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Constitution amendment: ACF, 16 others prepare North’s position

A foremost political and cultural association of leaders of northern Nigeria, the Arewa Consultative Forum (ACF), is working alongside 16 other groups in the region…

A foremost political and cultural association of leaders of northern Nigeria, the Arewa Consultative Forum (ACF), is working alongside 16 other groups in the region to finalise a submission to the National Assembly Constitution Amendmaent Committee, which will reflect the interests of the North.

The 10th National Assembly has set the ball rolling for the sixth round of amendment to the 1999 Nigerian Constitution. The president of the Senate, Godswill Akpabio, on February 14, constituted a 45-member committee of the Senate on the Constitution Review, chaired by the Deputy President of the Senate, Jibrin Barau.

In the House of Representatives, Speaker Tajudeen Abbas inaugurated the 43-member Committee on Constitution Review on February 26, 2024 in Abuja.

The two committees have separately requested the submission of memoranda or proposals for further amendments to the constitution on a variety of thematic areas.

The areas listed for proposition of memoranda include the Nigeria Police Force and the Nigerian security architecture, public revenue, fiscal federation and revenue allocation, judicial reforms, electoral reforms and traditional institutions.

Others are gender-related issues, process of state creation, state access to mining, “as well as any other matter that will promote good governance and welfare of all persons in the country on the principles of freedom, equality and justice,” according to the House of Representatives Committee on Constitution Review.

The House has set a December 2025 deadline for the conclusion of the constitution review exercise to allow enough time for the process before the commencement of the political campaign season ahead of the 2027 general elections.

In response to calls for memoranda, the ACF, in concert with other interest groups in northern Nigeria, set up a very high-level committee of northern technocrats, bureaucrats, traditional rulers, academics, security experts, retired military officers, women, youths, the clergy, politicians and other professionals from the North to produce a memorandum that reflects the interests of the region, to be tabled before the constitution review committee.

Further to the production of the draft submission by the high-level technical committee, the leading northern lobby group, alongside 16 others, convened a stakeholders’ meeting in Kaduna yesterday to review and validate the draft position of the northern region ahead of its submission to the National Assembly Constitution Committee.

Among others, the technical committee undertook a holistic review of the federal structure and power devolution, the agitations for state creation, the local government system and criticisms of the system, as well as local government autonomy and the debate around it.

Other subject areas the committee examined in producing its draft are public revenue, fiscal federalism and revenue allocation, the Nigeria Police Force and the country’s security architecture, the arguments for and against state police, the need for further judicial and electoral reforms, including propositions for strengthening the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) to deliver transparent free and fair elections, and Diaspora voting.

The draft submitted to the ACF and the other 16 northern groups also included recommendations on the roles of security agencies in the electoral process, socio-economic and cultural rights as contained in Chapter II of the constitution, roles for the traditional institution in the constitution, gender issues, indigene and residency issues, the immunity clause, the process of state creation, state access to mining, as well as matters that promote good governance, including the welfare of all citizens.

Speaking to Daily Trust on Sunday at the end of the stakeholders’ forum yesterday, the secretary-general of the ACF, Malam Murtala Aliyu, said the final copy of the memoranda would be forwarded to the 10th Assembly Committee on Constitution Amendment as required, adding that all the 17 groups would jointly engage with the parliamentary committee to defend the submissions during its public hearings.

The 16 other groups working with the ACF include the North Central Peoples Forum (NCPF); Northern Elders Forum (NEF); Sir Ahmadu Bello Memorial Foundation (SABMF); Arewa Research and Development Project (ARDP); Northern Delegates to National Confab (ND2014); Arewa House (AH); Women in Politics; North East Leaders of Thought (NELOT); Miyetti Allah Cattle Breeders Association of Nigeria (MACBAN); ACF Action Group-Kano (ACF AG) and Arewa Media Forum.

Others are 3loggy; Arewa Movement for Good Governance (AM26); the Kano Youth Promotion Council (KYPC); Sustainable Peace Empowerment Initiative (SPEI); and Motion Pictures Practitioners Association of Nigeria (MOPPAN).

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