11 November 2012

Nigeria: Constitution Review - Kano, Lagos Reject Rotational Presidency

Nigerians living in Kano and Lagos states yesterday trooped to various venue for the people's session on constitution review organised by the House of Representatives in the country's 360 constituencies to present the position of burning national issues.

Participants at the session in Kano state rejected the inclusion of state creation, state police and rotational presidency were in the new constitution.

Their Lagos counterparts also rejected a proposal that the office of the president rotates between the North and the South, stating rather that merit and competence should be the yardstick for electing occupants to the office in future polls.

At series of town hall meetings in the state, residents were also unanimous in their call for the rejection of the idea of rotating the office amongst the six geo-political zones of the country.

Other issues that were canvassed include granting financial and administrative autonomy to local councils in the country, retention of the current two terms of eight years for elected state governors and the president.

LEADERSHIP SUNDAY monitored the town hall meeting held in Ikorodu, where the member representing the constituency, read out some items that had been initially agreed upon for amendment in the current constitution to dignitaries and residents that were present.

Those present at the meeting, presided over by Chief Babatunde Benson, who was assisted by a former Deputy Governor of the state, Chief Abiodun Ogunleye, include representatives of different trade organisations, artisans as well as scores of prominent residents and citizens of the area.

Other issues mentioned, for which decisions were taken include a vote for state police, rotating governorship offices amongst the three senatorial districts, provision to allow independent candidacy in the constitution.

Majority of the participants in Kano, described the proposal for rotational presidency and others as laden with "hidden agenda."

Our correspondent who went round some of the federal constituencies report that the creation of more state, the state police and rotational presidency were the most disputed items in the 42- point questionnaire presented at the gatherings.

In Nassarawa, Bagwai, Tarauni, and a host of other local governments monitored by our correspondent, majority of the people opposed the the areas listed for amendment.

In Nassarawa local government, where Hon. Nasiru Ali Ahmed of the Congress for Progressive Change (CPC) held the meeting, the people said the criteria for state creation should be hinged on population, landmass and viability rather than on geo-political zones. They were of the believe that many parts of what the National Assembly wanted them to debate were assumed to be against their interests were not adequately captured.

Speaking with LEADERSHIP SUNDAY in Lagos, the House of Representatives Deputy Chairman on Finance, Hon. Michael Yomi Ogunnusi, representing Ifako-Ijaiye federal constituency, said the review of the constitution would laid to rest the problems confronting Nigeria.

Ogunnusi added that the House would take careful consideration of peoples' views in the constitution amendment.

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