Senate Subcommittee on the Review of the Constitution.
Memorandum by the Alliance of Nigerian Patriots (ANP) to the Senate Subcommittee on the Review of the Constitution.
1. We thank the leadership of the National Assembly for its determination to go ahead with the proposed review of the constitution in spite of the many destabilizing events of 2020. This demonstrates an understanding of the role of the legislature as a representative of the people and the courage to respond to the many crises that plague the country at this period.
2. The #EndSARS protests highlight the general sense of dissatisfaction with the Nigerian state. Nigeria is one of the most terrorized countries in the world. It has two of the three most deadly terror groups in the world. The country has the largest number of the poorest people in the world today, far more than India with a population larger than that of Nigeria. Nigeria’s hope of surviving as a united and prosperous country is very dim because of poor leadership and severe violent crises. Religious fundamentalism, terrorism, insurgency, and criminality cripple economic and political stability in Nigeria. These failures are the result of the structural defects of the Nigerian constitutional order.
3. As patriots, we believe that finding effective solutions to the Nigerian crises of political stability and economic development requires a reconsideration of the constitutional order that directs governance and leadership at different levels of the public sector. We believe that staying together as Nigerians in one country has tremendous benefits for every citizen, ethnic or religious group. Our diversity ought to be a major source of strength and blessing. Our failure to manage this diversity through effective and well-designed institutions and structures of governance that enthrone justice, equity, and fairness is the major reason Nigeria is facing the threat of disintegration and rampant poverty.
4. In spite of the politicization of the discussion on restructuring by partisan groups, we urge members of the National Assembly to look at the issue of structure in order to save the country from perennial instability, irredentism, and possible disintegration.
5. Members of the National Assembly should consider the example of Chile where the country is going through a major constitutional reform that will move it away from the system in the Pinochet era. The change of the constitutional order is a response to increasing agitation for a radical departure from the terror and economic stagnation of Pinochet’s extreme neo-liberalism. For Nigeria, constitution review should be an opportunity to change the structural defects that defeat the prospects for a prosperous and stable country.
FEDERAL STRUCTURE AND POWER DEVOLUTION
6. In consideration of the foregoing, we urge the Committee to note as follows:-
6:1 Nigeria started its existence as an independent country with a federal system of government based on regions. This was painstakingly negotiated during the Lancaster House Conference in London. The system recognized diversities in the composition of the country and therefore established a Federal system of government that promoted rapid economic growth for the regions. Federalism helped to quickly take development to the rural communities in Nigeria. Although the system was not perfect, and its mismanagement later resulted in a civil war, it unlocked the great potentials of people in different parts of Nigeria for as long as it lasted.
6:2 The present quasi-military system is not working because it detracts from the principles of federalism. It has a centralized government that deprives the sub-units of the political authority and resources to grow prosperous economies and ensure quality human development. This is partly the source of the many violent conflicts and excessive poverty in Nigeria today.
6:3 The 1999 constitution did not correct the top-down command structure of unitary rule imposition by the military in 1966. Instead, it created a lopsided legislative structure that grants the central government responsibility for 68 items on the Exclusive list as against 30 in the Concurrent List. This structure violates federalism, undermines good governance, and cripples democratic accountability even at the grassroots.
7:1 There is an urgent need to return to regionalism as we seek a constitutional scheme that will lead the country out of these crises. The regional arrangement has the most advantage of its alternatives. This can take the form of the existing six geopolitical zones as recognized in many statutes, especially those that provide for the composition of federal agencies and commissions.
7:2 This would mean that Nigeria will be a federation of the Centre and six zones, namely, Southeast, Southwest, South-south, Northcentral, Northeast, and Northwest. There could be the possibility of more than 6 zones. This will arise if some States and Local Governments in a zone trigger constitutional mechanisms to join another zone or create an entirely new zone.
7:3 Return to regionalism (zones) will require the review of other constitutional provisions that are based on a federation of the central government and the states. Such provisions as in Section 5 and Section 6 on legislative and judicial powers respectively will have to change. This will also review provisions on State and Local Government structures in the constitution.
7:4 The National Assembly should now review the Legislative list to re-establish federalism in its practical form. To achieve this, majority of items in the Exclusive list should be transferred to the Concurrent and Residual Lists.
7:5 To achieve the regional system, the constitution should engender trust and confidence of the different ethnic and religious groups in a just and fair federal government. In this wise, appointments into public offices shall be based on merit and the federalist principle of equal representation.
7:6 As part of the return to regional structure, Section 1 of the constitution will change to allow or zonal (regional) constitutions with authority over those matters which the federal constitution allows them. Also, the provisions on the judiciary in Section 6 must change, to make the Supreme Court a constitutional court that reviews the relationship between the Zones and the Center. The Supreme Court will have judicial review powers over the fundamental rights of Nigerian citizens which no regional law and constitution will violate.
