Mrs. Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala
Minister for Finance &
Coordinating Minister of the Economy
Federal Ministry of Finance
GENERATION OF REVENUE FROM NON-OIL SECTOR OF THE NIGERIAN ECONOMY
Your welcome statement that Nigerians should henceforth view the country as a non-oil producing nation and explore other sources of revenue as a result of the decline in the price of oil. This calls for reflection. You have suggested broadening the tax base to raise revenue. While this is a good step, we suggest that it only scratches the surface.
As I have always said to you, there is massive untapped revenue in our maritime sector estimated at N7Trillion per annum. I will suggest that you pay close attention to this sector, which at this time has all but collapsed. In order to tap revenue from this sector there will need to be an overhaul of policy, institutional, regulatory and legal framework.
There is a raft of legislation pending in the National Assembly, which have deterred growth in the sector, e.g. the PIB, the Ports & Harbour Bill, the Bill establishing the economic regulator (shipping sector), and the Maritime Zones Bill etc. In fact there is very good reason to review Nigeria’s Ocean Policy to tap abundant national resources.
As you know, I have dedicated many years to this sector and have deep knowledge of its potential of revenue generation, which I would like to discuss with you.
Olisa Agbakoba Legal
Olisa Agbakoba SAN., OON
Senator David Mark President of the Senate National Assembly Three Arms Complex Abuja, FCT. September 24, 2013
Dear Distinguished President,RE: THE NATIONAL CONFERENCE The Civil Society in Nigeria has always insisted that the People of Nigeria will have to authenticate, legitimize and endorse a Constitution to govern their affairs. Unfortunately this simple wish was always denied by the Colonial, Military and even “elected” Government. It was the Late Aka-Bashorun, my most illustrious predecessor as President of Nigerian Bar Association, who articulated the collective disappointment of Nigerians by the call for a Sovereign National Conference as long ago as the 1980’s. Civil Society in Nigeria has noted with mixed reaction your statement to Distinguished Senators, on the floor of the Chambers, that a National Conference is a vital requirement for a Peoples’ Constitution for this country. Although many within the civil society disagree or have expressed reservations about the so called “NO-GO” issues highlighted in your statement, it is commonly agreed that your Declaration forms an important new development in the quest for a legitimate Peoples Constitution. Civil Society’s demands have always been straightforward and simple – That Nigeria will benefit from a robust full discussion on 2 vital questions asked by Late Bola Ige when he said “There are 2 basic questions that must be answered by all of us Nigerians. One, do we want to remain as one country? Two, if the answer is yes, under what conditions? I respectfully suggest that Bola Ige’s Questions are well framed as the National Questions we need to examine if we are to build a new spirit of commitment to Nation and service to Motherland. CHALLENGES OF LOGISTICS You alluded to the very difficult task of Organization and logistics of a National Conference. I accept that there are challenges but they can be overcome. Every stakeholder must give and take. CONVENER A possible platform for a national Conference will be set by President Jonathan convoking it and declaring it’s resolutions binding and subject only to a Referendum. This will give the conference confidence and integrity and compensate for matters related to the non Sovereign status of the Conference. SCOPE/TERMS OF REFERENCE In view of the very many conferences called and ending without result, but producing possibly relevant results, review of past conference resolutions should form part of the Terms of Reference. Further suggested terms of reference can be readily agreed.The Conference ought to consider structure of the Federation and massive devolution of powers not necessary at Federal level to state level. It is of vital importance that the nature of our political arrangements are first discussed. The Conference’s task is not simply the drawing up of a Constitution. For example, couples first discuss personal arrangements and then solemnize by a marriage certificate. For Nigeria, we should discuss political arrangements first, then constitutionalize it by a legal document, that is the Constitution. VITAL ELEMENTS OF A GOOD CONSTITUTION I will like to draw attention to 4 vital elements of a good Constitution; –Inclusivity – Everybody must talk –Authority – We have to accept that President and/or National Assembly will be the Convening Authority –Validity – We, the people, shall validate the Constitution, by referendum. No one else. –Legitimacy – Our democracy can only be secured and deepened by a legitimate constitution validated by Nigerians. PARTICIPANTS It will be tasking to suggest that all 160 million of us can participate. My suggestion will be to draw from ethnic nationalities and the 5 estates of the Realm, namely Executive, Legislative, Judicial, Media and Civil Society. Civil Society is used in the broadest sense, to include NGO’s, Religious and traditional movements and of course Labour, Youths and Women. NEW CONSTITUTION We can enact for ourselves a new legitimate Constitution. This is the vital framework that will best manage our diversity and generate unity in diversity. WE ARE READY Civil Society is ready if you are, sir. Please accept the assurances of my best wishes and high considerations. Sincerely, Dr. Olisa Agbakoba, SAN
The Nigerian Judiciary is weak largely because it is not Independent. The Judiciary is not well funded and so judicial officers are poorly paid and operate under extremely terrible conditions. This explains the low quality of justice delivery; distractions and allegations of corruption in the system.
Is to call attention to the poor conditions, welfare and remuneration of Judicial Officers in Nigeria through the following action points:
1. Litigation – Court action to enforce financial independence for the judiciary already guaranteed by the Constitution but not implemented. Case is now pending before Justice I.N. Auta.
2. Constitutional reform – to strengthen weakness in the Judiciary. For instance, control of Judiciary by State Governors. State Governors can remove Heads of Court in States without the input of the National Judicial Council by simply commencing impeachment in the House of Assembly. Most C J’s are insecure. Again, a Judge cannot be appointed without the consent of a State Governor. Capital votes of State Judiciaries are controlled by State Governors.
3. Improved remuneration/ allowances – Ensure judges are well remunerated and compensated. Judges are extremely poorly paid. This explains the distractions and allegations of corruption in the system
4. Improved condition of service: Ensure Judges are properly accommodated and provided adequate facilities.Court houses and residential quarters are in very bad shape. Pension scheme for retired Judges are largely inadequate.
5. Transformation of court Administration and Management – Massive deployment of IT e.g. e-payment & e-filing systems, electronic court recorders, internet facilities, etc. Training of judicial staff on IT. The judicial system is still manually driven. Judges use long hand to record proceedings. Payment systems are largely cash based. Judicial support staff are poorly trained and remunerated. This is responsible for 90% of delays.
6. Quality of judges – Ensure the best and brightest from the Bar get appointed to the Bench.
7. Discipline of judges – Ensure corrupt and indolent judges are dismissed from the Bench.
8. Modernize rules of procedure – Massive review of criminal and civil procedure rules. The Lagos example. Most rules of court are generally old and date as far back as 60 years.
9. Strong Case Management -A report of the NJC Sub-committee on speedy dispensation of justice of 24thOctober 2011, noted that 75 % of cases filed in courts across Nigeria were frivolous and unnecessary. Part of the reason for keeping such cases is because of the failure to apply strong case management tools by courts. So case management tools in the rules are required to free up judicial time.
10. Case Management powers of Judges: Empower Judges to manage their cases. A Judge should be charge of his/her Court and should ‘descend’, as it were, into the arena if that will entail effective case management. Gone should be the days when a judge sits back and watch counsel take the Court on unnecessary and unhelpful rigmarole merely because an intervention would classify as a descent into the arena of conflict. The Fundamental Objective of Rules of Court is geared towards attainment of justice through the deployment of Judges managerial involvement.