OrderPaperToday – Over 60 bills sponsored by senators and 280 memoranda submitted by the public have been received for the 1999 Constitution alteration exercise.
This was disclosed by Deputy Senate President, and Chairman of the Senate Committee on Constitution Review, Ovie Omo-Agege, while delivering a keynote address at a two day retreat session on the review of the 1999 Constitution on Friday.
Omo-Agege said: “Since then members of the Committee have worked diligently to get us to this point. Over 60 bills for constitutional amendments sponsored by senators across party lines have been introduced on the floor of the Senate.
“The sole purpose of this retreat is to review and analyze the 2014 National Conference Report, the Report of the APC Ad-hoc Committee on True Federalism and the over 280 memoranda we have received from the public and translate them into bills proposals for the senate committee.
“These memoranda and positions express concern, as well as seek solutions, to the many problems that currently confront us as a country. And they come from diverse interests that make up our country.”
The senator went ahead to highlight major issues indicated.
He said: “They (bills and memoranda) cover a range of areas that include, inter alia, the devolution of power to the federating units by, way of moving some items from the exclusive, to the concurrent list.
“Of equal importance are issues of local government fiscal autonomy, the unfettered autonomy of the judiciary in line with their traditional role of the administration of justice. Others are issues of derivation, streamlining of criteria for qualification for participation in elective offices at all levels, such that more people are encouraged to participate.
“There is also issue of affirmative action and gender equality, plus youth inclusiveness in the governance process. We are also concerned with measures that will help fight perennial poverty and help address the ever-growing concern on national security as well as the security and safety of Nigerians wherever they reside in the country. Some of these areas need to be addressed directly in the Constitution”.
According to him, the overall objective is to have a workable and most representative Constitution after the exercise so that more people will take interest in politics because the Constitution would have met their desires and aspirations.
Also, it will be straight-forward enough not to require judicial interpretation adding that complaints of marginalization will cease as they intend to identify, emphasize, explore and exploit things that will unite the nation as one.
He said: “If you look at the checklist of your terms of reference, you should be able to work out recommendations, such that the final document we end up with, by way of a reviewed and amended Constitution, will give practically no place to the offending word.
“Our goal is to have a document that Nigerians, be they from the East, West, North or South, will be proud to claim ownership of.”
Sen. Omo-Agege has been driving the committee to achieve the mandate even though the covid-19 pandemic slowed things down for most of last year.