CONSTITUTION REVIEW: CAN OROPOSES 6 VICE PRESIDENTS, PART-TIME LAWMAKERS

Twenty-one years into the Fourth Republic and the operation of the 1999 Constitution, the 9th National Assembly is currently in the process of amending the Constitution. The current alteration is coming amid disunity and agitation by different groups.

One major issue lately has been the rotation of the Presidency between the North and South, as the tenure of President Muhammadu Buhari is drawing to a close. And there has been a laud agitation by the South East region that the Presidency be zoned to the region.

Meanwhile, the Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN) is making some drastic reforms to the 1999 Constitution according to the memorandum summited to the House of Representatives’ Special Committee on constitution amendment.

The association has proposed an end to the current election of a President for a term of four years and the right to re-election. In its place, the association is proposing a Presidential Council where each region in the country will elect a Vice President.

The six Vice Presidents will form the collegiate Presidency. Each will take a turn to chair the council as the Head of State for two years. While other Vice Presidents shall “in rotation serve and be in charge of interior, foreign affairs, resources (Finance), defence and transportation.

“To this end, we propose the establishment of a systemic Collegiate Presidency, that is, Presidential Council with fixed 12 years tenure. The proposed Presidential Council shall have each zone represented by an elected Vice-President that serves on the collegiate that shall constitute the core of the Presidency with each taking tums as President in rotational format with each person serving for two years at an instance during the cycle.

“The Chairman of the proposed Presidential Council shall fulfil the obligations of Head of State and Head of Government,” the proposal reads.

Perhaps in anticipation of the challenges with the Presidential collegiate, CAN also proposed a Presidential tenure of five years with each zone/region headed by a Vice President who shall equally be in charge of their respective jurisdictions for a term of five years.

Hassan Nurudeen, Programme officer governance and accountability, Youthhub Africa, said the proposal will create more problems rather than solving any.

“There are lots of nuances that we still carry around even at the regional level that will not make this thing work. I don’t think it is a good system. It is going to cause more problems than solving them.

Also, the duration is long. When a group of persons spends 12 years in power, they will want to consolidate it. The idea is very bad.”

To further strengthen the zones, the association is proposing a return to the regions as espoused by the 1963 Constitution with each region “having legal and policy frameworks encapsulated in a regional constitution.”

As part of reforms, the association also called for the inclusion of a referendum into the Constitution. This issue could prove controversial in light of the call for referendum by the Indigenous People of Biafra. Also, there is a call for the recognition of traditional rulers by the Constitution.

To address fiscal federalism, the apex Christian body is proposing a review of the revenue sharing formula. Regions are to collect revenue and remit 30% to the central body while states are to get 25%, 22% for the region, 10% for host communities and 13% to the LGA.

CAN also calls for the removal of Sharia courts system from the Constitution. However, if that is unachievable, the introduction of the Christian Ecclesiastical Courts System should be an option.

“Maintain the secularity of Nigeria as per section 10 of 1999 Constitution by expunging all provisions pertaining to sharia court system,” failing to implement that, introduce the Christian Ecclesiastical courts system,” it said.

CAN is calling for the creation of 6 additional states. Southern Kaduna/Kataf/Gurara State from Kaduna State, Okun State from Kogi State, Okigwe State from Imo and Abia State, Cross River North from Cross River State and Ibadan State and Oke-Ogun State from Oyo State.

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