The Technical Committee on Amendments to the 1999 Constitution has advised the Senate not to create any new states, signifying a loss for campaigners for the creation of new states.
This is contained in the report of the 25-man committee which comprises constitutional lawyers, political scientists, researchers and public policy analysts. which might be submitted to the upper chamber this week.
This comes after the House of Representatives’ report on consultations on constitution amendment indicated that Nigerians had generally rejected new states.
The National Assembly in 2012 had received requests for the creation of 52 new states, in addition to the existing 36.
Sources say that the committee may have recommended more revenue for states; consideration of state police – in line with the principle of Federalism — retention of Joint Account; a guaranteed three-year tenure for elected officers of Local Government Areas (LGAs); and removal of local government chairmen to take similar process as governors’, abolition of caretaker committee system at local governments; and no single term of five years.
A highly-placed source, who spoke on the recommendations of the committee, said: “The Technical Committee considered all suggestions and advised the Senate against state creation because such states will not be viable. The nation’s economy cannot support new states.
“The agitation for states followed a proposal to return the nation into regions to strengthen our federalism. Some people felt an additional state from the Southeast would have ensured a balance in the regional structure. But since we are no longer going back to the regional structure, there is no need for new states.
“More revenue has been recommended for states since some items on the exclusive list have been moved to the concurrent list. This means more responsibilities going to states.
“On the single term tenure, the committee got a five-year proposal. But while the minority supported it, the majority kicked against it. It is left to the Senate to consider arguments for and against the single tenure.
“Regarding state police, the Technical Committee observed that with the exception of the Southwest, Nigerians at zonal public hearings rejected it. But the panel has said the ‘Senate may wish to consider state police’, based on the security challenges facing the country.”
The source also gave an insight into the recommendations on the management of local government areas nationwide, saying that the Committee recommended an amendment to the constitution, which will guarantee three-year tenure for all elected local government officials.
“The era of a caretaker management committee will henceforth be illegal. Only validly elected officers will be in charge, said the source, who added: “Also, the removal of local government chairmen will now follow a constitutional process like that of elected governors and their deputies.”
On the issue of financial autonomy for states, the source said: “The Technical Committee endorsed the retention of Joint Account because of the rampant cases of mismanagement of resources by local governments.”
As at press time, it was learnt that the Senate will soon begin the consideration of the reports of Zonal Public Hearings and the Technical Committee.
A Senator said: “We may consider all the reports immediately after the Easter break.
“The Technical Committee is advisory, but the ultimate decisions on all proposed amendments lie with the National Assembly. If the two chambers disagree on some amendments, we will then convene a joint conference.”