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Constitution Amendment: Senate to Revisit 2014 Confab, el-Rufai C’ttee Reports

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Senator Ahmed Lawan
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Constitution Amendment: Senate to Revisit 2014 Confab, el-Rufai C’ttee Reports

The Senate Constitution Amendment Committee says it will consider the 2014 National Conference report and that of the Mallam Nasir el-Rufai-led Committee on restructuring the polity in its new assignment.

The 2014 Confab report which was a product of far-reaching decisions by prominent Nigerians during the administration of former President Goodluck Jonathan was headed by retired chief justice of Nigeria, Justice Idris Legbo Kutigi.

Also, the el-Rufai panel on restructuring was set up by the All Progressives Congress (APC)-led government of President Muhammadu Buhari, following growing demands from Nigerians.

But the Senate committee, headed by the Deputy Senate President, Ovie Omo-Agege and 58 other lawmakers in the Red Chamber, said that it will consider the two reports.

The media recalls that election matters, devolution of powers, regionalism, security and other national issues top the agenda as the committee was inaugurated yesterday.

There was a mild drama when Senator Ifeanyi Ubah who was not part of the committee invaded the committee room.

It was after all speeches were delivered that the Senate President, Ahmad Lawan, announced that Ubah had been included in the committee to represent the Young Progressive Party (YPP).

Ubah had protested of his exclusion from the panel when the Senate president announced the members last week.

But with Ubah’s inclusion and the announcement by the Senate president that all the seven women in the Upper House are part of the committee, the number has increased to 58.

Omo-Agege said that after receiving memoranda from Nigerians and various bills in the Senate, they will consider the 2014 national conference report.

He said:“In addition, this committee will consider the recommendations of the 2014 Constitutional Conference and the Governor Nasir el-Rufai-led Committee on restructuring.

“We would also liaise with our counterparts in the House of Representatives, the State Houses of Assembly and collaborate and build consensus with all stakeholders to ensure synergy. Development partners will also play pivotal roles through counsel, workshops, conferences and interactions. The partnership roles of the executive and the judiciary and their invaluable contributions cannot be over looked as it will enhance efficient and successful outcomes.

“In carrying out this national assignment, this committee will no doubt consider the alteration of the Sixth Schedule to make provision for new items, the establishment of National and State Houses of Assembly, pre-election matters tribunals, governorship pre-election matters tribunals and presidential pre-election matters tribunal, including time limits for the disposal of all pre-election matters before the conduct of the general elections.

“We will also consider the need for the devolution of power, full local government fiscal autonomy, full autonomy of the judiciary in the area of administration of justice, youth inclusiveness in governance, and gender parity or affirmative action. This is by no means an exhaustive list. The committee will also consider inputs from stakeholders and different interest groups across the country,” Omo-Agege said.

While inaugurating the committee, Senator Lawan said that the Senate had resolved to re-examine the constitution, consistent with its legislative agenda and in tandem with the yearnings of Nigerians.

He said: “You will agree with me that reviewing the constitution is an arduous task. It requires painstaking consultations, dialogues and debates,” Lawan said, and called on Nigerians to submit memoranda to the committee.

“We expect consultations with public organisations and the civil society. These include the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), as the vehicle for elections, civil society groups, the academia, the media, and indeed, the citizenry.

”This assignment needs a great deal of time, resources and expert ideas. This is so because constitutional reviews are not every day exercises. On the few occasions that it becomes necessary, we have the responsibility to ensure that inputs and outputs are not just exhaustive, but should also be wide ranging and effective.

”When this process is foolproof, we can then be rest assured that it will take a longer time before new realities possibly trigger demands for amendments. The Senate is mindful of the central role of the constitution as the grundnorm of our democracy.

”The continued success of our democracy is reasonably dependent on a well-thought constitution. Though no constitution can be faultless, mostly because social dynamics are unpredictable, but a good review can increase its functionality, and then decrease social agitations,” Lawan stated.

Among the bills for the alteration of the constitution which have passed the first reading are Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria 1999 (Alteration) Bill, 2019 (SB. 109), sponsored by Senator Babba Kaita Ahmad (Katsina North); Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria 1999 (Alteration) Bill, 2019 (SB. 75), sponsored by Senator Istifanus Gyang (Plateau North); Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria 1999 (Alteration) Bill, 2019 (SB. 48), sponsored by Senator Rose Oko (Cross River North); Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria 1999 (Alteration) Bill, 2019 (SB. 184), sponsored by Senator Uche Ekwunife (Anambra Central);  Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria 1999 (Alteration) Bill, 2019 (SB. 204), sponsored by Senator Gabriel Suswam (Benue North East); Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria 1999 (Alteration) Bill, 2019 (SB. 218), sponsored by Senator Olubunmi Adetunmbi (Ekiti North), and the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria 1999 (Alteration) Bill, 2019 (SB. 240), sponsored by Senator Abdullahi Adamu (Nasarawa West).

Others are the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria 1999 (Alteration) Bill, 2019 (SB. 247), sponsored by Senator Surajudeen Ajibola Basiru (Osun Central); Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria 1999 (Alteration) Bill 2019 (SB.74), sponsored by Senator Gyang, lstifanus Dun (Plateau North), and Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria 1999 (Alteration) Bill, 2019 (SB 259), sponsored by Senator Bamidele Michael Opeyemi (Ekiti Central).


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