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Constitutional Re-Formation Of Nigeria

By Egbe Omo Oduduwa
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Now that the National Assembly has once again constituted an Ad-hoc Committee to review the1999 Constitution, Egbe Omo Oduduwa strongly contends that a new pathway be charted lest the entire exercise become more of the same, if not worse than previous attempts.

The fact that the Deputy Senate President is statutorily the Chairman of the Constitution Review Committee is not lost on us. His recent categorization of Nigeria as practicing “feeding bottle” Federalism in which the supposed “Federating units” are totally dependent on the center coupled with his prominent role in a recent Igbo demand for “True Federalism” as their response to the on-going agitation for Biafra is indeed significant. Yet it is also true that he became Deputy Senate President vide an illegal conspiracy .

This and his status in the PDP yesterday and today places a moral and ethical question not only on his person, but also on the entire exercise itself. Egbe Omo Oduduwa therefore calls for VIGILANCE on the part of the Yoruba and other peoples of Nigeria on this fundamental issue.

All of the previous exercises in reviewing the Constitution either in the form of political or national Conferences organized by any sitting government or by the National Assembly itself under the chairmanship of the deputy Senate President had always utilized “public sittings” as a legitimization device to create a false image of a democratic and inclusive participation without any real input by the people , which can only be exercised through a Referendum by the people themselves.

We are mindful of what these “public debates” have done to our body politic in legitimizing doubtful socio-political legacies – IMF debates, Political Bureau, Niki Tobi’s Constitutional review, Abubakar, Obasanjo and Jonathan’s consultations and conferences. In each of these instances, it was a case of working to the answer, where, at the end, a pre-determined position emerged which vitiated the struggle for ethno-national autonomy and/or True Federalism.

Furthermore, the Constitution itself is based on a false premise, to wit, “We, The People” when “We, The People” had no hand in its making, directly or indirectly, as it was a product of military fiat which was not acting and did not act on behalf of “We, The People”, even as it unwittingly affirms the Peoples’ sovereignty by so doing.

To avoid another “working to the answer”, the parameters of engagement must change as we cannot afford to be going back and forth on any “consultations” especially with the moral and ethical issues at play. That the National Assembly has now, for whatever reason, deemed it fit to embark on another Constitutional Review journey places the burden on us, as the “People” to inject our aspirations into the process as we cannot embark on this journey through the same worn-out processes that led us to nowhere. In pursuit of this, Egbe Omo Oduduwa proposes the following:

(1) The Yoruba Nation must, as a matter of necessity, convene a Yoruba Constituent Assembly(YCA) to deliberate, modify and ratify the proposal already on ground, to wit, the Draft Yoruba Constitution, arrived at through a Constituent Assembly in 2002 with the active participation of various Yoruba interest groups, professionals, academia, co-operative societies etc etc.(the Draft is included below)

(2) The Egbe Omo Oduduwa will set into motion the process for Convening this Assembly.

(3) The YCA would generate a fully formed Yoruba Constitution to be approved or rejected in a Yes/No Referendum organized jointly by the Governments of Yorubaland, hence there would be no initial need for elections into the YCA.

(4) The YCA will confirm the fact that all the issues about Nigerian Constitutional Review are settled, in large part, among the Yoruba in spite of attempts to negate these by some political forces in the land through the instrumentality of powers of the center, the last attempt being those who subscribed to the Jonathan Conference and its recommendations being the worst attempt to truncate Yoruba demand for True Federalism.

(5) Our current governments came to power on a platform of CHANGE; their Party’s Manifesto included a return to True Federalism hence they can be properly engaged on this subject.

(6) Egbe Omo Oduduwa also canvasses a similar procedure among other Peoples of Nigeria; especially when indigenship/settler conflicts strike at the heart of citizenship. This process will allow for such issues to be resolved; all the more so when, for example, the Igbo are already torn between outright secession and True Federalism while other Nationalities in the former Eastern region had demonstrated their unwillingness to be part of Biafran secession. The only way to determine their wish would be through a Referendum among the various peoples concerned

(7) The outcome of the various Referendums will form the basis for negotiating a new Federal Structure for Nigeria at which point a new Nigerian Constitution will not need to be subjected to another Referendum since its foundation had already been determined through that process.

Shenge Rahman Akanbi; Femi Odedeyi
for and on behalf of Egbe Omo Oduduwa

( [email protected] )
ANNEXTURE:
DRAFT OF THE OODUA REGION YORUBA CONSTITUTION
In order to secure the dual ends of good government for, as well as peaceable living among ourselves and between us and other Nationalities in Nigeria, we, the OODUA Yoruba people do commission and give consent to the following as the Constitution of the Yoruba Nation:

THE OODUA NATION
ARTICLE 1
SECTIONS:
1. YORUBALAND, existing as an AUTONOMOUS nation in a UNION OF NIGERIAN CONSTITUENT NATIONALITIES, shall be known and styled as “ODUDUWA REGION”.

