By Osahon Osahon
Edo State Governor, Mr. Godwin Obaseki, has described constitution review as an opportunity for the people to own the process of making a true Nigerian constitution, rather than delegating it to a section of the people.
He stated this on Tuesday, during the state summit on the Senate and House of Representatives Joint Committees on the 1999 Constitution Review, held at the Government House, Benin City.
The Governor who was represented by his deputy, Philip Shaibu, canvassed an in-depth review of the country’s Constitution to reflect the will and desire of the people.
According to him, “Edo’s position in the constitutional amendment is that it must represent Edo people; the Government represents the people and our contribution is needed.
“I am appealing to the National Assembly to separate the clauses of all the deeds to be canvassed for, if truly the amended constitution will be a product of Nigeria. This will enable us to have a choice when it’s brought back for adoption at the State House of Assembly, so that our representatives will choose in line with our presentation today.”
Speaking further, the governor noted that some are clamouring for a one-term of six years for a President and Governors, while others say a term of four years for chairmen of local fovernment councils.
According to him, “Others say bicameral legislature should be replaced by unicameral legislature. The National Assembly should look at the issues as it comes and not join all these issues together. If the Constitution is to be amended, it should be done within the next three months.
“I want to reassure Edo people that as a matter of responsibility, the government will continue to canvass the view of the people. The governor has always called for the citizens to take charge of the ownership of government as the government belongs to them,” he added.
Earlier, while delivering his opening speech, the Speaker of the State House of Assembly, Marcus Onobun, noted that “the need for a public hearing on constitution review cannot be overemphasized, comparing it to grassroots participation in the constitution-building process.
He said: “It is commendable that the National Assembly, in conjunction with the State Houses of Assembly, over the years has undertaken and implemented laudable reforms and reviews on the Constitution that captures the yearnings and aspirations of the people of Nigeria.
“This is a step in the right direction. It is heart-warming to note that the present Constitution has undergone over 30 alterations, with further alterations being contemplated, hence the need for this public hearing today.”
Also speaking, a former House of Representative member, Hon. Friday Itulah, noted that there is great need to strengthen local government administration as it is closer to the people at the grassroots.
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Presenting a paper titled “Socio-economic right as contained in chapter two (2) of the Federal Republic of Nigeria 1999,” Bishop Oriname Oyonnude Kure, called for a total rejection of the 1999 Constitution because of its many deficiencies.
“We recommend that a new constitution reflecting our collective interest, diversities and aspirations be put in place by Nigerians,” he said.
Present at the summit were top State government functionaries community, religious and traditional leaders and heads of civil society groups, among others.