The Council of State should meet now – Part 2

Buhari

Continued from yesterday
In the 1999 Constitution produced by Justice Nikki Tobi (1940-2016), the members of the National Council of State were reduced. This was contained in Decree No. 24 of May 5, 1999, which was promulgated into law by the then Head of State, General Abdusalam Abubakar, GCFR. It is the decree we now refer to as the 1999 constitution. It states that “the Council of State shall comprise the following persons- (a) the President, who shall be the Chairman; (b) the Vice-President, who hall be the Deputy Chairman;(c) all former Presidents of the Federation and all former Heads of the Government of the Federation;(d) all former Chief Justices of Nigeria;(e) the President of the Senate; (f) the Speaker of the House of Representatives; (g) all the Governors of the States of the Federation; and (h) the Attorney-General of the Federation. 6. The Council shall have power to—(a) advise the President in the exercise of his powers with respect to the—(i) national population census and compilation, publication and keeping of records and other information concerning the same, (ii) prerogative of mercy, (iii) award of national honours (iv) the Independence National Electoral Commission (including the appointment of members of that Commission).

One of the things some of us have against the Presidential System of Government is that too wide powers have been allocated to the President. The Presidential System of Government is not participatory enough and except you are elected or appointed as aides by the Executives and Legislators, you have no role. In comparison to the 1963 constitution, some selected individuals played key roles. In section 4 (1) of the 1964 Constitution, it states “There shall be a Parliament of the Federation, which shall consist of the President, a Senate and a House of Representative; (1) Without prejudice to the provisions of section 46 of this Constitution, the Senate shall consist of —-(a) twelve Senators representing each Region, who shall be selected at a joint sitting of the legislative houses of that Region from among persons nominated by the Governor; (b) four Senators representing the Federal territory; (c) four Senators selected by the President, acting in accordance with the advice of the Prime Minister.”

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There is even provision for the House of Chiefs who were not elected to be part of the Parliament in the regions. Section 1 of the Constitution of the Northern Nigeria states “4. There shall be a Legislature for the Region, which shall consist of the Governor, a House of Chiefs, a House of Assembly and which shall have power to make laws for the peace, order and good government of the Region. 5. (1) The House of Chiefs shall consist of –(a) all first-class Chiefs, who shall be ex-officio members of the House; (b) ninety-five Chiefs having such qualification and selected in such manner as may be prescribed by the Legislature of the Religion; and (c) an adviser on Moslem law. (2) The seat in the House of Chiefs of a Chief other than a first-class Chief shall become vacant in such circumstances as may be prescribed by the Legislature of the Region. (3) In this section—-Chief means any person who is for the time being recognized by the Governor as a Chief; “first class Chief” means any Chief whose office is for the time being graded as that of a first-class Chief under any law in force in the Region. 6.(1) The adviser on Moslem law shall be appointed by the Governor, acting in accordance with the adviser of the Premier.

Section 4 of the Eastern Region Constitution states “There shall be a Legislature for the Region, which shall consist of the Governor, a House of Chiefs and a House of Assembly and which shall have power to make laws for the peace, order and good government of the region. 5(1) Without prejudice to the provisions of sections 9 and 34 of this Constitution, the House of Chiefs shall consist—(a) all traditional Rulers, who shall be ex-officio members of the House; (b) first-Class Chiefs appointed to represent provinces in the Region; (c) fifty-five Chiefs having such qualifications and selected in such manner as may be prescribed by the Legislature of the Region; and (d) such special members (not exceeding five) having such qualifications as may be prescribed by the Legislature of the Region as may be selected by the Governor, acting in accordance with the advice of the Premier.

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Section 4 of the Western Region Constitution of 1963 states “There shall be Legislature for the Region, which shall consist of the Governor, a House of Chiefs and a House of Assembly and which shall have power to make laws for the peace, order and good government of the Region. 5. (1) The House of Chief shall consist of—-(a) the persons for the time being holding such chieftaincies as may be prescribed by the Governor, who shall be ex officio members of the House; eighty-seven Chiefs having such qualifications and selected in such manner as may be prescribed by the Legislature of the Region; such Special members, being Chiefs (not exceeding four) as may be selected by the Governor, acting in accordance with the advice of the Premier; and if he is not a member of the House of Chiefs apart from this paragraph, the President of the House. 2(a) The seat in the House of Chiefs of a member other than an ex officio member or a Special Member shall become vacant in such circumstances as may be prescribed by the Legislature of the Region; (b) The seat in the House of Chiefs of a Special Member, including a Special Member appointed by the Governor at any time before the coming into force of this Constitution, shall become vacant if he is removed from office as a Special Member by the Governor, acting in accordance with the advice of the Premier. (3) In this section—-“Chief” means any person who is for being recognised as a Chief under any law in force in the Region.”

The beauty in participatory democracy is primarily concerned with ensuring that citizens are afforded an opportunity to participate or otherwise be involved in decision making or matters that affect their lives. What the Presidential System of Government connotes is nothing but representative democracy. As far as I am concerned, representative democracy is indirect democracy where the people have no role except to go and vote very four years.

The 1999 Constitution is the most un-participatory Constitution that we have had to date. It will lead us to nowhere.

Conclusion.

Teniola, a former director at the presidency wrote from Lagos.

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