The National Conference will today present its report to President Goodluck Jonathan at a ceremony in Abuja.
The Chairman of the Conference, Idris Kutigi will lead the other members of the leadership as well as the 492 delegates to present the document, which is in three volumes, at a ceremony scheduled for 3p.m. at the National Judicial Institute, NJI.
The delegates held a dinner Wednesday night to mark the end of the confab. The dinner was attended by Vice President Namadi Sambo, who assured that the outcome of the Conference would be utilized to settle the nation’s myriad problems.
“The deliberations of the Conference will be utilized to settle the nation’s problems,” Mr. Sambo said, stressing that it was convoked by Mr. Jonathan because of his belief that there was no alternative to dialogue.
The vice president expressed joy at the understanding exhibited by the delegates while the Conference lasted and that Nigerians and the Federal Government would remain grateful to them. He said the delegates succeeded in producing a living document.
The Assistant Secretary, Media and Communications, Akpadem James, told PREMIUM TIMES on Wednesday night that top government officials, including Mr. Namadi, President of the Senate, David Mark, Speaker of the House of Representatives, Aminu Tambuwal, and the Chief Justice of Nigeria, Aloma Muktar, would attend the closing ceremony today.
The Conference commenced March 17 when it was inaugurated by Mr. Jonathan.
It was originally billed to last three months but was granted about one month extension.
It concluded committee sittings and plenary sessions in mid-July after which delegates went on a short break to enable the conference’s secretariat compile the report.
The delegates returned to approve the draft report after which it finally closed last Thursday following a motion by Second Republic Attorney General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Richard Akinjide, and seconded by Yadoma Mandara, who was the youngest delegate.
The convocation of the Conference was packaged by a 13-member Presidential Advisory Committee on National Dialogue headed by Femi Okurounmu, a former senator. The Committee submitted its 69-member report last December.
Apart from its 492 membership drawn from different spheres of life, the Conference was supervised and managed by a secretariat whose six members were also nominated by the Federal Government.
The others, besides Mr. Kutigi, were Bolaji Akinyemi, (deputy chairman), Valerie-Janette Azinge (Secretary), Akilu Ndabawa (Assistant Secretary, Conference Proceedings), Mahmood Yakubu (Assistant Secretary, Administration and Finance), and Akpandem James (Assistant Secretary, Media and Communications).
During the period the Conference sat, its stability was tested by some thorny national issues, which included resource control, derivation principle, Land Use Act, national security among others.
However, at the end of it all, the Conference made some far-reaching recommendations.
Below are the highlight of its recommendations made compared with those of the previous conferences, namely the 1994/1995 Constitutional Conference (CC) convoked by late head of state, Sani Abacha and the National Political Reform Conference, NPRC, convoked by former President Olusegun Obasanjo.
Creation of 18 New States
2014 National Conference: Recommended the creation of 18 new states (three per geo-political zone).. Among them are Apa, Edu, Kainji, Katagum, Savannah, Amana, Gurara, Ghari, Etiti (South East zone), Aba, Adada, Njaba-Anim, Anioma, Orashi, Ogoja, Ijebu and New Oyo. Apart from the 18 proposed states, the Conference also recommended one new states for the South East to make the zone have equal number of states with the other zones except the North West which has seven. It also recommended that states willing to merge can also do so based on certain conditions.
2005: NPRC said 36 states structure is too expensive and that the situation will become worse given the number of requests for the creation of new states some of which would need to be met for the sake of peace and stability of the economy.
1994/1995 Constitutional Conference recommended the creation of 20 new states namely Gombe, Apa, Nasarawa, Hadejia, Tiga, Zamfara, Sardauna, Katagum, Ghari, Kainji, Bayelsa, Orashi, Anioma, Ekiti, Ebonyi, New Oyo, Ogoja, Itai, Ijebu-Remo and Rivers East. Some of the states have since been created.
Resource Control/Derivation Principle/Fiscal Federalism
2014 NC: The Conference noted that assigning percentage for the increase in derivation principle, and setting up Special Intervention Funds to address issues of reconstruction and rehabilitation of areas ravaged by insurgency and internal conflicts as well as solid minerals development, require some technical details and consideration. The Conference therefore recommends that Government should set up a Technical Committee to determine the appropriate percentage on the three issues and advise government accordingly.
2005 NPRC: Recommended an increase in the level of derivation from the present 13% to 17% in the interim pending the report of the expert commission. Massive and urgent programme of development of infrastructure and human resources of the Niger Delta should be embarked upon by the Federal Government.
1994/1995 CC: It said in determining the formula, the National Assembly shall take into account allocation principles especially those of population, equality of states, internal revenue generation, land mass, terrain as well as population density provided that the principle of Derivation shall be constantly reflected in any approved formula as being not less than 13% of the Revenue accruing to the Federation Account directly.
The various mineral resources should be controlled and managed by the Government of the Federation through an arrangement which involves Oil Producing States and Communities, in particular, the rights and privileges which the Mineral and Mining Act of 1999 confers on States, Local Governments, Communities and land owners should equally be extended to the case of petroleum resources
Public Finance/Revenue Allocation
2014: That the sharing of the funds to the Federation Account among the three tiers of government should be done in the following manner: Federal Government – 42.5%, State Governments – 35% and Local Governments 22.5%.
That the percentage given to population and equality of states in the existing sharing formula be reduced while that assigned to Social Development sector be increased to a much higher percentage so as to ensure accelerated development of all parts of the country.
