House Seek New Constitutional Amendment
Seek New Constitutional Amendment. A far-reaching Amendment of the 1999 Constitution to guarantee a restructuring of the nation’s federalism is in the pipeline, it emerged at the weekend.
The House of Representatives is seeking a full devolution of power from the Federal Government to the states and the local governments.
The lawmakers also want a reformation of the local government administration to make it a full tier of government that is autonomous, efficient and viable.
Members of the ad hoc committee of the House of Representatives on Constitution Reviw, made this position known in a 10-point communiqué released at the end of a four-day retreat on the review of the 1999 Constitution in Port Harcourt, the Rivers State capital.
The communiqué was signed by Deputy Speaker of the House of Representatives Emeka Ihedioha, who is also the Chairman of the committee. It was read by Minority Leader Femi Gbajabiamila, who is a member of the committee.
The retreat was organised to provide an opportunity for the ad hoc committee to get experts’ input into the planned Amendment and examine the various issues that require amendment.
Deliberations at the retreat were guided by eminent personalities and experienced resource persons.
Papers presented at the retreat covered many areas, including: electoral reform, citizenship, indigeneship and residency rights, the immunity clause, accountability and judicial reforms, national security and police reforms, federalism and local governance.
The participants observed that the 1999 Constitution as amended in 2010, had not fully addressed proposals by Nigerians for amendments in the constitution and that current efforts to amend the constitution were geared towards responding to additional pressure and demands of Nigerians for further amendments to the constitution.
The communiqué reads: “That the process of alteration of the constitution shall be inclusive, open and participatory, allowing for the full involvement of Nigerians, including the civil society. That proposals for
constitution Amendment received from Nigerians need to be carefully evaluated during the constitution Amendment process to sift practical proposals from the unattainable ones.
“That the socio-political objectives under the 1999 Constitution require accountability of political leadership to the citizens thereby necessitating the guarantee of economic and social rights under Chapter II to the citizens either by Amendment of Chapter II or by a Bill of Rights.
“That there is the need to further examine the Constitutional provisions on immunity, as contained in Section 308 of the Constitution.
“That the need to guarantee national security and effective policing in Nigeria will necessitate the Amendment of Constitutional provisions on national security and policing to redefine the concept of national security to include protection of fundamental rights, as well as substantial reform of the Nigeria Police.”
The participants at the retreat also stated that the present and future efforts to amend the Nigerian constitution should take full cognisance of the gender implications of the proposed amendments, and that the interests of women needed to be particularly considered.
The communique noted that the House of Representatives should collaborate closely with the Senate, the Nigerian Governors Forum, the Conference of Speakers of Nigerian Legislature and other stakeholders to ensure timely and successful alteration of the constitution.
The participants added that the Constitutional provisions and other relevant laws on citizenship contain definitional contradictions and other defects that needed to be resolved through a careful Amendment of the constitution and such relevant laws.
Besides passing the proposal through on its floor, the House of Representatives needs the concurrence of the Senate, the support of two thirds of the 36 Houses of Assembly and the assent of President Goodluck Jonathan, to see through the Amendment of the 1999 Constitution.
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