Why we rejected single tenure, state police- Ihedioha

Hon Emeka Ihedioha

Deputy Speaker of the House of Representatives and Chairman of the ad-hoc committee on the Review of the 1999 Constitution, Emeka Ihedioha, explained on Monday why his committee did not adopt proposals on state police, single tenure of office and immunity for the President, Vice President, Governors and Deputy Governors.
He said the position of his committee on those issues and many others was a reflection of the views and position of the generality of Nigerians during the peoples’ public sessions conducted by the House last November.
Ihedioha spoke at the Protea Hotel, Abuja, on the review of proposed amendment to the 1999 Constitution organised by Civil Society Organisations (CSOs).
Explaining the process adopted by the committee in arriving at its report, Ihedioha stressed that it was all-inclusive, thorough and painstaking.
“As has been clarified on many occasions, the work of the Committee was designed in such a manner that it relied on the input of Nigerians to arrive at its decisions. And the Civil Society Organisations have continued to play major roles in all the stages of the process so far.
“The House ad-hoc Committee on Constitution Review conducted a painstaking consultative process with major stakeholders as joint-organisers.
“These stakeholders include the NLC, TUC, NUJ, NUT, CSOs, NULGE, NCWS, youth and students organisations, NBA etc. The results (of the peoples’ public sessions) were collated publicly with all the stakeholders present.
“The results have been presented and published for people to dispute and correct. In the absence of any convincing reason to the contrary, we stand by these results.
“Standing by the results as collated means that the Committee reflected the decisions of Nigerians during those sessions.
“The recommendations of the Committee are not the personal views of members of the Committee or the Leadership of the House. They are the collective views of Nigerians,” he added.
On abolishment of the state/local government joint account proposed by his committee, the Deputy Speaker said 295 federal constituencies voted in favour whereas 62 voted for its retention while three absented.
According to him, although many “celebrated pundits and constitutional lawyers have repeatedly canvassed that local government should be a state responsibility, further questions put forward to determine the views of the public on this issue proved the outspoken elite wrong.
“On the second question, ‘Should the Constitution be amended so that the process to create local government areas now rest exclusively with the states, such that states assume responsibility for the funding of local governments,’ the people voted overwhelmingly to reject this proposal by 276 federal constituencies to 78 with 6 abstentions.
“On the question, ‘Should the local government councils be accorded the status of a third tier of government properly so called with its own legislative list?’ 291 federal constituencies answered ‘Yes’ in support and 66 federal constituencies returned a ‘No’ answer with 3 abstentions.
“And for another question on local government autonomy, ‘Should the Constitution be amended to deny revenue allocation to unelected local government councils?’ 277 federal constituencies agreed, while 70 federal constituencies disagreed with 13 abstentions.
“On the issue of tenure, the question, ‘Should there be a defined tenure for local government chairmen/councilors in the Constitution?’ received an almost unanimous answer in agreement, as 331 federal constituencies, voted ‘Yes’, while 26 constituencies voted ‘No’ with 3 abstentions’.
Ihedioha said Nigerians in their numbers supported the abolition of State Independent Electoral Commissions (SIECs), as 261 federal constituencies supported their abrogation while only 95 constituencies rejected it with four abstentions.
The Deputy Speaker said such resounding views of the people could not have been tempered with by his committee.
“We have no choice but to reflect the manifest wishes and mandate of Nigerians on these issues. No doubt, beneficiaries of the current system may think otherwise.
“As a matter of fact local government autonomy may be decidedly against federalist principles. But Nigerians have chosen the type of federalism they want, guided by their experiences.
“It is for Nigerians to defend their choice and make sure their voices count. We have done our duty,” he said.
On the issue of removal of immunity, Ihedioha said 225 federal constituencies voted to remove criminal immunity but retain only civil immunity for President, Vice President, Governors and Deputy Governors.
He added that 132 federal constituencies rejected this position with three abstentions.
“Once again we did our duty. If the Senate or the House of Representatives or State Houses of Assembly reject this clear decision of the people, so be it. It is again for Nigerians to hold those it elected accountable,” he added.
On state police, he said, “The Nigerian people were almost unanimous in rejecting the establishment of State Police in Nigeria.”
He said also that 307 federal constituencies voted ‘No’ to the question: ‘Should Section 214 (1) be amended to enable the establishment of State Police?’
“Only 53 federal constituencies supported this. To a further question, ‘Should Nigeria have one police organisation which shall be constituted in such manner as to give state Governors control over the Commissioner of Police in their respective states?’ the answer was a resounding ‘No’ by 237 federal constituencies, while 53 said ‘Yes’, with 70 abstentions.
“Nigerians voted overwhelmingly to retain the current police structure and system as in the Constitution by 292 to 62 federal constituencies with 6 abstentions. As a result of this vote, the Committee did not recommend the establishment of State Police.”
On tenure of office, Ihedioha said 245 federal constituencies rejected the question of a single tenure for Chief Executives while 110 supported same with five abstentions.
A further question, ‘Should the (4 years) two term tenure provision for the office of the President or office of Governor be retained in the Constitution?’, Ihedioha said, elicited a positive response from 263 constituencies while only 95 voted ‘No’ with two abstentions.
“With this level of unanimity, it was not difficult for the Committee to adopt the current 4-year renewable tenure and to reject the single term proposal of either 5, 6 or 7 years. This is the clear position of Nigerians on this issue,” he stressed.

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