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Ex-Rep backs Constitution amendment

By Tony Akowe, Abuja

A former member of the House of Representatives, Sunday Marshall Katung, has asked the National Assembly to  correct what he called the anomaly created by the 1999 Constitution.

The correction, according to him, would empower federal lawmakers to vote during a joint sitting for the creation of new states when the need arises.

He said the new constitution being worked on by the lawmakers should also create a Gurara state for the Southern Kaduna people.

In a memo to the Senate Committee on Constitution Review in Abuja, Katung said the lacuna created by Sections 8 and 9 of the 1999 Constitution should be amended to empower federal legislators to vote for creation of new states at a joint sitting.

The former lawmaker describe the existing 36 States structure of Nigeria as a contraption of disproportionate entities.

He said “This arrangement belies any reference to equality between states in terms of size and power sharing. Nationalities such as the Southern Kaduna people of Kaduna State, has an estimated population of 5.1 million people, comprising 67 ethnic groups and inhabiting a landmass of about 26,000km2, which is greater than those of Kano (a State in the same North Western region as Kaduna, which has 20,131km2landmass); Sokoto State (25,973km2); Jigawa State (23,154km2), among  others.

“Despite this imbalance, the procedure for state creation in the Constitution (Section 8) is herculean and Section 9 tightens the bolt against an amendment of the utopian Section 8, making it possible only under a dictatorial (military)system. Hence, since 1999 till date, regardless of pressing necessities, no new State has been created. This is likely to cause a social implosion resulting from marginalization and other forms of social injustices”.

Katung, who represented Zango Kataf/Jaba federal constituency in the Eighth Assembly, said further: “The voting majority standard prescribed by Section 9 which refers to Sections 48 and 49 is a clog, considering the disproportionate compositions of Federal constituencies.

Sections 9 & 49 naturally operates to harm a particular section of the country (bound by common interests) with unjust  numerical strength to vote against proposals for state creation which may be perceive as a self-determination stride, a diminution of its power and strategic position, a function of a bloated, inflated population and size.”

He said Section 9 should limit the voting benchmark to a simple majority of total votes cast by members present at a joint sitting of the House of Representatives and Senate, adding that there should be no deeming construction of the number of Members and Senators as is the case with the final part of Section 9(4).

According to the former lawmaker, an amendment to Section 8 should dictate that members who shall be required to vote in support of a request for state creation, need not be members representing the area demanding such state creation.

He maintained that “every member of the Legislative houses outlined in Section 8(a) (i) to (iii) ought to be allowed to vote for or against the request”, adding that “the list of States in the Federal Republic of Nigeria, outlined in Section 3(1) be amended to include a new State for the people of Southern Kaduna to be known as Gurara State.”

Ar a similar presentation in Kaduna, representatives of southern and northern Kaduna including members of National Assembly from the state agreed that two new states be created from the present Kaduna State.

President of the Southern Kaduna People’s Union, Jonathan Awake and the Leader of the Northern Kaduna group, Abdulkadir Ahmed both agreed that Gurara state should be created out of the Present Kaduna state.

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