By Ovie Okpare
The Deputy President of the Senate, Senator Ovie Omo-Agege has said the Senate Committee on Constitution Review will consider the recommendations of the 2014 Constitutional Conference under the President Goodluck Jonathan’s administration and the Governor Nasir el-Rufai-led Committee on restructuring in the amendment of the constitution.
He also said as part of the committee’s duties, it will aggregate and sample the views of the different political zones in the country in arriving at a suitable and acceptable constitution that would unite and move the country forward
Omo-Agege, who stated this during the inauguration of the Constitution Committee Review of the ninth National Assembly on Wednesday in Abuja, added that the committee will consider devolution of powers as well as full local government and judiciary fiscal autonomy.
The Deputy President of the Senate said, “In carrying out this national assignment, this Committee will no doubt, consider the alteration of the Sixth schedule to make provision for new items, the establishment of National and State Houses of Assembly, Pre-election Matters Tribunal, Governorship Pre-election Matters Tribunals and Presidential Pre-election Matters Tribunal, including time limits for the disposal of all pre-election matters before the conduct of the general elections.
“We will also consider the need for devolution of power, full Local Government fiscal autonomy, full autonomy of the judiciary in the area of administration of justice, youth inclusiveness in governance, gender parity or affirmative action. This is by no means an exhaustive list. The Committee will also consider inputs from stakeholders and different interest groups across the country.
“In addition, this committee will consider the recommendations of the 2014 Constitutional Conference and the Governor Nasir el-Rufai-led Committee on restructuring. We would also liaise with our counterparts in the House of Representatives, the State Houses of Assembly and collaborate and build consensus with all stakeholders to ensure synergy.
“Development Partners will also play pivotal roles through counsel, workshops, conferences and interactions. The partnership roles of the Executive and Judiciary and their invaluable contributions cannot be over looked as it will enhance efficient and successful outcomes.”
He reminded members of the committee that the task before them deserves dedication and patriotism to enable them arrive at a workable document which will enhance the nation’s security and coexistence
“These changing times have brought new challenges and today in our country, we are faced with increased insecurity, slow economic growth, rising poverty, and a poor political culture, amongst others. These challenges that will define the way Nigerians will live in the 21st century have continued to agitate the minds of our people. It is against this background that the need for constitutional reforms has once again become necessary.
“It is worthy of note that because of the need to incorporate the interests, wishes and aspirations of the people from various ethno-social and ethno-religious backgrounds, we shall embark on far reaching consultations with Nigerians across the six geo-political zones to, aggregate their positions on current issues that require legislative action by way of Constitutional Reforms.
“Over the years our people appear to have been polarised along different fault lines which often make it impossible to reach the much-needed consensus in some critical areas where fundamental changes are required. We must guide against this if we are to succeed. There is thus the need for constitutional amendment that will be consistent with the agitations and aspirations of our people. This again, is the whole essence of the General Will.
“Our task would be to find a consensus through compromise in order to meet the ever-changing needs of our people. We must understand that the fact that behind our diversity are people united by common challenges of insecurity, unemployment, and a good hope for a better future, provides us with the opportunity to focus on those issues that unite us. It is only by so doing that we can guarantee success and leave for our children a better, fairer and more just Nigeria than the one we met”, Omo-Agege stated.