The Sun News

The Osun memorandum on restructuring

Long before the vociferous agitations for restructuring of the Nigerian polity and two years before the Jonathan Constitutional Conference of 2014 the Governor of the state of Osun Ogbeni Rauf Aregbesola had set up in 2012 a 15-member Constitution Review Committee composed of brilliant legal minds and foremost federalism scholars headed by Barrister Gbadegeshin Adedeji a former Attorney General of the state. This was informed by the belief of the State Government of Osun ‘that the need and strident call for restructuring the Nigerian Federal System should not be reduced to mere political sloganeering but seen as a serious issue worthy of consideration by all patriots. It must therefore be rich, robust and backed with concrete and pragmatic proposals.’

After its inauguration the Committee conducted a 3-day public hearing having received numerous memoranda and materials on the subject matter. The Osun Memorandum therefore represents various memoranda, views, agitations, research and publications of various groups, community leaders, individuals, scholars, traditional rulers, jurists and sundry stakeholders in the State of Osun.

Virtually all memoranda submitted are in agreement with the reduction of powers allocated to the Federal Government in the 1999 Constitution [as amended].

Salient points of the Osun Memoranda can be summarised thus: [a] Constitutional recognition should be given to geo-political zones/regions. [b]The geo-political zones/regions should be the Federating Units. [c] The geo-political zones/regions should be created using such parameters as culture, land, nationality and political expediency. [d] More powers should be taken away from the centre to the federating units. [e] Only matters bordering on the collective interest of the generality of Nigerians like foreign affairs, defence, currency, among others, should be left with the Federal Government. [f] A clause for Self Determination should be inserted in the Constitution. [g] The National Assembly should be bi-camera but election to the House of Representatives should reflect extant Electoral Act incorporating Justice Uwais Panel report in its entirety. [h] Senators should be on part-time basis and receive sitting allowances only which should be determined solely by the Revenue Mobilization and Fiscal Commission [RAMFAC] while the salary and emoluments of the members of the House of Representatives should not be higher than that of the most senior public servant in the employment of the Federal Government. [i] Each region, when constitutionally recognised should make and have its own Constitution. [j] In the event of any inconsistency or conflict between the laws of the geo-political zones/regions and those of the Federal Government, it should be resolved by the SUPREME Court of Nigeria. [k] The position of the people of the State of Osun is that only the geo-political zone/region should nominate Senators to the Senate of the Federal Republic.

On the System of Government the Osun Memoranda submits that [a] a true Federal administration based on PARLIAMENTARY system of government should be entrenched rather than the existing presidential system because parliamentary system allows for collaboration and will greatly assist in reducing the cost of governance. [b] Executive powers at the federal level should be exercised by a Presidium of six elected Presidents from each of the six regions for a single term of six years with each president heading the government for one year on a rotational basis while each of them will have ministerial responsibilities on the federal matters for the term. With this arrangement, no region will claim marginalisation.

Rather than create more states existing ones should be synergised into regions which will allow them tap each other’s resource and strength for faster growth. A strong case is made for the recognition of six geo-political zones in the Constitution on grounds that the present strange federal arrangement 36 federating units which are largely unviable is not working, power is over concentrated in the centre and resources allocation formula tilts unjustifiably in favour of the centre thus breeding wastes, corruption, ineptitude and under-development of constituent states.

The cause of true federalism would be well and truly served if the country is returned to the pre-1966 evolutionary path. That is a balanced federal structure which recognises fully the legitimate claims of constituent groups for self determination, and where no single entity among the federating units will be strong or powerful enough to hold the others to ransom, but where each of the federating units is large enough both in terms of size and population as well as of resources, to be viable, self-reliant and dynamic.

The Osun Memoranda recommends the following Zones as Constituent Units of the Nigerian Federation: [1] Northwest Zone-[Sokoto, Zamfara, Katsina, Kano and Kaduna states] [2] North central Zone-[Plateau, Nasarawa, Kwara, Kogi, Niger and Benue states Zone. [3] Northeast Zone-[Yobe, Bornu, Adamawa, Gombe, Taraba and Bauchi states] [4] Southwest Zone-[Oyo, Ogun, Ondo, Osun, Ekiti and Lagos states]. [5]Southeast Zone-[Imo, Enugu, Anambra, Abia and Ebonyin states]. [6] South south Zone- [Cross Rivers, Rivers, Akwa-Ibom, Edo, Delta and Bayelsa states]. Each Zone should have its own Constitution, its own regionally based Military Division/Command and its own Police and should be constitutionally empowered to enter into such agreements on administrative, economic and other activities, as may be approved by the regional legislatures.

While traditional institutions must be respected and cherished as custodians of the people’s traditions, cultures and customs; the fact that there is no central monarchy makes it difficult to pronounce a federal role for traditional roles. However each Regional Assembly should, in pursuance of its residual powers, make such laws as it may deem fit to accord honour and specific responsibility to its traditional institution.

The creation, administration and control of local Government should be left to the States Houses of Assembly whether geo-political zones are recognised or not. Local governments should NEVER be basis of revenue sharing among the federating units.

The Osun Memoranda wants The Land Use Act and the NYSC expunged from the Constitution while the Code of Conduct Bureau be retained.

On Fiscal Federalism, it is the submission of Osun people that each geo-political zone should control its resources while remitting a percentage as may be determined by the zone is contributed to Federal Government. That all matters of taxes, including VAT, shall be the exclusive preserve of the geo-political zone/region except those dealing directly with matters relating to Federal Government.

The Osun Memorandum wants Immunity clause retained but says investigations to misconduct should not wait till the exit of officers concerned while Plea bargain should follow British model which still sends offenders to jail after forfeiture of stolen assets.

On Judiciary, it is the view of Osun people that the present arrangement on the court system is unitary and not conducive to genuine federalism. It is recommended that each region should have its own appellate system up to Regional Supreme Court but that appellate jurisdiction of the federal Court of Appeal and the Federal Supreme Court should relate to matters in the Executive powers of the central government and constitutional matters including election petitions.

It is observed that true federalism is not currently practiced by the Presidency and therefore Executive powers of the Federation shall be vested in the Presidium as earlier indicated. The appointment of Ministers, Special Advisers and other appointments not provided in the Constitution should be pruned down considerably.

Mayoral status for the Federal Capital Authority is recommended as practiced in other countries of the world like the US and Britain while the Administration in the FCT should be through free and fair electoral process in addition to the current democratically managed six council areas.

The Osun Memorandum which covers areas of residency and indigene provisions as well as Gender matters is very comprehensive and all encompassing in its entirety and if implemented will set Nigeria on the path of true federalism based on equality, justice and equity and will remove once and for all the fears of domination, marginalization and factors aiding massive corruption and lawlessness in our polity and governance.

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