Constitution Review To Address Nigeria’s Foundational Deficiencies, Says Gbajabiamila

A file photo of Speaker of the House of Representatives, Femi Gbajabiamila.
A file photo of Speaker of the House of Representatives, Femi Gbajabiamila.

 

The Speaker of the House of Representatives, Femi Gbajabiamila, on Saturday said the ongoing constitutional amendments are to address Nigeria’s foundational problems.

Speaking during a meeting of the Conference of Presiding Officers of Nigerian Legislatures in Abuja on Saturday, Gbajabiamila called for collaboration between the National Assembly and the 36 state Houses of Assembly to make the review of the 1999 Constitution successful.

He said that the legislature remained the most important arm of government in any democratic setting.

According to the Speaker, the intention of the “wholesale review of our nation’s constitution” was “using the constitutional amendment process to address the foundational deficiencies in our constitution that continue to mitigate against the attainment of an honourable, peace and universal prosperity in our country.”

Once the National Assembly was done with its part, Gbajabiamila noted that it would forward the constitution review document to state Houses of Assembly for their inputs.

“That process of constitutional review cannot succeed without strategic collaboration between all of us who are here today,” the Speaker was quoted as saying via a statement issued by his spokesman, Lanre Lasisi.

“So, I ask of you that we take the opportunity of this conference to agree on the things we wish to achieve so that we can begin now to devise the strategies through which we can achieve our objectives.”

Gbajabiamila said by virtue of its roles, which included coming together to protect the interests of the diverse people in the country, the legislature had a more direct and immediate connection with the people at the grassroots.

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While urging lawmakers to remain true to their constitutional roles, he said: “I believe that the legislature is the most important arm of the government. Some might say I am biased, having spent most of my political career in the legislature.

“And they will be right. But the fact remains, that by design, it is only the legislator that has the constitutional obligation to come to work each day and advocate for the interests of the people on whose behalf we serve.

“This is both a high honour and a heavy responsibility. And I am pleased that at this time in our nation’s history, we have as presiding officers of parliament across the country, capable people who recognise the importance of this moment and are equal to the task of nation-building at this critical time.”

Gbajabiamila noted that though there are three arms of government with the Judiciary and the Executive having their roles clearly understood by all, there is usually a misconception about the role of the Legislature.

“In governance, there is a role for the Legislature. Unfortunately in our clime, and perhaps in most climes, the role of the Legislature is often conflicted and bungled together to include the role of the Judiciary, the role of the Executive, and even the role of a private organisation.

“We have to play all these roles as legislators. What I find solace in is the fact that this misconception and misunderstanding of the role of the Legislature is a worldwide phenomenon. It is universal, and it is not peculiar to Nigeria alone”, he said.

At the conference, Gbajabiamila said since the last meeting of COPON 12 years ago, “…our democracy has changed. We have matured and improved, yet in many important ways, and on many important issues, there is still a lot of work left to do.

“​As legislators, our ability to do what is required of us in this joint task of nation-building depends, in some measure, on how well we can work together within the federal legislature, and across the legislatures of the thirty-six states.”

Signed:

Lanre Lasisi, Special Adviser on Media and Publicity to the Speaker, House of Representatives, Federal Republic of Nigeria.

Security Threats: Reps Suspend Constitution Review Hearing In Imo, Abia

 

The House of Representatives has suspended its constitution review hearing scheduled to hold in Imo and Abia States.

This suspension was contained in a communique by the Deputy Speaker of the House, Idris Wase.

Rep Wase who serves also as the Chairman, House Special Committee on Constitution Review noted in his statement on Sunday that “The House of Representatives Special Committee on Constitution Review Zonal Public Hearing scheduled to take place in Owerri Central (Imo and Abia States) on Tuesday, 1st and Wednesday, 2nd June 2021, has been suspended until further notice.”

READ ALSO: Reps Fix June 1 To Begin Zonal Public Hearing On Constitution Review



This suspension of the constitution review hearing in the two South-Eastern states comes on the heels of the gruesome murder of a former presidential aide, Ahmed Gulak, in Owerri, the Imo State capital.

