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DETAILS: How 2014 National Conference could make Nigeria achieve greater success as a nation [MUST READ]

The 2014 National Conference, tagged 2014 CONFAB set up by immediate past former President Goodluck Jonathan made some recommendations on how Nigeria can be restructured to achieve greater success as a nation. In continuation of the ongoing debate on restructuring we refresh your minds with some of the 620 recommendations of the Confab on restructuring.

In a breezy manner, the conference touched virtually all aspects of the socio-economic and political challenges besetting the country such as resource control, fiscal federalism, devolution of power, creation of states, forms of government, revenue allocation, ethnic nationalities and minority question, and resolution of the herdsmen and farmers’ crises.

For a start, the conference recommended part time legislature, removal of immunity clause for criminal matter, independent candidacy, The Diaspora participation in voting, unbundling of the Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC, privatization of existing refineries and stoppage of sponsorship of pilgrims.

The confab also recommended that anybody aspiring to become the country’s President must be a degree holder. It approved the rotation of Presidency between the North and South and governorship among the three senatorial districts of each state. Also, any elected official, executive or legislative, who carpet-cross, regardless of the reasons for such, shall automatically forfeit his seat. Some of the recommendations are:

Resource control, derivation principle, fiscal federalism

The conference recommended the establishment of a special fund for the development of mineral resources. The Fund should be administered by a competent body according to guidelines that shall be specified by the National Assembly.

It specifically said that excess revenue should be used for explorartion of mineral resources in every part of the country.

The Conference noted that assigning percentage for the increase in derivation principle, and setting up of Special Intervention Funds to address issues of reconstruction and rehabilitation of areas ravaged by insurgency and internal conflicts as well as solid minerals development, require some technical details and consideration.

The Conference therefore recommends that Government should set up a Technical Committee to determine the appropriate percentage on the three issues and advise government accordingly.

Where a President is incapacitated

It was also approved that where the President dies in office or incapacitated, impeached or where he resigns, the Vice President shall operate in acting capacity for a period of 90 days during which an election to the same office would be conducted.

According to the delegates, the decision became imperative against the backdrop that each zone is expected to run the full course of the constitutionally allowed tenure without undue disruption; and it was also agreed that based on the adopted zoning formula, when a president leaves under any of the circumstances stated above, another president would be elected from the same zone where the previous one came from.

Livestock, grazing reserves, ranching

In the long term, the delegates agreed, cattle routes and grazing reserves be phased out to lay emphasis on ranching. But in the meantime, states which have large livestock populations should endeavour to maintain grazing reserves.

Creation of additional state for South-East, 18 new states

In the spirit of reconciliation, equity, fair-play and justice, there shall be created an additional state for the South-East Zone to make the zone have equal number of states with the other zones except the North West which has seven.

It also recommended the creation of 18 new states (three per geo-political zone). Among them are Apa, Edu, Kainji, Katagum, Savannah, Amana, Gurara, Ghari, Etiti (South East zone), Aba, Adada, Njaba-Anim, Anioma, Orashi, Ogoja, Ijebu and New Oyo. Apart from the 18 proposed states, the Conference also recommended one new states for the South East. It also recommended that states willing to merge can also do so based on certain conditions and the constitution should be amended to allow for less onerous process for creation of states.

Public Finance/Revenue Allocation

The sharing of the funds to the Federation Account among the three tiers of government should be done in the following manner: Federal Government – 42.5%, State Governments – 35% and Local Governments 22.5% as opposed to the prevailing 52.68 %, 26.72% and 20.60% respectively.

It also said that the percentage given to population and equality of states in the existing sharing formula be reduced while that assigned to Social Development sector be increased to a much higher percentage so as to ensure accelerated development of all parts of the country.

Forms of Government

The confab recommended a Modified Presidential System, a home-made model of government that effectively combines the presidential and parliamentary systems of government. The president shall pick the vice president from the Legislature.

Cutting cost of governance

The President should select not more than 18 ministers from the six geo -political zones and not more than 30% of his ministers from outside the Legislature. Reduce Cost of governance by pruning the number of political appointees and using staff of ministries where necessary.

Legislature

The legislature should remain Bi-cameral but all elected members of the legislative arms of all the tiers of government should serve on part-time basis.

Autonomy for state legislature

Conference adopted a recommendation to confer financial autonomy on State Houses of Assembly as a way of freeing them from direct control of the executive.

Local Government

Local Government will no longer be the third tier of government. The federal and states are now to be the only tiers of government. States can now create as many local governments as they want.

The Joint State/Local Government Account be scrapped and in its place the establishment of a State RMAFC with representatives of LG and a Chairman nominated by the Governor.

The Constitution should fix the tenure for Local Government Councils at three years. Conference recommends the scrapping of State Independent Electoral Commission, SIECs.

Immunity Clause

The immunity clause should be removed if the offences attract criminal charges to encourage accountability by those managing the economy.

Independent Candidacy

Every Nigerian who meets the specified condition in the Electoral Act should be free to contest elections as an independent candidate.

Anti-corruption

A Special Courts to handle corruption cases should be established in the light of undue prolongation in the trials and prosecution of corruption cases in the regular courts. A non-conviction-based asset forfeiture law should be enacted with broad provisions to deal with all issues of proceeds of crimes by the anti-graft agencies and the courts.

It was also agreed that hence forth anybody arraigned before the court by EFCC, ICPC and by any law enforcement agencies, the accused person will be regarded as guilty, unlike the present situation where he is innocent until proven guilty.

Conference also voted for the complete abolition of the concept of plea bargain by the Federal government, just as they frowned at the level of delay of cases in the nation’s courts as this will enable criminal and corruption cases to run their full course in contrast to the present situation where people accused of corruption are set free after parting with a fraction of their looted public funds.

Land Tenure Act

The Land Tenure Act should remain in the Constitution but be amended to take care of those concerns, particularly on compensation in Section 29 (4) of the Act to read “land owners should determine the price and value of their land based on open market value.

State Police

On the issue of state police, as controversial as it appears to be, a decision was taken that those who want it should have it.

National Anthem

The old National Anthem should be re-introduced

Religious institutions to pay tax, abolition of pilgrimage sponsorship

The Conference recommended that there will be no government sponsorship of Christian and Muslim pilgrimages to the holy lands. It also resolved that churches and mosques should begin to pay tax to government.

Return of mission schools to owners

Another strong position taken by the delegates was that public schools taken over by various state governments across the country forty two years ago would henceforth be returned to the religious missions which were the original owners.