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Conference Committee drops State Police; adjourns decision on mining legislation

Source: pointblanknews.com
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Arguments upon arguments; motions upon motions is what can best describe

the process that led to another adjournment on Monday of deliberation on

whether legislation on mining of mineral resources should remain the

exclusive right of the Federal Government.
Another crucial issue, shot down by the Committee on Devolution of Power

after a lengthened argument, was for the establishment of State Police.

While delegates from the south were favourably disposed to it, those from

the north were apprehensive that politicians would subject it to abuse. It

died on the floor.
For more than two hours, the debate on mining lingered, as members battled

to resolve the impasse, which was basically whether state governments

should have a say in mining of natural minerals.
The house was divided along regional lines as a section wanted the status

quo as contained in the 1999 Constitution sustained; and others from the

other section wanted an insertion that state governments should be

involved in the mining industry.
On Thursday last week, the Committee Co-Chairman, Obong Victor Attah, in

the midst a heated argument, had advised Committee members to make their

written submissions available on Monday stating how Item 39 in the

Exclusive List could be amended for state participation in the mining

business.
Attah's absence at the Committee sitting on Monday turned the table on the

issue. While some delegates insisted that the matter be put to vote in the

absence of a consensus, others settled for further negotiation for a

consensus.
Retired Inspector General of Police and Co-Chairman of the Committee,

Ibrahim Coomasie, who presided, had drawn the attention of the Committee

to the fact that the issue was undecided at the close of session on

Thursday and should therefore be sorted out immediately.

Retired Lt. General Jeremiah Useni opened discussions on the matter as

soon as the session opened on Monday, when he moved a motion that the

issue be left the way it is in the Constitution. He received instant

support from delegates, particularly those from the north.

However, former Minister, Professor A. B. C. Nwosu, quickly cautioned that

Item 39 on the Exclusive List was a contentious issue that could trigger

crisis in some parts of the country depending on how it was handled by the

Committee.
He said that from the days of Adaka Isaac Boro who launched the first

bloody revolution in Nigerian history, till today, the twin issues of who

controls mining activities and environmental matters have always been

controversial.
Nwosu noted that an amicable consensus could be reached on the issue

depending on how it was handled, “but if we bully our way through on this

matter, one way or the other, we may end up continuously promoting

militancy in the affected areas.”
Haruna Yerima from Borno State was of the opinion that the issue be put to

vote since, according to him, it was clear that reaching a consensus would

be impossible.
Buba Galadima informed the Committee that a quorum had been formed and

that the matter should be put to vote without further argument as the

Committee still had other issues to discuss.
Adeniyi Akintola, SAN, however objected. He cited certain sections of the

Standing Rules of the Conference which allow for further consultation on

issues that could not be decided on consensus at the first instance.

Professor Eddy Erhagbe said the two seemingly incompatible positions were

capable of tearing the meeting apart and suggested an amendment which he

believed could satisfy the two sides; by adding the clause “provided that

government of the state where the mining activities take place is

involved.”
Although other arguments followed immediately, both Nwosu and Sanusi

Haruna suggested that the amendment proposed by Erhagbe be looked into and

possibly adopted in the interest of peace.
Bashir Dalhatu stoutly opposed suggestions by Chief Dozie Ikedife and

Professor Nsongurua Udombana that the matter be stood own until written

submissions agreed upon last Thursday be made available for amicable

resolution of the argument.
Dalhatu argued that submission of written positions by members would only

reflect the trend of arguments that had been heard already, adding, “We

can adjourn for 15 minutes for consultation, but we have to vote.”

Junaid Mohammed supported the position with a declaration that the matter

must not be returned to the plenary undecided. He insisted on a vote being

taken immediately.
A suggestion by former Deputy President of the Senate, Ibrahim Mantu, that

there was need for adjournment in view of the rising tempers, was

supported by Akintola.
Hoever, just as Akintola finished talking, Useni, who moved the initial

motion, repeated his motion and insisted on a vote being taken.

Shortly after another support by Chief Ayo Adebanjo to Mantu's suggestion,

the co-chairman ruled in favour of adjournment till Tuesday to enable

members submit their positions in writing for a consensus.

When the issue of State Police came up for debate, the same fervour

witnessed in the previous debate surfaced as delegates tackled each other.

Udombana told the Committee that if the issue of devolution of power must

be a reality, then there was no replacement to State Police, adding that

the issue of abuse would be taken care of by laws.

Dalhatu was emphatic that Nigeria is not yet ready for State Police as the

level of abuse by politicians would be too high, adding, “I don't think we

are yet ready in this country for State Police.”
Adebanjo and Tony Adefuye were of the view that with the establishment of

State Police, most of the crisis that have rocked the country would always

be chased away at the roots.
According to Adebanjo, the issue of Nigerian factor should not be brought

into every discussion because, “if we have all agreed on going federal,

why should we disagree on issues associated with federalism. We should not

concentrate police power at the federal level only, it is un-federalism.”