8. The features of the proposed Zonal framework and devolution of power as follows:
8:1 Federal Structure – The six-zonal arrangement adopted at the 1995 National Conference might not be ideal in view of positions staked by the various zones during the 2014 Confab. However, it remains a pointer in the right direction of correcting the error of states and local government creation by military fiat, rather than the recognized democratic processes of self-determination, negotiation, and consent. The six-zonal structure could therefore be expanded to accommodate any number from eight to twelve zones as federating Units, provided;-
[i] there’s buy-in by all the States and LGAs concerned to belong to a given zone;
[ii] the number of zones is evenly distributed between the North and the South;
[iii] there should be only two tiers of government – the Central government and the government of the federating units, that is, the Zonal governments.
8:2 Zonal Constitutions – The Zones would have their own constitutions and decide the structure and role of their present component States and LGAs. The central government would have no role to play in the creation, funding, and administration of the component states and LGAs.
8:3 Devolution of Powers – the 68 items in the exclusive list should be drastically reduced and reformatted into both concurrent and residual lists to reflect as follows:
8:3: 1 Exclusive List –
i] Foreign Affairs;
ii] internal affairs [customs, immigration]
iii] Defense [army, Air force, navy, national intelligence]
iv] National Planning, Finance and Central banking.
8:3: 2. Concurrent List –
i] Justice, the central government dealing with only appellate and the supreme courts;
ii] The environment,
iii] Transport [the central govt dealing with nation-wide and international aspects of Aviation, Railways and Maritime]
iv] Police and civil protection [ zonal, state and LGA police as the zonal govt may decide, modalities for collaboration with the central police.]
v] Culture, youth, sports, national integration.
vi] Energy, power,
viii] Education [central govt deals with standards only]
ix] Health [central govt. deals with safety and standards].
8:3: 3 Residual List – every other aspect of public governance and administration falls into the residual list for the Zonal governments to deal with as fits their local environment and particular vision and mission.
9. Fiscal Federalism, Resource Control and Revenue Allocation –
i] Abrogate the land use Act, abolish the petroleum and other mineral resources decrees,
ii] Restore ownership and control of all land, on-shore and continental waters resources to the zones wherein they fall,’
iii] Zones should retain 50% of all generated revenue or income accruing from all internal sources,
iv] Separate the Federal Government Account from the Federation Account;
v] Zones to pay 20% of their revenue to the Federal Government account to supplement Federal Government revenue;
vi] Zones to pay 30% of their revenue to the federation account for inter-zonal and emergency distribution;
vii] From federation account, establish a Special Emergency Intervention Fund for reconstruction/rehabilitation of war, conflict or natural disaster damaged areas;
viii] the balance in the federation account would be distributable to the federating zones not as a free unaccountable entitlement, but as grants for monitorable capital projects expenditure only;
10. National Assembly and Form of Government
i] consider for adoption, the recommendations of the 2014 National Confab on a Modified Presidential system by which;
ii] the President picks the VP from among the elected members of parliament;
iii] Picks his ministers [18 from members of the NASS, 6 technocrats]
iv] the President cuts the number of personal assistants and sundry staff by 50%;
v] the Constitution limits the number per Zone of senators and legislators to 6 and 12 respectively;
vi] retain the bicameral system but operating on a part-time basis;
vii] remove the power of assembly members to set own allowances;
viii] no provision for pensions or constituency project allowances;
ix] remove the blanket executive immunity on criminal felonies including financial crimes;
x] remove provisions for unaccountable security votes;
xi] approve independent candidates’ participation in all elections;
10: 1 Public Revenue, Fiscal Federalism and Revenue Allocation
i) The most important revision necessary for changing Nigeria from a rent-seeking to a productive economy is to remove the central government control of productive activities.
ii) The new constitution will abolish the Land Use Act and other privative laws and confer on individuals and zones the ownership and control of natural resources in their domains.
iii) These zones will pay royalty to the federal government. This proposal will restore the productivity of the Nigerian economy.
11. Nigerian Police and Nigerian Security Architecture.
11: 1. With approximately 400,000 policemen policing nine hundred and thirteen thousand square kilometers, Nigeria remains one of the most under-policed countries in the world, with one policeman to three square kilometers. In spite of this, the police continue to deploy policemen who are paid by tax-payers’ money as security personnel to residences of private individuals and businesses.
11:2 The problem of the Nigerian Police Force is further compounded by over-centralization with directives very often coming from a distant centre. Such disposition is antithetical to the trend in community policing which has become increasingly more localized.
11:3 Poor funding, poor environmental conditions for training and residence, occupational hazards, inadequate salary have all contributed to not only a lack of professional satisfaction but also to low self-esteem among Nigerian policemen.
11:4 The deployment of policemen to areas whose cultures are alien to them has sometimes created tension and hostility instead of friendship in the host communities they are supposed to serve.
11:5 Recommendation – It is now necessary to make the following changes to the architecture of policing in Nigeria;
i). Creation of zonal police for zonal and community policing.
ii). Federal Government to be solely in charge of interstate crimes.
iii). Zones can establish other levels of community policing
iv) Deployment of policemen only to the residences and offices of individuals and business approved by the relevant constitutions.