2. The Central government of the Union shall have no power to interfere nor intervene in the affairs of the ODUDUWA REGION, save as shall be agreed to by three quarters of the members of the Region’s Parliament.

3. The land description of the Oodua Yoruba Nation corresponds to the present states of Ekiti, Eko, Ogun, Ondo, Osun, Oyo and all Oodua lands in Kwara, Kogi, Edo and Delta States.

4. There shall be a Division of the Federal Armed Forces in the Region, 90% of which personnel shall be indigenes of the Region. The Divisional commander shall be an indigene of Oduduwa Region.

THE GOVERNMENT
ARTICLE ll
SECTIONS:
1. Oduduwa Region shall be a Federation consisting of a Regional government, provinces (Ipinle) and Localities (Ibile). The Region as well as each Province and Local Council shall have a capital city which shall be the seat of Government.

2. ODUDUWA Region shall adopt a parliamentary system of government.

3. All legislative powers shall be vested in PARLIAMENT of the Region, without prejudice to the rights of provinces and local Councils to enact laws and ordinances, relating to their provinces and local councils.

4. Any elected Member of Parliament, Provincial and Local Assembly who wishes to join another party must first resign his/her parliamentary seat and re-contest election if he/she so wishes on the platform of his/her new party.

THE REGIONAL GOVERNMENT
ARTICLE lll
SECTIONS:
1. The parliament shall be composed of members elected every 4 years by the people of the region.

2. Such persons shall be elected on the platform of the political party they represent or as independent candidates. There shall be no restriction on the number of political parties.

3. The Proceedings of Parliament shall be directed by the Speaker who shall be elected from among the members.

4. Elections into Parliament shall be held on June 12 of the election year, while the swearing in of elected representatives shall be the 8th day of August and annual opening session of Parliament shall be 23rd day of September (to commemorate the peace treaty that ended Kiriji war on September 23, 1886) of the same year.

5. The members of Parliament shall be remunerated for their services, as shall be determined by law.

6. Parliament shall enact all laws for raising revenue. No money shall be drawn from the treasury except through an Appropriation Act.

7. Parliament shall have the power to make laws governing taxes, duties, excise, payment of debt, etc. It shall have the power to make laws governing the sourcing of funds on behalf of the region and to regulate commerce with the co-prosperity spheres within the Union of Nigeria.

8. Taxes are to be collected at regional, provincial and local levels for promotion of the general welfare of the people.

9. Parliament shall have the power to make provisions for the general welfare security and prosperity of the Region. It shall set the standards for economic, educational, social and cultural advancement of Oodua people.

10. Parliament shall have the power to establish Regional Police Service with responsibility to

investigate Regional crimes. This Police Service shall have no superintending control over the Provincial and Council Police service, but shall coordinate activities at the regional, provincial and local council levels.

11. There shall be a Regional Prosecutors’ office responsible for the prosecution of cases as investigated by the Regional police. The Regional Prosecutor shall be elected by popular vote and shall not be a registered member of any political party.

12. Recognizing that the Oduduwa Nation is multi-religious society, the citizens shall have the

right to freedom of worship.
13. Parliament shall make no retroactive law. Nor shall it abridge the freedom of speech or the right of peaceful assembly. It shall not abridge the right of citizens to petition government for redress. The privilege of the writ of Habeas Corpus shall not be suspended. Parliament shall not make any law abridging the fundamental rights, freedoms and liberty of the citizens. All Oodua persons resident in any of the provinces of the Region shall be entitled to the same privileges and immunities.

14. The powers not delegated to the Parliament or the Provincial/Local Assemblies by this Constitution are reserved in the people, which may be invoked by a simple majority of voters through a referendum in the region, province or locality as the case may be.

EXECUTIVE OF THE REGIONAL GOVERNMENT
ARTICLE lV
SECTIONS:
1. A Head of State/Aare shall be elected for a period of 5 years of not more than 2 terms. The Aare shall not belong to any political party, and must not be less than 60 years. The Aare must be a person whose parents belong to a community indigenous to Oodua Nation. The Aare shall declare open the parliamentary Session, represent the Region on ceremonial matters, announce the dissolution of Parliament and all such matters.

2. The Aare shall be elected from an electoral college composed of selected leaders from the provinces. The provincial representative could be traditional rulers or statesmen and women.

