National Confab approves 18 more states, Adopts rotational presidency, governorship

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Theconfab-political-parties national conference, on Thursday, approved the creation of 18 additional states across the country, as a way of meeting the yearning and aspirations of the people.

The conference also resolved that the office of the President of Nigeria shall now rotate between the North and South and revolve among the six geopolitical zones of the country.

Delegates also agreed that the office of the state governors shall be rotated among the three senatorial districts of each state, while that of the local government chairmen shall be rotated within the local government areas.

The resolutions were arrived at during the plenary, while considering reports of the committee on political restructuring and forms of government.

The delegates also said the six geopolitical zones should be enshrined in the constitution of the country.

They rejected the proposal that the president should run for a single term of six years and favoured the present arrangement of two terms of four years.

It was also agreed that the president and his deputy should run on a joint ticket, thereby rejecting the recommendation that the president should pick his deputy among the members of the National Assembly after he must have won.

The conference also supported the unicameral form of government. This implies that there would still be the Senate and the House of Representatives.

Though it was also agreed that the states were free to have their constitutions, but the request to change the name of Adamawa State to Gongola State was overwhelmingly rejected by the delegates.

The committee was mandated to primarily examine the extant structure and forms of governments in the context of the peculiar circumstances of Nigeria’s diverse and multi-ethnic setting.

It was also expected to examine Nigeria’s attendant challenges and the need to lay a solid foundation for an all-inclusive and cost-effective system of government which would serve the best interest of Nigeria and Nigerians.

Where the president dies in office, incapacitated, impeached or where he resigns, the conference agreed that the vice president shall operate in acting capacity for a period of 90 days, during which an election to the same office would be conducted.

The decision was taken to help each zone run the full course of the constitutionally allowed tenure without undue disruption, while the delegates also said when a president leaves under any of the circumstances stated earlier, another president would be elected from the same zone where the previous one came from.

The delegates also voted in favour of modified presidential form of government as recommended by the committee, which they described as home-made model of government that combines the attributes of parliamentary and presidential systems.

The president elected under the new system shall exercise full responsibility for his government and shall select ministers, not more than 18, from the six geopolitical zones of the country.

On the creation of new states, delegates also unanimously agreed with the recommendation for the creation of an additional state for the South-East zone, to put it at par with other zones of the country, this is aside the 18 more states proposed.

The proposed states are Aba, from the present Abia State, Katagum from Bauchi State, Ijebu from Ogun State, Amana from former Sardauna Province, Apa from Benue State, Anioma State from Delta State and Savannah from Borno.

Others are Etiti from South-East, Njaba/Anim from Anambra and Imo states, Gurara from Kaduna, Ghari from Kano State, Adada, New Oyo from Oyo State, Orachi from Rivers State, Ogoja from Cross River State and Kanji from Kebbi and Niger states.

It was agreed that the two states from both the South-South and South-West would be determined later.

They rejected a motion that the number of states in Nigeria should not be more than 55.

However, a delegate to the conference, Mr Femi Falana, condemned the decision to create more states.

He said the action was at variance with the decisions and resolutions earlier taken by the conference on the need by government to cut cost.

On states that wanted to merge, the conference said a referendum should be conducted in each of the states with 65 per cent of the eligible voters in each of those states approving merger and that the National Assembly, by resolutions passed by a single majority of membership, must so approve.

In another development, former Attorney-General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Senator Kanu Agabi, has revealed that corruption in Nigeria first reared its ugly head with the state creation exercise of 1966, which he said led to acute shortage of manpower in the country.

The development, he reasoned, culminated in the subsequent appointment of unqualified people into serious positions of authority in the various states created.

Senator Agabi stated this while delivering a lecture, with the theme: “The Challenge of Combating Corruption in Nigeria,” organised by the Law Students Association (LAWSA) of the National Open University of Nigeria (NOUN), in honour of the late Justice of the Supreme Court, Justice Chukwudifu Oputa, at the Public Service Institute, Kubwa Expressway, Abuja.

The former AGF and Minister of Justice stressed that the problem of acute shortage of manpower that came with the creation of states in 1966 was further compounded by the civil war which ravaged the nation between 1966 and 1970 and thus sent the remaining few qualified expatriate packing.