By Mark C. Orgu, News/Comments, January 29, 2021.
ABUJA-The Chairman, Senate Committee on the review of the 1999 Constitution, Senator Ovie Omo-Agege, who is also the Deputy Senate President, had said in the opening of the 2-day retreat on the review and analysis of memoranda sent by various Nigerians towards the review of the Constitution, which took place today at Transcorp Hilton hotel, Abuja, that the Committee have worked diligently to get to the point of fruitfulness, stressing that Nigerians will be happy when the Constitution is finally reviewed and further noted. “Over 60 bills for constitutional amendments sponsored by senators across party lines have been introduced on the floor of the Senate”
Omo-Agege who said that the sole purpose of the retreat is to review and analyze the 2014 National Conference Report- the Report of the APC Ad-hoc Committee on True Federalism and over 280 memoranda have been received from the public and will be translated into bills proposals for the senate committee .
Continuing, he stressed: “These memoranda and positions express concern, as well as seek solutions, to the many problems that currently confront us as a country. And they come from diverse interests that make up our country. They cover a range of areas that include, inter alia, the devolution of power to the federating units by, way of moving some items from the exclusive, to the concurrent list. Of equal importance are issues of Local Government fiscal autonomy, the unfettered autonomy of the judiciary in line with their traditional role of the administration of justice. Others are issues of derivation, streamlining of criteria for qualification for participation in elective offices at all levels, such that more people are encouraged to participate. There is also issue of affirmative action and gender equality, plus youth inclusiveness in the governance process. We are also concerned with measures that will help fight perennial poverty and help address the ever-growing concern on national security as well as the security and safety of Nigerians wherever they reside in the country. Some of these areas need to be addressed directly in the Constitution”
“By the time we began work January last year, we were faced with a 32-header 1999 Constitutional Alteration Bills. In the course of our work the issues have become clearer, and a lot of things have been streamlined for your consideration. I implore you to give these issues the passionate attention they deserve. The overall objective is that we have a workable, most representative Constitution after the exercise, that should be as straight-forward as possible. This way, more people will take interest in politics because the Constitution would have met their desires and aspirations. The fact that it is straight-forward enough would mean that less and less of its provisions and sections would require judicial interpretation”
The Deputy Senate President assured Nigerians, that after the review and a critical look at major issues at hand, Nigerians will have course to appreciate the work of the senate and will reduce most challenges posed by the constitution to national growth especially on judicial matters. “
“This will reduce the challenge of Constitution-interpretation-related work pressure on the Judiciary. Such reduced pressure, you will agree with me, will be salutary to the independence of the Judiciary. One other area I will implore you to take keen interest in, is the rather hackneyed terminology of “marginalization”. Marginalization is arguably one of the ugliest words in the Nigerian lexicon. Practically every ethnic nationality, religious, social and other group, complains of marginalization. To take care of this, we should continue to identify, emphasize, explore and exploit those things that unite us as one nation. At the same time, we should continue to isolate and avoid those things that tend to divide us. If you look at the checklist of your terms of reference, you should be able to work out recommendations, such that the final document we end up with, by way of a reviewed and amended Constitution, will give practically no place to the offending word. Our goal is to have a document that Nigerians, be they from the East, West, North or South, will be proud to claim ownership of”
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