2005 NPRC: No specific recommendation, but advised that the number of local government in a state should not count as a criterion for revenue allocation
1994/1995 Constitutional Conference: The National Assembly shall determine the Revenue Allocation Formula which formula shall each time remain in force for a period of not less than five years from the day the bill shall be assented to by the president.
Forms of Government
2014 NC: Recommended the Modified Presidential System, a home-made model of government that effectively combines the presidential and parliamentary systems of government.
The president shall pick the vice president from the Legislature.
The President should select not more than 18 ministers from the six geo -political zones and not more than 30% of his ministers from outside the Legislature. Reduce Cost of governance by pruning the number of political appointees and using staff of ministries where necessary.
The Conference recommended the retention of Presidential System of Government.
The number of ministries at the centre should be reduced to between 15 and 18 and to a maximum of 10 at the state level. Similarly, appointment of Special Advisers should be pegged to six and not more than three at the state level. Appointment of special assistants should be made from within the public service.
1994/1995: Recommended presidential system and federalism.
2014 National Conference: Bi-cameral legislature, but all elected members of the legislative arms of all the tiers of government should serve on part-time basis
2014 NC: Recommended that the presidential power should rotate between the North and the South and among the six geo-political zones while the governorship will rotate among the three senatorial districts in a state.
2005 NPRC: The principle of power rotation should be enshrined in the Constitution so that executive positions rotate at federal, state and local governments. The office of the president, governors and local government should rotate in such a way that all the geo-political zones in the federation, states, local governments, as the case may be should have a chance to produce a president, governor and local government. It should not however be included in the constitution because of the emotive nature of the issue.
There should be legislation by the National Assembly to ensure that the office of the president should rotate between the north and the south as well as amongst the geo-political zones of the country on the basis of equity, justice and fairness. The principle should be applicable to states and local government on senatorial basis for the governorship and at ward or district for the position of chairman of LGs.
1994/1995 CC: Rotational Presidency should be enshrined in the Constitution. The same logic should apply to rotation of the governors and chairmen of LGs. It recommended multiple vice presidents with a way to ensure that at least one comes from the same zone as the president.
2014 NC: Local Government will no longer be the third tier of government. The federal and states are now to be the only tiers of government. States can now create as many local governments they want. The Joint State/Local Government Account be scrapped and in its place the establishment of a State RMAFC with representatives of LG and a Chairman nominated by the Governor. The Constitution should fix the tenure for Local Government Councils at three years. Conference recommends the scrapping of State Independent Electoral Commission, SIECs.
2005 NPRC: The Conference retained three levels of government comprising federal, state and local government councils
1994/1995 CC: The Local government shall be a third tier of government in Nigeria, but in order to save costs, a local government council shall consist of the Chairman, Vice Chairman and elected Councillors without a legislative arms.
Each State shall maintain a special account to be called “State Joint Local Government Account” into which shall be paid all allocations to the Local government councils of the state from the Federation Account. State Houses of Assembly to create local governments and the life of local government officials will be three years.
2014: The immunity clause should be removed if the offences attract criminal charges to encourage accountability by those managing the economy.
2005 NPRC: Recommended that immunity clause as enshrined in Section 308 should be amended to remove immunity provision for crimes bothering on corrupt practices, economic and financial crimes and other serious offences such as suicide and murder.
2014 NC: It recommended that every Nigerian who meets the specified condition in the Electoral Act should be free to contest elections as an independent candidate.
2005 NPRC: Recommended the recognition of Independent candidate in election
1994/1995: The Conference recommended that Independent Candidature should be recognized and should be in the constitution
2014 NC: The creation of the office of the Accountant General (Director-General) of the Federation as a distinct and separate office from the Office of the Accountant General of the Federal Government. The Office of the Accountant General of the Federation shall oversee the accruals of revenue into and disbursement from the Federation Account as and when due; and shall administer these funds as required by the Constitution, while the office of the Accountant General of the Federal Government shall oversee the accounts of the Federal Government.
2005: Separation of the offices of the Attorney General and Minister of Justice. The Attorney General for the Federation shall be appointed by the President for a single term of six years subject to the confirmation by the Senate
2014: A Special Courts to handle corruption cases should be established in the light of undue prolongation in the trials and prosecution of corruption cases in the regular courts. A non-conviction-based asset forfeiture law should be enacted with broad provisions to deal with all issues of proceeds of crimes by the anti-graft agencies and the courts.
2005: Special Courts should be set up for prosecution of cases emanating from corrupt practices and such cases should not last more than 90 days. Secondly, it recommended that the authorities should Investigate and confiscate corruptly acquired wealth of past rulers and bring them to justice.
Re-introduction of the War Against Corruption and EFCC and Code of Conduct should be made members of Screening Committees at all levels of government to screen all candidates aspiring to political office before elections
Land Tenure Act
2014 NC: The Land Tenure Act should remain in the Constitution but be amended to take care of those concerns, particularly on compensation in Section 29 (4) of the Act to read “land owners should determine the price and value of their land based on open market value
1994/1995 CC: Recommended that the Land Use Decree should be reviewed in line with the recommendations made by the Nigeria Law Reform Commission in 1991. It rejected the suggestion that the law should be completely abrogated.
2014 NC: Re-introduce the old National Anthem
2104 NC: The Conference recommended that there will be no government sponsorship of Christian and Muslim pilgrimages to the holy lands. It also resolved that churches and mosques should begin to pay tax to government.