The Senator representing Plateau North in the Nigerian National Assembly, Istifanus Gyang says the recent naming of a new public primary school after a Fulani leader, Ardo Mamud Adam in Rankum, a supposed Berom native community forcefully annexed and renamed “Mahanga” by herdsmen is unconstitutional.
“Local governments are constitutionally empowered to undertake among other functions, the following;
-Naming of roads and streets and numbering of houses;
-the provisions and maintenance of primary, adult and vocational education,” said Senator Gyang in a press statement on Tuesday through Mr. Musa Ibrahim Ashoms, his Special Assistant, Media and Protocol.
Where the Federal government intervenes as in the instant case, building a school by the SDG Office, the Constitution, according to the statement, “does not vest it with the power to name the school after an individual or change the name of the place where the school is situated.”
Such an action therefore, the Deputy Chairman, Senate Committee on Defense said would be “ultra vires, as it is not within the purview of the SDGs Office.”
The building of the “Ardo Mamuda Primary School, Mahanga” by the SDG Office, the Senator said satisfies Section 15 (3) (a) of the Constitution, being an arm of the government of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, which “the Constitution has charged with the responsibility of upholding and enforcing the provisions of Sections 15 (3) & 24 (c) and (d) of the Constitution.
It is therefore a “welcome and commendable development,” Gyang said.
However, in his words, “the naming of the school after an individual and the renaming of the place where the school is situate is where the controversy lies.”
The Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, 1999 (as amended) has made ample provisions for national integration and residency rights for all citizens, Gyang acknowledged, adding, “It has also spelled out the duties of citizens.”
“For the avoidance of doubt, the Constitution provides in Section 15 (3) that:
“For the purpose of promoting national integration, it shall be the duty of the State to-
“(a) provide adequate facilities for and encourage free mobility of people, goods and services throughout the Federation;
“(b) secure full residence rights for every citizen in all parts of the Federation;”
“The Constitution went further to define the corresponding duties of the citizen in Section 24 where it provides that:
““It shall be the duty of every citizen to-
(c) respect the dignity of other citizens and the rights and legitimate interests of others and to live in harmony and in the spirit of brotherhood;
(d) make positive and useful contribution to the advancement, progress and well-being of the community where he resides;”
“The intention and intendment of provisions of Sections 15(3) & 24 (c) and (d) of the Constitution quoted above is to foster national unity, integration and cohesion.
“It is not the contemplation of the drafters of the Constitution that citizens who come to reside in another community in exercise of their right to choice of residency were to take over those communities or forcefully displace and dispossess their host of ancestral land and homes for permanent occupation.
“Neither did the Constitution provide for a situation where such citizens would unilaterally or exercise discretion to change the names, customs and traditions of their host communities which are also rights recognized by international instruments of which Nigeria is signatory to.
“Such attitude and disposition certainly negates Section 24 (d) of the Constitution which requires citizens seeking new places of abode outside their ancestral homes to seek the good, progress and well being of their new places of abode and add value to the host community.”
The statement advised the SDGs office to restrict itself to the “good intention and intervention of providing facilities including primary schools and allow the appropriate tier of government, in this case, the local government, to exercise jurisdiction over naming of schools as sanctioned by the Constitution.”
Doing so in his words will engender citizens’ integration and communal harmony “in an axis that is in dire need of reconciliation and restoration of lasting peace.”
The SDGs he said should in addition to building the school, assist the Jol community in its quest at resettlement and reconstruction.
“This will go a long way in instilling citizens confidence in government and engender national integration, cohesion and unity,” the Senator stressed.