Owerri – Participants in the public session on the 1999 Constitution Review on Saturdya in Owerri called for equal number of states in all the geo-political zones of the federation.
Making their contributions at the session organised by Rep Ezenwa Onyewuchi, representing Owerri Federal Constituency, they said it was important for the six geo-political zones to have equal number of states before the country could talk of the creation of more states.
Onyewuchi explained that the people’s public session, instituted by the House of Representatives, was the first of its kind and an attempt to create the people’s constitution.
The Chairman of the Panel, Mr Maxwell Onyeukwu, advised the participants to focus on things that would impact positively on governance in Nigeria.
Mr Emeka Maduagwu, a former member of the House of Representatives, said: “The South East must insist on having states at par with other zones before discussing creation of states in other zones.”
The participants also resolved that while the six geo-political zones should be recognised in the constitution, they should not be included as another tier of government.
On the issues of ‘indigeneship’, they said the word should be substituted with residency, adding that a minimum 10 years be allowed before a person would be entitled to accruing rights, duties and privileges of the host state.
They also agreed that the State House of Assembly be granted financial autonomy/independence as in the case with the National Assembly with section 162(6) amended to abolish state/local government joint account.
However, this was rejected by a traditional ruler Engr Dan Enweruzo, the Chairman, Owerri West Council of Traditional Rulers, who had argued that the removal of the joint account would cripple the community development council of the state governor.
He was supported by Mrs Ugochi Uwaoma, who said that the removal of the joint account would translate to the old system of owing teachers months of salaries.
They were also of the view that the Land Use Act be be removed from the Constitution while retaining the NYSC, Public Complaints Commission Act and the National Security Agencies Act.
The people unanimously chorused “no” on the issue of state police rotation of the office the president between the northern and southern parts of Nigeria.
They however agreed that the office of the president should rotate among the six geo-political zones of the country.
There was also a serious debate on the issue of a single tenure.
While some people wanted the existing normal four-year tenure, others, who later had the day, demanded for a single tenure of five years for the office of the president and governor, respectively.
The participants also argued and later accepted that the office of the governor of a state should rotate among the three Senatorial Districts in the state.
They also unanimously agreed that the constitution should allow for independent candidacy in elections.
There was also a serious debate on giving Nigerians in Diaspora voting rights at the end of which those on the opposing side had their way.
They were also of the view that the country should maintain the presidential system of government and implement true federalism, which allows states to control up to 50 per cent of their resources.
The participants also argued that the powers of the presidency be amended to separate the office of the accountant general of the whole federation from that of the Federal Government.
They also demanded that the office of the attorney-general of the federation be separated from that of the minister of justice for proper justice implementation
The constituents in Mbaitoli/Ikeduru federal constituency had earlier recommended that a single tenure for the president and governor.
They also resolved that Nigeria should maintain the current police structure and system as in the constitution.
The constituents agreed that the Constitution should reserve certain percentage of elective and appointive offices for women. (NAN)
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