ABUJA – The National Conference Committee of Political Restructuring and Forms of Government has approved a part-time unicameral legislature for the country to cut the cost of running government.
The committee also resolved that the legislature should be on 50 per cent equality among states and 50 per cent on population.
Members of the committee had heated arguments on the option to be adopted for the unicameral legislature.
The options strongly canvassed for by members were: 50-50, 40-60 and 60-40 for population and equality respectively, while few others wanted 10 per cent for minority and special interests.
When the issue dragged and prevented members from going for lunch, Co-Chairman of the committee, Mukaila Mohammed, pleaded that members should think of what would easily scale through at plenary.
Mohammed said the current Senate and House of Representatives were conceived to take care of the sensitive issues of equality and population respectively.
According to him, therefore, it will be easy for the committee to defend and convince plenary on the two issues based on the 50-50 options than 60-40 and 40-60 options.
Following his plea most members of the committee like Peter Odili, Jeremiah Temlong, Anya Anya and Tunde Bakare reconsidered their positions and supported the 50-50 option.
Mohammed told NAN that since equality of states and population were the guiding factors for Senate and House of Representatives respectively, it was only proper that they should be reflected.
“We have to reflect equality of states and population and we agree that 50 per cent of the members of the unicameral parliament should be based on equality and the other 50 per cent should be based on population.
“These two critical factors would both have been taken care of without anybody feeling that the issue of equality or population is undermined.
“The decision is based on the need to be fair and the need to be futuristic and to build a country on a solid foundation because the issue of population is critical,” he said.
“It is a question of weighing the factors, whether you give more weight to population than equality or you should give more weight to equality than population.
“But it is not about only here (committee level), it is about plenary and the point was made that whatever we do here is subject to all the other delegates of the conference.
“In determining which one is easier is a question of which one is fairer, which one will sail through easily, that members can live with.
“And we felt equality of 50-50 for equality of states and population will be more manageable to all the delegates and we believe it is fair and that is why we arrived at that,” he said.
After taking the decision, the committee adjourned till Tuesday to debate the number of seats to be allocated to each of the 36 states and the FCT.
Most members favoured fewer number than the current National Assembly has in view of the need to cut the cost of governance. (NAN)