By Hassan Haruna Ginsau
The National conference’s committee on political restructuring and forms of government has reached a consensus that 50% of members in their proposed unicameral legislature be based on equality of states and the other 50% based on population.
During the debate, three different views emerged regarding the allocation of seats in the proposed unicameral legislature. The first, spearheaded by Adamu Maina Waziri, and other delegates mainly from the North, proposed that membership be based on 60% population and 40% equality of states, arguing that it would be unfair on states like Kano and Lagos for example if representation was more inclined to equality.
The second view however, proposed by Mr Peter Odili, suggested that allocation of seats be based on 60% equality and 40% population. The final view which was the one eventually agreed on was that of 50-50 between both population and equality.
The committee agreed last week that there should be a unicameral legislature at the national level, as opposed to the bicameral system we have today.
In the bicameral legislature, the Senate has equality of states, while the House of Representatives has population as a guiding factor in representation.
Speaking after a lengthy session which encroached into the committee’s two- hour break time, co- chairman of the committee, Hon. Mohammed Kumalia said the committee came to this decision in such a way that both critical factors would both have been taken care of without anybody feeling that either issue had been undermined.
Said Kumalia, “Now that we are going to have only one house of parliament, we had to reflect the two criteria, which is equality of states on the one hand, and population on the other. And we agreed that 50% of the members of the unicameral parliament be based on equality, and the other 50% be based on population.
He said the decision was based on the need to be fair, and the need to be futuristic and build a country on a solid foundation, because of the critical nature of the issue of population.
“There is no way you can compare Yobe state and Kano state. And therefore if you say 100% of membership based on equality, that means Yobe and Kano will have the same members of parliament, whereas Yobe has 1.8 or 2 million people while Kano has about 10 million people.
So we said, however, Yobe is a state, Bayelsa is a state with 1.8 million people, so 50% should be based on equality, but the other 50% should be based on population, because representation in parliament is about representing the people,” he added.
The number of members to make up the legislature will be debated today.