It was his view that the issue of Boko Haram would have been dealt with at

the roots if Nigeria operated a state police system like other countries

of the world and pleaded that in the interest of Nigeria, the constitution

and federalism, State Police should be placed on the Concurrent List.

Akintola informed the Committee that the issue of State Police should not

be compelling on individual states; and that any state that desires it

should be allowed to adopt it because the Conference cannot be talking

about devolution of power while it throws away the ingredients that

support devolution of power.
Magaji Dambatta in his contribution said introduction of State Police

would amount to legalizing intimidation of political opponents by sitting

governors; adding that “our environment is not yet ripe enough for State

Police.”
After another contribution by a retired police officer, Farouk Usman, the

matter was put to vote and with a majority voice, it was retained in the

Exclusive List.
However, a few items were moved from the Exclusive List to the Concurrent

List on Monday. They included public holidays; railways, and essential

commodities while a new item, Information and Communication Technology,

introduced by Udombana, was added to the Exclusive List.

Meanwhile, the Nigerian military on Monday explained what some see as

maladministration in the military. It followed the submission by the

chairman of the National Security Sub-Committee on Defence Infrastructure,

retired Brig.Gen. Mansur Dan-Ali in that direction.

Col G. O. Anyamelechi, who represented the Chief of Defence Staff, said

that the total subordination of the military to the civil authority was

never in doubt and that there was nothing to the allegation of existing

friction between the Service Chiefs and the Minister of Defence.

He said promotions in the military were guided by the provisions of the

Harmonised Terms and Conditions of Service for Officers and Men; and that

for a senior officer to be eligible for promotion, he must satisfy certain

conditions.
Anyamelechi informed the delegates that while the issue of Federal

Character is adhered to at point of entry to the military, as commissioned

officers grow in rank, they are required to scale various hurdles in order

to be eligible for promotion.
This, he said, meant that as officers keep going up, the issue of Federal

Character becomes less significant while emphasis shifts to merits and

that this accounted to what may seem like an uneven representation at the

top amongst the six geo-political zones.
On the alleged failure of counter-terrorism measures adopted by the armed

forces, he said the allegation was regrettable, “especially coming from a

source that is in a better position to appreciate the complexity of

asymmetric warfare.”
Anyemelechi said allegations of maladministration in the armed forces

could have far-reaching implications on the general administration of the

armed forces and by extension, national security, particularly as no

specifics were given to substantiate the allegation.

The Chairman of the Nigeria Electricity Regulatory Commission (NERC) Dr.

Sam Amadi was at the meeting of the Energy Committee where he briefed

members on the state of power supply and generation in the country. While

doing so, a member of the committee, Chief Richard Akinjide said Nigeria

will be better served with alternative sources of energy, especially clean

energy such as solar, water , sun and coal; but Amadi insisted that

Nigeria is not ripe for renewable energy.
The Minister of Solid Mineral Resources is expected to appear before the

committee tomorrow to brief delegates on power generation through coal and

uranium.
The Committee on Foreign Policy and Diaspora Matters had an interface with

the Director General of the Nigeria Institute of International Affairs

(NIIA), Prof. Bola Akinterinwa.
Committee members harped on the need for synergy among NIIA, the

Presidential Advisory Council on Foreign Affairs and the Ministry of

Foreign Affairs.
The Committee on Religion proposed a Religion Equity Commission that will

handle all religion related issues in the country, while also proposing

that government should stop the sponsorship of pilgrimage and any public

funding of religious activities.
The Committee on Citizenship, Immigration and Related Matters was more

concerned about the nation's porous borders. Members were of the opinion

that if the borders are effectively manned, the rate of violence attacks

would be minimized.
The Sub-committee on Census presented its report. It lamented the lack of

national integrated data base and politicization of census figure. It

therefore suggested a National Integrated Data Base that would involve the

National Communication Commission (NCC) and the Federal Road Safety

Commission (FRSC), as well as involving traditional rulers and all levels

of governments in generating the data.
It also proposed the enactment of laws to criminalize any census official

who inflates census figures; also the use of national identity cards as

voters' card as well as advocating that all landed property should be

registered with the names and identity of their owners.

The Committee on Economy Trade and Investment played host to the Executive

Secretary of Nigeria Investment and Promotion Commission (NIPC) who

briefed the committee on investment opportunities in the country and the

bottlenecks investors face.
A member of the committee, Professor Ajakaye, also gave a brief lecture on

steps Nigeria needed to take to join the league of industrialized nations.

He advocated the development of core industries, the establishment of a

development bank, the rehabilitation of major roads, modernization of the

rail system and enhancing efficiency in the power sector. He also said

localized opportunities in the power sector as well as growing of new

enterprises are catalysts for economic growth.