- ‘ Cases of rape rise to 84% in Nigeria’
- Dana air crash update: 23 aircrash victims’ families yet to receive compensation
- Mimiko inaugurates new Mother & Child hospital today
- N4.56b pension scam: Female accused hospitalised,trial stalled
- Construction workers hail FG’s decision on Lagos-Ibadan expressway
- Senate adjourns plenary for 1 week, dissolves to Appropriation committee.
- Blackout looms as Egbin power plant breaks down
- FMBN, NEXIM, BOA, IB lose N47bn in 6 months - CBN
- FirstBank wins Nigerian Bank of the Year award
- PDP tackles ACN over Tukur’s comments
- Electricity workers threaten strike over Wamakko
- ‘NDIC prosecuted 55 directors, staff of micro finance banks in 2011’
- Judgment in Oni’s appeal stalled, re-fixed for Jan 8
- Slain banker: Deceased had only 3 wounds -Accused’s father
- Appointments: S/West not marginalised —FCC
Kogi Assembly speaker’s impeachment, a grave issue—Kwara speaker
Speaker, Kwara State House of Assembly, Honourable Adbdulrazaq Atunwa, clocked 43 last Wednesday and granted an interview to express his views on some national issues. Biola Azeez brings excerpts:
HOW do you see the impeachment of the speaker of the Kogi State House of Assembly?
The news of that purported impeachment was received by me and many other speakers in the federation with grave concern. My thought is that, generally, it is troubling to see that speakers of state Houses of Assembly in Nigeria seem to be easy targets now and are becoming endangered species. Speakers are being impeached willy nilly. In the past 12 months or so, there were about five speakers that were impeached. It happened in Kano, Adamawa, Niger (twice in the same week) and now Kogi.
It is troubling and it’s bad for our polity. It is bad for democracy in Nigeria that state parliaments are becoming increasingly volatile. If there is no stable leadership in the first arm of government in any state, that state becomes precarious and if we allow it to be go unchecked throughout the federation, then, of course, we’ll be creating room for more instability in our democratic existence.
The parliament is a place to be revered and a place that requires utmost stability. It should not be toyed with. I understand the motion was raised on the floor of the House of Representative last Wednesday and a committee had been set up as a fact-finding committee to look into what occurred few days ago at the Kogi State House of Assembly and report back. I would not want to delve into any particular issue, but what we do know is that 17 members ought to have impeached Abdullahi Bello, the speaker, and replace him with Lawal.
We read in the newspapers, later in an advert signed by 13 members of the 25-member house committee, that it was 13 members that impeached the speaker. The constitution, in Section 92, is quite clear that you can only remove the Speaker of a House of Assembly by two-thirds majority. And two-thirds of 25, is 16 and a half or thereabouts. You need at least 17 members to remove the Speaker. If that is correct, the 13 members who signed in the newspaper communiqué did not make the required number stipulated by the constitution. I raised this not to dabble into to the issue, right or wrong, but because it’s now a concern to me as a legislator and a concerned citizen of Nigeria, if this sort of attitude goes unchecked, then our democracy, of course, will begin to falter.
Parliaments worldwide are the stabilising factors, because ministers can come and go, secretaries to state governments can come and go, commissioners can come and go willy nilly, but parliaments must be stable.
After the public hearing on the Kwara State 1999 Land Law issue, what is the latest development?
The report on the land issue was presented on oversight function and the public hearing held on the ‘Land Use Policy and Urbanisation Order of Kwara State’ and legal notice issued in September 2009. We are all aware that it was said that the urbanisation order of 2009 is inimical to the interest of the people of the state and that it has serious adverse consequences and no benefit at all.
Some members of the public had peddled unsubstantiated rumours that the government had sold the Eid Praying Ground or part of the Emir’s Palace and so on and so forth. But the report presented after the public hearing again demonstrated that none of those rumours were true. No part of the Eid Praying Ground or Emir’s Palace was sold. But more importantly, the report shed light on the operation of the policy and we accepted that there might have been unintended consequences of the legal notice of the urbanisation order. The purpose of the urbanisation order was to ensure that Kwara State, which has been developing at a very rapid rate, particularly under the administration of Dr Bukola Saraki, can have an orderly approach to land use and allocation and efficient use of land. But of course, there are unintended consequences.
As Nigerians, we know that some family compounds are not vested in the hands of a single individual; they are held as a communal thing and if you are urbanising and asking them to now subject those lands, including the family compound to a statutory Certificate of Occupancy regime—well, a C of O will have to carry one name. So, that’s an unintended consequence. And you’ll have to pay, of course, for your C of O, survey etc.
That wasn’t what was envisaged by the time the legal notice was being given. So, we’ve made six recommendations. First, the legal notice of 2009 should be revoked and repealed by the governor and if the governor wishes to pursue any urbanisation scheme, he should take account of those native hereditary family residential compounds and they should be excluded from that regime. It doesn’t take any thing away from the urbanisation scheme. I believe that, as a result of the public hearing and the resolution, those things would be corrected and also, importantly, we said that the compensation and evaluation rate should be reviewed, so that compensation would be seen to be adequate and sufficient for anybody whose land had been acquired.
What is your take on the financial autonomy of Houses of Assembly?
I am happy with the progress so far made in the constitution amendment process that is going on.I am happy that the financial autonomy of Houses of Assembly is also taking priority position in the amendment.
Again, if Houses of Assembly are seen to be autonomous, it means they are independent and they will be able to carry out their functions without fear of the executive. Again, the incident of Kogi State buttresses the point. It would then make you ask a question in relation to state police. If governors wield so much power and then you add to that the control of security forces, including the state police, what they would be doing is to transform from a democratic existence to what I will term executive dictatorship. And we must avoid such an occurrence. So, I don’t believe Nigeria is ripe for state police.
It will also create legal problems if Kwara State has its own police command and Niger, Oyo and Osun have theirs. They are our neighbours. If a criminal in the territory of Kwara State goes into Oyo State, now what laws govern my entry into Oyo State jurisdiction as a police officer to have the power of arrest or chase him to Oyo State? We all cite the example of the US. In the US, they started as separate states, but came together as the United States. In Nigeria, the opposite is the case. We are one and subdivided into separate state entities.Therefore, I believe one unified police force under the Federal Government suffices for Nigeria’s particular context.
The current Security situation in Nigeria is baffling. What is the way out?
One should be concerned really. We are fast descending into a state of anarchy. It is a product of what the society has become or is becoming.
We have to be tough on the perpetrators of evil, but we must also be sincere in the course of crime prevention. What do I mean by that? Our security problem may not be unrelated to the lack of adequate growth in our economy. People are now looking at various criminal means of trying to achieve financial buoyancy. It’s wrong, criminal and can’t be condoned in any way whatsoever.
But as long as there is lack of genuine opportunity for the youths and the work force to achieve some good means of livelihood, then, we would see more people turn to delinquent means of livelihood. The wife of the speaker of Osun State was not kidnapped for any political reason, but because somebody wanted to make some money out of it.
We need to have economic growth and create ample opportunity for people to have means of livelihood. Second, there is a disconnect between the goal of achieving riches and the institutional means of getting rich. In other words, every Nigerian wants to live the dream and make money, but then, more frequently, those people want to get rich quick, but not through the dint or hardwork and commitment. It’s a serious social problem. As long as there is that breakdown, there’s a problem. We are not teaching our youths how to work hard and apply themselves patriotically to doing those things that advance society and themselves.