The Deputy President of the Senate, Ovie Omo-Agege, has said the passage of the local government autonomy bills remains the biggest challenge to the ongoing review of the 1999 Constitution.
He stated this on Thursday while speaking to State House reporters after a closed-door meeting with President Muhammadu Buhari at the Presidential Villa, Abuja.
He dismissed criticisms about the constitutional review process being “an exercise on futility”, stating that state houses of assembly had failed to vote on the amendment bills on local government autonomy passed and transmitted to them for concurrence.
He said the National Assembly was optimistic the bills would be passed despite the challenge of the governors and their state houses of assembly holding back.
“I can tell you that at the National Assembly, we have fulfilled our part of that bargain, what is now left is to get the concurrence of 24 Houses of Assemblies of the states. That is also a Section 9 obligation, but this time, imposed on the State Houses of Assembly.”
Omo-Agege added, “I would have expected that the state Houses will show some independence in making some of the decisions, but it does appear that… I can’t fault them for working with their state governors in taking these positions, but we believe that we’ll be able to resolve this with time.
“The president of the senate has reached out to some of the governors, most especially through my friend, the governor of Kaduna State, to reach out to his fellow governors. Kaduna for instance has already voted. Kaduna has voted and has transmitted. Of course, we won one, we lost one”, he said.
The National Assembly on March 29, 2022, transmitted 44 Constitution alteration bills to the 36 state Houses of Assembly for concurrence.
Asked what Nigerians should expect from the National Assembly over President Buhari’s appeal to the legislature on his quest to sort out the Central Bank of Nigeria’s (CBN) Ways and Means proposal, Omo-Agege said the president would have his support as usual.
“Speaking as a senator, who represents Delta State and speaking as the Deputy Senate President, I have an obligation, as most of you know, to support Mr. President and this time will not be an exception. It’s a decision that was taken; basically, all they’re asking for is ratification. These are monies that have been expended through legitimate means, using the Ways and Means device. There is no allegation of any wrongdoing.
“So Mr. President has my support, always has my support and he has my support on this one and I believe that majority of my colleagues, I do not speak for all of my colleagues, of course, but I believe that majority of my colleagues will support Mr. President”, he said