In a major upset for the clamour for restructuring, the Senate Wednesday rejected the constitution alteration bill seeking the devolution of powers that would have moved some items from the bloated Exclusive List in the 1999 Constitution to the Concurrent List, which would have given more powers to the states.
The Senate has voted against devolution of powers to states – The rejection is a huge blow to restructuring agitation in the country – 48 of the 95 Senators present in the Senate on July 26, through an electronic voting system, voted against the proposal.
The Land Use Act and affirmative action bills also suffered defeats in the upper legislative chamber during the electronic voting on the 33 bills presented to amend the 1999 Constitution. In order to ensure that the Land Use Act was retained in the constitution, sources disclosed that there was intense lobbying Tuesday night into Wednesday morning, particularly by senators from the Northern region, who were of the view that the bill amounted to resource control.
“It is resource control sneaking through the backdoor. Northern senators mobilised heavily against it last night. They were calling around and were able to convince many, probably from the less endowed states that it would be a disadvantage,” a source said.
He explained further that “if you delete the Land Use Act and remove the powers of the federal government over land, it would be easy for the South-south states that have been at the forefront for the control of their oil resources to achieve it”.
“The states would just legislate on the land in their territories and whatever natural resources lies below the ground belongs to them, instead of the federal government.
“They could even use individuals who would just claim that certain acres of land is their ancestral land and they can decide they will not allow exploration of the resources therein.
“So it would be a huge issue not just for the northerners, but also to less endowed states,” he added.
It appears that the unity of Nigeria hinges on the exploitation of the resources in the South-South.
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