Alas! When the NASS brought out its Agenda, it did not include one important item we, the people, asked: that the NASS members are just too many. Rather, they said we must discuss Devolution of Powers, Recognition of the Geo-political Zones in the Constitution [but NOT as federating units]; Role of Traditional Rulers; Rotation of Executive Offices among Senatorial Districts; Press Freedom; Local Government Autonomy; Abolition of Land Use Act; State Creation; Fiscal Federalism; Scrapping of State Independent Electoral Commissions; Proportional Representation of Women in Elections; Full Franchise for Young People in Nigeria; Right to Vote and be Voted for by Nigerians in the Diaspora; Code of Conduct Bureau; and State Police.
Fair enough. Many of these items are good.
But not too long ago, when Senegal abolished its Senate, former Lagos Governor Bola Tinubu came out to publicly call for the abolition of our own Senate. He was, in a way, echoing our call for a Unicameral Legislature. And since his voice is louder than ours, we now say Aye in echo to what Tinubu said about one legislature; only that we want the ‘best’ of the Senate and the House of Representatives to form the new NASS.
Again, at the beginning of the week, at the Alex Ekwueme Colloquium to mark the 80th birthday of the former Nigerian Vice President, many speakers, especially Chief Edwin Clark, the ‘leader’ of the South South at present, echoed our call for the six geopolitical zones to be the new federating units. And since his voice is louder than ours, we say Aye in echo to what Clark said. But we disagree with him, vehemently, in his call for ‘a federation of equal partners’ (meaning ‘without recourse to population’). No Sir! What’s democracy for? We learned in secondary school that it is the wish of the Majority! Underline that word: MAJORITY!
And speaking of Majorities and Minorities (2Ms), one must empathise with, and pity, one very important person in the national hierarchy; among the top three. You see, that particular officer can aspire to be President of Nigeria, but he cannot technically aspire to be Governor of his home state. In that State, where a National Minority suppresses (or oppresses) a State Minority, the ‘Majority’ MUST always be governor, and the ‘Minority’ (comprising the people of the big person), always a deputy. And unless one is good on luck, that State’s ‘Majority’ governors normally did not die in office. No wonder you see ‘Rotation of Executive Offices among Senatorial Districts’ and ‘State Creation’ among the Agenda of the Constitutional Amendment.
But it has not always been that it was the Majority suppressing the Minority. From personal experience, I have been oppressed as a ‘Majority’. Back in 2000 when I was a Press Secretary at the Presidential Villa, two of my colleagues loved to draw attention to themselves (for me to note) as ‘Minorities’. One was from Adamawa and the other from Cross River. Whenever there was a discussion on the 2Ms, the Cross River colleague would look me in the eye and say: “Don’t put mouth in this discussion; you can’t feel what it means to be Minority.” (And your Mumu Majority Columnist would have to keep quiet.) Oppressed!
So there! Nigerians should know that come 15th and 16th November, the Public Hearing for this round of Constitutional Amendment would be replicated at all the six geo-political zones. Let us all avail ourselves the opportunity to submit memoranda. And if you need any help in forming ideas, we the people repeat some of the items we submitted last May. Use them; there is no copyright:
THE NATIONAL ASSEMBLY: There shall be a Unicameral Legislature. One Single Chamber (for emphasis) that shall be called The National Assembly (NASS). There shall be no Senate and no House of Representatives. Representatives shall be elected from every one million population, to the nearest million. Therefore, using the still-relevant 2006 Census of 140 million Nigerians (www.nigerianstat.gov.ng/nbsapps/Connections/Pop2006.pdf), there shall be a NASS of 140 members (for example, nine members each from Kano and Lagos states, two each from Bayelsa and Nasarawa states). All members shall have to be honourable. Each member shall be entitled to a three-year single term. They shall assemble Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Thursdays, and return to their constituencies Fridays Saturdays and Sundays, worship with constituents in the local mosques and churches, and return to Abuja Mondays. Members shall be entitled to the salary of a Director in the Federal Civil Service.
THE NATIONAL JUDICIARY: There shall be a National Judiciary of honourable people. There shall be no plea-bargain judges. And people learned in religion, both Muslim and Christian, should be appointed among judges. So are people known and adjudged to be honest (two retired military Generals come to mind). People so appointed can have lawyers as Special Assistants to assist. We shouldn’t be held to ransom by lawyer-types. Don’t let them use Latin to bamboozle you! Fait accompli!
THE NATIONAL PRESIDENCY: There shall be a National Presidency of six members, one each from each Geo-Political Zone. Each Member of the Presidential Council shall be elected for a single three-year term. Chairmanship of this Council (earning, therefore, the title His Excellency Mr. President) shall be in rotation alphabetically by Zone (NC, SE, NE, SS, NW, SW) and by region (North, South) for a period of a single six-month term. And all Villa cutleries shall be ‘Made in Nigeria’.
NATIONAL STRUCTURE: States and Local Governments shall be abrogated, and the six GEO-POLITICAL ZONES shall be the new Federating Units. Zonal Capitals shall be situated at a state capital which approximates the geographical centre of the Zone (for example, Gusau for the North West and Gombe for the North East). Then, every two million chunk of the population, to the nearest two millions, shall constitute a PROVINCE. Therefore, while the present Nasarawa and Bayelsa states shall become Provinces automatically, the present Lagos and Kano states shall have four Provinces each (having over nine million populations).
NATIONAL RESOURCES: “Dangote: Made in Kano, Enjoyed Around the Nation”. By all means let there be Fiscal Federalism, Fiscal Regionalism, Fiscal Provincialism. Let there be Resource Control. Let them have their oil wealth. God gave them. So Kano shall then, for example, claim The Dangote Resource. Plus his GCON. All taxes, revenues and collectables from any Dangote venture (or Dantata and Sawoe, for that matter) shall be shared between the geographical location of the venture and Kano State, which produced the Entrepreneurship Resource. God gave Kano. Also.
NATIONAL IMAGE: Any criminal Hausaman arrested in Saudi Arabia for pick-pocketing or black-magic-ing, announce his name, his father’s village, his province. Name him, shame him. Similarly, let us know the names of the Ibos on death row in Indonesia. Shame their villages. The Edo girls prostituting in Italy. The 419 Yorubaman in London. Name them, shame them.
We, the People say so!