1999 Constitution Must be Reviewed, says Gbajabiamila

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The Speaker House of Representatives Femi Gbajabiamila on Tuesday said the 1999 Constitution is being amended to address critical national issues the current document has failed to address.

He said this at the opening of the zonal public hearing on amendment to the constitution in Lagos.

He stated that the current document falls short of these expectations, explaining that this is because “the 1999 Constitution is the product of a hurried national compromise that we entered into two decades ago in order to ensure that the military returned to the barracks and that we returned to democratic government.”

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The Speaker stated that the National Assembly could only give Nigerians a people-oriented constitution after receiving citizen input and support.

Gbajabiamila added: “The foundational constitution of the United States of America deemed people of colour to be ‘less than’ and denied women the right to vote. It did not include any limits on the President’s term of office and allowed for citizens to be denied the right to vote for failure to pay the ‘poll tax’. Twenty-seven reviews and amendments, over 100 years cured these and other defects.

“No nation in the world has a perfect constitution, but we need a near-perfect constitution in Nigeria and we can achieve that through substantive amendments that significantly alter the character of our nation…”

Participants at the two-day public hearing included Deputy Governor Dr. Babafemi Hamzat, who represented Governor Babajide Sanwo-Olu; members of the House of Representatives Special Committee on the Review of the Constitution; members of the Nigeria Union of Journalists (NUJ); Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC); representatives of political parties, civil society organisations (CSOs), youth organisations and market women.

Also, Senate President Ahmad Lawan has said a national public hearing on the review of the 1999 Constitution will hold on June 3 and June 4 in Abuja.

Lawan announced this yesterday at plenary while reading a letter addressed to him by the Chairman of the Constitution Review Committee and Deputy Senate President Ovie Omo-Agege.

Plateau State Governor Simon Bako Lalong yesterday called for stiff penalties against abusers of the constitution.

He spoke at the public hearing on the review of the Constitution for the Nothcentral in Jos, the state capital.

Representatives of Nasarawa and Benue states’ governors described the public hearing as a golden opportunity for all grievances to be addressed so that the nation could have a people’s constitution.

Bauchi State Governor Bala Mohammed urged the committee to assign constitutional roles to traditional rulers in the country.

The governor spoke at the opening of a two-day public hearing on the constitution in Bauchi.

He noted that despite the fact that traditional rulers are custodians of cultures and traditions, they were not recognised in the 1999 Constitution.

Also, the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) appealed to the National Assembly not to remove national minimum wage from the Exclusive List.

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