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Constitution Review: lt’s Time For FG To Shed Excess Weight -Akeredolu

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The Chairman of the South-West Governors’ Forum, Rotimi Akeredolu, SAN, has asked the Federal Government to shed itself of the excess weight it has appropriated over time.
Akeredolu declared that the present arrangement “is the major cause of friction in the country and reason for politics of bitterness”.
The governor, who insisted that the current system was not sustainable, said that the Federal Government should only coordinate and receive royalties.
He said this at the Public Hearing by the Senate Committee on Review of the 1999 Constitution in Akure, the Ondo State capital, yesterday.
“All the agitations of the peoples of this country must be looked into with a view to improving the economic power of the average citizens.
“The best way possible is to allow each region flower in its areas of comparative advantage.
“The behemoth called the Federal Government must shed the excess weight unduly appropriated over time. It is the major cause of friction.
“It is the reason for the politics of bitterness. It explains why everyone wants the power at the centre. It promotes ethnic chauvinists and encourages mediocrity.
“The new law must view, critically, the current misnomer which sees the Federal Government appropriating humongous amounts for moribund agencies whose duties overlap with those of the states.
“The fiscal policy of the country must be restructured to encourage ingenuity and uncommon resourcefulness.
“The Federal Government should only coordinate and receive royalties. The current system is not sustainable. All of us are beginning to appreciate this fact.
“The current exercise will derive its legitimacy if taken to the people for revalidation.
“Nothing must be taken for granted. Everyone must be treated as an equal partner in this whole enterprise of nation-building.
“The constitution of a country should reflect the aggregate of the realistic expectations of the components parts which form the union.
“It is the basic law which must define the powers and responsibilities of the offices created to serve the people.
“It must address the possible areas of anxiety. Nothing must be taken as given. All aspects of concern must be looked into with a view to reaching a consensus.
“All disparate aspirations must be harnessed to evolve a national ethos. No section of the country must feel short-changed.”
“The document produced must be a true reflection of collective bargaining and concessions secured in an ambiance of frank exchanges among members of the same family.
“The current attempt at Constitution amendment should be taken beyond the usual jamboree conceived and executed to arrive at predetermined result.
Akeredolu advocated for the return to the 1973 Constitution describing it as “the best practicable guide towards nationhood”.
According to him, “The 1963 Constitution retained regionalism and upheld the principle of autochthony, an organic development of the law using local experiences.
“The Republican status of the country was reflected. Each region had considerable latitude to blossom at her own pace. There was devolution of powers in the true sense of the term.
“This was the period when even outsiders noticed the potential greatness of the nascent post colonial country.
“The major provisions which allowed the three regions which existed before independence were retained in the 1963 Constitution.”
“That remains the best document for a country as heterogeneous as Nigeria. It was the best practicable guide towards nationhood.
The governor said, “Unfortunately, the military coup of 1966 destroyed that when it abolished regionalism and created the so-called provinces while imposing a unitary system on the country.
“Any honest analyst will agree that this act marked the beginning of the crises of confidence among the peoples of this country.
“This gross commission led to the civil war and the attendant loss of lives and property on monumental scale.
“The country still smarts from the effects the needless war among brothers till date.
“The 1979 Constitution was a departure from the 1963’s but it lacked originality. The 1995 Sani Abacha document was not used for a day.
“The 1999 Constitution has been described as a document which tells lies against itself. It was just decreed into existence by the departing military. This explains the several amendments in barely two decades of its existence.
“The current exercise, therefore, must not toe the path of the previous attempts at tokenism.
“The basic law of any country must not be reduced to frivolities reflecting preferred whimsies.
“It must not be oppressive of the minorities. Its provisions must indeed give teeth to the primary purpose for which the government exists.
“No provision of the law must not be justifiable as Chapter Two of the current 1999 Constitution seeks to impress on us.
The Leader of the committee, Senator Ajayi Boroffice, said that the review provides a platform for Nigerians to express their opinions on the fundamental law that governs their lives through proposals that will lead to the highest good for the greatest number of our people.
Boroffice said, “No doubt, we are going to have diverse and differing views on the different themes of the exercise. However, the focus for this committee is how to manage the review exercise in a fair, inclusive, credible, and transparent manner.
“Public Hearings are critical to participatory democracy and indispensable in a Constitution amendment exercise if the Constitution is to be seen as the people’s Constitution.
He noted that, “These Zonal Public Hearings have been designed in such a manner as to give citizens greater opportunities to make inputs more than ever before in the Constitution amendment process.
Similarly, the Lagos State Governor, Mr. Babajide Sanwo-Olu, yesterday, demanded state police, fiscal federalism and a special economic status for the state as constitutional review public hearing begin across the country.
Sanwo-Olu made the demands at the opening of the two-day Senate Zonal Public Hearing on the Review of the 1999 Constitution under the leadership of Senator Oluremi Tinubu, held at Marriot Hotel, Ikeja, in Lagos State, according to a statement by the state government.
He said, “For us in Lagos State, the issues of state police and fiscal federalism are at the top of the priority list for us, in this ongoing review process. Equally fundamental, particularly for us in Lagos State, is the issue of a special economic status for Lagos, considering our place in the national economy and the special burdens we bear by virtue of our large population and limited landmass.
“I believe the need for this special status has been sufficiently articulated and justified. It suffices for me at this point to restate that this request is by no means a selfish one, but one that is actually in the interest of every Nigerian and of Nigeria as a nation.
“The progress and prosperity of Nigeria is inextricably linked to the progress and prosperity of Lagos State. A special status for Lagos State, therefore, must be a concern not only for the people of Lagos State alone, but for all Nigerians.”
Sanwo-Olu also called on all Nigerians within the zone being covered by the Senate Committee on Constitutional amendment to embrace the opportunity of the zonal hearing so that their voices and opinions will count in the amended constitution that will emerge.
Sanwo-Olu, who commended the leadership and members of the National Assembly for responding to the concerns of Nigerians on the need to carry out a review of the 1999 Constitution to reflect current realities, assured them of the Lagos State Government support in any way necessary to make the assignment easier and highly rewarding for all Nigerians.
Representatives of several states, town, communities, associations and civil society organisations spoke on several issues that have to do with states creation, gender equality and special status, among others.

