Nigerians will Get All Inclusive Constitution, Deputy Senate President Assures

From: Segun Babatunde in Bauchi

As the National Assembly moves to review the 1999 Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria (as amended), the Deputy Senate President, Senator Ovie Omo-Agege has assured Nigerians that the next constitution will be an all inclusive document that is in line with democratic tenets as practiced in developed democracies.

This is as the Bauchi State Governor, Senator Bala Abdulkadir Mohammed called for fairness and equitable distribution of the country’s resources across the geopolitical zones of the country.

The Deputy Senate President, Ovie Omo-Agege who gave the assurance Wednesday at the opening of the two-day North-East zonal sitting on the 1999 Constitution review in Bauchi declared that reviewing the constitution was long over due, adding that it took a long time to do so because it was not always easy to review the constitution.

Omo-Agege, who doubles as the chairman of the Constitution Review Committee said before the constitution could be reviewed, it had to undergo a lot of processes that had to be in line with democratic settings.

According to Senator Omo-Agege, who was represented by Senator Abubakar Kyari explained that this time around, the National Assembly decided to use the bottom up approach in the review process, adding that this was being done by engaging Nigerians through public hearings across the country before the national hearing.

The approach adopted, according to him, was to give Nigerians the opportunity of making their inputs into the new document to emerge at the end of the review exercise.

While calling on Nigerians to make their contributions to the review exercise through submission of memoranda, the Deputy Senate President assured that the National Assembly would correct all the lapses and loopholes noticed in the 1999 Constitution (as amended) with a view to giving every segment of the Nigerian society a sense of belonging.

In his address at the occasion, Bauchi State Governor, Senator Bala Abdulkadir Mohammed called for fairness and equitable distribution of the country’s resources, even as he sought for the creation of more states and local government areas.

Governor Mohammed said the review of the constitution became necessary as the 1999 constitution did not holistically encapsulated the yearnings and aspirations of the citizens as an autocratic command structure was eventually adopted leading to the concentration of enormous power at the centre while whittling down the power of the constituent states of the federation.

He said members of the National Assembly as elected representatives of the people and charged with the responsibility of making laws, have the responsibility of addressing the shortcomings that have manifested in the 1999 constitution with the overriding public interests of their constituents.

“It is therefore, gratifying that the Senate has set machinery in motion for amendment of the Constitution. I commend the Senate for this foresight and initiative.”

“As we all know, the Military has played dominant role in the political development of Nigeria since 1966 when the first democratically elected Government in the country was overthrown in a Military coup on 15th January, 1966.”

“The then four regions that made up the Federal Republic of Nigeria were semi-autonomous with their Governments having powers to run their affairs without undue interference by the Federal Government. The regional governments were also in control of most of their resources.”

The Governor who declared the public hearing open, supported the review of the 1999 constitution in the areas of federal structure in governance and power devolution, establishment of state police, states and local governments creation, constitutional roles for traditional rulers among others.

Governor Bala Mohammed therefore supported the creation of additional states and local governments especially in Bauchi state considering the population and land mass of the state.

On his part, team leader, Senator Abubakar Kyari said areas that needs attention in the review of the 1999 constitution include, defence and security, land use act, unity of Nigeria, devolution of power, derivation and revenue sharing, state police, local governments autonomy, role of traditional rulers among others.

Senator Abubakar Kyari said the Bauchi centre will host prominent personalities from Bauchi, Borno and Yobe states on a mission to get the views and opinions of the citizens in order to fill the gaps in the existing constitution.

In his goodwill message, Chairman, Conference of Speakers of State Legislatures of Nigeria, Right Hon. Abubakar Y Suleiman, applauded the move to amend the constitution, saying that as it is now the 1999 Constitution which has more of military inputs is being used in a democratic dispensation.

Suleiman, who is the Speaker, Bauchi State House of Assembly, advised that genuine agitations for peace and peaceful coexistence of the people of Nigeria should be accommodated in the new constitution for good and effective governance.

According to him, “it will be our pride to have 2021 Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria rather than what it is now, 21 years after the return to democratic dispensation in the country.”

Suleiman then assured that the 36 States of Assembly are waiting to see how the process will go, adding that they will not hesitate to do the needful as soon as the constitution. END

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