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Constitution Review: Senate mulls five-year tenure for President

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Rising from its two day retreat in Asaba, the Delta State Capital, the Nigerian Senate yesterday proposed a five year single tenure for the President, Vice President, Governors and Deputy Governors in order to deepen democratic culture.

Among other issues tinkered with are: removal of immunity clause, Financial autonomy for the State Assemblies, creation of more states, judicial reforms and indigeneship and section 42 of the Constitution, devolution of power for true federalism and state police among other things. 

Removal of Immunity Clause would make Mr. President and his Vice, Governors and their deputies liable to criminal prosecution even while in office which pundits say would ensure accountability. This is facing severe criticism from supporters of status quo who claim it would distract state chief executives and the President.

Financial autonomy for the state Assemblies would launch them on the state first line charge which will ensure full independence of the state legislatures with consequent capacity to oversight the executive arm of government thereby ensuring good governance unlike what is presently obtained where state assemblies are lackeys to the state Governors at the detriment of the people being represented.

Quest for state creation would see the South-East geo-political state equate with five other geo-political zones with an additional state making it six while creation of additional states would be based on necessity and viability.

Devolution of power would divest too much power at the centre to the states which would enable the states to develop at their paces and compete accordingly unlike what is presently obtained where states are spoon-fed from Abuja with oil revenue monthly.

Advocates of state police are of the view that security could only be guaranteed with locals involved in policing their communities and states, rather than Federal police who hardly understand their immediate environments where they are alienated. Opponents of state police see it as recipe for disintegration of the nation.

See Communique below. 



The 2011 Retreat of the Senate of the Federal Republic was held at the Le-Meridian Ibom Hotels andGolf Resort, Uyo, Akwa Ibom State, between Sunday 24th and Friday 28th June, 2012 with the aim of stock-taking of performance; enabling the Senate to be abreast of the socio-economic and political challenges of local communities through direct interaction; and intervening through targeted legislation. The theme of the retreat was “The National Assembly & the National Security: Securing the Future for Development.

Among the dignitaries in attendance was His Excellency Dr Goodluck Ebere Jonathan, GCFR-President of Nigeria, His Excellency Senator David Mark, GCON-President of the Senate, His Excellency Rt. Hon. Aminu Waziri Tambuwal, CFR-Speaker of the House of Representatives, His Excellency Senator Ike Ekweremadu, CFR-Deputy President of the Senate, Governors of Akwa Ibom, Bayelsa, Borno and Niger States, Distinguished Members of the Senate, former Senators, Honorable Ministers, Sultan of Sokoto, Senior Government Officials as well as some representatives of the International community.

The objectives of the retreat among others were to:

  • Improve the knowledge base of Senators so as to build their technical capacity to participate more effectively in governance;
  • Enable the Senate to mediate in conflict areas and build bridges of accommodation and tolerance within and between communities; and
  • To provide a learning experience to Senators to understand the dynamics of the threats to security and provide the basis for legislation and policy actions that would address such threats.

During the opening ceremony, speeches were delivered by the Governor of Akwa Ibom, while goodwill messages were delivered by the National Chairman of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), representative of the Former Senators’ Forum, Speaker House of Representatives and President of the Senate. The President, Federal Republic of Nigeria, Dr. Goodluck Ebele Jonathan declared the retreat open.

A total of five papers were delivered by eminent resource persons and discussed by selected team of high caliber Nigerians from various fields of endeavor. The presentations were as follows: National Assembly and Contemporary Security Challenges by Mr. Ekpenyong Ita, Director General State Security Services; Religion, Politics and National Security by Bishop Mathew Hassan Kukah, Catholic Bishop of Sokoto Diocese; Parliamentary Oversight and imperative of good governance by His Excellency Ghali Umar Na’aba (CFR), Former Speaker, House of Representatives, Federal Republic of Nigeria; The Necessary Regulatory, Policy and Technical Framework for enhancement of Nigeria’s Environmental Security by Prof. Hillary I Inyang; and the Role of Parliaments in Regional and International Security by Ambassador Martin Uhomoibhi, Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

