John, Elrufai

APC c’ttee: States divided over LG autonomy, power devolution

The 22- member Committee on True Federalism constituted by the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) held its zonal public consultations between September 18 and 28, 2017.

The committee, split into three teams, with each team handling two geo-political zones in the country. Governor Abdullahi Umar Ganduje of Kano State led Team 1 which covered States from South-South and North-Central zones. Professor Oserheimen Osunbor headed Team 2 which covered states from South-East and North-East region. Governor Simon Lalong of Plateau State was in charge of  Team 3 that moved to the states in the South-West and North-West region.

 The 12 issues that formed part of the interractions at the zones included creation/merger of States; derivation principle, devolution of powers, federating units, fiscal federalism and revenue allocation, form of government, independent candidacy, land tenure system, local government autonomy, power sharing and rotation, resource control and type of legislature.

At the Sokoto centre for APC North-West zonal public hearing, Sokoto, Kebbi and Zamfara States expressed similar views on a number of issues, including the devolution of power, creation/merger of states, derivation principle, fiscal federalism and revenue allocation, land tenure system, power sharing and rotation, type of legislature and resource control.

The three states, however, voiced divergent views on the issues such as the form of government, independent candidacy, and local government autonomy.

Devolution of power: A former deputy governor, Chiso Abdullahi, presented Sokoto State’s positions on the various issues. Sokoto believes that the federal government needs to transfer certain power and responsibilities to states with commensurate financial resources to discharge the tasks. The Kebbi State Commissioner for Land and Housing , Alhaji Chica Ladan, who presented State’s viewpoints, backed the position of Sokoto State. Ladan added that the federal government should engage in matters of national interest, including defence, immigration, and foreign affairs etc. Zamfara also said that states should be given more powers.

Creation of new states: Sokoto wants the current 36-state structure maintained in view of the current realities, noting that questions are already being raised as to the viability of some of the existing states. Kebbi believes that the current 36 states and the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) are adequate, considering the tensed political climate in the country. Zamfara also wants the status quo maintained.

Form of government: Kebbi canvasses parliamentary system of government in Nigeria, while Sokoto and Zamfara states urge that the presidential system be maintained.

Independent candidacy: While Sokoto and Zamfara support independent candidacy as a means to strengthen democratic ideals and participation by all citizens without discrimination, Kebbi opposes the idea, stating that it will make elections too cumbersome to handle.

LG autonomy: Sokoto backs autonomy to local government, considering its importance to rural transformation and grass roots development. But Kebbi wants the status quo maintained, stating that local government should be under administrative supervision of states.

Legislature: The three states call for unicameral legislature. Sokoto, which notes that it is too expensive to maintain a bicameral legislature in Nigeria, adds that the legislature at federal and state levels should be made to operate on part-time basis.

Derivation principle and revenue allocation sharing formular: The three states call for a review of derivation formula and revenue allocation sharing formula. Kebbi suggests that the derivation principle as contained in constitution should be maintained but adds that 13 per cent being given to states under derivation is high, recommending eight per cent.

Kebbi adds that eight per cent derivation should be extended to HYPADEC and hydro power producing states such as Niger, Kebbi and others.

On the revenue sharing formula, Kebbi suggests that the revenue sharing should be in ratio of 40:40:20 for federal, state and local governments respectively.

Sokoto says 13 per cent derivation given to oil producing states should be limited to revenue generated from offshore exploration only, adding that the formular should apply to all revenues derived from minerals and agricultural resources from all states of the federation.

Sokoto recommends revenue sharing formula of 43 per cent for the federal government, 35 per cent for states and 22 per cent for local government councils. Zamfara, which also notes that the existing derivation formular is not fair, calls for a formula that is fair to all.

Land Tenure: The three states want the current land tenure system. Kebbi adds that federal government should be engaged in the development of the mineral resources as done in the development of oil.

Governor Aminu Tambuwal, in his remarks, said the APC decided to hold the public hearing on true federalism to ensure inclusiveness.

Governor Atiku Bagudu of Kebbi State said the event showed the APC’s commitment to democratic norm.

Kano, Katsina oppose devolution of power.

At the Kano centre for the public hearing, Kano and Katsina States opposed the devolution of central government, saying the federal government should rather be strengthened financially to ensure effective service delivery.

Governor Abdullahi Umar Ganduje of Kano State and his Katsina State counterpart, Aminu Bello Masari, made the position of the two states known while addressing a mammoth crowd at the zonal public hearing held last Thursday.

Jigawa State, however, supported devolution of power. 

