Thursday, 09 April 2015 12:17

Will the APC Implement Nigerian National Conference Recommendations?

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Representative at the Nigerian National ConferenceA change of government usually brings with it, a corresponding change in the status quo in a sane society. I have pondered endlessly with the idea of the 2014 Nigerian National conference going to waste both in financial and time basis.

The 2014 national conference set back the tax payer by 7 billion Naira.

What then should we do with all the members have recommended so far?. Should we discard all the great insights and recommendations they made to the dustbin of history?.

What is the exact position of the opposition party -APC now that they have won the mandate to lead Nigeria for the next four years, especially with regards to all the recommendations made at that conference?.

The APC has not come out and categorically as a political party, condemned or disagree with any of the recommendations made at that conference.

Some chieftains of the APC had come out and made utterances that allude to the fact that some entities within its fold do not support the idea of a national conference and its possible outcomes.

Firstly, they tagged it diversionary, deceptive and dishonest.
One would be right if one insinuates that the 2014 national conference was a waste of time and resources.

In fact it could be called a bazaar and jamboree organized to compensate individuals who have mostly become irrelevant in the Nigerian political sphere.

Right now, the irrelevancy of that conference has been confirmed. This is so true especially when one considers the fact that the APC presidential candidate and now president-elect, General Muhammadu Buhari, said on March 12, exactly 16 days prior to the 2015 Presidential elections that the conference was a waste.

Buhari reiterated while speaking at a town hall meeting with some youths at the MUSON Centre in Lagos, Buhari said: “This government voted N7 billion to do a national conference, which is the duty of the National Assembly”. This simple quote has done enough to lay credence to the fact the APC will not implement any of the recommendations of the conference.

Therefore, this can only mean that the conference was just another avenue to perpetuate the wasteful and mismanagement attitude that has now become peculiar to leadership and politics in Nigeria.

Whether sincerely instituted or not, the bottom line remains that that conference raised and addressed so many socio-political issue that have bedraggled Nigeria’s journey to progress and issues that have derailed our economic emancipation train.

I ask, does it mean that the new kid on the block called the APC does not think that some of the recommendations made by the members of this conference should be enshrined into the policies of its political party? A brief look below will guide you and make you understand that some of the issues raised and recommended at that conference reached, are pertinent.

Major recommendations
The National Conference came up with a number of far-reaching recommendations which, if implemented, will pave the way for rapid development of the country. The recommendations include:

Power rotation among the six geo-political zones
It also recommended that 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.

Abolishing local govt as a tier of govt
According to the confab, the Local Government will no longer be the third tier of government. The federal and state governments are now to be the only tiers of government. States can now create as many local governments as 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.

No immunity for criminal charges
The immunity clause for president, vice-president, governors and deputy governors should be removed if the offences attract criminal charges to encourage accountability.

No more govt sponsorship of pilgrimages
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 taxes.
Creation of new states

Another recommendation is the creation of 18 new states (three per geo-political zone) and one new state 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.

Resource control/derivation principle/fiscal federalism
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.

Reduction of FG allocation to 42.5%
It also recommended 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.

Forms of govt
Delegates 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 per cent 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.

Anti-corruption special courts
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.

Other recommendations
Other recommendations include the re-introduction of the old National Anthem, state police, independent candidacy and establishment of special courts to handle corruption cases as well as supreme courts at the state level.

A thorough look at all the recommendations made by the members of the 2014 CONFAB above, should make one understand that we indeed know what our problems are and also know how to solve them.

General Muhammadu Buhari has said in the past that the conference was a wasteful exercise and also a duty that should have been performed by the national assembly. The point remains that the national assembly have not done so as at now. The national assembly remains one aspect of the status quo that needs to be restructured. It is indeed almost impossible for one to be the judge of their own case and still remain fair. Let us make sure that the recommendations made at the CONFABN does not go to waste.

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Johnson-Ehidonye Patrick Sopuruchukwu Bernard

Mr. Johnson-Ehidonye Patrick Sopuruchukwu Bernard is Political activist and social critic on Nigerian, African and World affairs. Ambassador at the University of the People, Pasadena California. U.S.A