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Senate Wades Into CJN, S’Court Justices’ Feud

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The Senate has waded into the disagreement between the Chief Justice of Nigeria (CJN), Justice Ibrahim Tanko Muhammad, and justices of the Supreme Court.
Fourteen aggrieved justices of the apex court had, in a widely circulated letter to the CJN, accused him of neglecting their welfare, not carrying them along in managing the affairs of the court, the deteriorating condition of services generally, and the state of the litigation department.
Speaking at plenary on Wednesday, Senate President Ahmad Lawan said the legislature must be interested in what is happening in the judiciary with a view to finding solution to any of its issues.
He therefore mandated the Committee on Judiciary, Human Rights and Legal Matters led by Senator Opeyemi Bamidele (APC, Ekiti) to wade into the issue.
He said: “We must have interest in what is happening in the judicial arm of government with a view to bringing solution to the issue.
“Our Standing Committee on Judiciary, Human Rights and Legal Matters should get involved and find out what the real issue is so that the National Assembly can help out.”

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Voter Registration: INEC Insists On June 30 Deadline, Denies Extension

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The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) has denied extending the deadline of the ongoing Continuous Voter Registration (CVR), describing the report that it has agreed to extend the deadline by 60 days as false.
Chairman of the House of Representatives Committee on Electoral Matters, Aishatu Jibril Dukku, had while briefing lawmakers told members during a plenary session on Wednesday that the Commission had agreed to extend the CVR by 60 days.
“The Committee held a meeting with INEC yesterday (Tuesday) and they agreed to extend the CVR, all our resolutions were approved,” she said.
But responding, Chief Press Secretary to the INEC chairman, Rotimi Oyekanmi, clarified that the Commission has not announced an extension of the CVR deadline.
The exercise, which was meant to end on June 30, has been greeted by calls for an extension. Also, a Federal High Court sitting in Abuja had stopped INEC from ending the exercise until all eligible voters had been registered.
Meanwhile, the House of Representatives has faulted media reports associating it with the extension of the ongoing CVR.
The House spokesperson, Benjamin Kalu, said it was untrue that the shift of the INEC voter registration was announced on the floor of the House on Wednesday.
Flanked by the chairman of the House Committee on INEC, Hajia Aisha Dukku, he said the decision on the shift is left to Prof Mahmoud Yakubu-led INEC to take.
Kalu acknowledged that INEC may not be able to adhere to the recently adopted motion of the House, which demanded an extension of the exercise by two additional months in view of the extant provision of the electoral amendment Act and the 1999 Constitution as amended.
He reiterated the resolve of the House to ensure that eligible voters are not disenfranchised in the 2023 poll.
Dukku expressed optimism that INEC would heed the call for an extension.

