El-Rufai committee recommends, merger of states, resource control, state police

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The All Progressives Congress, APC, committee on restructuring has presented its report to the national chairman of the party, Chief John Odigie-Oyegun, with the committee calling for 10 items to be moved from the Exclusive Legislative list to the Concurrent list.

Items recommended to be so moved are Foods, Drugs, Poison, Narcotics and Psychotropic Substances; Fingerprints and Identification of Criminal Records; Registration of Business names; Labour; Mines and Minerals, including oil fields, oil mining, geological surveys and natural gas; Police; Prisons; Public Holidays (to be classified as National Public Holidays and State Public Holidays); Railways and; Stamp Duties.

Some of the panel’s key recommendations, it said were based on opinions of Nigerians, include: resource control, making local government an affair of states, constitutional amendment to allow merger of states, state police, independent candidacy and fiscal federalism.

In the 56-page report, the committee also recommended that the current Presidential System of Government with all its limitations be upheld but said the associated twin issues of corruption and high cost of governance should be urgently addressed.

Newsworth recalls that the committee, headed by Governor Nasir El-Rufai of Kaduna state, was set up in August 2017, to formulate the position of the party on restructuring and true federalism.

The committee’s mandate was to distill the true intent and definition of true federalism, as promised by the party during the 2015 elections campaign and examine the report of the various national conferences, especially that of 2014 and come up with recommendations.

Submitting the report at the party’s secretariat on Thursday, El-Rufai said: “At the end of our rigorous research, debates and deliberations, we came up with 24 items that Nigerians have indicated interest views that balance our federation.

“These items include creation of states, merger of states, delegation principle, fiscal federalism, devolution of power and resources between state, federal and local governments, federating units, form of government, independent candidacy, land tenure system, local government autonomy ,power sharing and rotation, resource control, types of legislature, demand for affirmation for vulnerable groups;people with disabilities, women and youth, ministerial appointment, citizenship, state constitution, community participation, minimum wage, governance, judiciary, state re-alignment and border adjustment, circular status of the federation; and referendum.

“We articulated only 13 issues from the various opinions expressed by Nigerians in our engagement, identified these 24 issues for which the committee deliberated and made recommendations in the report.”

On merger of states, he said: “It is appropriate to point out, Mr. Chairman, that only 36 percent of Nigerians want more states created. so majority of Nigerians don’t want creation of states. So, the first recommendation for which we have proposed a draft bill for constitution amendment is the merger of states. Though there was no consensus from stakeholders on the merger of states, we felt that we  should propose a bill that allows state to merge and it is up to the party, the National Assembly and Nigerians to decide on that. But we drafted a bill that is there for the party and the government to move on with. The second that we have considered is the delegation principle. Here, it is recommended that the Revenue Mobilisation, Allocation and Fiscal Commission Act be amended to vest the commission with the power and responsibility to periodically review the delegation formula and make proposal to the president, who shall  then table it before the National Assembly for legislation. We also have recommendation on fiscal federalism and revenue allocation in which we propose amending section 162 and sub-section two of the Constitution; as well as amend the revenue allocation of revenue Federation Account Act to give more revenue to the states and reduce the federal government’s share of revenue.

“The next recommendation is on independent candidacy. The committee knows that majority of respondents are opposed, surprisingly to independent candidacy. However, the committee still recommends that the party should support the demand for widening the political space by allowing for  independent candidates. We believe that this will make the political party more honest. Right now, our constitution has no provision for referendum, except in the creation of states.”

Oyegun who received the report, praised the committee for a job well done and promised that by middle of February, all structures of the party would have met and deliberated on the report.

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