The President Muhammadu Buhari administration has yet to implement a substantial part of its promised restructuring.
Findings by Sunday PUNCH on Friday revealed that since the ruling All Progressives Congress bowed to pressure to set up the Nasir El-Rufai APC Committee on True Federalism, just a little has been done to fulfil its campaign promise.
Not only did the committee which submitted its report on January 25, 2018 make recommendations on key items of interest, it articulated executive and legislative, and other action plans on how to achieve set objectives.
The committee recommended that, “The Federal Government should urgently direct the Revenue Mobilisation Allocation and Fiscal Commission to, among others, fashion out a new revenue allocation formula in consonance with the provisions of the 1999 Constitution (as amended), which envisages a periodic review of the formula.”
This, the report said, should “take account of items devolved from federal to state governments”. Furthermore, since Section 162 (2) of the constitution already provides for principle of derivation of not less than 13 per cent, there is clearly room for its upward review.
However, apart from the directive of the Financial Intelligence Unit restricting states from tampering with council funds, which some observers believe is “a secret” a presidential directive and the amendment to the Petroleum Profit Tax Act, 2007 by the National Assembly, the bigger issue of devolution of powers and a provision allowing for a referendum on key national issues have remained unattended to.
The committee on page 25 of Volume 1 of its “Main Report, Summery of Findings and Recommendations” recommended that, “the party put its political weight behind the overwhelming popular demand for devolution (of powers) to states by the Federal Government.”
Action on this recommendation is still being awaited even as the Senate has inaugurated its committee on Constitution Review.
The Chairman of the Buhari Media Organisation, Niyi Akinsiju, said Buhari remained committed to fulfilling his campaign promises to Nigeria.
He said most of the items contained in the report of the report required a review of the existing provisions in the constitution, which he said was the function of the National Assembly.
Akinsiju said it was after the National Assembly had concluded work that a final copy would be sent to the President for his assent.
He said, “By the latest statement from the National Assembly after the inauguration of the Constitutional Amendment Committee, the chairman (of the committee) said they were going to take the report into consideration. The report was actually submitted to the National Assembly just like the report of the confab they said they would also consider.
“To that extent, the APC has done its groundwork which is appropriate and they had also followed the proper channel because anything that has to do with the constitution or its amendment, the primary custodian is the National Assembly.
“The APC has done consultations and aggregated and distilled the thoughts and opinions of Nigerians across board collated the report and forwarded to the National Assembly which is the proper channel.
“And I think for every other Nigerian, this is another opportunity to also express and advance their thoughts on how this country should be managed in terms of restructuring or otherwise which is constitutional.
“Don’t forget, the President has said this several times that whoever has any opinion on the issue should approach the National Assembly and I think this is the time to do it.”
The APC in Article 7(ii) of its April 2014 Constitution as amended) said its Aims and Objectives was: “To promote true federalism in the Federal Republic of Nigeria.”
In the foreword to its vision for a New Nigeria (Page 3, second paragraph), the APC Manifesto commits the party to “Implement efficient public financial management strategies and ensure true federalism” as well as “restructure governance in a way that kick starts our political economy so that we begin to walk the path of our better future.”
Also, on page 7 of its manifesto, the part entered what it referred to as an “Honest Contract” with Nigeria to create a federalism with “more equitable distribution of national revenue to the states and local governments because this is where grassroots democracy and economic development must be established.”
In pursuit of the above, the El-Rufai committee articulated 24 items of interest to Nigerians according to numerous submissions from members of the public. They are the creation of states, merger of states, derivation principle, fiscal federalism, devolution of powers and resources between state, federal and local governments, federating units, form of government, independent candidacy, land tenure system, local government autonomy ,power sharing and rotation, resource control, types of legislature, demand for affirmation for vulnerable groups; people with disabilities, women and youths, ministerial appointment, citizenship, state constitution, community participation, minimum wage, governance, judiciary, state realignment and border adjustment, circular status of the federation; and referendum.