From Gyang Bere, Jos
Deputy Senate President and Chairman, Senate Committee on Constitution Review, Sen Ovie Omo-Agege, has expressed the determination of the National Assembly to provide Nigerians with a fair and inclusive constitution that will address the challenges of the country.
Omo-Agege disclosed this on Wednesday at the open ceremony of the zonal public hearing of the Senate Committee on the review of the 1999 constitution, held in Jos, Plateau State.
Represented by Chairman, North Central public hearing committee, for Plateau, Nasarawa and Benue States, Senator Abdullahi Adamu, he said the process provide a platform for the good people of Nigeria to express their opinions on the fundamental law that govern the country.
‘The focus of this committee is how to manage the review exercise in a fair, inclusive, credible and transparent manner.
‘At the commencement of this 9th Senate, we had set for ourselves a legislative agenda as a basis on which we are to be assessed. Sitting prominently in that agenda is the need to address, by way of constitutional amendments, topical issues like judicial and Electoral Reforms, Local Government Autonomy, and devolution of powers.
‘There are developmental challenges in our country. Many argue that these challenges are due to several factors, which include history, culture, natural endorsements and politics.
‘We have a compelling duty to carefully address every challenge to this nation and there is no better way to do it th through this constitution amendment exercise.’
He noted that the National Assembly has a responsibility of giving Nigerian citizens a constitution that speak to their challenges and that which can be call their own constitution.
Plateau State Governor Simon Lalong advocated for state police and devolution of power at the federal level to strengthen the states and the local governments.
‘This is more apt when Nigeria is today facing serious security and economic challenges that many tie to the 1999 Constitution. For instance, many believe that if the Constitution had provided for state police, the level of crime and insecurity will not be as high as we are witnessing today.
‘The same assertion goes for the economy where many feel the centre controls too much.I am happy that these and more items have been listed for this public hearing aimed at generating views and submissions that will eventually lead to the birth of a people’s constitution that will address the yearnings and aspirations of the citizens.
‘Many have raised concerns on the need to devolve more powers to the sub-national levels; enshrine Fiscal Federalism in revenue allocation; guarantee autonomy for all arms and tiers of government; provide specific roles to traditional rulers; and strengthen electoral reforms to guarantee free, fair and credible elections among others.’
Memorandums were submitted by the Government of Nasarawa, Benue and Plateau state. Others are Nigeria Labour Congress, Human Rights Commission, Nigeria Union of Local Government Employees among several public and private organisations.