NIGERIA: Participants Adopt True Federalism with States as Federating Units

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 The National Conference yesterday adopted the recommendation of the Committee on Politics and Governance that Nigeria should adopt a true federal structure with the states operating as the federating units. With this, it was agreed that the creation of local government areas be done by the states as they deem necessary.

However, decision on the establishment of the structure, composition, finance and functions of local government councils were put on hold pending discussions on the report of the Committee on Political Restructuring.

On the right to self determination, delegates agreed that minority groups that wish to exist as separate states and meet the criteria for state creation should be allowed to do so under the instrumentality of the relevant laws and procedures as part of their right to internal self determination.

In making this proposal, conference said it recognised the unconditional rights and freedom of every and any other ethnic nationality that considers itself as unjustly subjected to real and perceived injustice and marginalisation to join their kith and kin through the instrumentality of relevant laws.

Conference also proposed stiff penalties for elected public office holders who move from one political party to another before the expiration of their mandates.

It said such elected public office holders who abandoned their parties midway for new ones without cogent reasons are to loose their seat.

It was also resolved that inducement of voters with money and materials on Election Day should be treated as a criminal offence and perpetrators severely punished. The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) and the State Independent Electoral Commission (SIEC) are to fashion ways to ensure that physically challenged persons, especially lepers, are registered and actually vote in elections.

These were parts of the recommendations adopted by the conference delegates during the debate and consideration of the report of the Committee on Politics and Governance led by Professor Jerry Gana with Chief Olu Falae as Co-chairman.

Delegates also accepted the proposal that government should not fund any political party, but that they should be funded through membership subscription, levies, donations, investments, sales of party cards and other fund raising activities

The proposal that unelected chairmen of local governments often referred to as Transition Committee Chairmen or such unelected representatives at the local government areas should be sanctioned by withholding the statutory allocations pending the conduct of election into such local governments was also accepted by the conference.

On anti-corruption and ethics in governance, members accepted the proposal that Anti-corruption Agencies (ACAs), especially the EFCC and the ICPC, should take up any corruption case that is in the public domain without waiting for a petition.

It said refusal by the anti-corruption agencies to act on any corruption cases that has come to their knowledge should constitute an act of misconduct, criminal negligence or dereliction of duty that will attract appropriate sanctions.

Conference also accepted the proposal that all anti-corruption agencies should be empowered to invite anybody living above their means to explain their source of wealth, and if the agencies are not satisfied with explanations to the acquisition of such wealth, the person shall be charged to court.

Upon conviction, the person shall forfeit the entire proceeds from corruption and be sentenced to half the prison term attached to the sum of the money or its equivalent.   

It also resolved that asset declaration form submitted to the Code of Conduct Bureau, should be made accessible to the general public. Such declaration of assets by public office holders should be before and after assumption of office.

The proposal that a special account be opened and designated as Infrastructure Development Fund (IDF) into which all recovered proceeds of corruption shall be paid into was adopted.

Conference also agreed to transfer the responsibility for ensuring compliance, on the FOI Act from the office of the Attorney General to the National Human Rights Commission.         

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