Gulak who is a chieftain of the All Progressives Congress (APC), was brutally murdered while he was on his way to catch a flight at the Sam Mbakwe International Cargo Airport in Owerri.

Reps Fix June 1 To Begin Zonal Public Hearing On Constitution Review

A file photo of members of the House of Representatives attending a plenary at the lower chamber of the National Assembly in Abuja.

 

The House of Representatives Special Committee on Constitution Review has fixed Tuesday and Wednesday next week for its zonal public hearing scheduled to take place across the six geopolitical zones of the country.

According to the Deputy Speaker of the House and Chairman of the committee, Ahmed Wase, each zone will have two centres.

He called Nigerians, including members of the executive and judicial bodies, traditional institutions, political parties, civil society organisations, and professional bodies, among other stakeholders to attend the hearing in their respective zones.

“I am appealing to you all to think only about Nigeria and work for Nigeria and ensure we deliver for our country the best Constitution,” said the lawmaker who urged the people to put the country first.

He noted that the members of the committee would be posted outside their zones to have a feeling of what was obtainable in other regions.

The Deputy Speaker said, “We have an opportunity to write our names in gold. Let us not waste this golden opportunity as all eyes are on us; we must ensure that we do not betray the confidence Nigerians have in us.”

Wase explained that the hearing for the north-central zone would hold in Jos – with Plateau, Benue, and Nasarawa States, as well as Abuja in attendance, while Lokoja would serve as the second centre, hosting Kogi, Niger, and Kwara States.

The venues of the hearing in other regions are listed below:

North East – Bauchi, Borno, and Yobe (Bauchi Centre); Adamawa, Taraba, and Gombe (Yola Centre)

North West – Kebbi, Zamfara and Sokoto (Birnin Kebbi Centre); Kano, Kaduna, Katsina and Jigawa (Kano Centre – June 2 and 3).

South East – Enugu, Anambra and Ebonyi (Enugu Centre); while Imo and Abia (Owerri Centre).

South West – Ondo, Ekiti and Osun (Akure Centre); Lagos, Oyo, and Ogun (Lagos Centre).

South South – Delta, Bayelsa and Edo (Asaba Centre – June 2 and 3); Akwa Ibom, Rivers and Cross River (Uyo Centre – June 1 and 2).

Constitution Review: Gbajabiamila Seeks Level Playground For Women, Men

A file photo of Speaker of the House of Representatives, Femi Gbajabiamila.
A file photo of Speaker of the House of Representatives, Femi Gbajabiamila

 

The Speaker of the House of Representatives, Femi Gbajabiamila, has advocated the inclusion of provisions in the country’s constitution to guarantee a “more equal” society where both men and women could contribute to development.

He noted that doing so was the only way Nigeria could achieve the success it desired, adding that women, in particular, should be free to “pursue their highest aspirations and achieve their maximum potential.”

Gbajabiamila spoke in Abuja on Thursday at the opening of a two-day retreat on ‘Achieving Gender Equity in the Constitution Review Process.’

The event, an initiative of the Office of the Speaker and the House Committee on Women Affairs, was organised in collaboration with the National Democratic Institute.

The Speaker stated that there was no better time to push for the protection of the rights of women than now that the National Assembly was reviewing the 1999 Constitution and the Electoral Act.

Gbajabiamila explained that such practical steps must include giving girls and women more access to education, healthcare, commerce and participation in politics.

“To achieve such a society, we have to make sure that girls across the country have access to education and healthcare.

“We have to create opportunities for women to thrive in politics and commerce, and we must make sure that the laws of our land do not take away the rights of Nigerian women to participate fully in every sector of our national life”, he told the session.

The speaker asked participants to use the opportunity of the retreat to dissect the Electoral Act and the constitution to identify for excision, “any discriminatory provisions that might exist”, so that actions would be taken to “include provisions that guarantee a more equal society for all.”

