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Breaking: Draft of Bill Proposing Return to Regional Governance Leaks 

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Toba Owojaiye reporting 

Benin City, Edo State 

 

A draft bill circulating on social media, titled “A Bill for an Act to Substitute the Annexure to Decree 24 of 1999 with a New Governance Model for the Federal Republic of Nigeria,” has ignited a fervent debate across the nation. Spearheaded by yet unidentified sponsors, the bill proposes a significant departure from the current centralized governance structure, advocating for a return to regional government in Nigeria.

Truth Live News gathered that , the bill, if passed into law before October 1, 2024, would be cited as the “Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria New Governance Model for Nigeria Act 2024.” Proponents of the bill argue that the current Constitution, born out of Decree 24 of 1999 under military rule, lacks the essential ingredient of popular consent, rendering it non-autochthonous.

They assert that a constitution crafted through the collective deliberations and consensus of the Nigerian people is long overdue.

Central to the proposed constitutional reform is the introduction of a Federal/Regional System of Government. Under this model, both federal and regional governments would operate within the framework of the new constitution, with regions having autonomy over their internal affairs. The bill provides flexibility for ethnic blocs within states to aggregate or disaggregate as provinces, divisions, and districts, granting them control over their governance structures.

The draft bill also emphasizes the right to self-determination for every ethnic nationality and people within Nigeria, granting them the authority to establish institutions of government in their respective territories. Additionally, it proposes equitable representation for ethnic groups at both federal and regional levels, aiming to address historical grievances and foster inclusivity.

Critics of the bill caution against the potential challenges of implementing a regional governance system, citing concerns about resource allocation, power dynamics, and potential conflicts between federal and regional authorities. They argue that while decentralization may promote local autonomy and address regional disparities, it could also exacerbate ethnic tensions and fragment national unity.

The proposal bill reads as follows in two parts:

PART I – Preliminaries: 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.

“Whereas the 1999 Constitution as amended is a schedule of a military decree now deemed to be an Act of the National Assembly for which the National Assembly have the powers to amend and/or abrogate as expedient.

“Whereas the National Assembly where so necessary and expedient can invoke the doctrine of necessity to resolve any point of law for the good governance of the country Nigeria.”

On PART 11 – Substitution Clause, the drafters proposed that the National Assembly shall invoke its inherent powers to expunge the schedule attached to decree 24 of 1999 often referred to as 1999 Constitution as amended from the decree, which “is now deemed to be an Act of the National Assembly to which the National Assembly have the powers to so do and replace same with a new governance model for Nigeria effective not later than October 1, 2024.”

“This amendment is subject to a yes or no vote in a Referendum by the people of the Federal Republic of Nigeria,” it proposed.

On governance structure under PART III – Stipulations for Federal Administration, the sponsors proposed that: “(1) Nigeria shall be a Federation comprising of Regional Territories and a Federal Capital Territory and shall be a Republic to be known by the name of the Federal Republic of Nigeria.

“(2) The territorial jurisdiction of Nigeria shall comprise the territory of the Regional members of the Federation and its boundaries shall be as determined by international agreements

“3.2 Basis of the Federation: “(1) Every Ethnic Nationality and People in Nigeria has an unconditional right to self-determination within here delineated territories.

“(2) The sovereignty, powers and authority to formulate the articles of association towards any reform of the Central Federal Government of Nigeria, at any other time shall lie jointly and severally with all the ethnic nationalities occupying their respective territories.

“(3) Every Ethnic Nationality and People in Nigeria has the right to a full measure of self-government which includes the right to establish institutions of government in the territory that it inhabits and to equitable representation in the Federal and Regional Governments.

“(4) A “Ethnic Nationality or People” for the purpose of this Constitution, is a group of people who have or share large measure of a common culture or similar customs, mutual intelligibility of language, belief in a common or related identities, a common psychological make-up, and who inhabit.”

The proposed constitutional amendment Carries the importance of a referendum, allowing the Nigerian people to decide the fate of their governance structure democratically. Whether this bill marks a progressive evolution towards a more inclusive and responsive governance model or a risky devolution that threatens national cohesion remains to be seen.

As stakeholders engage in robust discourse, the future of Nigeria’s governance hangs in the balance, poised between tradition and transformation.

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