COMMUNIQUÉ OF THE SOUTH WEST CIVIL SOCIETY CONSULTATIVE FORUM ON PRIORITY ISSUES FOR THE NATIONAL CONFERENCE HELD AT PLANET ONE HOTEL, MARYLAND, IKEJA ON TUESDAY 11TH MARCH 2014

                                               

The Lagos State Civil Society Partnership (LACSOP), a forum of civil society networks and coalitions working with the Lagos state government for the effective implementation of development issues, facilitated the South West Civil Society Consultative Forum on Priority Issues for the National Conference on Tuesday the 11th of March 2014, at Planet One Hotel, Ikeja Lagos.
 
The forum was attended by 51 participants comprising the broader civil society and its stakeholders including youth groups, representative of the Council of Obas, gender groups, faith based groups, professional groups and grassroots community groups from the six states of the South West Zone.
 
At the commencement of the deliberation the following diverse issues were presented by the different participants:
 
1.       The devolution of power should go to the federating units which could be regional governments units (with the regions in charge of their resources, eg: the ports etc.)
2.        Immunity clause should be removed from the constitution and any public office holder indicted in a criminal case should be made to face the wrath of the law.
3.       Special status for Lagos status,
4.        Independent candidacy
5.        Streamlining of our political parties into 2 or 3 maximum.
6.       There should be no limits imposed to what is discussed at the conference
7.       Regional policing will reduce tension and aid security intelligence gathering.
8.       Reducing the power of the central government as evident in the old Western Region which thrived because the regional governments were in charge of their resources.
9.       That the ideology of a “Nigerianism” should exist, to promote unity and (Nigerians should have wealth in proportion to what they have put in )
10.   Public officials should declare their assets which should be verified by agencies.
11.   Right to self determination would promote true federalism.
12.   Education should be made compulsory and all forms of child neglect, abuse and exploitation should be
13.    Punishable by law.
14.    Higher Education fees should not be more than the minimum wage, and the equivalent of at least one month salary so that the average family in the society would be able to afford it.
15.   Electoral offenders should be tried and jailed if found guilty then banned from contesting further elections for life.
16.    Anti corruption agencies should be strengthened to safeguard their independence for more effectiveness.
17.    The Whistleblowers Protection Act should be made a constitutional matter.
 
18.   State governments should have joint responsibility with the Federal Government on national security, electricity, railways and roads.
19.   The PRONACO proposed fiscal sharing formula should be adopted.
20.   There is a need for Civil Society to identify all the delegates from the South West and hold them accountable to present the issues agreed upon at the Forum.
21.     Civil Society also needs to engage the process at the conference and develop a clear strategy on monitoring the proceedings with regular feedback from the delegates and report from the civil society.
22.   That social inclusion groups should be mainstreamed in the deliberations and outcomes of the national conference.  For instance, less than 35% of the delegates’ list are women.
23.   Gender Policy should be specifically included in the Constitution, because it will formalize the 35% affirmation action that women have been clamoring for.
24.    The constitution should spell out that there is no office of the 1st lady because it collapses the work of the Ministry of Women Affairs in the States.
25.   There should be devolution of power to the local government.
26.   There should be two or more forums before the end of the conference, ie with SW delegates delivering their monthly reports on deliberation at the conference.
27.   Parliamentary system of government should be adopted
 
The Forum subsequently identified the following common priority issues to be presented by the delegates at the national conference:
 
1.       Resource control should be replaced with Resource ownership.
2.       Devolution of power to the federating units
3.       Decentralizing the Police force ( ie-State police)
4.       Defence – Armed forces should remain at the centre (National) but with equal representation from the federating units.
5.       Judiciary should be decentralized to the federating units
6.       Adoption of the Parliamentary system of government will reduce the high cost of governance to the barest minimum.
7.       In the alternative, to reduce the cost of governance the Presidential system of government could be adopted, but without the offices of Vice President, Deputy Governors, Ministers of State and other paraphernalia of office attached to the above positions.
8.       First line charge account from the national revenue to provide social economic services , including free education from primary to tertiary level, healthcare, food subsidy , basic shelter, living allowance for the aged, unemployed and persons with disabilities.
9.       35% affirmative action for women for all public, elective and appointive offices for 20 years (also to mainstream the issues of persons with disabilities )
10.   Fiscal arrangement of 50% to region of derivation
11.   Youth participation  at age 18 for voting and all elective offices
12.   Citizenship law should be amended that women whose husbands are foreigners be free to be given citizenship.
13.   Electoral process should be made inclusive for persons with disabilities.
14.   FoI Acts to be replicated in the states.
 
Conclusion:
 The participants thanked the Lagos Civil Society Partnership (LACSOP) and the State Accountability and Voice Initiative (SAVI) for facilitating the South West Civil Society Consultative Forum on the priority issues for the National Conference. The Forum committed to continue to engage the process of the National Conference both at the Zonal and Federal level in Abuja.
 
Signed by:
 
1. Oba Aderemi Adedapo – Secretary General Yoruba Council of Obas
2. Dr Tola Winjobi – CAFSO-WRAG for Development (Oyo State)
3. Florence Mojisola Akinsanya –Commonwealth Women’s Organization Nigeria (Ogun State)
4. Franklin Olonije –
Coalition of All CSOs in Ondo State (Ondo State)
5. Wale Ajani – President, Nigeria Youth Council (NYC)
6. Biodun Oyeleye – New Initiative for Social Development (Ekiti)
7. Azeez Tajudeen Olayemi –Joint Organization of Nigeria Grassroots Optimists (JONGO) (Osun State)
8. Ayo Adebusoye – Steering Committee, Lagos State Civil Society Partnership (LACSOP)(Lagos State)
9. Abimbola Junaid – Arise Nigeria Woman (Lagos State)
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