THE Senate on Thursday, July 3, stopped Governor Rochas Okorocha of Imo State, from asking northerners in his state to register and obtain identity cards as part of his administration’s measures to curb growing insecurity in the country. The Senate also urged the federal government to restrain the security agencies from cooperating with the state government in the plan. The lawmakers thus, advised the governor to henceforth jettison the plan, saying it would further threaten the unity of Nigeria.
The resolution followed a motion by Abdul Ningi, deputy Senate leader, in which he told the Senate danger of allowing the governor to violate Section 41(1) and 42(2) of the 1999 Constitution, which he said gives every Nigerian the freedom to move and reside in any part of the country.
Indeed, Section 41(1) provides that “every citizen of Nigeria is entitled to move freely throughout Nigeria and to reside in any part thereof, and no citizen of Nigeria shall be expelled from Nigeria or refused entry thereto or exit therefrom,” while Sections 42(1) A and B, provides that “no citizens of Nigeria shall be subjected to any disability or deprivation by reason of the circumstance of his birth.”
The motion was supported by other senators who described the governor’s plan as evil, immoral, unconscionable and condemnable. While Senator George Sekibo would like the governor to be “reprimanded” for evolving such a policy, others expressed disappointment that Okorocha, who was born and raised in northern Nigeria, had given the order to move against the people he once lived in their midst.
Chris Anyawu, who represents Imo East, used the opportunity to take a swipe at Okorocha, whom she described him as a stranger who had brought insult to the people of Imo State through his arrogance and disrespect for the law and constitution of the land. She said: “We have somebody who has brought insult to the people of Imo State. This is somebody who does not believe in the constitution. Our people are well travelled, liberal and friendly. Peaceful co-existence is in the marrow of the people of Imo State.
“We have lived with Hausa people for many generations. Some of them speak better Igbo than I do. I even sponsor some of them to Mecca. But suddenly, you have someone from somewhere, who is not from us, who is not for us, and doesn’t believe in or respect the constitution. He doesn’t believe in advice. He is alone and all alone. There are many court decisions that he has refused to obey.”
After the debate on the matter, the Senate asked the federal government to stop security agents from carrying out Okorocha’s order, saying that doing so would automatically frustrate the success of the exercise. Okorocha gave the order in reaction to a recent attempt to blow up a church in Owerri, capital of Imo State, and in reaction to the arrest of 486 northerners in neighbouring Abia State in June this year.
National Conference Recommends 18 More States
THE ongoing national conference on Thursday, July 3, voted for the creation of 18 more states in the country. The decision was taken by the delegates at their plenary while considering the report of the Committee on Political Restructuring and Forms of Government.
Apart from the 18 new states proposed, the conference also agreed that a separate state-yet-to-be named should be carved out of the South-East to bring the number of the states in the zone to six. In creating a new state from the South-East geopolitical zone, the conference said the creation would correct the imbalance of the zone having the least number of states. In the existing 36 states arrangement, each zone has six states with only the North-West having seven states. It was agreed by the delegates that the 18 new states would be shared among the six zones in a manner that no zone would have more states than the other.
The new states proposed by the conference are: Aba, to be carved out of the present Abia State; Katagum, from Bauchi State; Ijebu, from Ogun State; Amana, from former Sardauna Province; Apa, from Benue State; Anioma, from Delta State, Savannah, from Borno State; and Etiti, from South-East.
Others are Njaba/Anim, from Anambra and Imo states; Gurara, from Kaduna State; Ghari, from Kano State; Adada, New Oyo from Oyo State; Orachi, from Rivers State; Ogoja, from Cross River State; and Kainji, from Kebbi and Niger states.
Two other states, one each from the South-East and South-West zones, are also yet to be named.
The delegates also agreed that in the case of death, impeachment or incapacitation of the president, the deputy would no longer assume office automatically. Rather, the vice-president should only act as president for a period of 90 days within which another election should hold.
“In the absence of the death of the president, the vice-president shall act as president for a period of 90 days within which an election to the office of the president shall be held,” the conference said.
The delegates argued that since the office of the president would be rotated among the six geopolitical zones, it would be unfair to allow the vice-president to take the turn of another zone by automatically assuming power.
President Goodluck Jonathan, a southerner from Bayelsa State, had assumed the Presidency in 2010 following the death of former President Umaru Yar’Adua, a northerner from Katsina State.
In the same breath, the delegates rejected the proposal that the president should be in office for a single term of six years, and favoured the present arrangement of two terms of four years each. It was also agreed that the president and his deputy should run on a joint ticket, thereby rejecting the recommendation that the president should pick his deputy among members of the National Assembly after he must have won.
INEC Promises Credible Election in Osun
THE Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC, has given an assurance that it would conduct a free, fair, credible and acceptable gubernatorial election in Osun State on August 9. Giving the assurance was Olusegun Agabaje, the new resident electoral commissioner, REC, in the stateat his maiden press conference in Osogbo, capital of Osun State, on Thursday, July 3. Agbaje said the commission was prepared to conduct an election devoid of manipulations in the state on August 9.
He also promised that the governorship election in the state would be the best in the history of the country, adding that all necessary machinery had been put in motion to achieve the desired result. He, therefore, solicited for the co-operation of all political parties in the state to achieve the commission’s desired result, and asked all security agents in the state to show high level professionalism before and during the election.
Agbaje said 780,464 permanent voters cards had been distributed to eligible voters across the 30 local government areas in the state. He disclosed that 20 political parties would participate in the election, adding that the candidates of the parties, including their running mates, had been screened by the INEC.
The INEC boss also insisted that no individual would be allowed to vote in any of the polling centres in the state without the permanent voters’ card and urged those who were yet to receive theirs to do so before the election. He also appealed to voters to shun violence before, during and after the election.
— Jul. 14, 2014 @ 01:00 GMT