House Says Rejection of Power Devolution, A Mistake

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Femi Gbajabiamila

• To be reconsidered in September

James Emejo in Abuja

Apparently feeling the heat of public anger against the killing of the devolution of powers bill by the National Assembly, the House of Representatives has said the legislative act was a mistake that would be corrected upon its resumption from summer vacation in September.

The House spoke thorough its Majority Leader, Mr. Femi Gbajabiamila, who said the rejection was occasioned by the mistake of lumping many of the powers to be devolved into one single bill, leading to confusion among many members.

Entitled Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, (Fourth Alteration) Bill, No. 3, 2017 (Devolution of Powers), the bill sought to alter the Second Schedule, Part I & II to move certain items to the Concurrent Legislative List to give more legislative powers to states.
It also delineated the extent to which the federal legislature and state assemblies could legislate on the items that had been moved to the Concurrent Legislative List.

But the bill suffered a massive defeat in the Senate with 46 senators in support and 48 against, falling far short of the 74 votes required to pass. Although it made a good showing in the House, scoring 210 against 71 votes, it was still struck down having fallen below the 240 vote-threshold required.

Public reactions were vehemently opposed to the killing of the bill, which was seen as a shortcut to achieving the prevailing and deafening clamour for the restructuring of the country.
So loud was the public outcry against the legislative act that the Senate President, Dr. Bukola Saraki, in an attempt to calm frayed nerves had to issue an explanation and a commitment for a review of the decision.

He said many senators struck down the bill due to suspicions actuated by recent hate speeches as well as inadequate consultations, and raised hopes that the decision could be reviewed.
The House followed the same line Tuesday as its leader in a statement said lumping the powers for devolution in one single bill was a mistake that would be corrected in September without fail.

“Many of us will be asking for the issue of devolution of powers to be revisited upon resumption in September,” he said, adding: “It’s either an oversight or mistake for several items to have been lumped under the devolution of powers bill, a situation that led to the defeat of the bill.”

He explained: “There were about nine items, including railways, pensions, arbitration, stamp duties, parks and others under the subhead and members should have voted on each rather than vote in one fell swoop.

“A member may have agreed to certain items for devolution to states and not to others. The way we voted one would never know how to pass judgment on each item,” he recounted.

He added: “I believe each item should stand or fall on its own merit. It is important to note that devolution of powers is baby steps and the simplest form of reconstruction not a surgical dismemberment of our country. We must feel the pulse of the nation in moments like this.”
Many aggrieved groups had registered their grievances against the rejection of the bill, while others had threatened brimstone.

On Monday, the Pan Niger Delta Forum (PANDEF) had at a press conference addressed by its National Leader and Convener, Chief Edwin Clerk, condemned the killing of the bill, saying it was hostile to the interest of the Niger Delta. The group called for an immediate reconsideration of the bill.
However, Gbajabiamila said Tuesday: “The democratic process was played out as it should be during the voting exercise. However, the process is ongoing and not concluded.”

He said the bill still has a lifeline to succeed, noting: “Under our rules, we do have a mechanism, which allows for rescission of a decision when appropriate or when new unknown facts emerge.
“For me, it was a mistake or oversight to have lumped all items for devolution under one umbrella or subhead titled devolution of powers,” he pointed out.

  • Rence Iyegbu

    A restructured Nigeria with regional governments will give approximately 6 to 8 regions or provinces, whatever they choose to call it. Cost of governance will drop and add to the regional revenue. The pace of thought and comprehension varies greatly across the various regions of Nigeria and the backward regions, mainly in the north are not challenged because quota protects them. Why would anyone even strive to be better with a quota system? We end up with people whose game plan is:
    if i cannot move, let no one move.
    If i score 100 in Jamb, let the cut off be 100.
    If i have SSCE, let the requirement be SSCE
    regardless of the job requirement and others with superior qualifications and ideas.

    I often hear about the north and its population and even described as a contribution to Nigeria.Yes, it could have been, but it is not. A mainly illiterate population, is actually a liability to any country;
    They are difficult to train for jobs/skills,
    They drive up health costs because of ignorant practices
    They are easy tools for radicalization in any context as we see already in Northeast.
    Adding all these to the lack of citizen welfare system in Nigeria, their buying power is not 0 but in the negative.
    This is the gift of the north to the Nigerian union but there may be hope, depending on how it is handled forthwith.

    Of course there are very learned people from the north, but what is the ratio when compared to the ones who are menace to the society. It cancels out.
    The so called population which is in debatable is a liability to Nigeria and not a blessing. They take more than they give.

    Moving forward to a restructured new Nigeria, the poorer areas will be stimulated by the activities of the richer areas as long as they are under one region. Lagos – Ogun state effect is an example.

  • Tunde

    It was a mistake my foot! You lot obviously do not know what you’re doing! We did it once, we’ll do it again! Change the lot of you! My prayer is that a lot of the minor parties have candidates in 2019! Amen!

  • SouthANDMiddleBeltUNITY

    IT IS A BIG LIE. THE GOOD THING IS, WHEN THE BREAKDOWN BEGINS, WE WILL ALL SUFFER IT.

