The Nigerian Labour Congress (NLC) has called for autonomy for local government, judiciary and legislative arms of government.
This was one of the many demands the NLC made at the Senate national public hearing on constitution review on Thursday.
Thursday’s event comes about a week after the senate committee held regional hearings across the country.
The National Assembly is currently making a fifth alteration to the 1999 constitution.
These nationwide hearings are part of the process of the constitutional amendment.
Agencies, institutions, groups and individuals have not only submitted their memoranda but appeared before the panel to make their demands.
Some key issues have been raised so far. They include gender equality, electoral reforms, autonomy for different arms and levels of government, creation of new states, local government, revenue allocations.
Ayuba Wabba, the NLC president, made the presentation on behalf of the congress.
He referred to a House bill seeking to move minimum wage from exclusive list to concurrent list – a move he described as preposterous.
Mr Wabba said it was condemnable to even consider the idea, let alone implementing it.
“There have been recommendations to remove labour and the minimum wage from the exclusive list to the concurrent list, it will be condemnable to even contemplate taking that step. Labour and minimum wage shall continue to be on the exclusive list,” he said.
Besides autonomy, he also asked that immunity be taken away from political office holders to allow for prosecution on criminal cases.
“Our concerns, local government autonomy, independent judiciary and legislative arms of government, electoral system, immunity vows, state and local government creation and a revenue sharing formula.
“We want full autonomy for our local government so that they can be recognised politically.
“Labour also demands that all political office holders should not have immunity from prosecution of criminal cases, only for civil cases,” Mr Wabba said.
Current constitution outdated
On her part, a former presidential candidate, Oby Ezekwesili, said the current constitution, which has been altered four times, is outdated.
To this regard, she asked that the National assembly only accept referendums for a new constitution to be made.
“Major socio-political issues that need to be solved are effective management of Nigeria’s diversity based on the principles of justice, equity, inclusion and equal opportunities.
“Nigeria’s failure to solve productivity and poor competitiveness problems means that she cannot maximise our human resources to create inclusive growth and prosperity.
“The current 1999 constitution is outdated. For Fix Politics (a group she represents), we ask that you allow a single amendment for referendum for a deliberation on a new constitution for the country,” she said.
Jake Ekpele and Lois Auta, who spoke on behalf of Persons With Disabilities (PWDs), emphasised the need for Section 42 of the constitution to be addressed. The section prohibits discrimination against PWDs.
“Section 42(4) of prohibition of discrimination needs to be interest. We want 15 per cent of seats on the national and state houses of assemblies and local government houses to be reserved exclusively for qualified persons with disabilities – taking into account the different types of disabilities.
“Sign language interpretation and their means of artistic communication should be arranged in every strategic meeting and activities of the national assembly,” Ms Auta said.
The Auditor General of the Federation, Adolphus Aghughu, wants his office to be strengthened.
He proposed a timeline for the submission of reports. He also called for federal and state audit service which he said, will ease the work at the federal level.
“The auditor-general has 90 days within which to submit reports but the time within to collect other reports from agencies was not specified. We are proposing six months at the end of a financial year. The result will give us enough time to do our work.
“Also…Federal audit service and state audit service. That will settle us by bringing us out of civil service as we currently operate. The office currently has its appointments, promotions and this is still handled by other agencies. We believe if we are privileged as other institutions, we’ll be able to be more independent and the office will be strengthened.”
At the end of the event, the chairman of the committee, Ovie Omo-Agege, promised that demands and suggestions made will be considered by the upper chamber.
The Senate national public hearing will end on Friday.
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