Con­fab ref­er­en­dum will cost N22bn – Del­e­gate

Daily Trust - - NEWS -

Or­gan­is­ing a ref­er­en­dum on the out­come of the on­go­ing na­tional con­fer­ence would cost not less than N22 bil­lion, Dr Abubakar Sid­dique, a del­e­gate rep­re­sent­ing Katsina State said yes­ter­day.

Sid­dique told the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) in Abuja that the amount would have to be ap­pro­pri­ated for by the Na­tional As­sem­bly .

Ac­cord­ing to him, or­gan­is­ing a ref­er­en­dum will also re­quire an amend­ment to the 1999 Con­sti­tu­tion as it did not fore­see a ref­er­en­dum for such na­tional dis­course.

Sid­dique, who was also a mem­ber of the Pres­i­den­tial Ad­vi­sory Com­mit­tee on Na­tional Di­a­logue, said the com­mit­tee sought the ad­vice of ex­perts on the is­sue of ref­er­en­dum.

``We (com­mit­tee) called lawyers, called po­lit­i­cal sci­en­tists to ad­vise us on it, whether to rec­om­mend ref­er­en­dum or not; Okun­rounmu was there also.

``We were told by our lawyers that to or­gan­ise a ref­er­en­dum, which is bind­ing in Nigeria to­day, you have to amend the con­sti­tu­tion of the Federal Repub­lic of Nigeria.

``Be­cause the con­sti­tu­tion fore­sees of only two ar­eas for ref­er­en­dum - boundary ad­just­ment and lo­cal govern­ment cre­ation.

``Be­yond that, any other ref­er­en­dum could just be ad­vi­sory, so it is a waste of money. It will cost N22 bil­lion ac­cord­ing to Jega (INEC Chair­man) to or­gan­ise that kind of ref­er­en­dum.”

Sid­dique, a lec­turer at the Depart­ment of Po­lit­i­cal Sci­ence, Ah­madu Bello Univer­sity (ABU) Zaria, ex­plained that the Pres­i­dent would have to go to NASS with a bill for ap­pro­pri­a­tion be­fore he could spend that kind of money.

He ex­pressed the view that look­ing at the close­ness of the 2015 gen­eral elec­tions, or­gan­is­ing a ref­er­en­dum af­ter the con­fer­ence would eat into the elec­toral cal­en­dar.

The don said that there were ex­ist­ing state in­sti­tu­tions that could con­fer le­git­i­macy on the out­come of the con­fer­ence.

``The Na­tional As­sem­bly is still there, they’ve also ini­ti­ated the process of amend­ing the con­sti­tu­tion.

``What stops this con­fer­ence at the end of it from go­ing to the Na­tional As­sem­bly to say that look, we feel that the Nige­rian Con­sti­tu­tion should in­clude this or should be amended to take on board all that we’ve dis­cussed?

``They would be able to har­monise that which they’ve ar­rived at on the ba­sis of the dis­cus­sions which they’ve had with Nige­ri­ans to­gether with the dis­cus­sions we would have here and the out­comes and then set in mo­tion the process of amend­ing the Nige­rian con­sti­tu­tion.” (NAN)

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