1 February 2013

Nigeria: Reps Report 'Doctored' to Favour Tenure Elongation

The House of Representatives yesterday cancelled the public presentation of the report of the People's Public Sessions on constitution review following allegations that the document was doctored to favour certain interests.

The sessions were held in the 360 Federal constituencies late last year and the House had announced the presentation would hold by 10am yesterday.

But indications that something was wrong began to dawn on stakeholders when they waited for nearly two hours with no sign of the speaker Aminu Waziri Tambuwal who was billed to chair the event.

When Tambuwal, along with other officers, came into the venue at about noon, he announced that the event was cancelled.

"At this stage, there is an issue that would have to do with the total collated result before it is presented to the public today. As the leadership, we have reviewed the process so far, and we have realised that we cannot go on with this programme today," the speaker told a befuddled audience.

"Just like any other thing associated with human beings, there are few challenges here and there which is normal but for the fact that we have agreed to do this today and we have given our commitment to the people does not mean that if we hear that we did not address one or two particular issues, we should not go ahead and listen to the people and do exactly that.

"That would not make anyone a good leader. So we have agreed to put off the presentation for today but be rest assured that we shall complete this process very soon."

Daily Trust learnt that Tambuwal had to cancel the presentation following revelations that the House constitution review committee had doctored some of the constituency reports to include items that were not really supported at the hearings from those areas.

"Nine out of the 42 issues on the template which our people voted against were tampered with and we discovered that it was done to many constituencies with a view to giving a result that will favour the creation of an additional state in the South East," a lawmaker told Daily Trust on condition of anonymity.

"They deliberately doctored the report in the process of collation to say that 70 percent of the 360 constituencies had on November 10 supported the creation of another state for the south east which was not the true position because to our knowledge no state outside the south east voted in support of state creation." A copy of the doctored report seen by Daily Trust indicates that whereas most constituencies voted against the creation of states in Nigeria, the report advocated ensuring equality of states in each geo-political zone to give the south east another state.

Another contentious issue that was widely rejected during the hearings in November was the issue of tenure elongation for the president and governors.

Majority of people at the constituency hearings had canvassed for the retention of the four-year renewable term for governors and president, but the report that was to be presented yesterday recommended the adoption of single tenure of 5, 6 or 7 years.

Lawmakers told Daily Trust that, upon getting wind of the doctoring of the report, Tambuwal summoned a meeting in his residence last night where members insisted on cancelling the presentation.

Speaking to newsmen on the matter, House spokesman Zakari Mohammed said "a number of our colleagues are of the opinion that they should see the draft report before it's presented. It's better to delay than to go on with documents that will outlive us. If we had gone ahead with the presentation members will have disowned it and where is the credibility? Rather than hurry and allow loopholes we better delay and do the right thing."

But the National Association of Nigerian Students (NANS) and the Alliance for Credible Elections (ACE) yesterday protested the postponement of the result presentation.

NANS president Yinka Gbadebo, ACE deputy secretary Asuzu Echezona and a representative of Persons with Disability Initiative Society of Nigeria, Augustine Onwuamaegbu, said the postponement was an attempt to subvert the will Nigerians.

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