Submitting the memorandum of the state, the Secretary to the Jigawa State Government, Alhaji Adamu Abdulkadir Fanani, said certain powers of the federal government, especially in the areas of agriculture, education and health should be referred to state governments.

Resource control, land tenure dominate in North Central .

The land tenure system and the issue of resource control for states that produce solid minerals dominated last Thursday’s North Central zonal public hearing for Plateau, Benue and Nasarawa States.

The meeting, which was chaired by Governor Tanko Al-Makura of Nasarawa State, had in attendance the representatives of Governor Lalong of Plateau State and Governor Samuel Ortom of Benue State as well as the party chieftains and traditional leaders.

The Director General, Research, Strategic Planning and Documentation, Plateau State, Prof. John Wade, while stating the views of state government, said “we produce solid mineral, but don’t enjoy all that our other brothers in the south enjoy. This should be addressed.”

While presenting the position for Benue State, the Legal Adviser to the APC in the state, Barrister Omale Omale, said that the state supports state police and local government autonomy. Omale said that the status quo should remain on the issue of land tenure system.

The APC chairman in Nasarawa State, Philip Tatari Shekwo, said the state and the party had the same position on issues of federating units, form of government and revenue that had been captured in the Nigerian constitution.

Delta delegates seek part-time legislature.

At the centre in Benin, only Delta State made presentation and submitted memorandum out of the three states of Edo, Bayelsa and Delta.

Bayelsa State was absent at the meeting. Edo State that was present neither made presentation nor submitted any memorandum during the meeting.

Though the meeting was held without hitches, the organisers were disappointed that Bayelsa State was absent, while Edo State could neither make presentation nor submit memorandum.

Only two ethnic groups; Ndokwa and Ika Ethnic groups in Delta state made presentations during the meeting and they advocated part-time National Assembly and devolution of power among others.

Governor Godwin Obaseki of Edo State pleaded for the extension of submission of memorandum by seven days  to enable them reach out to people at the local government to  make their inputs. Senator Ibikunle Amosun led the APC team.

Lagos, Oyo, Ogun want devolution of powers.

The Ibadan meeting was chaired by the Plateau State governor and had participants from Lagos, Ogun, and Oyo States.

In a communique issued at the end of the meeting, the summit resolved that the existing 36-state structure and the FCT should be retained and sustained.

On derivation principle, the meeting agree that 50 per cent of the revenue accruable from the resources in each state should be given back to such state.

Also on the devolution of power, the three states noted that power is over-concentrated at the centre and therefore, more powers should be devolved to the constituent states of the federation.

They agreed that the state should control its mineral deposit found in their respective domains and pay royalty to the Federal Government on agreed terms.

The communique advocated that Nigeria should retain the current bi-cameral legislative system with a slight modification to make it part-time with members collecting only sitting allowances as deemed appropriate.

The Oyo state governor, Senator Abiola Ajimobi, was represented by his deputy, Chief Moses Alake.

The Ogun State governor, Senator Amosun, was represented by his chief of staff, Chief Tolu Odebiyi. Governor Akinwunmi Ambode of Lagos State, was also represented by Prince Abiodun Ogunleye.

In North-Central, stakeholders want FG allocation reduced to 40%.

Stakeholders at the APC North Central zonal public hearing called for devolution of power and the reduction of the 52% revenue allocation accruable to federal government to either 30 or 40 percent.

They agreed on the unity of the country, independent candidacy, devolution of power and local government autonomy but rejected the idea of creating new states. The Yoruba speaking part of Kogi State, however, clamoured for the creation of their state because of marginalisation.

The stakeholders, at the meeting in Ilorin last Monday, were led by a member of the committee, Governor Rauf Aregbesola of Osun State, Governor Abdulfatah Ahmed of Kwara State, and Governor Sanni Bello of Niger State, who was represented by special adviser, political matters, Mr Solomon Nyaze.

Divergent views at North-East public hearing.

Various groups that submitted memorandum at the public hearing held in Bauchi last Monday expressed divergent views. The North East sub-committee headed by Senator Osunbor held the public hearing for Bauchi, Borno and Yobe States.

Bauchi State Governor Mohammed Abubakar, who was represented by his Deputy, Engineer Nuhu Gidado, called for devolution of power.

Borno State Governor Kashim Shettima was represented by the Speaker of the State House of Assembly, Abdukarim Lawal, while Yobe State Governor Ibrahim Geidam, was represented by the Permanent Secretary, Government House, Lawal Hassan.

 

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