He commended the timing of the retreat, coming at a period of increased awareness in the country that gender equity was no longer a women’s issue, but something that would guarantee peace and justice for all Nigerians.

Gbajabiamila assured women that the 9th House under his leadership would act on the recommendations of the retreat, as he told the organisers that he eagerly awaited the report.

The Chairman, House Committee on Women Affairs, Rep. Onanuga Adewunmi Oriyomi, in her welcome address, said both the constitution and the Electoral Act needed “reengineering to reflect equity.”

She added, “This, among other things, is the crux of this retreat.

“It is my hope that this event inspires ideas and discussions around ways to improve gender integration mechanisms and systems that can be adopted into the amendment of both the Nigerian constitution and the Electoral Act.”

The Minister of Women Affairs, Mrs Pauline Tallen, observed that Nigeria, the ‘Giant of Africa’, appeared left behind in recognising and granting equal opportunities to women to participate in governance.

She cited the case of the 3.8% representation of women in all the legislative houses in Nigeria, which she said was not good enough.

The minister said the demand of women in Nigeria remained 35% representation in elective and appointive positions.

The US Ambassador to Nigeria, Mary Beth Leonard, and the Country Representative, UN Women, Comfort Lamtey, delivered goodwill messages at the occasion, supporting the call for gender equity in Nigeria.

Saraki Excited As 25 State Assemblies Support Constitutional Amendment

Saraki Excited As 25 State Assemblies Support Constitutional Amendment
File photo: Bukola Saraki

 

The Senate President, Dr Bukola Saraki, has commended the support of the State Houses of Assembly to the constitution review amendments that were passed by the National Assembly.

In a series of tweets on Monday, the senator was excited that 25 out of 36 State Assemblies had voted on the amendments passed by NASS last year.

“I am excited about the news that 25 out of 36 States have voted on the Constitution Review amendments that the 8th National Assembly passed in 2017,” he said.

“In 2015, when we first started the ambitious process to review the 1999 Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, we never could have imagined the level of support and participation that we would get from all of you — everyday Nigerians, members of the civil society, and political actors across the country.

“I am very encouraged for the next phase of this process. Well done to the Members of our State Houses of Assembly,” the Senate President added.

According to Dr Saraki, this is why the passage of the constitution review amendments in 25 states across the country is a pat on the back of legislators at both the Federal and State levels.

He added that the passage has proven that with the right vision and follow-through, “we can achieve anything as a nation.”

“Make no mistake, this is another promise kept by the 8th National Assembly, and it further demonstrates that despite our differences, politicians from various walks of life and various parties can still come together to get things done.

“Moving forward, I cannot wait to receive the constitution review documents at the National Assembly, so that we can move forward with the process of getting them assented and cemented in the laws of our great Federal Republic,” he added.

The Senate President recalled that both the Nigerian Senate and the House of Representatives have set up a joint committee to review the constitution review amendments, which did not scale through initially.

He said the NASS was, however, encouraged with the level of collaboration it has gotten from the State Assemblies throughout the process.

Lawmaker Assures Nigerians of Better Governance In 2014

The Chairman House committee on Aids, Loans and Debt Management, Adeyinka Ajayi, has said that the intention of the National Assembly is to ensure that there is good governance in Nigeria, and not the revolution or decrease of  political parties.

He said that the House is more concentrated on outstanding business such as the 2014 budget, Petroleum Industry Bill (PIB) and constitutional review. “There is a lot of work and we are trying to ensure that we don’t get distracted by all the political games,”.

Speaking on Channels Television breakfast programme, Sunrise Daily, Mr. Ajayi stated that the leadership of the House is focused on ensuring that there is good governance in 2014 as “the essence of leadership is to lead and Nigerians expect governance at every point in time”.

He said there may be times when there is decrease in governance and this happens when elections are close, but the main focus of the House is to ensure  there is governance in the country for it to move forward.

Speaking on the Constitution Review, Mr. Ajayi said that the review is not an “event” but a “process” and so “we are not particular about the time frame but about the substance of what we are doing”.