12. National Assembly
i) Bicameral legislature comprising the senate and the House of Representatives. The Senate will have 5 Senators from each zone, and 1 Senator from the FCT for equal representation.
ii) The membership of the House of Representatives shall be determined by the number of Federal Constituencies.
iii) Members of NASS shall operate on a part time basis and paid sitting allowances determined by law.
iv) The scrapping of severance allowance for all National Assembly members.
v) Three terms of four years each to be the tenure limit for legislators;
13. Electoral Reform:
The need to establish a system that guarantees free, fair, and credible elections have become self-evident. To achieve this there must be a comprehensive structural review of the institutions of election and not just the laws in Nigeria. These reforms will include as follows;-
i) Total Independence of INEC as a regulator and manager of elections – INEC must have complete autonomy of decision-making without being accountable to any external institution or authority;
ii) It must have complete administrative independence, with regards to its organizational structure, processes and electoral arrangements;
iii) It must also have complete fiscal independence, that is control over its budget and expenditure subject to normal fiscal accountability;
iv) To ensure its full independence, the mode of appointment of the chairman and other key officials should be through a statutory institution to guarantee the appointees a sense of security of tenure, and not gratitude to any political authority or interest. To be clear, neither the President nor the National Assembly or contending political parties should be directly or indirectly involved in the appointment of INEC key officials including the Chairman. That function should be the exclusive responsibility of an Electoral Commission Appointment Committee, made up as follows;-
a). A Retired Supreme Court Justice, or Professor of Political Science or any other Senior Public Servant considered fit to be Chairman of the Appointment Committee.
b). A former INEC Chairman – Member
c). A retired Director or top Civil Servant with competence in the management of human and material resources – Member.
d). the chairman of the NHRC or his nominee who must be a director in NHRC – Member.
e). A nominee each of the 3 largest parties in the National Assembly – Member.
f). A nominee of the National Council of Women Society – Member.
g). A nominee of Association of Retired Career Ambassadors of Nigeria ARCAN – Member.
h) A nominee of the Nigerian Bar Association – Member.
i). A nominee of the Nigerian Youth Council/Association.
13:1 The Electoral Appointment Committee will advertise for qualified candidates to apply for the position of Chairman, 12 commissioners, and 37 Resident Commissioners.
13:2 The Electoral Appointment Committee will be automatically dissolved once the appointments for all the Chairman, Commissioners and Resident commissioners are confirmed.
Nigeria shall adopt a single concept of citizenship based on parentage, place of birth and residency.
15. Religious Neutrality
Nigeria shall be a circular, religious – neutral state, de facto and de jure. References to religious laws and legal systems should be expunged from the constitution of the Nigerian federation.
16. Fundamental and Directive Principles of State Policies
The Constitution shall guarantee the Nigerian citizen social economic and political rights, and these rights shall be included in judicial consideration to ensure justice fairness and equity for each citizen under the law.
16:1 The constitution shall guarantee the rights of citizens to independent candidature in all elections.
16:2 It shall also amend the immunity clauses in the constitution and limit same to only non-criminal and non-financial infractions, committed in the line of duty.
Alliance of Nigerian Patriots, Abuja. 16 November, 2020
1). Ambassador UH Orjiako: Dr. Umunna H Orjiako, rtd Amb. to Switzerland and Principality of Liechtenstein, former. Permanent Rep to UN Office and other International Organizations at Geneva.
2) Dr Sam Amadi: Dr Sam Amadi, Head, Public and International Law Baze University and coordinator Abuja School of Social and Political Thoughts.
3) Dr Francis Adigwe: Dr. Francis Adigwe. Legal Practitioner. Principal Partner, Centrust Associates. Fomer Lecturer, University of Ibadan. Consultant to National Assembly Committees on Petroleum Resources. Managing Director, Hymet Resources.
4) Ambassador Akin Oyateru: Ambassador Akin Oyateru, former Nigerian High Commissioner to Kenya; former Permanent Representative to UNEP and UN Habitat. Currently Consultant on Public and International Affairs.
5) Ambassador Chudi Okafor, OON.: Former Ambassador to the Kingdom of Thailand and the Union Government of Myanmar (Burma). Former Chief of Staff to Secretary to the Government of the Federation. Public Policy Consultant/ Business Entrepreneur.
6) Ambassador Augustine Ugochukwu Nwosa, Fellow of the Chartered Institute of Administrators (FCIA). CEO Mountain Top Nig. Ltd – a human resource development consultancy.
7) Ambassador Cyril Uchenna Gwam: Ambassador Cyril Uchenna Gwam, Ph.D, mni ffrpn, former Nigeria’s Designated Accredited Officer (DAO) to the Commonwealth Organization & CHOGM and currently Chairman/CEO Emerson Consulting Nigeria Ltd.
8) Prof Akinyemi Onigbinde Professor Akinyemi Onigbinde, Senior Research Fellow, Centre of West African Studies, University of Birmingham.
9) Ambassador Ozo Nwobu: Ambassador Ozo Nwobu is former Spokesperson, Ministry of Foreign Affairs.
10) Dr Jonah Izzuka: Dr. Jonah Izzuka has a PhD in Petrochemistry, has lived and worked in Europe and the USA.
11) Ms. Joyce Desmond Natu.
12) Mr. Ariyo A Dare
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