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Nigeria may get two vice-presidents

Posted by Yusuf Alli on 2006/01/06 | Views: 936 |

Nigeria may get two vice-presidents


The National Assembly sub-committees on the review of the 1999 Constitution have recommended two vice-presidents for the nation as from May 29, 2007.

The National Assembly sub-committees on the review of the 1999 Constitution have recommended two vice-presidents for the nation as from May 29, 2007.

The sub-committees also want severance benefits for senators, members of the House of Representatives and the 36 state Houses of Assembly.

The severance benefits will be paid to the lawmakers either on completion of their tenure or in the event of a coup against a democratically elected government in the country.

These recommendations are the major highlights of the 101 amendments to the 1999 Constitution being contemplated by the National Assembly.

The main Committee on the Review of the Constitution, headed by the Deputy President of the Senate, Alhaji Ibrahim Mantu, will soon begin public hearing in the six geopolitical zones on the recommendations.

In the proposals obtained by The PUNCH, the sub-committees also said there should be power rotation only between the North and the South, instead of being on the basis of the six zones.

But out of the recommendations, the introduction of two vice-presidents is a major development in the power equation in the presidency since 1960.

Nigeria had adopted a parliamentary system in 1960 with the Presidency managed by both a ceremonial President, the late Dr. Nnamdi Azikiwe, and a Prime Minister, the late Alhaji Abubakar Tafawa Balewa.

In 1979, the nation moved from a parliamentary system to the presidential system with one vice-president.

It could not be immediately ascertained why the sub-committees are seeking two vice-presidents for the country.

Findings however showed that the recommendation might be as a result of the crisis of confidence between President Olusegun Obasanjo and his deputy, Alhaji Atiku Abubakar.

The recommendations on vice-presidency are in Sections 141 to 149 of the proposed amendments.

The sections read, “There shall be for the federation two vice presidents. First vice-president from the zone of the president and another vice-president from another area.

“In any election to which the foregoing provisions of this chapter relate, a candidate for an election to the office of the President shall not be deemed to be validly nominated unless he nominates two other candidates, one of whom shall be from the same geopolitical zone with him, as his associates, for his running for the office of the president, who are to occupy the offices of vice presidents.

“And those candidates shall be deemed to have been duly elected to the office of the vice-presidents if the candidate for an election to the office of President who nominated them, as associates, is duly elected as President in accordance with the provisions aforesaid.

“The vice-president from the same geopolitical zone as the president shall hold the office of President if the office of President becomes vacant by reason of death or resignation, impeachment, permanent incapacity or the removal of the President from office for any other reason in accordance with Section 149 or 150 of this Constitution.”

Another issue in the proposals deals with plans to pay severance package to members of the National Assembly after their tenure.

Section 70(2)(3) and (4), reads, “A member of the Senate or House of Representatives who has served for a period of not less than four years shall be entitled to payment of severance benefits to him or his personal representative(s) on ceasing to be a member either by his death, retirement or dissolution of the National Assembly.

“A member of the Senate or House of Representatives shall receive adequate compensation, to be determined by the Revenue Mobilisation, Allocation and Fiscal Commission, in the event that he loses his position or life through coup or any event while in active service.

“All entitlements referred to in sub-sections (2) and (3) of this section shall, unless otherwise provided by this Constitution, be charged upon the Consolidated Revenue Fund of the Federal Government.”

The sub-committees further restated that three options were being considered on the tenure of both the president and the 36 state governors.

They added, “Three options emerged during the sub-committee’s deliberations: After exhaustive discussion on the pros and cons of each opinion, no consensus was reached on anyone of the options.

“The sub-committee therefore recommends the three options to the main committee for further consideration.”

The options are the retention of the status quo of two terms of four years each; two terms of five years each; and three terms of four years each.

On the controversy over power shift, the sub-committees in Section 137(1)(b) said, “The office of the President shall rotate between the North and the South.

“The office of the Governor of a State shall rotate amongst the senatorial districts of the state.”

Concerning the revenue formula, the sub-committees were adamant on the 13 per cent derivation recommended by the National Political Reforms Conference.

It added, “And in determining the formula, the National Assembly shall take into account, the allocation principles, especially those of population, equality of states, internal revenue generation, landmass, terrain as well as population density.

“The principle of derivation shall be constantly reflected in any approved formula as being not less than 13 per cent of the revenue accruing to the Federal Account directly from natural resources.”

This recommendation contravenes the proposal by the National Political Reforms Conference to increase the derivation revenue to 17 per cent.

The South-South had walked out of the conference over the conference refusal to accept 25 per cent derivation that was to be raised to 50 per cent over five years.

The sub-committees also recommended to the National Assembly to empower the President to “authorise the withdrawal of moneys from the Consolidated Revenue Fund if the Appropriation Bill in respect of any financial year has not been passed into law.”

They further sought for the creation of a Contingencies Fund at both the Federal and state levels.

They said, “The National Assembly may by law, make provisions for the establishment of a Contingencies Fund for the Federal Government of Nigeria and for authorising the President, if satisfied that there has arisen an urgent and unforeseen need for expenditure for which no other provision exists, to make advances from the Fund to meet the need.”

Public hearing on the amendments, which was to begin on January 8 in Port Harcourt, has been put off indefinitely.

The PUNCH, Friday, January 06, 2006

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Fay(Katy, Texas, US)says...

Actually translates to bravehearted.