  • Dele Awogbeoba

    90% of oil related revenue (which accounts for 50% of Nigeria’s revenue and over 80% of Nigeria’s foreign exchange earnings) comes from Delta, Bayelsa, Akwa Ibom and Rivers.

    https://infoguidenigeria.com/oil-producing-states/

    81% of Nigeria’s VAT (which accounts for close to 40% of Nigeria’s revenue) comes from Lagos (55%), FCT (20%) and Kano (6%).

    https://www.thecable.ng/adeosun-half-nigerias-vat-comes-lagos

    In total and should devolution take hold, no more than the said 8 states (which incudes Ogun state that host close to 40% of Nigeria’s industrial base and has access to corporation taxes) would be viable. Most states would become bankrupt in the very short term once cash dries up. It is unrealistic to expect people to vote against their own interests.

    • Lawrence Osiegbu

      A restructured Nigeria with regional governments will give approximately 6 to 8 regions or provinces, whatever they choose to call it. Cost of governance will drop and add to the regional revenue. The pace of thought and comprehension varies greatly across the various regions of Nigeria and the backward regions, mainly in the north are not challenged because quota protects them. Why would anyone even strive to be better with a quota system? We end up with people whose game plan is:
      if i cannot move, let no one move.
      If i score 100 in Jamb, let the cut off be 100.
      If i have SSCE, let the requirement be SSCE
      regardless of the job requirement and others with superior qualifications and ideas.

      I often hear about the north and its population and even described as a contribution to Nigeria.Yes, it could have been, but it is not. A mainly illiterate population, is actually a liability to any country;
      They are difficult to train for jobs/skills,
      They drive up health costs because of ignorant practices
      They are easy tools for radicalization in any context as we see already in Northeast.
      Adding all these to the lack of citizen welfare system in Nigeria, their buying power is not 0 but in the negative.
      This is the gift of the north to the Nigerian union but there may be hope, depending on how it is handled forthwith.

      Of course there are very learned people from the north, but what is the ratio when compared to the ones who are menace to the society. It cancels out.
      The so called population which is in debatable is a liability to Nigeria and not a blessing. They take more than they give.

      Moving forward to a restructured new Nigeria, the poorer areas will be stimulated by the activities of the richer areas as long as they are under one region. Lagos – Ogun state effect is an example.

  • Netanyahu

    To the idiots in the senate that voted against the restructuring generally clamored for, your days are numbered. Let it be told to the awusa/foolani that stupidly think they can continue to lord it over every other part of Nigeria that you have fast-tracked the disintegration of the contraption. Watch as things unfold. You can’t eat your kuli-kuli and have it.

  • ychukwuka

    keep on with the mistakes but kindly note that some mistakes can be costly!

    • Agba

      With this mistake,i pray before they come back from useless Holiday,they will not come back and meet ONE NIGERIA again AMENNNNNNNN;

  • The Dawn

    We Biafrans know you NASS people better. You are a creation of Fulani genociarchs and genomonists, and only a fool like the Ohan’eze expects an agency created by his enemies to promote his interests. Killing the bill to restructure Nigeria may be a mistake to you, but to us it is the deliberate working of God to strengthen the cause of Biafra, just like the mass murder of 2,500 IPOB activists, just like the illegal detention of Kanu and denial of his bail, just like the on-going genocide by Fulani herdsmen, and just like the so-called quit notice issued to the Igbo resident in the north by quota system educated ultra-conservative anarchists sponsored by Muhammadu Buhari. We will never allow any ruse or Takkiya deception sponsored by our enemies to divert us from the cause of Biafra, whether it is called restructuring or whatever. We Biafrans are finished with Nigeria. We have business to do in the world. We are irreversibly breaking away. We know better than to sit down cross-legged waiting for development partnership with anarchists and religious zombies whose grandest vision of existence is to live in an antediluvian morass of mass wives, illiteracy, diseases, ignorance, girl-child marriage, laziness, corruption, senseless riots, terrorism, rape, VVF, darkness and generalised barbarism. BIAFRA TODAY, BIAFRA TOMORROW, BIAFRA FOREVER. May they be cursed who hate Nnamdi Kanu and Biafra. May they be cursed who gather at National Assembly to share blood money from the Niger Delta. May they be cursed who say they are Christians but are praying for terrorist Buhari to recover and continue to kill Christians.

  • Otunba 1

    This mistake is worst than that of 1914. But was it really a MISTAKE? No. The North knows what they are doing with their majority numbers in the two chambers. However, it should be noted that a continued opposition to RESTRUCTURING offers a leeway to Biafra’s Independence agitation.

  • Stanley

    Very costly mistake. Enough to convince Nigerians that their plights do not matter to the government in power. Enough for Nigerians to understand that the 8th Assembly is unrepresentative.

  • Okworld

    NA is a mistake

  • Daniel Obior

    It was indeed a mistake. It is however doubtful if the mistake can be reversed with the next opportunity. The reason is that a significant members of the legislature see their sections of the country as disadvantaged if power is devolved. They would rather the status quo continues, which gives them undue advantage over others. That is the crux of the matter. In actual fact, devolution puts more responsibility further down the rung of government, which in turn will challenge creativity resulting in better development and accountability to the people. Some fear they may not be able to meet these challenges, which is most unfortunate. It is simply unfair to consign others who are willing, to this stagnation, that is the lot of the country.

  • Thisday News Editor