Speaker of the House of Representatives, Femi Gbajabiamila, has said the ongoing moves to amend the 1999 Constitution are to address the lacuna in it.
He was quoted in his address at the ongoing zonal public hearing on constitution review in Lagos on Tuesday, as saying the 1999 Constitution was a product of a hurried national consensus to return the country to democracy.
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“Our constitution falls short of this standard because the 1999 Constitution is the product of a hurried national compromise that we entered into two decades ago to ensure that the military returned to the barracks and that we returned to democratic government,” he said.
While noting that it was not the first time the task was undertaken, he said, the present one by the 9th assembly may be the most important constitutional amendment process in the nation’s recent history because the decisions that would be taken would have far-reaching consequences for the future of Nigeria.
“A nation’s constitution is the foundation of its existence. It is supposed to set the terms of our nationhood and define who we are in a manner that reflects both our common truths and highest aspirations.
“It was always the intention that we will one day as one people and one nation, return to amend this document so that it gives voice to the yearnings of the Nigerian people and set out in clear detail how we intend to achieve the shared ambitions of our nationhood,” he said.
Gbajabiamila said providence has cast upon the 9th National Assembly the responsibility to write a better constitution for the Nigerian people.
The speaker, however, noted that like Nigeria, no country in the world has a perfect constitution because as the world is dynamic, constitutions must reflect dynamism, and subjected to reviews and amendments.
Meanwhile, Plateau State Governor Simon Bako Lalong has called on all and sundry in the country to support the ongoing constitutional review by the National Assembly to enhance governance in the country.
The governor also advocated for stiff penalties against anyone who is found guilty of abusing the constitution to protect its sanctity as the highest instrument of power and to make it the main driver of Nigeria’s democratic journey.
Governor Lalong spoke while declaring open the public hearing organised by the House of Representatives Special Committee on the Review of the 1999 Constitution for the North Central Zone in Jos.
He, however, observed that beyond amending the constitution, Nigerians must also take a greater interest in how the constitution is implemented to avoid abuses that end up creating distortions and leading to agitations for more amendments.
The Chairman of the House of Representatives Committee on Review of the 1999 Constitution and Deputy Speaker, Rt. Hon. Ahmed Idris Wase, said the committee is conducting the exercise with an open mind and will collate all positions of Nigerians for further consideration by the National Assembly.
Akeredolu wants Senate scrapped
Ondo State Governor Oluwarotimi Akeredolu has called for the scrapping of the Senate.
He made the call yesterday at the public hearing held by the House of Representatives Committee on Constitution Review at the International Cultural and Event Centre, the DOME, in Akure.
The governor, who said he was only making public the position of Ondo State people, advocated a federal government largely reduced in size and scope of engagement.
Akeredolu, who was represented by his deputy, Lucky Aiyedatiwa, said: “What we want to see is a constitution that will enhance the performance of public office holders at all levels.”
According to him, the country is in dire straits now and no effort must be spared to stop the free fall, adding “The current experiences stretch the limits of endurance; everyone tries to remain calm amidst the raging storm.”
By From Christiana T. Alabi (Lagos), Balarabe Alkassim (Abuja), Ado Abubakar Musa (Jos) & Bola Ojuola (Akure)