The zonal public hearing of the Senate on the review of the 1999 Constitution Wednesday started with state governors unveiling their positions on the exercise.
The exercise holding in 12 centres across the six geopolitical zones of the country was convened by the Senate to aggregate the positions of Nigerians on key areas of the constitutions that should be reviewed.
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Various interest groups including sociocultural, political, religious, professional, traditional and other organisations are expected to make presentations at the public hearing.
The exercise is coming on the heels of agitations for restructuring and secession. The report of the two days public hearing is expected to serve as part of the working documents for the review of the country’s constitution.
Akeredolu backs return to 1963 constitution
Ondo State Governor, Oluwarotimi Akeredolu, has backed the call for the country to return to the use of the 1963 Constitution.
Governor Akeredolu spoke while declaring open the zonal public hearing of the review of the 1999 Constitution held at the Cultural and International Event Centre, Akure.
Akeredolu stated that the powers of the federal government must be trimmed down as it was the major of friction in the country and politics of bitterness.
He warned that the current attempt at the constitution amendment should be taken beyond the usual jamboree conceived and executed to arrive at predetermined result.
The Ondo governor said the 1963 Constitution which reflected the republican status of the country remained the best document for a country as heterogeneous as Nigeria.
What Igbo want in Nigeria – Uzodimma
Imo State Governor, Hope Uzodimma, has urged citizens to actively contribute towards making a constitution that will address the concerns of Nigerians.
Uzodimma spoke at the flag-off of the review of the 1999 constitution in Owerri.
The governor, however, noted that Igbo people have been agitating for justice and equity, equal treatment and to be a part of the decision-making process in Nigeria.
Nigeria needs new constitution, not amendment – Okowa
Delta State Governor, Sen. (Dr) Ifeanyi Okowa, has said that Nigeria’s challenges needed a new constitution, not mere alterations or amendment to correct them.
Okowa stated this when he received on a courtesy visit, the Senate Sub-Committee on review of the 1999 Constitution led by Senator James Manager at Government House, Asaba.
Okowa called for the insertion of a clause to allow for the re-writing of the constitution while it would continue to be in operation until a new one was ready.
“The 13 per cent is actually too low and we believe it should be reviewed to 50 per cent as it used to be in the past or allow the states to own the assets and pay tax to the centre as applicable in other climes,” he said.
Bauchi differs with Borno, Yobe on state police, state creation
Borno and Yobe States have rejected the establishment of state police and creation of additional states as well local governments insisting that existing ones are not adequately funded to execute viable developmental projects.
On the contrary, Bauchi State Government is supporting the creation of additional states and establishment of state police
Speaking at the sitting in Bauchi, Governor Bala Mohammed called for the establishment of state police, saying it would be more ideal for the states to have their law enforcement agencies.
But in his presentation, Speaker, Borno State House Assembly, Abdulkarim Lawan, said that Borno State is not supporting the creation of additional states and local governments. He said that the activities of insurgents had reduced the numbers of LGAs in the state because the inhabitants were displaced from their ancestral homes.
On his part, Commissioner of Justice and Attorney General of Yobe State, Saleh Samanja who presented the position of the state, said the state is against the amendment of the sections that deal on state creation and police.
Sanwo-Olu demands special status for Lagos
Lagos State Governor, Babajide Olusola Sanwo-Olu, said Wednesday that the agitation for a special economic status for Lagos State is not a selfish demand.
He said the need for this request has been well articulated and justified, stressing that it is in the interest of every Nigerian and Nigeria as a nation.
Sanwo-Olu stated this while declaring open the South-West zonal public hearing in Lagos for Lagos, Oyo and Ogun State, where he also advocated for state police and fiscal federalism.
According to him, the special status for Lagos must be of concern not only for the people of Lagos State but the entire people of Nigeria.
In Sokoto, Governor Aminu Waziri Tambuwal, described constitution as the reference point of democracy.
“All constitutions are, therefore, work in progress because they are subject to the changing needs and aspirations of the people, at different times. And constitution reviews are the process for ensuring this guiding document plays that function,” he said.
Also speaking in Sokoto, the Chairman of the Progressives Governors’ Forum and Kebbi State Governor, Senator Abubakar Atiku Bagudu, has said the proposed constitutional review will lead to a better Nigeria for all.
Governor Ifeanyi Ugwuanyi of Enugu State has declared his administration’s support for amendments in the constitution of Nigeria that will enhance the nation’s unity and prosperity “in an environment where justice, fairness and equity shall prevail”.
Ugwuanyi made the declaration while declaring open the zonal public hearing in Enugu, for Enugu, Anambra and Ebonyi States.
El-Rufai calls for devaluation of powers
Kaduna State Governor, Malam Nasir El-Rufai, has called for the devolution of powers saying the current structure overburdens the federal government with too many responsibilities which it cannot efficiently handle.
The governor, who made this known at the public hearing in Kaduna, said the APC Committee on True Federalism, which he headed had identified legislative interventions that the National Assembly can undertake to achieve a truly balanced, equitable and fair federal structure.
He argued that the reality of the security situation requires that Nigeria must strengthen its military and security agencies, which includes decentralising the police to enable the states exercise effective control in securing residents and communities.
The Southern Kaduna Peoples Union (SOKAPU) has called for the creation of Gurara State to end the incessant crisis in the state.
In Gombe, chairman of the Northeast sub-committee of the constitution review, Gombe Centre, Senator Danjuma Goje, said the public hearing was brought to the zonal level to get input of the masses.
Gombe State Governor, Muhammad Inuwa Yahaya said the evolvement dynamics of the Nigerian state makes it imperative for a periodic constitutional review to accommodate new realities and the concerns of the Nigerian people across board.
It’s a futile exercise – Afe Babalola
A legal luminary, Afe Babalola, SAN has described the moves to amend the constitution as a futile exercise.
In a statement, he said, “the proposed amendment to the 1999 constitution, whichever way you look at it, is a futile exercise. We all know that previous sessions of the National Assembly had made laws to convene national conference. I, therefore, advise that the current National Assembly should call for a National Conference to discuss and make a new true federal constitution which will provide for a Parliamentary system of government.”
We’ll address all challenges facing Nigeria — Omo-Agege
The Senate has promised to carefully address all challenges threatening the unity of the nation through the amendment of the constitution.
The Deputy Senate President, Senator Ovie Omo-Agege, gave the assurance on Wednesday at the opening ceremony of the North-Central zone public hearing in Minna.
Omo-Agege, who was represented by the Deputy Chief Whip and Sub-Committee Chairman, Senator Aliyu Sabi Abdullahi noted that “the review is to see how to improve on the constitution to suit the demands of our time.”
Meanwhile, the representative of the Catholic mission at the meeting, Rev Fr. Peter Babangida Audu, advocated the expunging of the Sharia law from the constitution, saying there should be one law for all in the country.
Ismail Mudashir (Abuja), Jude Aguguo Owuamanam (Owerri), Victor Sorokwu (Asaba), Hassan Ibrahim (Bauchi), Abubakar Auwal (Sokoto), Christiana T. Alabi, (Lagos), Mohammed I. Yaba, Maryam Ahmadu-Suka (Kaduna), Haruna Gimba Yaya, Rabilu Abubakar (Gombe) , Romoke W. Ahmad (Minna) &Tony Adibe (Enugu)