The Christian Association of Nigeria, CAN, has expressed hope that the current constitution review exercise will genuinely reflect the aspirations of Nigerians to prove pundits’ negative perceptions wrong.
CAN pledged to support the exercise aimed at ensuring that the current exercise meets national interest by transcending self-seeking interests of the political elite as canvassed in some quarters.
A memorandum on the review of the 1999 constitution submitted to the committee, the President, Christian Association of Nigeria, CAN, Rev. Dr. Samson Olasupo Adeniyi Ayokunle, said, “We believe in a stable, prosperous and virile Nigeria where all citizens exercise their rights, duties and privileges as expected in any vibrant participatory democracy.”
CAN noted that they are convinced that now is the most auspicious of times to consider with proactive mindset in order to address the state, nature and character of the union of Nigeria, adding that it is time to reappraise the federal structure to avoid those elements in the country’s legal and policy frameworks that often make Nigeria appear unitary in orientation.
According to CAN, “We further believe that the conscious devolution of powers shall facilitate effectiveness and efficiency in governance services delivery and [shall] achieve reduction in the overall cost of governance in the country.”
CAN proposed a Confederation of Independent Regions, or a Federation of States or regions, or an innovative combination of both.
The association believed that in order to address and reflect the proposed Confederal/Federal structures, it called for amendments and alterations to Section 2 (6), 3 (1), (2), (3) (4) and (5) and any other relevant sections.
To acknowledge and reflect the heterogeneous character of the Nigerian-state, CAN suggested that there shall be a new subsection the indigenous communities and ethnic nationalities, as captured in the Record of Ethnic Nationalities provided for in a Schedule of the Constitution.
It also suggested true and genuine practice of Federalism in Nigeria beyond the nominal references with unitary orientation and clauses embedded in the Constitution, saying that review of the Legislative Listing by reassigning the contents of the Exclusive, Concurrent and Residual Lists contained in the Second Schedule of the 1999 Constitution.
It added that devolution and decentralization of power and governance system through formal introduction of Geopolitical Zones/Regions into the Constitution with clearly assigned roles (as enshrined in 1963 Constitution), pointing out that CAN support regionalism with each region having Legal and Policy Frameworks encapsulated in a Regional Constitution in conformity with the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria.
The association stated that innovative resolution of challenges associated with Presidential System in heterogeneous Nigeria through the adoption a framework that encapsulates the ethos of strict fixed term tenure, shared vision, joint-problems solving and guarantees stability by reducing partisan political tensions associated with contestations for power.
To this end, CAN proposed the establishment of a systemic Collegiate Presidency, that is, Presidential Council with fixed 12 years tenure, stressing that the proposed Presidential Council shall have each zone represented by an elected Vice-President that serves on the collegiate that shall constitute the core of the Presidency with each taking turns as President in rotational format with each person serving for 2 years at an instance during the cycle.
“The Chairman of the proposed Presidential Council shall fulfill the obligations of Head of State and Head of Government. The other five (or depending on the number of regions eventually adopted) shall in rotation serve and be in-charge of Interior, Foreign Affairs, Resources (Finance), Defence and Transportation. During the cycle after elections, there shall be adequate security of tenure for Council members. This should enable them develop policies for implementation for minimum of 12 years,” CAN opined.
CAN said that without prejudice to the proposal for the removal of the listing of Local Government Areas (LGAs) in any part of the Constitution, it affirmed and recognize their retention as a tier of government attached to the states, geopolitical zone or region and existing at their behest.
Following the increased breaches in security characterized by weak capacity of security and law enforcement agencies to correctly label and manage the security breaches in terms of crimes and criminalities, there is the need to review the constitutional bases of the national security and defence management architecture in order to overcome the associated challenges.
To this end, CAN proposed the need to provide constitutional backing for the operational decentralization and regionalization practiced by security and law enforcement agencies in the country in order to extricate them from the grips of the unitary command and control of the central government by making them reflect the spirit of federalism.
It stressed the need for adequate funding, equipping and continuous training for
effective security and law enforcement to become effective and efficient when the operators are familiar with and operate based on the provisions of legal and policy frameworks.
It noted the need to facilitate legal and judicial reforms as means of making issues of Justice as a logical panacea for most challenges bedeviling the country, the proposed amendments should further reinforce the earlier proposed restructuring of the nature and character of the union.
It suggests the redefinition of Courts of Superior Jurisdiction to accommodate for the proposed Regional/Zonal System, which should equally have their respective appellate structure like Regional High Courts, Regional Court of Appeal, (and Regional Supreme Court); retain the structure of Federal High Courts, Court of Appeal (as the Federal Court of Appeal) and Supreme Court of Nigeria and establishment of Courts based on the respective Constitutions of the Regions.
Repeal Section 6 (6) (c) of the 1999 Constitution.
CAN welcome proactive constitutional reforms and measures that shall further reduce the negativities often associated with elections in Nigeria realizing that the contestations for power and coordination of democratic regime change and succession have continued to contribute negatively to the processes of nation building by exacerbating insecurity, causing political tensions and violence.
CAN also suggested that Electoral Management System should now reflect the proposed Regional – Federal structure, saying that INEC shall handle All Presidential and National Assembly Elections while Regional Electoral Commissions shall handle regional, state and local government council elections.
On immunity, CAN proposed that all constitutional provisions shall reflect the principle of equality before the law, saying that amending the provisions of Section 308 to allow for the introduction that officers covered shall not be construed to mean being immune from investigation for criminal acts committed during their tenure.
It said there is no need to provide for the immunity of the principal officers of NASS since they are representatives of the people subject to the recall provisions of Section 69 of the Constitution.
Constitution review reflects the aspirations of Nigerians – CAN
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