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Zamfara shoots down calls for additional states

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Ovie Omo-Agege

Zamfara State citizens have rejected calls for the creation of additional states in the country, stressing that the current economic downturn makes “it unwise to call for the creation of additional states in the federation.”

Their stance was contained in a paper containing the 12 resolutions it presented during the North-West Zonal Public Hearing organised by the Senate Committee on the Review of the 1999 Constitution held in Sokoto State, last week.

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The government delegation, led by the Secretary to the Zamfara State Government, Alhaji Bala Bello Maru, Head of Service, Alhaji Kabiru Balarabe (Sardaunan Dan Isa) and the Attorney General and Commissioner of Justice, Barrister Nura Ibrahim Zarumi, noted that with the current economic downturn, “it is unwise to call for the creation of additional states in the federation.”

They argued that the current economic outlook of the country makes it unsustainable to create a framework in the Constitution that will make the creation of new states amenable to the frequent application the paper emphasised.

Zarumi, who presented the paper stood on the 12 resolutions, which include gender equality, federal structure and devolution of powers, local government administration and autonomy, the establishment of State Police, revenue allocation and derivation policy, independent candidacy, the land tenure system, power-sharing and rotation, resource control, states and local government creation, the role of the traditional institution in the Constitution and mayoral status of the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) Abuja among others.

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The delegation, in collaboration with the state’s Assembly by Speaker, Nasiru Mu’azu Magarya, jointly condemned the relegation of the traditional rulers in the 1999 Constitution in spite of the positive roles they play in the maintenance of security, peace and order in the country.

On devolution of powers and resources to the states, Zamfara stated: “That is where the government functions more efficiently. It is therefore the view of the Zamfara State that the present revenue sharing formula should be reviewed in favour of states and local governments as follows: Federal Government to take 43 per cent, state to take 35 per cent and local government 22 per cent.”

The state maintained that the current national resource control policy should be retained as they relate to resource control, adding, “The control of all national resources including but not limited to mineral resources should remain with the government of the federation and the current arrangement of the creation of the Ministry of Niger Delta, Niger Delta Development Commission and Amnesty to be maintained,” it said.

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The state also advocated for the current arrangement on power sharing in the country. It said the practice of zoning elective offices by parties should be upheld to foster national unity and create a feeling of sense of belonging among the diverse ethnic groups in the country.

MEANWHILE, former Deputy National Chairman, Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Chief Olabode George, said the Senate Committee on the Review of the 1999 Constitution held in Lagos was without any inkling of democratic seriousness, totally devoid of any sense of fairness and indifferent to the equitable pursuit of justice.

In an open letter addressed to the Senate President, Ahmed Lawan, the PDP stalwart said the public hearing of the constitutional review committee was wrong footed ab initio.

According to him, “There was nothing genuine or sincere about the mode of presentation. There was no attempt to widen the pool of contributions or give the public hearing any semblance of popular input.”

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The letter reads: “It was our first Prime Minister Alhaji Tafawa Balewa, who once observed that ‘Nigerian democracy should be an ethnic commonwealth which should give each constituent a fair place under its umbrella even if they have lost at the polls.’ This succinct wisdom long uttered more than sixty years ago is the very pivot of the present agitation for a more equitable union.

“However, the present shadow boxing in the name of the Constitution review will not meet Balewa’s standard. And thus, when the Senate Constitutional Review Committee berthed in Lagos the other day, it was without any inkling of democratic seriousness, totally devoid of any sense of fairness, indifferent to the equitable pursuit of justice.

“The Lagos public hearing of the constitutional review committee was wrong footed ab initio. There was nothing genuine or sincere about the mode of presentation. There was no attempt to widen the pool of contributions or give the public hearing any semblance of popular input.”

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He said the chairperson of the Lagos hearing, Senator Remi Tinubu, typified the narrow, restrictive nature of the committee. According to him, “She was overbearing, uppity, vain, even truculent in her engagement with contributors. Many people were deliberately denied the openness of democratic contributions. The hearing was stage-managed, anchored in prejudice, framed in puppeteering identification. Alternative views were cast aside, flung into the pits. This is not right. This is not just.

“It is obvious that the Committee is not interested in true and thorough representation of the will of the Nigerian people. It appears to be working with a script towards a predetermined end. The contributions were narrow, overtly partisan, one-sided, lacking in plural contributory logic.

“This is not acceptable to the Nigerian people. The structure of the present constitution is so biased, so flawed and so mangled with inequities that a mere review will not be sufficient to correct all the glaring wrongs afflicting the Nigerian state.

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“The unanimous position of the Nigerians is the total overhaul of the present constitution. Nothing else will do. A genuine juncture of remedy will be to revisit the report of the 2014 Constitutional Conference, which has been generally applauded for the sweeping breadth of its equity and democratic balance in rectifying the prejudicial and unworkable structures that are on the ground now.

“As a stakeholder in the Nigerian project and as someone who is sworn to the unity of the Nigerian state, I believe that our nation can emerge stronger and better only when all the component units that make up our nation have a sense of belongingness and general accommodation regardless of tribe or sectarian belief, when everyone is treated equally without ethnic bias, when merit is the sole determinant of public positions. This can only be achieved with a people’s constitution. This is indeed what we should work for rather than the charade and the present jamboree that is chaired by Senator Ovie Omo-Agege.”

He urged the Senate to stop the false and misleading engagement, saying, “Let’s renew our nation through the pursuit of the truth and the resolve on the fairness doctrine. Their-in resides the national salvation.

“It is only fit and proper that I should conclude this intervention with another nugget of wisdom from our first Balewa, when he observed: ‘if crooks are allowed to determine the destiny of the people, the people will suffer indefinitely’.”

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In this article:
economyOmo-AgegeZamfara
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