On days like this, I love the house of reps: here is why

I have a love-hate relationship with the rouse of representatives in Nigeria. These are days where they stand up and really speak with the voice of the common man, and then there are days when its all about their greed and how much they can wrestle from the coffers of government. Their independence is refreshing, I remember their public stand during the first days of the fuel subsidy saga while the senate predictably hid behind their walls of money. And then there are also days like last week. Although I didn’t even know about the House of Representatives collated results from the people’s public session, I was impressed with the results that they voted for. Below is a breakdown on the good, the bad and the I am not so sure.

The Good:

  • Should ambiguities be removed in the process of creating more states? Yes
  • Should more states be created (divided votes)
  • Should states be created to bring parity to the geopolitical zones? Yes
  • Should the 6 geo political zones be another tier of government? No
  • Should people have rights of indigeneship include people who have resided in an area for long? Yes
  • Should the constitution require the President/Governor submit budget in September? Yes
  • Should state and Local Government joint accounts be abolished? Yes
  • Should the states be able to create local governments? No
  • Should local governments have their legislature? Yes
  • Should the local government tenure be defined? Yes
  • Should state INECs be abolished? Yes
  • Should the immunity of President/Governors only apply to civil matters? Yes
  • Should we have state police? No
  • Should governors have control of the police commissioners in their states? No
  • Should presidency be rotated between the north and south? No
  • Should presidency be rotated between the 6 geopolitical zones? No
  • Should the governor post be rotated between its senatorial districts? No (this vote was unbelievably close oh. Imagine that we only made it by 6 votes: 175 to 181)
  • Should the executive posts be filled by merit? Yes (135 mad men actually voted no)
  • Should there be a single tenure of 5,6 or 7 years for President/Governor? No
  • Should two term tenure be retained? Yes
  • Should we separate the office of the attorney general from that of the Minster for Justice? Yes
  • Should the constitution allow for independent candidacy? Yes
  • Should the constitution specifically address people with disabilities? Yes
  • Should states be able to control 50% of their resources? Yes
  • Should the provision that allows president/governors to make law be removed? Yes
  • Should the revenue allocation be able to ask for appropriation directly from the legislature? Yes
  • Should the Judiciary provisions be amended to allow for better service to justice? Yes
  • Should the office of Accountant general be created at state levels? Yes
  • Should the constitution deny revenue to unelected local government officials? Yes
  • Should NYSC, Land Use Act, Public Complaints Commission Act and National Security Agencies Act be removed from the constitution? No

The bad:

  • Should states be created in order to bring parity to the number of states among geopolitical zones? Yes
  • Should the 6 geo political zones be recognized in the constitution for administrative purposes only? Yes (only 134 sane members out of 360 voted no oh)
  • Should age requirement be lowered as a requirement for elective positions? No
  • Should Nigerians living in abroad have voting rights? No
  • Should we continue to have both the Senate and House of Reps? Yes
  • Should a role be created for local rulers to have a say in government? Yes
  • Should the constitution address gender issues including but not limited to reserving seats for women? No

The not so sure:

  • Should chapter two of the constitution be moved to chapter four and become enforceable? Yes
  • Should state houses of Assembly have financial autonomy like the federal level? Yes
  • Should we move criminal records/identification/criminal records, insurance, labor, prisons, public holiday, railways, bankruptcy/insolvency, registration of births and deaths from the exclusive to the concurrent list?
  • Should Nigeria maintain the current police structure? Yes
  • Should Nigeria practice parliamentary instead of Presidential system of government? No
  • Should the derivation component of revenue allocation be increased to at least 20%? No
  • Should we address the time for by-elections and election petitions? Yes

Now the grouping of most of these votes does not need explaining but I feel I should clarify a few of them.

Under the good, I believe we need to be clear on how long it requires before you can be an indigene. 5, 7, 10 or 20 years? If states really want to develop, it must not be so stated, funds will be allocated without the need for creating more local governments so I celebrate that vote of No. I also celebrate the taking care of people with disability. A typical example is the need to insist on a disability ramp in all government and public buildings because honestly this is a no brianer! Thanks God for trying to make the chief prosecutor no longer be a political appointee. Minster should not be the attorney general…

Under the bad, why in God’s name are we creating a space for traditional rulers in a democracy? If they wish to have a formal say, nothing prevents them from disregarding their traditional positions and contesting for office. Barring that, they should maintain their role as advisers and rule via the traditional structures. I am also disappointed that they lumped all gender issues together and voted no just because they are scared of affirmative action. If one can vote, there is a presumption that she is capable of making informed intelligent decisions. Why then put a limit to what she can/cannot be? #thatisall

For those I listed under the not so sure, I think we even need more clarity. Everyone insists that making chapter 2 enforceable is a good thing but I am very skeptical. S 20, 17 (1) (d) is good for the environment and for the Niger Delta (issues close to my heart) but should we allow people to sue were free schooling, care for kids/aged, and a means of livelihood does not exist? I also don’t know about allowing state assemblies have ‘financial autonomy’. We saw what happened when the federal legislators got ‘financial autonomy’ ba? Accepted I don’t know if the federal high courts are overbooked (unlikely) so why are we moving stuff to concurrent list? There is a reason they are on the FHC’s exclusive list: so that they are handled at a higher level and also makes it binding not just persuasive. As for the rest: Parliamentary vs Presidential, police structure, derivative formula, I don’t know enough about the current situations. And I thought the time for election petitions and by-elections had already been addressed?

So, I hope a lot of good comes out of this venture and the bad is turned around on its head. Because most times it is easy to hate on our federal house of reps, except on days where they vote in favor of positive legislation. On days like this, I take time out to appreciate their efforts unlike the senate…

 

P.S

My playlist was on random: Nina Simone’s Time they are a’changing started playing. If that is not a sign, I don’t know what is!

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2 comments

  1. I notice you didn’t say a word about their refusal to create gender parity in the constitution…

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