Modified Presidential System of Government as recommended by the committee; described as “home-made model of government that combines the attributes of parliamentary and presidential systems.” The concept has the potentials of entrenching the principle of separation of powers as practised in presidential system and promotion of co-operation and harmony between executive and the legislature as operated under the parliamentary system.
The President elected under the new system shall exercise full responsibility for his government and shall select ministers, not more than 18 of them, from the six geo-political zones of the country, and in the modified presidential system the president shall pick the vice president from the legislature.
Local government administration
The conference voted that states should own their own constitutions while the functions of local governments as contained in schedule 4 of the 1999 constitution (as amended) be transferred to the states subject to the power of the state Houses of Assembly to add or reduce the said functions of the local governments.
The conference, however, voted against the local government as a different tier of government, saying that the House of Assembly of a state may confer other functions on local government and agreed that the constitution shall fix the tenures for local government councils.
Similarly, delegates approved the scrapping of joint state and local government accounts; to be replaced with a State Revenue Mobilisation, Allocation and Fiscal Commission. The body would be expected to have as members, representatives of local government areas and a chairman nominated by the state governor for confirmation by the state House of Assembly.
In addition to the functions conferred on the local government councils as specified in the Fourth Schedule of the 1999 Constitution as amended, a state House of Assembly may by law, confer other functions on the local government.
Henceforth, and except otherwise overturned, conference also conferred financial autonomy on state Houses of Assembly as a way of freeing them from direct control by the executive and voted that for functionality, local government should be politically and economically independent.
As a way of addressing graft, there should be complete abolition of the concept of plea bargain by accused public functionaries and also agreed for the establishment of special courts, for instance, anti-corruption courts to handle cases involving corrupt practices.
Also in the report, henceforth, anybody arraigned before the court by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), the Independent Commission on Corrupt Practices (ICPC) and by any law enforcement agencies, the accused person is regarded as guilty. This is unlike the present situation where the suspect is regarded as innocent until he or she is proven not guilty. Now the suspect is regarded as guilty until he proves himself innocent.
Meanwhile, civil servants, who engage in contract for pecuniary gains, will be dismissed from service, just as there was the retention of status quo of retirement age of 60 for workers in public service.
Those who want a state police should go and have state police, but those who do not want it, let the present status of the Nigerian police remain. But from the Assistant Superintendent of Police (ASP) downwards should be indigenes of every state.
On religious group and pilgrim sponsorship
Henceforth, there will be no sponsoring of both Christian and Muslim pilgrimages to the holy lands. The conference also recommended that churches and mosques will now pay taxes to the Federal Government.
Pensions and associated gratuities for political office holders
Payment of pension, severance, life insurance for legislators at all levels be cancelled, same would apply to governors and their deputies, just as lawmakers, governors and their deputies will now receive salaries and allowances commensurate to the functions they perform.
People living with disabilities
The conference voted that governments at all levels should grant allowances to persons living with disability, which will be equivalent of government workers on grade level 06.
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