By Olusegun Emmanuel, Abuja.
Plenary session of the National Conference ended on Thursday without a final decision on critical issues of revenue sharing formula from the Federation Account and derivation principle.
Members of the Consensus Committee derived from the six geo-political zones to find a middle ground to the contentious issue of derivation formula could not reach an agreement on the resolution to be presented to the plenary.
The leader of the Northern group on the committee and former Inspector General of Police, Alhaji Ibrahim Coomasie, fired the first salvo when he announced that the committee was yet to reach an agreement on the contentious issue.
A resolution of the committee earlier submitted by Chief Raymond Dokpesi and later read to the delegates by Chief Olu Falae, who represented the South West on the committee, was greeted with disapproval by some delegates.
Falae said the committee did agree that the principle of derivation shall be constantly reflected in any approved formula as being not less than 18% of the revenue accruing to the Federation Account directly from any natural resources.
He said it was also agreed that not less than 50% of the total derivation fund accruable to a mineral bearing state shall be due and payable to the host communities within the state where the resources are derived in accordance with the production quota contributed y such communities.
Amidst the shout by a number of the delegates, Falae announced that an aspect of the decision was that there shall be established a Solid Mineral Development Fund which is currently 3% but which would be increased to 5% of the revenue accruing to the Federation Account.
He said a National Intervention Fund which would be 5% of annual revenue accruing to the account of the Federal Government for the stabilization, rehabilitation and reconstruction of areas affected by terrorism and insurgency, starting with the North east, and then any other part of the country affected was also announced in the controversial report.
Faced with obvious rowdiness from a cross-section of the delegates who variously disagreed with the presentations by both Coomasie and Falae; and applause from another section that seemed to also variously agree with the two presentations, Conference Chairman, Justice Idris Kutugi decided to adjourn sitting till Monday.
After a brief consultation with the principal officers, he announced that the leadership of the Conference would meet with selected delegates referred to as the 50 Wise Men in a bid to resolve the contentious issues.
Justice Kutigi said in addition that all the chairmen, co-chairmen and deputy chairmen of the 20 committees that handled different assignments for the Conference should also attend the meeting.
However, before the adjournment, Conference had considered and adopted certain aspects of the Report on Devolution of Power including the recommendation that granting public holidays should be moved from the Exclusive to the Concurrent Legislative List.
In adopting the recommendation through a unanimous decision, Conference said this would give states the latitude to declare holidays reflective of the values of their own people.
Conference also accepted the recommendation that management of prison services be retained in the Exclusive Legislative List as specified in the 1999 Constitution. The same was done to fishing and fisheries other than those in rivers, lakes, waterways, ponds and other inland waters within Nigeria.
Also retained in the Exclusive Legislative List are insurance, stamp duties and formation, annulment and dissolution of marriages other than marriages under Islamic Law and Customary Law including matrimonial causes.
Moved from Concurrent to the Exclusive Legislative List is the first item on the Concurrent Legislative List which deals with allocation of revenue and division of public revenue between states and federation, between states and states and between states and local governments.
The merger of Items 6, 15, and 24 which all relate to banks, banking, exchange control, bills of exchange, currency, coinage, legal tender and promissory notes, was also approved and adopted for placement in the Exclusive Legislative List.
Other issues left in the Exclusive Legislative List are taxation of income, profits and capital gains; trade and commerce while other aspects of Trade and Commerce particularly, registration of business was moved to the Concurrent List.
The Committee also recommended that regulations of political parties be retained in the Exclusive Legislative List as specified in the 1999 Constitution as amended. Pensions, gratuities and other-like benefits payable out of the Consolidated Revenue Fund or any other public funds of the federation are to be split between the Exclusive and Concurrent Legislative Lists.
In one aspect, retirees previously employed by the federal government are entitled to payment of their benefits by the federal government while state governments shall have exclusive jurisdiction over the pension matters of their own employees and retirees.
The Committee also recommended the retention of Traffic of Federal Trunk roads in the Exclusive Legislative List as specified in the 1999 constitution.