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Nigerians And Current Constitution Review

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Since its inception as a country, Nigeria has had many constitutions: the Clifford’s in 1922; Richard’s in 1946; McPherson’s of 1952; down to the 1960 independence constitution; 1963 Republican Constitution; 1979; and the present 1999, which is an amendment of the 1979 constitution.

The existence and subsequent amendment of these constitutions had expectedly defined the Nigerian society at any given point with many elements, the operation of which was either viewed satisfactory or otherwise.

Of all the amendments, none has been described people-oriented as the on-going constitutional review, which gained such recognition by virtue of it being held at the grassroots in order to get the true feelings of the people and reflect same in the final document.

Going by the manner in which the nation-wide referendum on the constitutional review was organised, Nigerians have shown great expectations regarding the final report being truly representative of their various interests. They are thus highly expectant of that constitution that would adequately make provision for their dues and their security before laying emphasis on their obligations.

However, their wait may be longer than envisaged. This is because the National Assembly has continued to disagree over various issues in which they had indicated their stands when their opinions were sort at the grassroots late last year.

Though the reports of the referendum conducted across the country by both the House of Representatives and Senate are yet to be made public, there are already indications that the lawmakers may find it difficult to speak in unison in certain key issues. Such issues include state creation and local government autonomy.

This disagreement has already stalled the first public hearing for the report of the National Assembly on the nationwide referendum by the Constitution Review Committee of the House of Representatives. The Speaker, Aminu Waziri Tambuwal cancelled the event last month after a marathon meeting of principal officers that lasted over three hours.

According to him, the cancellation was necessitated by the need to put certain things right by carrying out more consultations on contentious issues.

“As a  leadership, we have reviewed the process so far and realised that we cannot go ahead with this programme today. Just like any other things associated with humans, there are hitches here and there, that is normal”, Tambuwal said.

Contrarily, indications are rife that part of the disagreement in the Lower House borders on the fact that the Deputy Speaker, Emeka Ihedioha, who is the Chairman of the Constitution Review Committee, is not on the same page with his principal on certain provisions suggested in the report.

After several efforts to reach a compromise failed, Tambuwal and his loyalists chose to “stop what they christened unfavourable report, from becoming a public document, saying that such presentation may further complicate the hitherto fragile situation among the lawmakers.

The position of Tambuwal and his loyalists was alleged to be a reaction against such issues as state creation and immunity. It was alleged that the Speaker and his Deputy disagreed on several occasions when attempts were made to reach a compromise on the grey areas.

The implication is that the leadership of the House is currently divided into two with each supporting either Tambuwal or Ihedioha on the issues. The situation is almost the same in the Upper House, Senate.

According to inside sources, the arguments for and against the need for new states have also caused a sharp division among principal officers of the Senate: While Senate President, David Mark and his Deputy, Ike Ekweremadu, are for state creation, some principal officers mostly from the North, are opposed to the creation of more states.

In fact, as at the last debate, it was difficult to determine what the result would be if the lawmakers had decided to vote on the contentious issue of state creation. The reason was that while a good number of senators from the South and North Central were in support, most lawmakers from the North were strongly against it.

The Senate President was quoted to have said: “the argument of those opposing state creation is based on whether existing states are viable or not. But they forget that a state might be unviable just because the administrator is not ingenious with internal revenue generation, or the people are not united and the administrator has to spend the available resources on achieving peace.

“I am for the creation of Aba State and any other State that may fit the conditions. I have never shied  away from my agitation for creation of additional states…”, he said.

Ordinarily, all these and other arguments from the perspective of a selfless broadminded person, which is what those the legislators represent expect them to be, can only be for the best, if the aim is to create an egalitarian society in the Nigerian state. Anything outside this can only further heat-up the polity.

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…Urges Ondo Gov To Shelve N2bn Gov’s Lodge Project

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The Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) has advised the Ondo State government  to shelve its plans to build a new governor’s lodge at the cost of N2 billion in the interest of the state.
Mr Fatai Adams, the state PDP Chairman said this when he spoke with newsmen at the state party secretariat in Akure, yesterday.
Adams expressed concern over mass resignation of doctors in the state due to poor remuneration.
“We are seriously alarmed by the unfortunate resignation of over 109 doctors from the state public service over the inability of the government to pay their due salaries and hazard allowances as at when due.
“I’m sure you will all recall that Ondo State was the destination for medical tourism in the South West because of the first class service delivery found here under the PDP administration.
“According to the Nigerian Medical Association records, no medical house officer has been employed by the state government since 2019, a situation that is responsible for the poor services rendered in the hospitals.
“The present administration has a backlog of unpaid salaries of workers, it is proposing to build a N2 billion new governor’s lodge in Akure. This is not only ridiculous but the surest evidence that the government has completely lost direction,” he said.
Adams added” “Dr Olusegun Mimiko, Oluwarotimi Akeredeolu’s predecessor built a very befitting governor’s Lodge in 2013, a few years before Akeredolu assumed the reins of government.
“To spend N2 billion of tax payers money on another lodge at this time is the height of callousness and wastefulness,” he said.