He explained that there is a committee under the National Assembly that is empowered to undertake the process which will lead to the review of the constitution, which he said is ongoing.

Mr. Ajayi affirmed that they have met with the constituents in their various constituencies and have since given report to the committee set up and comprising of members of both Houses (Senate, House of Representatives). “The committee will report to Nigerians through the House for the final step,” he added.

David West: Changing Constitution Like Changing Wrapper Is Meaningless

The former minister of Petroleum, Prof. Tam David-West, has described the constitution review process as a meaningless undertaking.

Prof. David-West who was a guest on Channels Television breakfast show Sunrise Daily, explained that American constitution has lasted over 200 years and questioned why “we will be changing our constitution as if we are changing wrapper”.

He added that it’s not the constitution but the people operating it that is the problem.

“What they are doing in Abuja is a waste of time and money; they cannot change the constitution,” he said.

 

Constitution Amendment Should Be People Driven – Bisi Adegbuyi

The on-going constitution review should be people driven, people led and must emanate as regards their wishes and aspirations.

A legal practitioner Mr. Bisi Adegbuyi made this known hile speaking on Channels TV breakfast sho; Sunrise Daily, where he explained that this is not the “old democracy where everyone seats in a hall and is questioned if they want state police and they will say yes or no”.

Adegbuyi also advised the federal government to allow people elect their own representative, who would represent their views and grant their wishes and aspirations.

Reps. set for nationwide grassroot hearing on constitution review

The House of Representatives has concluded arrangements to hold public hearings on the review of the 1999 constitution across the 360 federal constituencies in the country.

In a statement, the deputy speaker of the House of Representatives; Emeka Ihedioha stated that the sessions aim to bring the process of constitution review closer to the people.

He stated that various institutions, political parties and civil societies have been invited to contribute their views.

Issues identified to be discussed include recognition of the six zonal structure; creation of states; structure, funding and creation of local governments as well as indigene, residency and citizenship questions.

Others are fiscal federalism, removal of immunity clause establishment of state police as well as zoning and power sharing and terms of office of the president and governors.

The deputy speaker further stated that decisions at the sessions shall be reached, as much as possible, by consensus but where that fails, decisions will be reached by voting.

He however assured that the views of the majority would prevail.

Nigerians to hold e-conference about constitution amendment on Twitter

As the fourth review of the 1999 Constitution enters its critical stage, a group of Nigerians have decided to organise an e-conference seeking the participation of the vibrant online community in the country.

The e-conference is hosted by the Youth Alliance on Constitution Review and according to the group, “it is imperative that citizens at all levels debate freely the content of the constitution review.”

A statement by the Youth Alliance, claimed that “if the preamble of the 1999 constitution which begins with the phrase ‘we the people of Nigeria…’ must make any sense then the review process must not only ensure active citizens participation but it must guarantee that the outcome of the review process is a true reflection of the demands and aspirations of the people.”

The group also noted that the constitution review process provides a unique opportunity to address several socioeconomic and political challenges confronting Nigerians and therefore calls every Nigerian that is active in the online community to join the conference..

“Now is the time for citizens to respond to this national call to address our daunting challenges and deepen our democracy process through constitution review” the group stated.

The e-conference on Constitution Review is slated for Thursday, the 23rd of August 2012. It will between the hours of 3:00pm – 5:00pm.

Leading the panel of participants will be constitutional lawyer and human right activist, Ayo Obe.

She will be participating with the handle @naijama.

Others are Japhet Omojuwa @omojuwa, Chude Jideowo @chude, Toyosi Akerele  @toyosirise, Egghead Odewale @eggheader, Wale Ajani @waleajani.

The Youth Alliance has enjoined Nigerians to follow the conference on @yacorng to participate at the e-conference.

The official hash tag of the conference will be #youthCRV

The Youth Alliance is an alliance of about 30 youth civil society organizations working together to facilitate inputs of young people in the process of constitutional review process through proactive and effective engagement with relevant stakeholders.