By Lukman Olabiyi, Lagos
A two-day Senate zonal public hearing on the review of the 1999 Constitution began on Wednesday in Lagos.
The zonal public hearing, which is chaired by Senator Oluremi Tinubu, covered Lagos, Ogun, and Oyo states.
In opening address by the Deputy President of the Senate, Ovie Omo-Agege, that was read by Tinubu, called on those who had already submitted memoranda to speak to the documents at the events.
Lagos State Governor Babajide Sanwo-Olu, who declared the event opened, demanded a special economic status for the state, saying the progress and prosperity of Nigeria is inextricably linked to the progress and prosperity of Lagos State.
Governor Sanwo-Olu also demanded for a state police and entrenchment of true fiscal federalism in Nigeria.
The governor also 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.
‘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 land mass.
‘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,’ he said.
Echoing the document it submitted before the committee, a coalition of women groups led by Dr. Abiola Akiyode-Afolabi, Executive Director, Women Advocates Research and Documentation Centre (WARDC), implored the National Assembly to make a legislation worthy of being called “The Constitution that Nigeria Women Want”.
The coalition made a 10-point demands from the committee.
Among the demands, Akiyode-Afolabi said the language of the current constitution is insensitive to its populace and excludes women.
She said going forward women wants to see that the new piece of legislation be inclusive in language and representative.
Citing one of the reasons it is harping on language, ‘in the current constitution, the word “he” is used 235 times, while women is referenced only twice.’
WARDC boss said such masculine languages are gender biased and undermine women and girls’ rights and participation, thereby hindering inclusive governance in Nigeria.