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Constitution Review: Fiscal autonomy, social justice, Child Rights Act top demands of Nigerians


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NIGERIANS have demanded social justice, a revised fiscal allocation, creation of more states, domestication of the Child Rights Act, among others, in the ongoing public hearing of the 1999 Constitution amendment.

The public hearing, which was organised by the Senate Committee on the Review of the 1999 Constitution, is scheduled to hold in 12 centres across the country.

Although the commencement of the session at the Lagos Centre was disrupted due to disagreement between a Lagos State Senator Remi Tinubu and another participant, others at the centre demanded that the revised 1999 Constitution must accommodate social justice, electoral reforms, local government autonomy as well as the domestication of the Child Rights Act.

Human rights activist Femi Falana said the Child Rights Act enacted in 2003 and the Disability Act should be domesticated and implemented in states in the constitution review.

During the public hearing on Thursday held in Gombe State, groups from north-eastern states like Adamawa and Taraba called for the creation of more states.

The leader of the movement for Amana State, Ahmad Sajoh, said that the group had been calling for the creation of two states from Adamawa and Taraba states for years.

He said some independent areas had existed before they were moved into Nigeria from Cameroon, and the residents wished to have a state of their own.

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According to Sajoh, the amended constitution should create Amana and Gongola out of the present Adamawa State and Mambilla from Taraba State.

In Akure Centre, some of the participants called for the specific amendment of sections 91, 112 and 114.

The sections 91, 112 and 124 of the 1999 Constitution speak to the number of House of Assembly members in a state.

The Deputy Speaker of the Osun State House of Assembly, Olufemi Gbogbola, demanded that the number of seats in the State House of Assemblies increase, adding that the country should return to the regional government.

In the South-South public hearing held in Port Harcourt, Governors of Akwa-Ibom and Rivers states Nyesom Wike and Emmanuel Udom called for increased fiscal allocations to oil-producing states.

Wike proposed that the derivation to oil-bearing states should be increased from 13 per cent to 25 per cent, while Udom asked for 100 per cent derivation.

Wike, who Deputy Governor Ipalibo Harry-Banigo represented, said that was the third time the National Assembly would embark on a constitution review without success.

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“We, therefore, need a constitution that addresses the lingering issues, including but not limited to the following: devolution of powers from the centre to the state, fiscal federalism, creation of state police, strengthened unilateral system, increasing derivation fund to not less than 25 per cent, allowing states to create and sustain local government councils and reducing the cost of governance at both federal and state levels,” Wike said.

Udom, who was also represented by a director in the Ministry of Justice Aniete Bassey, said the Akwa Ibom State government was of the position that states should be allowed to enjoy 100 per cent of revenue generated in it and pay at least 20 per cent revenue to the Federal Government and 30 per cent to the local governments from what was generated by the state.

“Income generated by the Federal Government from other sources should be shared at the ratio of 50/ 35/15 between the three tiers of government,” Udom said.

Lukman Abolade is an Investigative reporter with The ICIR. Reach out to him via [email protected], on twitter @AboladeLAA and FB @Correction94

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