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Updated: proposed new states: Senate committees asks INEC to conduct referendum

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The Senate Committee on Constitution Review has recommended that the Independent National Electoral Commission be allowed to conduct a referendum for 20 new states to cater for agitations by different groups across the country for creation for additional states.

The committee’s decision was said to have been reached after considering various factors including the ability of civilian administration to create states, The Nation reported on Sunday.

It recalled that the defunct Mid-Western Region  was created in 1963 in  the First Republic.

To check tax evasion, the Senate panel also approved the amendment of the 1999 Constitution to allow for the creation of Federal Revenue Court.

There will be about five revenue courts to deal with all tax issues nationwide, especially cases involving multinational firms.

A highly placed source said the Senate panel will soon meet with the House of Representatives Committee on Constitution Review for joint consultations on some of the approved amendments.

Creation of new states tops the list of amendments to the 1999 Constitution.

Although less than five of the current 36 states are economically viable, it was gathered that the Senate Committee was determined to respect what it  termed “the genuine desire of Nigerians.”

The list of requests for new states is quite long  but sources said referendum may be conducted for no fewer than 20 states.

Some of the requests are ITAI State (from Akwa Ibom State); state status for the FCT; Katagum State from Bauchi State; Okura State from Kogi East; Adada State from Enugu State; Gurara State from Kaduna South; and Ijebu State from Ogun State

Others are  Ibadan State from Oyo State; Tiga State from Kano State; Ghari State from Kano State;  Amana State from Adamawa; Gongola State from Adamawa; Mambilla State from Taraba State; Savannah State from Borno State; and Okun State from Kogi State.

Others on the list are Etiti State from the South East Zone; Orashi State from Imo and Anambra states; Njaba from the present Imo State or the excision of Aba State from Abia State; Anioma State from Delta State; Torogbene and Oil River States, from Bayelsa, Delta and Rivers states; and Bayajida State from parts of Katsina, Jigawa and Zamfara states.

The source said, ”The Senate Committee on Constitution Review has seen the desirability of creating new states which may even solve the nation’s present security challenges.

“What the Senate Committee has recommended is to amend the constitution to empower INEC to conduct the referendum on state creation.

” When INEC gets the constitutional mandate, we can then invoke Section in Part 1 of Chapter 1 of the 1999 Constitution.

“We are talking of referendum for less than or about 20 new states.”

The source added, “The procedures for creating new states may be cumbersome but realizable. At the committee level, it was obvious that a civilian administration is better placed to create new states than any other form of government. In fact, the defunct Mid-Western Region was created in 1963 during the First Republic.

“In this Fifth Amendment to the 1999 Constitution, the National Assembly can create new states if the conditions are met.”

Section in Part 1 of Chapter 1 of the 1999 Constitution states the conditions as follows:

“An Act of the National Assembly for the purpose of creating a new state shall only be passed if –

(a) a request, supported by at least two-thirds majority of members ( representing the area demanding the creation of the new state) in each if the following –

(i) the Senate and the House of Representatives

(ii) the House of Assembly in respect of the area, and

(iii) the local government councils in respect of the area, is received by the National Assembly.

“A proposal for the creation of the state is thereafter approved in a referendum by at least two-thirds majority of the people of the area where the demand for creation of the state originated.

The result if the referendum is then approved by a simple majority of all the states of the Federation supported by a simple majority of members of the Houses of Assembly, and

“The proposal is approved by a resolution passed by two-thirds majority of members of each House of the National Assembly.”

It was also gathered that the Senate Committee on Constitution Review recommended the establishment of Federal Revenue Court, including five branches to adjudicate on tax-related issues.

Meanwhile, the Senate has denied the reports that its members proposed the creation of 20 more states, saying the upper chamber has been “grossly” misrepresented.”

Senate spokesman, Ajibola Basiru, in a statement on Sunday said the report was a misunderstanding of the decision reached by the Senate Committee on the Review of the 1999 constitution.

According to the lawmaker representing Osun Central, Section 8 of the Nigerian Constitution clearly stipulates the procedures for the creation of additional states.

“The report is a gross misrepresentation of the decision of the committee on the request for creation of more states,” the statement maintained.

“Far from recommending creation of any state, the Senate Committee, while acknowledging receipts of several Bills proposing creation of new states, decided that it is not in a position to recommend or proposed the creation of any state unless there is compliance with the provisions of section 8 of the 1999 Constitution of the Federal Republic as amended.

“In view of the above, the Senate Committee is not in a position to propose creation of any state as reported.

“Rather the committee decided to refer the requests received to the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) to ensure compliance with section 8 of the Constitution by conducting referendum in the areas if the requests supported by at least two-thirds majority of members (representing the area demanding the creation of the new State) in the Senate, the House of Representatives and the House of Assembly in the area.”

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FG declares public holiday to mark Eid-ul-Mawlud

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The Federal Government has declared October 19 as a public holiday in commemoration of the birth of the Holy Prophet Muhammad.

This was contained in a statement issued by the Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Interior, Shuaib Belgore, on Friday.

