Confab C’ttee Okays Unicameral Legislature

national conferenceThe National  Conference Committee on Political Restructuring and Forms of Government yesterday recommended that membership of the proposed unicameral legislature be based on equality of state and population.

The committee said all states are equal but have different population figures.

On April 30, the committee voted for a unicameral legislature in a modified Presidential system of government as opposed to the current bi-camera legislature of the Senate and the House of Representatives.

Yesterday, the delegates weighed options between population and the equality of states, with arguments following the North-South divide.

Most northern delegates argued in favour of 60 per cent representation at the National Assembly based on population and 40 per cent based on equality of states; but most of their southern counterparts wanted it otherwise.

Some of the southern delegates said 60 per cent representation by equality of states and 40 per cent by population would serve the country better.

Some delegates canvassed for 10 per cent representation for special groups, such as women, youths and people living with disabilities.

The committee’s Co-Chairman, Mohammed Kumaila, said: “We agreed that there should be a unicameral legislature with one House of Parliament.

“In taking this decision, we took cognisance of the fact that the Senate, as we have it today, with equality of states as the guiding factor while population is what determines representation at the House of Representatives.

“We have to reflect the two factors so that no segment of the state would feel neglected or undermined.

“The decision was based on the need to be fair, futuristic and building the country on a solid foundation because the issue of population is critical.

“For instance, there is no way we can compare Yobe and Kano when it comes to population, so if we pick 100 per cent representation on the basis of population, states like Kano would be disadvantaged as all would have the same number of representatives notwithstanding the number of their population.

“That is why we say the other half of 50 per cent should be based on population because the parliament is about representing the people. Moreover, we are also of the opinion that the 50-50 option would be easier to adopt at the plenary as all interests would have been taken care of”.

Thanking members who dropped their positions in favour of the popular option, Co-Chairman Gen. Ike Nwachukwu (rtd.) appealed that the committee should not be embarrassed by those whose opinions were not accommodated.

He said the country’s interest should be paramount in delegates’ minds at all times.

Culled from The Nation