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Fear Grips APC Over Gale Of Defections, Adamu Runs To NASS

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Following the primary elections conducted in different parts of the country by political parties, a gale of defections has hit the ruling All Progressive Congress (APC), causing the party serious concern.
APC national chairman, Sen Abdullahi Adamu, on Wednesday described the mass defection of members of the party to other political parties as unfortunate and worrisome.
Adamu made this comment to newsmen after he met with the APC Senate Caucus at the National Assembly Complex, Abuja.
He said: “It is an unfortunate development when it happens, but this is the season for all manner of behaviour in the political space. And Nigeria is not an exception.
“In every election year, this kind of thing gives cause for stakeholders to sneeze. This is what we are experiencing. Nigeria is no exception and the APC is no exception.
“I don’t give a damn what is happening in other parties. I care about what is happening in our party, but you and I know that it’s not just in the APC that is having this experience; because we are the ruling party, yes our problems are more prominent in the public glare.”
He stated that every responsible leader will be concerned worry about losing one member, not to talk of two. At the moment, we are faced with the stark reality of that problem and we are committed with my colleagues in the National Working Committee (NWC) to face the problems squarely and see the problems are solvable, and we will solve them,” he said.
But despite the defection the party has been suffering  in recent weeks, yesterday  three senators belonging to the APC resigned their membership.
The lawmakers are Senators Ahmad Babba Kaita (Katsina North), Lawal Yahaya Gumau (Bauchi South), and Francis Alimikhena (Edo North).
Whilst Babba Kaita and Alimikhena defected to the opposition Peoples Democratic Party, Gumau, on the other hand, defected to the New Nigeria Peoples Party (NNPP).
Two senators from Bauchi and Imo States have resigned their membership of the All Progressives Congress (APC) and Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) respectively.
The lawmakers are Senator Dauda Jika – representing Bauchi Central and elected on the platform of the APC, and Senator Ezenwa Francis Onyewuchi – representing Imo East Senatorial District, who was elected on the platform of the PDP.
Both senators, in separate letters addressed to Senate President Ahmad Lawan, conveyed their decision to resign their membership of the APC and PDP,  and to join the Labour Party (LP) and New Nigeria Peoples Party (NNPP), respectively.
The APC lawmaker, Dauda Jika, said he was moving to the NNPP whose ideals are in line with his political aspirations.
Onyewuchi, on his part, said defecting to Labour Party would nable him to participate fully in the “movement for a new Nigeria.”
Wednesday’s defections bring the number of APC Senators to 66, with members of the minority parties standing at 43.
The minority parties in the Senate at present are five in number as of Wednesday, June 22nd, 2022.
They are the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Young People’s Party (YPP), All Progressives Grand Alliance (APGA), New Nigeria Peoples Party (NNPP), and Labour Party (LP).
Meanwhile, A former Minister of Aviation and chieftain of the All Progressives Congress (APC), Chief Femi Fani-Kayode, has raised the alarm that 22 Senators of the ruling party were at the verge of leaving the party for the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) over their inability to secure re-election tickets in the just-concluded APC primaries.
The Tide source reports that the Senate President, Ahmad Lawan, and Speaker of the House of Representatives, Femi Gbajabiamila, had at separate sittings of the Houses lamented the inability of many lawmakers to secure their return tickets for the 2023 elections.
Chief Fani-Kayode, however, on Wednesday took to his verified social  media handles, saying the threat by the aggrieved Senators was a serious matter and something must be done to avert the mass defection.
He added that many party members have expressed concerns over the development even as he called on the national chairman of the APC, Senator Abdullahi Adamu, and national secretary, Senator Iyiola Omisore, to quickly wade in by reaching out to the affected lawmakers.
The former Minister wrote: “22 APC Senators are threatening to decamp to PDP because they have been denied the tickets to return to the Senate.
“This is serious and something must be done to prevent it.
“Many are concerned and we urge our able National Chairman and National Secretary to reach them. We cannot afford to lose them.”

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