The statement stated that the Minister of Interior, Rauf Aregbesola, made the declaration on behalf of the Federal Government.

Aregbesola congratulated all Nigerian Muslim faithful, both at home and in the diaspora, on the occasion of Eid-ul-Mawlud.

He admonished Nigerians to imbibe the spirit of love, patience and perseverance which were the virtues of the Holy Prophet, as doing so would guarantee peace and security in the country.

Read Also: https://newstrends.ng/2021/10/16/competence-not-zone-should-determine-next-presidents-choice-bakare/

Read Also: https://newstrends.ng/2021/10/16/election-not-war-stakeholders-react-as-igp-deploys-over-34000-officers-3-helicopters-others-to-anambra/

The minister enjoined Nigerians, particularly Muslims, to refrain from violence, lawlessness and other acts of criminality.

“As the indisputable leader of our race, we (Nigerians) must show responsible leadership in Africa,” he said.

Aregbesola called on Nigerians to refrain from all divisive tendencies capable of causing crisis in the country.

He also urged Nigerians and the youth in particular, to embrace the virtues of hard work and peaceful disposition to fellow humans.

“Irrespective of faith, ideology, social class and ethnicity I urge you to cooperate with President Muhammadu Buhari’s administration  in its effort to build a progressive and enviable nation that all citizens would be proud of,” he said.

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FG establishing oxygen plants in 36 states – NEC

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The National Economic Council (NEC) says the Ministry of Health is establishing oxygen plants across the 36 states of the federation.

Ebonyi State Governor David Umahi made this known to State House correspondents after a virtual NEC meeting on Friday presided over by Vice President Yemi Osinbajo.

Umahi said that Governor Ifeanyi Okowa of Delta, who chaired the NEC Ad hoc committee interfacing with the Presidential Task Force (PTF) on COVID-19 to ease the lockdown of the economy, presented a report to the council.

“The Federal Ministry of Health is establishing oxygen plants across the 36 states in the country, but currently six states have been provided with oxygen cylinders so far.

“The Federal Government has paid for 40 million doses of COVID-19 vaccines coming in batches and therefore a considerable amount of the vaccines will come into the country between now and January 2022. Nigeria is now classified among the 50 countries in the green zones.”

Umahi said that NEC also received states’ performance report on COVID-19 from the National Centre for Disease Control (NCDC).

He said that the council was also updated on the global situation of COVID-19.

He said, “Over 237 million confirmed cases and over 4.8 million deaths due to COVID-19. There are now over 6.3 billion vaccine doses administered.  Nigeria is still in the first wave of vaccination and vaccination tools will improve as the country receives additional vaccines. COVID-19 cases have declined by 7.5 per cent over the last week.”

Umahi said that states were urged to continue to push testing activities in order to detect new cases before the situation worsened.

According to him, an update on travel restrictions on certain countries expected to be announced soon by the Federal Government.

The governor said that the council also received an update on the situation regarding Cholera outbreak.

“Current Cholera situation in the country; suspected number of cases   is 88,704. Number of states is 31 and the FCT. Number of deaths is 3,208.

“Multi-sectoral emergency operation centres activated at level 2 continues to coordinate the national response,” he said.

He listed the challenges to include difficulty in accessing some communities due to insecurity, open defecation and lack of potable drinking water.

Umahi said other challenges were lack of basic health primary healthcare infrastructure, inadequate health facility and cholera commodities for case management.

Umahi said that NEC commended the insightful presentations and congratulated the outgoing Director-General of NCDC, Dr Chikwe Ihekweazu, on his new appointment at the WHO and also welcomed the incoming Director-General, Dr Ifedayo Morayo Adetifa.

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Bakare meets with Buhari, opposes clamour for power rotation

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Founder of Citadel Global Community Church, Tunde Bakare, says the region to produce the president of Nigeria should not be an issue.

He stated this in Abuja on Friday during an interaction with reporters at the presidential villa after meeting President Muhammadu Buhari, noting that Nigerians are only bothered about a leader that would ensure the prosperity of the country.

The pastor said the “immaturity” of the citizens is responsible for “making us say power must either be in the North or be in the South, instead of looking for the best.

“Listen to me, if where the President comes from will make the place he has come from to be better, the northern part of Nigeria should be richest and the most progressive and the most developed because out of 61 years, the North has produced either the President or heads of state for 40 to 41 years and yet, see the retrogression in the North.

“If it’s from the South, why should a person like President Obasanjo freeze and seize the account of Lagos State in his own tenure? If it’s from South-South or South-East, why couldn’t President Jonathan use all his powers to develop South-South/South-East?

“If there are agreements between politicians on rotation, a bargain is a bargain. That is between them. But as far as this country is concerned, what we need at this stage is a man who can drive us to the Eldorado.”

The pastor commended the national assembly for empowering the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) to determine the mode of transmitting election results.

“Perhaps one of the best things the present national assembly has done, especially the senate, because, with that, Nigerians can vote and then results can be transmitted so easily,” he said.

“Not only that, part of the state of the nation address that I did on October 10, I emphasised how Nigeria youth, especially undergraduates, are disenfranchised in our country.”

 

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