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APC panel okays devolution, resource control, state police

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John Odigie-Oyegun

The committee set up by the All Progressives Congress (APC) to look into calls for restructuring presented its report to the Chief John Odigie-Oyegun led National Working Committee (NWC) of the party, yesterday.

Led by Kaduna State Governor, Nasir El-Rufai, the committee backed the devolution of powers, resource control and the establishment of state police.

El-Rufai disclosed that the findings of the committee, inaugurated August, last year, were reached after collating input from 409 memoranda and 8004 stakeholders and groups spread across 14 cities in 12 states of the country and the Federal Capital Territory (FCT).

President Muhammadu Buhari in his New Year message had rejected calls for restructuring, saying: “When all the aggregates of nationwide opinions are considered, my firm view is that our problems are more to do with process than structure.”

The committee recommended that states have considerable control on solid and oil resources in their domains, subject to the approval of the National Assembly.

It called for policing to be moved to the concurrent list, enabling the creation of state police alongside a federal force with specified areas of jurisdiction.

It also proposed more revenue for states and reduction of federal share of revenues, because the “majority of Nigerians feel that states should get more revenue and the federal government should slim down a little bit."

El-Rufai said: "All minerals including oil and gas that are onshore will be vested in the states of the federation. However, all offshore oil should remain absolutely vested in the government of the federation.

"Offshore oil, which is also policed by the Nigerian Navy belongs to the federation. But minerals, oil, anything in the land, belongs to those that own the land, which is the state governments. We think the time has come to make this bold step and move away from over-centralisation of mineral resources.

"Then there would be certain constitutional amendment. The Petroleum Act needs to be amended, so that states can issue oil-mining licences. The Nigeria Minerals and Mining Act needs to be amended, to give states the power to do this. The Land Use Act will also need to be amended, to recognise the provisions in the Minerals and Mining Act. The Petroleum Profit Act 2007 will need to be amended. And we have drafted all the bills to give effect to this.”

It was proposed that an amendment to the constitution be made to keep narcotics and psychotropic substances on the exclusive legislative list, while foods, drugs and poisons move to the concurrent, so that states could legislate on them.

The committee recommended that fingerprinting and identification of criminal records, currently on the exclusive list, be moved to the concurrent, allowing federal and state governments to share information; that minimum wage be moved to the concurrent list, to allow states determine the wages of their workers; and that control and establishment of prisons be moved from the exclusive list, as was the case in the First Republic.

It proposed a constitutional amendment to transfer the 12 items now in the exclusive legislative list to the concurrent, to make room for state and federal government legislations.

El-Rufai disclosed that the committee’s survey indicates only 36 per cent of Nigerians wanted more states created, while the majority were opposed to the idea.

"It is recommended that the Revenue Mobilisation, Allocation and Fiscal Commission Act be amended to vest in the commission the power and responsibility to review the derivation formula, to put forward a proposal to the president, who shall table it before the National Assembly for legislation. We have drafted a bill that will expand Section 6 (sub 1) of the Revenue Mobilisation, Allocation and Fiscal Commission Act, to give them that power,” he said.

Other recommendations were: widening the political space and forcing existing political parties to be more democratic by making room for independent candidacy; allowing states to enact laws peculiar to them and determine number, structure and ways local councils should be governed; amendment of the Federal Character Act to recognise domicile as qualifying a person to be an indigene in a state or local government; allowing the president to appoint ministers from any part of the country subject to confirmation by the National Assembly; the establishment of states’ judicial councils and courts of appeal; and holding of a referendum on burning national issues.

Odigie-Oyegun thanked the committee for the job, saying mischief-makers on the party's stance on federalism and restructuring have been silenced.

He added: "Now, everybody has an idea of what APC meant by true federalism and restructuring. I am happy the report provided the mechanism on implementation. The report is going to get expeditious consideration by the party. Before the middle of February, it would have been considered by the party and presented for appropriate implementation."

But the opposition Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) seemed unimpressed. "The NWC is putting all necessary strategies together. We assure you that in 2019, Nigerians will vote for PDP. APC has failed woefully. Our nation is in a situation where PDP must save this nation from total collapse. The government of APC has become a lame duck after former President Obasanjo released a political tsunami and verdict on it,” said PDP National Chairman, Prince Uche Secondus.

On the party’s winning strategy, Secondus said power would be devolved to the grassroots chapters of the party. "We intend to devolve power, because over the years, so much power has been concentrated at the centre. And we discovered that the only way to do it is to devolve power to the grassroots. And our slogan explains it all, 'Power to the people.' So, the people can decide, not the people in Abuja or NWC,” he told a forum of former party ministers who paid him a courtesy visit.

The party also criticised economic indices released by the Minister of Information, Lai Mohammed, following Obasanjo’s indictment. It said the indicators came “at a time it (APC) ought to be very sober for its failures, thereby exposing the level of scorn and disdain it has for suffering Nigerians."

The National Publicity Secretary, Kola Ologbondiyan, in a statement said: "It amounts to executive rascality for the APC-led Federal Government to use Mohammed to falsely claim that the economy, which it wrecked, has come out of recession, when the glaring reality shows skyrocketing costs, soaring unemployment rate, closure of businesses and accumulation of foreign and domestic debts."

He said the current administration has refused to understand that the issues raised by Obasanjo, for which he advised Buhari not to seek re-election, were already trending in the minds of Nigerians and could not be dismissed by doctored reports and half truths.

"In its attempt to hoodwink Nigerians, the Federal Government cleverly stated that the nation's Foreign Reserves had risen to $40 billion, while covering the fact presented by the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS) that our foreign debt has also escalated to $15.2 billion under APC's misrule.

“Furthermore, the Federal Government attempted to delude Nigerians by claiming that the naira has become stable while glossing over the fact that it fell from about N165/$1 in 2015 to the current appalling N360/$1,” said Ologbondiyan.



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