 v Observations

After exhaustive deliberations, the following observations were made

  1. That effective national security is crucial for meaningful sustainable development in Nigeria;
  2. That there is a collapse of positive value and allegiance to national symbol and core values;
  3. That causes of current wave of insecurity are multi-faceted and include among other things poverty, unemployment, illiteracy, ethnicity, religion, etc;
  4. That the current level of insecurity has impacted negatively on the Nigerian economy and especially the northern part;
  5. Those issues of justice, corruption and parliamentary oversight require greater attention in order to enhance effective national security;
  6. That the various efforts of the Federal Government In containing the current insecurity in the country are noted and commendable;
  7.          That countering terrorism and insecurity in the country require new legislations and re-examination of existing legal framework on security;
  8. That partnering with the international community to curb incidences of insecurity and terrorism is imperative especially given the international dimensions and connections of terrorist organizations;
  9. That in addition to the current measures being pursued by government, there is need for dialogue as feasible solution to addressing and resolving the Boko-Haram attacks, while the sects should be encouraged to embrace dialogue as well;
  10. That there is a need to re-examine how the judiciary adjudicate on cases of terrorism;
  11. That States with the severest environmental degradation seem to have been worst hit by security challenges;
  12. That some clerics and politicians have aggravated the security situation through hate and divisive utterances; and
  13. That the security challenges facing Nigeria, though enormous, are surmountable.

 v Resolutions

From the Foregoing, the retreat resolves as follows:

  1. That the National Assembly should continue to support increased funding for security agencies with greater focus on intelligence gathering;
  2. That the Federal Government should intensify measures to create more employment opportunities, reduce poverty and inequality;
  3. That the Senate should strengthen its will and independence to perform oversight functions more effectively by avoiding areas of compromise with MDAs;
  4. That Government at all levels should increase the index of capture in expenditure related to provision of basic infrastructure such as power, water, roads, etc in order to improve quality of life and reduce social discontent;
  5. That good and effective governance must be entrenched through effective implementation and monitoring of Appropriation laws;
  6. That the government should increase its logistic support for Borno State and other states affected by security challenges;
  7.             That laws relating to insecurity and terrorism should be strengthen;
  8. That a Witness Protection Law be enacted to encourage citizens to volunteer useful information about perpetrators of insecurity;
  9. That a law to monitor and regulate preaching should be enacted;
  10. That all Nigerians should be re-oriented to be united, resolute and focused on building a stronger country;
  11. That the Federal Government should create special courts for terrorism crimes;
  12. That the war on corruption should be intensified from all quarters;
  13. That the Federal Government should enhance bi-lateral and multi-lateral networking in curbing terrorism;
  14. That government at all levels are called upon to increase support to communities that are affected by environmental degradation through the effective deployment and use of ecological fund; and
  15. xv.That the Senate resolves to take expeditious actions to facilitate the implementation of the resolutions of the 2012 retreat.

v Conclusion

In conclusion, President of the Senate expressed profound appreciation of the Senate to President Goodluck Jonathan; the Speaker of the House of Representatives; the Host Governor, Chief Godswill Akpabio; Governor of Bayelsa State, Rt. Hon. Henry S. Dickson; Governor of Borno State, Alhaji Kashim Shetima; and Governor of Niger State, Dr Mu’azu Babangida Aliyu. The President of the Senate is also thankful to the host of Resource Persons that participated in the retreat. These included Chairman of PDP, Alhaji Bamanga Tukur; Chairman of CAN, Chief Adebisi Akande; Representative of Chairman of CPC, Prince Tony Momoh; the Sultan of Sokoto, His Eminence, Sa’ad Abubakar III; the Catholic Bishop of Sokoto Diocese, Bishop Mathew Hassan Kukah and the primate of Anglican Church of Nigeria, Most Reverend Nicholas Okoh. The presence of other Resource Persons such as Chief Oba Otudeko; Former President of Senate, Sen. Joseph Wayas; Rt.. Hon. Ghali Umar Na’ab (CFR); the Auditor-General of the Federation Mr. Samuel T. Ukura; Sen. Olorunnibe Mamora; Nigeria High Commissioner to Canada, H.E. Ojo Madueke; Prof. Hillary I. Inyang; Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Ambassador Martin Uhomoibhi; Chief Clement Ebin; and Secretary, Islamic Council for Islamic Affairs, Dr. Lateef Adegbite who was ably represented, is appreciated.

Finally, the President of the Senate deeply appreciates the presence of other invited Guests from within and outside the State, participants, and organizations that played tremendous role in ensuring the successful conduct of the retreat.

Sen. Victor Ndoma-Egba, SAN, OFR

Chairman, Communiqué Committee

Senate Retreat 2012        



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