3. Executive power at the Regional level shall reside in the Premier-in-Council (PM) elected for a period of 4 years. The leader of the majority party in parliament shall be PM and shall be vested with the power to appoint Cabinet Ministers. The PM must be a person whose parents belong to a community indigenous to Oodua Nation.

4. The Parliament shall stand dissolved at the expiration of its 4-year term. In the event of a motion of no confidence passed on the government by not less than three-quarters of members of Parliament, the PM and the government shall resign forthwith. Thereafter, the Aare shall call on the leader of the party which appears able to form a government that will enjoy majority support in Parliament to fulfil the term of the current Parliament or new election held within 30 days of dissolution of Parliament.

5. The Council of Chiefs and Obas. There shall be a Regional House of Chiefs and a Traditional Council of Obas and Chiefs at the Provincial and Local Council levels.

JUDICIARY
ARTICLE V
SECTIONS:
1. The Judicial power of the Region shall be vested in the Supreme Court, Court of Appeal, High Court, Customary Court and Other lower courts as the Parliament may establish.

2. There shall be a Court of Appeal in each of the provinces.

3. There shall be, in each province, a High Court from which appeals shall lie to the Court of Appeal and Supreme Court.

4. There shall be a CONSTITUTIONAL COURT of not more than 7 persons. Members of this court shall not be less than 60 years old. The court shall determines cases of serious Constitutional issues among Local, Province and Regional Governments, and between individuals and government. Members shall be nominated by the Body of Benchers in each provinces; subject to ratification by Parliament. Membership of this court is for life, subject to soundness of body and mind.

5. FUNDAMENTAL HUMAN RIGHTS: All Oodua persons shall be protected by the various international treaties passed in the Bill of Rights of the UN and various regional Bills of Rights such as the African Human and People’s Rights.

LAND AND MINERAL RESOURCES
ARTILCE Vl
SECTION:
1. Oodua Customary forms of land ownership shall be respected. Exploitation of mineral resources shall be the prerogative of the host community without prejudice to the right of the Local, Provincial and Regional Governments to levy appropriate taxes for the welfare of the people of Oodua land and without prejudice to the right of the Federal Government to levy taxes.

THE PROVINCIAL GOVERNMENT
ARTICLE Vll
SECTIONS:
1. There shall be established a PROVICIAL ASSEMBLY in each of the provinces of the Region.

2. Provisions of ARTICLES ONE and TWO in this Constitution as applied to the Parliament of the Region, shall apply to the PROVINCIAL ASSEMBLY except that the tenure of the Assembly shall be 3 years.

3. The Executive Power of the Province shall reside in the PROVINCIAL GOVERNOR-IN-COUNCIL, who must be an elected member of the Assembly and vested with the power to appoint members of the Provincial Government. The size of the provincial cabinet shall be determined by consideration for the financial resources of the province.

4. The Assembly shall make provision for the establishment of a Provincial Police Service, which shall be empowered to maintain law and order in the Province and investigate crimes within its jurisdiction. The Provincial Police shall be responsible to the Provincial Governor.

5. There shall be a Provincial Prosecutor’s Office responsible for the prosecution of cases as

investigated by the Provincial Police. The Provincial Prosecuting Officer shall be elected by popular vote, and shall not be a registered member of any political party.

THE LOCAL GOVERNMENT
ARTICLE Vlll
SECTIONS:
1. There shall be established a LOCAL ASSEMBLY in each of the Local Councils of the Region.

2. Provision of ARTICLE ONE and TWO in this Constitution as applied to the Parliament of the Region, shall apply to the LOCAL ASSEMBLY except that the tenure of the Assembly shall be 3 years.

3. The Executive Power of the Local Council shall reside in the LOCAL ASSEMBLY CHAIRMAN-IN-COUNCIL, who must be an elected member of the Assembly and vested with the power to appoint members of the local government. The size of the Local Government cabinet shall be determined by consideration of the financial resources of the local council. The electorate shall have a say in the remuneration of elected members of the Councils.

4. The Assembly shall make provision for the establishment of a Local Council Police Service, which shall be empowered to maintain law and order in the Local Council, investigate crimes within its jurisdiction. The Council Police Service shall be responsible to the Local Assembly. There shall be Council Prosecutor’s Office responsible for the prosecution of cases as investigated by the Local Police Service. The Council Prosecutor shall be elected by popular vote in the Local Council and shall not be a registered member of any political party.

THE OODUA PERSON
ARTICLE lX
SECTION:
1. All persons either of whose parents or grandparents belong or belonged to a community indigenous to Oodua land. All persons in the Diaspora, of African decent who claim Oduduwa/Yoruba ancestry, either through cultural affiliation or genealogical connection.