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Senators Rate 9th National Assembly High

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Senators on Wednesday at plenary commended the 9th National Assembly at the mid-term assessment of its performance in the last two years.
The lawmakers, who spoke during a special session to mark the second year anniversary of the 9th Senate, commended the various legislative interventions of the National Assembly, especially on  security, economy and governance.
The lawmakers, who spoke included the Senate Leader, Yahaya Abdullahi (APC-Kebbi); Deputy Leader, Ajayi Boroffice (APC-Ondo); Deputy Whip, Aliyu Sabi (APC-Niger), and Adamu Aliero (APC-Kebbi).
Others were Yahaya Oloriegbe (APC-Kwara); Gabriel Suswam (PDP-Benue); Chukwuka Utazi (PDP-Enugu); Solomon Adeola (APC-Lagos), Olubunmi Adetumbi (APC,-Ekiti), Ibikunle Amosun (APC-Ogun), and Suleiman Umar (APC-Kwara).
The rest were Biobarakuma Degi-Eremienyo (APC-Bayelsa); Nicholas Tofowomo (PDP-Ondo); Istifanus Gyang (PDP-Plateau); Sam Egwu (PDP-Ebonyi); Teslim Folarin (APC-Oyo); Nora Daduut (APC-Plateau); Jibrin Isah (APC-Kogi); Abdullahi Adamu (APC-Nasarawa), and Francis Fadahunsi (PDP-Osun), amongst others.
Senate President, Ahmad Lawan, in a speech delivered at the special session, said 742 bills were introduced by the ninth Senate in the last two years.
According to him, out of the total number of bills introduced during the two sessions of the Assembly, 58 have been passed, while 355 bills have gone through first reading.
Contributing, Senate Leader, Yahaya Abdullahi, said the realignment carried out on the budget cycle by the National Assembly was to insulate businesses and the economy from going into recession.
Deputy Whip, Sen. Aliyu Sabi, said: “As we celebrate two years, we are guided by the legislative agenda.
“The unity of purpose which we have worked for, has enabled us to achieve those great strides.
“The Production Sharing Contract (PSC) is a testimony on how the National Assembly has been able to work in unity in the interest of the nation.
“We need to work together to find common grounds to problems that beset the country,” Abdullahi said.
In his own remark, Sen. Garbriel Suswam, said: “Inspite of challenges and shortcomings, the 9th Assembly had taken major steps to achieve some of its legislative agenda.”
He said that the executive has been intransigent in implementing the resolution of the National Assembly.
He appealed to the Senate President to ensure that the Electoral Bill presently before the National Assembly was passed transparently, while accommodating provisions for the use of electronic card readers and electronic transmission of results during elections.
Senator Chukwuka Utazi, on his own part, described Executive-Legislative relations under the ninth Assembly as a good one.
The lawmaker, who  called for the introduction of State Police, to curb rising insecurity in the country, also advised that the constitutional review exercise, be used to bring the South East region at par with other parts of the country.
Sen. Solomon Adeola similarly said that the Senate had on two occasions rescued Nigeria from a looming economic crises when it slid into recession.
He added that such a prompt response was extended by the National Assembly to the issue of insecurity amid its recommendations to the Executive arm of government, which were aimed at tackling the spate of insecurity faced by the country.

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PDP Inaugurates E-Registration Committee

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The Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) on Wednesday inaugurated e-registration Committee to facilitate electronic registration of its members nationwide.
The committee is Chaired by the Governor of Edo, Mr Godwin Obaseki, while Gov. Ahmadu Fintiri of Adamawa State is the Vice Chairman.
The party’s National Chairman, Prince Uche Secondus, at the inauguration of the committee in Abuja, said that the e- registration was a project dear to the party and had been on the card since 2010.
Secondus said that the party decided to digitalise its membership for proper database, due to its size, reach and to move with time.
“When we say that PDP is the largest party in the continent, we are not grandstanding but stating the obvious.
“There is no nook and cranny of this country that you won’t find PDP members.
“In 2019 general elections, the PDP was the only political party that fielded candidates in all the positions: Presidency, Governorship, Senate and House of Representatives and in all the 36 states’ Houses of Assembly.
“Even in states where we are not in power, our members still out number even the ruling party in such states.
“We are the only party since inception in 1998 that has been consistent in name, motto, manifestos and logo,” he said.
Secondus said that reports available to the party across the country showed that many more Nigerians want to join PDP and that the exercise would provide them such opportunity.
Secondus advised members of the committee to use their wealth of experience to deliver on the mandate assigned to them.
“In appointing you as the Chairman of this project, the party took into consideration your background and your love for data and record keeping.
“We have absolute confidence that you and your team will deliver in this assignment that is expected to update the database of our party across the country.
“Membership registration into our party is a continuous programme, what we are embarking on is to digitalise it for proper analysis of issues.
“The place of women and youths in our party cannot be over-emphasised and this programme is going to help toward proper planning in our party,” Secondus said.
Obaseki, in his remarks promised that the committee would reach out to PDP members across the nation.
He promised that the exercise would be all inclusive to the men and women, especially youths who were living in the digital world.
Obaseki said the committee would leverage on the existing platform of the party and produced a membership register that the party would be proud of .
“It is very worthy that our party being a big party has decided to digitalised membership and position the party to take over in 2023,” he said.
The party’s National Organising Secretary, retired Col. Austin Akobundu is the Secretary to the Committee, while the National Publicity Secretary, Kola Ologbondiyan; Agbi Emmanuel, Prof. Wale Oladipo, Sani Kutigi, Cyril Maduabum and Hon. Austin Opara will serve as members. 

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