From Paul Osuyi, Asaba
The demands for power devolution, fiscal federalism and creation of state police reverberated on Thursday in Asaba at the South-South zonal public hearings on alterations to the 1999 Constitution.
The two-day public hearings are being organised by the House of Representatives through its Special Committee on Constitution Review chaired by the Deputy Speaker, Ahmed Idris Wase.
The Senate carried out a similar exercise last week across the zones.
Like that of the Senate, the public hearings involved stakeholders in Bayelsa, Delta and Edo states.
Governments of the three states strongly advocated the need for devolution of power, fiscal federalism, creation of state police among other demands for the unity, peace and progress of the country.
Prof Sam Ukala, who summarised the memorandum of the people and government of Delta State, stressed the need for the creation of state police, saying that the present structure of the Nigeria Police Force was no longer meeting the security needs of Nigerians.
‘Armed herders have invaded our land, destroying farmlands to create artificial famine. They brazenly rape our women. They kidnap for ransom and even kill our people. The worst part is that reporting to the Nigeria Police is a risky waste of time,’ he said.
Presenting the memorandum of the people of Bayelsa State, the state Attorney General, Biriyai Dambo, SAN, said the people were advocating full resource control of all natural resources located onshore and offshore of the federating states
‘We, therefore, support 100% ownership of mineral and other resources by the federating units and subsequent payment of taxes to the Federal Government,’ Dambo said.
On the devolution of power, Dambo recommended that items among the 68 in the exclusive legislative list should be devolved to the federating states.
Speaker of Edo State House of Assembly Marcus Onobun made the presentation on behalf of the people and government of the state.
In a remark, Deputy Speaker of the House of Representatives Ahmed Idris Wase assured that the National Assembly would continue to do things that would promote the unity, happiness and prosperity of Nigeria.
The Chairman of the Zonal Public Hearings and Minority Leader of the House, Ndudi Elumelu, noted that the 1999 Constitution is replete with grave defects.
Elumelu solution to such defects lies in statutory amendments to reflect the prevailing wishes, aspiration and demand of the people.
He said the public hearing offered ‘a voice as well as an ear to the aspiration of the people. Of course, any system that ignores such loud voice from the citizens is doing so at its own peril.’
Declaring the public hearing open earlier, Delta State Governor Dr Ifeanyi Okowa expressed delight with the renewed drive to review the Constitution.
Governor Okowa, who was represented by the Speaker of the State House of Assembly, Sheriff Oborevwori, threw his weight behind the demand for devolution of power, review of revenue sharing formula, creation of state police and state and local government creation.