The zonal public hearing on the review of the 1999 constitution at the Sokoto centre, North West Nigeria, had some of the participants demanding autonomy for local government administration, devolution of power to the states as well as judicial reforms. But some of the participants kicked against resource control arguing that all resources belong to
The zonal public hearing on the review of the 1999 constitution at the Sokoto centre, North West Nigeria, had some of the participants demanding autonomy for local government administration, devolution of power to the states as well as judicial reforms. But some of the participants kicked against resource control arguing that all resources belong to the Federal Government.
The Sokoto centre which was chaired by Senator Adamu Aliero, hosted participants from Sokoto, Kebbi and Zamfara states also had all the Senators from the three states in attendance. Senator Aliero in his welcome address noted that constitution review ought to hold every five years but that has not been the case. He further stated that the persistent calls for restructuring and the amendment of the Nigerian 1999 constitution, prompted the National Assembly to embark on the review of the constitution of which holding a public hearing on items to be reviewed is a component part.
Some of the items on the fore front for amendment are gender equality, more powers for state governments as well as autonomy for both the Local Government administration and the Judiciary. Though, it was noted that President Muhammadu Buhari had signed Executive Order 10, to grant the autonomy, but the appropriate constitutional amendments still have to take place to make it more permanent.
Sokoto State Governor Aminu Waziri Tambuwal who was represented by his deputy Manir Dan’iya, in his remarks said the constitution is indeed the reference point of democracy noting also that in the 22 years of Nigeria’s experience in participatory democracy, our gains are more than our challenges. He was optimistic that despite the difficulties our nation is facing with democracy, noting that there will be changes and hopeful that the public hearing in the Northwest geopolitical zone would also impact positively on the constitution amendment process through productive discussion on aspects of the document that have the most bearing on the lives of the people.
He expressed confidence that the public hearing would be exhaustive in bringing out other aspects that require attention and address persistent issue of restructuring, which is without doubt, pivotal to the continued survival of Nigeria as an entity.
Some of those at the public hearing that presented memoranda include Professor Musa Garba Maitafsir of Usmanu Danfodiyo University, who presented a memorandum on Local Government autonomy; former Deputy Vice Chancellor of Usmanu Danfodiyo University, Sokoto, Professor Mansur Ibrahim Sa’id who advocated for Judicial autonomy, saying it is the backbone of an effective constitutional democracy. He recalls that the Judiciary Staff Union of Nigeria has been on strike since last month, protesting for the autonomy of that arm of government.
The Chairman Zakkah and endowment waqaf, Alhaji musa lawal maidoki stressed the need for Nigerian government to practice the alleviation system that is the waqaf system in which he assured the government will definitely finance some project, promote the economic and eradicate poverty in the country with the memorandum on zakkah and endowment system to the alleviation poverty in the government and increase economic growth.
The Former Deputy Governor of Sokoto State, Alhaji Ahmed Mohammed Gusau presented a memorandum on Sokoto state position paper on the review of the 1999 constitution; The Chairman of Ulama Committee, Mallam Umar Isah Magaji presented a memorandum on constitutional review by Council of Ulama Kebbi state chapter. The Chairman of the coalition, Jibril Mohammed presented a memorandum position paper by Zamfara state coalition of NGOs.
The President of the Nigeria Labour congress Comrade Ayuba Wabba represented by the zonal coordinator Labour Congress North West presented a Memorandum submitted by the Nigeria Labour Congress to the National Assembly ad hoc committees on the review of the 1999 constitution. Several Civil Society Organizations and Non Governmental Organizations were also present and presented their memoranda on gender equality and equal participation for women in politics, among other issues.
More than two hundred memoranda were received and over one hundred persons presented their papers representing different groups and individuals at the North West zonal hearing 2, consisting of Sokoto, Kebbi and Zamfara States.
Also, issues on the creation of new local government areas from the existing ones were well pronounced with a coalition of over 300 groups in Sokoto coming together to seek the creation of about 20 more local government areas. The group, led by Hon. Balarabe Shehu Kakale proposed the creation of Shuni Local Government area, Sokoto East Local Government, Danchadi Local government and Gatawa local government among others. The group also sought the granting of autonomy to local governments.
The Arewa Nationalist Movement represented by Engr. Abdulkadir Ibrahim Waziri advocated for the creation of a traditional council that will be independent of the state government. Engr. Abdulkadir recalled the existence of the National Council of Chiefs in Kaduna during the first republic. He, therefore, suggested that the National Council of Chiefs be established to operate independent of the state and their funding should be from the federal government. He also called for the abolition of resource control to state governments, saying all resources belong to the Federal Republic of Nigeria.
Other issues that came to the fore at the public hearing were Electoral reforms and autonomy for the office of the Auditor General of the federation among others.
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