July 3, 2014 – The National Conference sitting in Abuja on Thursday voted to retain bicameral legislature instead of the unicameral proposed by the committee in its report.
Delegates also approved the scrapping of Joint State and Local Government Accounts; to be replaced with a State Revenue Mobilization, Allocation and Fiscal Commission. The body would be expected to have as members, representatives of local government areas and a chairman nominated by the state governor for confirmation by the state House of Assembly.
In addition to the functions conferred on the local government councils as specified in the Fourth Schedule of the 1999 Constitution as amended, a State House of Assembly may by law, confer other functions on the local government.
Henceforth, and except otherwise overturned, Conference adopted a recommendation to confer financial autonomy on State Houses of Assembly as a way of freeing them from direct control by the executive.
Conference agreed that the Constitution shall fix the tenures for local government councils. It was also voted that for functionality, local government should be politically and economically independent. Delegates voted overwhelmingly on the proposal that each state of the federation should have its own constitution which of course would be subservient to the Federal Constitution.
While agreeing that the Constitution should be amended to allow for less onerous process for state creation, Conference specifically approved the creation of an additional state for the South East zone, “in the spirit of reconciliation, equity and justice.”
As soon as the unanimous decision was taken, the hall erupted in celebration as delegates from the South East went around shaking hands and thanking other delegates for their support.
Henceforth, it said state creation should be on the basis of parity between the geo-political zones to ensure equality of zones. On the creation of new states, Conference said such aspiration must be backed by the potential viability of the proposed state in terms of economic potential, human natural and material resources as well as minimum land and water mass.
The envisaged state, delegates agreed, must have cultural and historical antecedent, with strong cultural affinity amongst its population while the component should be contiguous.
In addition, Conference adopted the recommendation that for any new state to be created such a new state must have a minimum population of one million persons. Conference approved in principle, the eventual creation of 18 additional states across the country as a way of meeting the yearning and aspirations of the people.
During consideration of additional recommendations, Conference unanimously adopted a proposal that Nigeria reverts to her old National Anthem, “which is a more credible symbol of unity, peace and prosperity.” Instantly, delegates were up on their feet and in unison sang the first stanza of the old National Anthem which if adopted eventually, would become the new anthem.
It was equally resolved that the right to self-determination by the states as federating units should be extended to ethnic nationalities within the states if they so desired. As a policy item, the Federal Government was urged to set up a new commission to address the plight of indigenes of the Federal Capital Territory.
At the same time, Conference said the Local Content Act Provision should be extended to the original citizens of the Federal Capital as it relates to procurement within the territory. However, attempts by some delegates to increase the number of senators from the Federal Capital Territory from one to two was opposed to and voted out.
As a way of improving the wellbeing of many Nigerians, Conference called for adoption of fiscal federalism. As the Conference winds down on its activities, delegates resolved on the need for modalities for entrenchment of referendum in the Constitution.