The Deputy Senate President, Senator Ovie Omo-Agege has said the National Assembly lacks the powers to replace the current Constitution.
Speaking when he hosted members of Alliance of Nigerian Patriots in Abuja, Omo-Agege, who chairs the Senate Ad hoc Committee on Constitution Review, stressed that the National Assembly can only amend the constitution not offer a new one.
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Citing advanced democracies like the United States where Nigeria’s presidential system of government is fashioned after as well as Sections 8 and 9 of the 1999 Constitution (as amended), the lawmaker said what is obtainable is piecemeal alteration of the Constitution.
He, therefore, urged those calling for a new Constitution to channel their energy towards participating actively in the ongoing amendment of the Constitution by the ninth Assembly.
“One of the issues you raised is the replacement of the 1999 Constitution. I am not so sure that we as a Parliament have the power to replace the Constitution. We can only make amendments. And it is explicit in Sections 8 and 9 of the Constitution on how we can do that and the requisite number of votes required.
“I say that because there are some top attorneys in this country, who for some reason, keep saying that we don’t even need any of this, that we should just bring a new Constitution. We can’t do that. What we are mandated to do by law is to look at those provisions and bring them up-to-date with global best practices, especially to the extent that it tallies with the views of the majority of Nigerians. So we are not in a position to replace this Constitution but we can only amend,” Omo-Agege was qouted as saying in a statement by his media aide, Yomi Odunuga.
Why Nigeria can’t practice unicameral legislature
Reacting to call by some persons for the scrapping of the upper legislative chamber, Omo-Agege argued that the country cannot practise unicameral legislature due to its large population.
He said: “One of the issues raised by #EndSARS Protesters was that they should abolish the Senate and merge us with the House of Representatives. We are not in a position to do that. Mr. President is not even in a position to do that as well. Because they believe that he can just by fiat say ‘Senate bye bye. it will now be a National Assembly made up of only the House of Representatives’.
“But, as I said at a different forum, the President does not have such powers and I am not so sure that even we can legislate out the National Assembly,” he said.
“We are a country governed by laws and the grand-norm is the Constitution. And the Constitution itself has spelt out what we can do and how we can do it”.