Eastern Nigeria demands more states, more seats

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The Deputy Speaker of the House of Representatives, Emeka Ihedioha, said on Saturday that the grassroots debate on the constitution review would guarantee the country’s unity in diversity.

Speaking at the public hearing on the review in his Ngor-Okpala/Aboh Mbaise Federal Constituency, Ihedioha said the transparency of the exercise was for the people to participate and be convinced that they took part in the working document.

The deputy speaker said the exercise was to make the people have a major input in the forthcoming constitutional review.

He admitted that the 1999 Constitution needed to be amended, following the growth of the country’s political system.

The session, chaired by Chief Mike Ahamba (SAN), agreed that the section of the constitution which allowed for a joint account between the states and local governments be amended with allocations paid directly to the councils.

The constituents also resolved that a financial autonomy be granted state houses of assembly.

They also resolved that the constitution recognise the six geo-political zones for administrative purposes and not to create regional governments.

Meanwhile, the public hearing for Obingwa/Osisioma/Ugwunagbo Federal Constituency in Abia almost turned sour when traditional rulers attempted to storm out of the
venue, less than 30 minutes into the event.

The problem started when members of the public through voice votes objected to the inclusion of royal fathers as members of the National Council of States.

It took persistent pleading by Rep. Eziuche Ubani, the member representing the constituency, and Chief Acho Nwakama, a former deputy governor of Abia and chairman of the event, to calm the angry traditional rulers.

Igwe Eberechi Dike, the co-deputy chairman of the Abia traditional tulers’ council, told newsmen after the event that the organisers should be blamed for `renting touts for the constitutional amendment’.

In Aba, Abia, The Aba North/Aba South Federal Constituency gave kudos to the House of Representatives for the review of the constitution.

The constituents endorsed the removal of immunity clause for the president, governors and deputy governors.

They also supported the abrogation of the current two terms of four years for the executive branch of the government, state/local government joint account and called for constitutional roles for traditional rulers.

They supported a single tenure of five years for the president and governors, rotation of governorship among senatorial zones, unicameral legislature, state police, presidential system of government and resource control by states.

They also called for the creation of Aba State, states among geo-political zones to be at par, recognition of six geo-political zones, autonomy of state legislature and scrapping of state independent electoral commissions.

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Demand for additional federal constituency and local government autonomy dominated the Anambra East/West Constituency deliberations .

The event, convened by the member representing the constituency, Chief Ameke Chriscato, was attended by people from all walks of life.
The people demanded for parity in the number of states in the six geopolitical zones, abolition of the state/ local government joint account and scrapping of the State Electoral Commission.

Other major amendments sought were for the elimination of the immunity clause and creation of state police.

They also rejected diaspora voting, the inclusion of the six geopolitical zones in the constitution and the amendment to the provisions of section 315(2) (a) and (d) .

The constituency was undecided on tenure of the president and governors but agreed that there should be constitutional protection for people with disability.

They rejected parliamentary system of government and role for traditional rulers in the constitution and also called for an amendment to enhance quicker dispensation of justice.

Earlier, the Chairman on the occasion, Sen. Emma Anosike, urged the people to participate actively in the session adding that it was an opportunity for the people to make an input into the Constitution.

Also speaking, Obinna Emenaka, representing Anambra West in the State House of Assembly, described the session as a great success for democracy and expressed the hope that the resolutions would be implemented.
The convener of the session, Chriscato attributed the “huge” success to the political awareness of the people of the constituency.
He promised the people that their quest for additional constituency would be communicated and made to come to fruition. (NAN)

At the public session in Owerri, participants called for equal number of states in all the geo-political zones of the federation.

Making their contributions at the session organised by Rep Ezenwa Onyewuchi, representing Owerri Federal Constituency, they said it was important for the six geo-political zones to have equal number of states before the country could talk of the creation of more states.

Onyewuchi explained that the people’s public session, instituted by the House of Representatives, was the first of its kind and an attempt to create the people’s constitution.

The Chairman of the Panel, Mr Maxwell Onyeukwu, advised the participants to focus on things that would impact positively on governance in Nigeria.

Mr Emeka Maduagwu, a former member of the House of Representatives, said: “The South East must insist on having states at par with other zones before discussing creation of states in other zones.”

The participants also resolved that while the six geo-political zones should be recognised in the constitution, they should not be included as another tier of government.

On the issues of ‘indigeneship’, they said the word should be substituted with residency, adding that a minimum 10 years be allowed before a person would be entitled to accruing rights, duties and privileges of the host state.

They also agreed that the State House of Assembly be granted financial autonomy/independence as in the case with the National Assembly with section 162(6) amended to abolish state/local government joint account.