• Sunday, July 14, 2024
businessday logo

BusinessDay

Tinubu to receive bill proposing eight regional governments today

Tinubu inaugurates presidential committee on livestock reforms

President Bola Tinubu is set to receive a draft bill that proposes a shift to a regional government structure for Nigeria on Friday (today).

The bill, crafted by Akin Fapohunda, a chieftain of Afenifere, is titled “A Bill for an Act to substitute the annexure to Decree 24 of 1999 with New Governance Model for the Federal Republic of Nigeria.”

It aims to introduce laws under the name “The Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria New Governance Model for Nigeria Act 2024.”

“Whereas Nigeria, its peoples and government have been governed under Decree 24 of 1999 that was handed down by the then military government without the express consent of the people despite the preamble of ‘We, the people.’

“Whereas the said Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria 1999 (as amended) is not autochthonous as it does not evolve from the deliberations and consensus of the Nigerian People; whereas the peoples of Nigeria now desire and effectively demand for a change to a constitution based on federal/regional system of government.

“Whereas the federal and regional governments are to operate within the provisions of this Constitution, it is within the discretion of the ethnic blocs within the states that constitutes a given region to aggregate or disaggregate as provinces, divisions and districts, while being in control of their affairs without let or hindrance at whatever level of governance,” the preliminaries of the bill read.

The House of Representatives has not scheduled the bill for discussion in the current constitutional review, as stated by House spokesman, Akin Rotimi and chairman, Rules and Business, Francis Waive. However, Fapohunda confirmed that the bill will be submitted to the president today.

Fapohunda, also a representative of the Coalition of Indigenous Ethnic Nationalities, disclosed the proposal to divide Nigeria into eight geo-political regions with defined interim boundaries.

The suggested divisions include a southern region comprising Akwa-Ibom, Bayelsa, and Cross Rivers States, with potential additions from neighboring areas.

The South Eastern region would encompass Abia, Anambra, Ebonyi, Enugu, and Imo States. The Western region would include Lagos, Ogun, Ondo, Osun, Oyo, and Ekiti States, with possible inclusions from Kogi and Kwara States.

The Mid-Western Region could consist of Edo and Delta States, while the Eastern Middle Belt Region might cover areas from Northern Cross River to Taraba State.

The Western Middle Belt Region could include parts of Kebbi, Kwara, and Niger States, and the North Eastern Region might comprise parts of Borno, Gombe, Bauchi, Jigawa, and Yobe States.

The North Western Region could include Kaduna and parts of Kebbi, Kano, Katsina, Sokoto, and Zamfara States.

The coalition envisions a two-tier system of federal and regional governments, with regions managing their affairs independently.

CIEN’s governance proposal suggests maintaining the current state boundaries but reducing the scale of political administration.

This, according to Fapohunda, would involve establishing a regional government with executive and legislative branches led by a Premier.

States would become provinces with integrated executive and legislative Provincial Councils. Local Government Areas would transform into divisions focused on socio-economic development.

The coalition’s proposed constitution allows regions to manage their sub-political units autonomously, aiming to cut public and civil service costs significantly.

“To introduce a new regional government framework with executive and legislative functions and bodies with the headship title of Premier.

“In the new dispensation, the present States (for example the six in the Western region) would be converted to provinces. Governance at this level shall be by Provincial Councils that integrate executive and legislative functions, with Chairman and Support Specialist Administrative Officers. The regions shall be at liberty to create provinces, subject to viability and self-sustainability.

“The present Local Government Areas are to be transformed into divisions, with divisional managers and specialist administrative officers; to operate as socio-economic development institutions. The new provinces shall also be at liberty to create divisions, subject to viability and self-sustainability,” the coalition stated.

The draft suggests a single-chamber federal legislature with regionally elected members and a decentralised federal structure favoring fewer than ten regions. It also recommends a federal government with a maximum of nine ministries and a parliamentary system with rotational regional leadership.

The federal government, according to the coalition “Shall comprise not more than nine Ministries and Ministers,” adding that “The very big United States has just 15 Cabinet Ministers, while Nigeria is not even up to just a State of Texas or New York.”