Stormy ses­sion again over re­source con­trol

Daily Trust - - NEWS - By Nu­rud­deen M. Ab­dal­lah

There was a stormy ses­sion at the Na­tional Con­fer­ence com­mit­tee on de­vo­lu­tion of pow­ers yes­ter­day as del­e­gates bick­ered over re­source con­trol, forc­ing the com­mit­tee to ad­journ again.

But the com­mit­tee also shot down sug­ges­tions of cre­at­ing State Po­lice, when they voted to re­tain the po­lice in the exclusive leg­isla­tive list of the con­sti­tu­tion.

The del­e­gates were en­gaged in a heated de­bate, rais­ing mo­tions upon mo­tions on whether leg­is­la­tion on min­ing of min­eral re­sources should re­main the exclusive right of the federal govern­ment.

For more than two hours, the de­bate on min­ing went on, as mem­bers bat­tled to re­solve the im­passe on whether state gov­ern­ments should have a say in min­ing of nat­u­ral min­er­als.

The com­mit­tee was di­vided along re­gional lines as a sec­tion wanted the sta­tus quo as con­tained in the 1999 Con­sti­tu­tion sus­tained, while the other sec­tion wanted state gov­ern­ments to be in­volved in the min­ing in­dus­try.

On Thurs­day last week, the com­mit­tee co-chair­man Obong Vic­tor At­tah, in the midst of a heated de­bate, ad­vised com­mit­tee mem­bers to make their writ­ten sub­mis­sions avail­able on Mon­day, in­di­cat­ing how the con­tentious Item 39 in the Exclusive List could be amended for states par­tic­i­pa­tion in the min­ing busi­ness.

At­tah’s ab­sence at the com­mit­tee sit­ting yes­ter­day al­most turned the ta­ble on the is­sue, with some del­e­gates in­sist­ing that the mat­ter be put to vote in the ab­sence of a con­sen­sus while oth­ers set­tled for fur­ther ne­go­ti­a­tion for a con­sen­sus.

Re­tired In­spec­tor Gen­eral of Po­lice and co-chair­man of the com­mit­tee, Ibrahim Coomasie, who presided, also drew the at­ten­tion of the mem­bers to the fact that the is­sue was un­de­cided at the close of ses­sion on Thurs­day and should there­fore be sorted out im­me­di­ately.

Re­tired Gen­eral Jeremiah Useni, who opened dis­cus­sions on the mat­ter as soon as the ses­sion opened on yes­ter­day, moved a mo­tion that the is­sue be left the way it is in the con­sti­tu­tion. His mo­tion was in­stantly sup­ported, par­tic­u­larly by north­ern del­e­gates.

How­ever, for­mer Min­is­ter Pro­fes­sor Alphon­sus Nwosu, quickly cau­tioned that the is­sue is con­tentious and it could thus trig­ger cri­sis in some parts of the coun­try.

He said an am­i­ca­ble con­sen­sus could be reached on the is­sue depend­ing on how it was han­dled, “but if we bully our way through on this mat­ter, one way or the other, we may end up con­tin­u­ously pro­mot­ing mil­i­tancy in the af­fected ar­eas.”

But Dr Haruna Yer­ima from Borno state dis­agreed, in­sist­ing that the is­sue be put to vote since it was clear that reach­ing a con­sen­sus would be im­pos­si­ble.

Buba Gal­adima from Yobe state also said the mat­ter should be put to vote with­out fur­ther ar­gu­ments since a quo­rum had been formed so as to al­low com­mit­tee face other is­sues.

Adeniyi Ak­in­tola, SAN, how­ever ob­jected. He cited cer­tain sec­tions of the Stand­ing Rules of the Con­fer­ence which al­low for fur­ther con­sul­ta­tion on is­sues that could not be de­cided on con­sen­sus at the first in­stance.

Pro­fes­sor Eddy Erhagbe said the two seem­ingly in­com­pat­i­ble po­si­tions were ca­pa­ble of tear­ing the meet­ing apart and sug­gested an amend­ment which he be­lieved could sat­isfy the two sides; by adding the clause “pro­vided that govern­ment of the state where the min­ing ac­tiv­i­ties take place is in­volved.”

Al­though other ar­gu­ments fol­lowed im­me­di­ately, some mem­bers sug­gested that the amend­ment pro­posed by Erhagbe be looked into and pos­si­bly adopted in the in­ter­est of peace.

Bashir Dal­hatu from Ji­gawa state stoutly op­posed sug­ges­tions by Chief Dozie Iked­ife and Pro­fes­sor Nsongu­rua Udom­bana that the mat­ter be stood own un­til writ­ten sub­mis­sions agreed upon last Thurs­day be made avail­able for am­i­ca­ble res­o­lu­tion of the ar­gu­ment.

Dal­hatu ar­gued that sub­mis­sion of writ­ten po­si­tions by mem­bers would only re­flect the trend of ar­gu­ments that had been heard al­ready, say­ing that “we can ad­journ for 15 min­utes for con­sul­ta­tion, but we have to vote.”

Dr Ju­naid Mo­hammed from Kano state sup­ported the po­si­tion with a dec­la­ra­tion that the mat­ter must not be re­turned to the ple­nary un­de­cided. He in­sisted on a vote be­ing taken im­me­di­ately.

A sug­ges­tion by for­mer Deputy Pres­i­dent of the Se­nate, Ibrahim Mantu, that there was need for ad­journ­ment in view of the ris­ing tem­pers, was sup­ported by Ak­in­tola.

How­ever, just as Ak­in­tola fin­ished talk­ing, Useni, who moved the ini­tial mo­tion, re­peated his mo­tion and in­sisted on a vote be­ing taken.

Shortly af­ter, an­other sup­port by Chief Ayo Ade­banjo to Mantu’s sug­ges­tion, the co-chair­man ruled in favour of ad­journ­ment till to­day to en­able mem­bers sub­mit their po­si­tions in writ­ing for a con­sen­sus.

The is­sue of State Po­lice also took a sim­i­lar trend with south­ern­ers in sup­port while north­ern­ers op­posed.

Udom­bana said there was no re­place­ment to State Po­lice, adding that the fears of its be­ing abused would be taken care of by laws.

Dal­hatu said, “I don’t think we are yet ready in this coun­try for State Po­lice.”

Ade­banjo and Tony Ade­fuye were of the view that with the es­tab­lish­ment of State Po­lice, most of the cri­sis that have rocked the coun­try would al­ways be chased away at the roots.

Ma­gaji Dam­batta said State Po­lice would amount to le­gal­is­ing in­tim­i­da­tion of po­lit­i­cal op­po­nents by sit­ting gov­er­nors.

Af­ter con­tri­bu­tion by for­mer gover­nor of the de­funct North Westers State, Al­haji Us­man Farouk, the mat­ter was put to vote and it was de­cided that po­lice be re­tained in the exclusive list.

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