From Kenneth Udeh, Abuja
The President of the Senate, Senator Ahmed Lawan has dismissed claims that the current exercise to amend the 1999 Constitution exercise embarked on by both chambers of the National Assembly is waste of time. He stated this during the press conference to mark the second anniversary of the ninth Senate held at the National Assembly complex,Abuja the Nation’s capital.
Giving the assurance of the National Assembly’s commitment to genuinely accomplish the amendment task, Lawan said that asides being a continuous legislative activity of both the previous, current and forthcoming assemblies, the amendment exercise is always embarked on due to public clamourings. He emphasised that the continued complaints of Nigerians who pick inherent flaws in the current 1999 Constitution cannot be ignored by the legislature thus the needs to review the constitution.
Citing the ‘Not Too Young To Run (Age Reduction) Bill’ passed by the National Assembly and signed by President Muhammadu Buhari on May 31, 2018, Ahmed explained that previous amendment exercises were never in vain.
“What we try to do is to bring , good governance, what we try to achieve so to make life meaningful for Nigerians, this must be the mandate and focus of not only those in the national assembly.
“Constitution review is another legislative activity that we must entertain and we are amending the constitution because Nigerians are complaining about so many things in the constitution or so many other things that are not in the constitution.
“Should we turn deaf ears and insist that the current constitution stands and continue to operate with it ,our duty is to look at those areas in the constitution that Nigerians are complaining about and we also look at those areas that are missing which Nigerians are insisting must be in the constitution.
“My position is that it is the responsibility and response to the yearnings and aspirations of the people we represent. Every past, current and forthcoming Senate will continue to embark on constitution review unless Nigerians stop complaining about the constitution.
Fielding questions from the members of the Press, Lawan elucidated that the constitution amendment is not the sole responsibility of the national Parliament , saying the state assemblies and the Federal and State executives are also involved.
Ahmed pointed the efforts of the National Assembly will be futile if one or more other parties involved don’t act on its resolutions. According to Lawan synergy among all arms of government is needed to achieve good governance in the country.
“The constitution review is not the sole duty of the National Assembly, the National Assembly only initiates and it’s transmitted to the state houses of Assembly so the process will be complete when it returns to the National Assembly then to the executive.
“The public bearings we did accross the Geopolitical zones and the National hearing that we organised in Abuja here is give all Nigerians the opportunity, it’s not a jamboree.
“It’s all in incorrect to say that nothing was achieved in the past amendments , we had the “Not Too Young to Run Bill” , and so many others so we shouldn’t loose interest or hope in what the National Assembly does.
“We should also put pressures on the state houses of Assembly and the Chief Executives of the State because there are times the National Assembly passed the Autonomy of the state legislatives but the state Governors refused to accept that, so how’s that the fault of the National Assembly in this case ?
“For good governance, we need the National or the Federal Government to work in a democratic fashion, we also need the state governments to work in a similar democratic fashion and above all we need the local Governments to function because a bulk of the people are at the local government levels, without that we cannot achieve what we hope to achieve.
“So I am giving Nigerians the assurance that the National Assembly is honest and what we are doing is genuine we have no reason to deceive Nigerians , but its is extremely essential for any legislature to listen to what the people say.
On the public assertion that National Assembly has been snaffled, the Senate President said for the Senate to make meaningful achievements ,peaceful cooperation was essential.
“This is a regular music, many people have been saying this , but there’s always a price to pay for anything, what matters most is if your anticipated outcome can justify the price.
“By the grace of God, this week made it my 22 years at the National Assembly and as student of the legislature and parliament generally, I understood that there’s need to achieve partnership cooperation and cordial working relationship first between us at the Senate.
“When I was elected president exactly two years today, Senators voted for me accross all political platforms and I didn’t take that for granted. What that meant was that they wanted a very bipartisan and despite all odds at bringing everyone together in both formal and informal ways.
Speaking on the Senate’s official Position on the Federal Government’s recent ban on the microblogging and social media giant, Twitter,Lawan said that both Twitter and Nigeria needed each other to progress , Lawan posited that the services rendered by the social media company is important to the country.
Lawan expressed his optimism that the impasse between both parties will be resolved,he mentioned the recent statement credited to the minister of Information and National Orientation, Lai Mohammed that Twitter has reached out the Federal Government to achieve a truce over the ban.
In his words ” The Honorable minister of Information and National Orientation,Alhaji Lai Mohammed has informed Nigerians that they are holding discussions with Twitter to resolve this matter.
“Our believe is Nigeria Needs Twitter just as much as Twitter needs Nigeria and our expectations is that this engagement between the Federal Government of Nigeria and Twitter will be resolved the dispute between Twitter and our Government.
“Beyond that I am an optimistic and I believe that all of us will have all learnt our lessons.
The media briefing was well attended by Newspaper Editors,Bureau , Members of the Senate Press Corps others were the principal officers and members of the Senate they include; Chief Whip of the Senate,Senator Orji Uzor Kalu;Deputy Senate leader,Senator Robert Ajayi Boroffice ;Senate leader, Senator Dr. Yahaya Abdullahi;Deputy Senate Chief whip,Sen. Aliyu Sabi Abdullahi; Senate minority Whip
Senator Philip Aduda; Deputy senate minority Whip,Senator Sahabi Alhaji Ya’u; Deputy Senate Minority Leader, Senator Bwacha Emmanuel; Senator Umar Sadiq; Senator Yahaya Oloriegbe among others.