The Speaker of the House of Representatives, Femi Gbajabiamila, has faulted the 1999 Constitution, calling for an amendment by the National Assembly.
Speaking on Tuesday in Lagos during the public hearing on the review of the Nigerian Constitution, Gbajabiamila said the National Assembly could only achieve the task after getting the inputs and support of the citizens.
While noting that the document failed to address some critical national questions confronting the country, Gbajabiamila said there was an urgent need for the legislature to amend it.
“Our constitution falls short of this standard,” the Speaker was quoted as saying via a statement issued by his spokesman, Lanre Lasisi.
“The 1999 Constitution is the product of a hurried national compromise that we entered into two decades ago in order to ensure that the military returned to the barracks and that we returned to democratic government.”
Participants at the 2-day public hearing included the Deputy Governor of Lagos State, Dr. Babafemi Hamzat, who represented Governor Babajide Sanwo-Olu; members of the House of Representatives Special Committee on the Review of the Constitution; members of the Nigerian Union of Journalists (NUJ); Nigerian Labour Congress (NLC); representatives of political parties, Civil Society Organisations (CSOs), youth organizations and market women.
Gbajabiamila said though the current exercise is not the first of its kind, it might be the most important one in the nation’s recent history as the decisions to be made would have far-reaching consequences for the future of Nigeria.
In response to the doubts expressed in some quarters about the exercise, he noted that there was no perfect constitution anywhere in the world, but that it was imperative for Nigeria to have a near-perfect constitution to enable the country to confront and resolve many of its political, economic and socio-cultural challenges.
The Speaker, therefore, urged Nigerians to participate fully in the ongoing process so that their inputs would be captured for the country to have a new direction, adding that they could not afford to miss the opportunity of addressing their challenges and sustaining their future at this critical moment.
He assured Nigerians of the sincerity of purpose of the 9th National Assembly to deliver a reviewed constitution that everyone would be proud of.
He said, “The foundational constitution of the United States of America deemed people of colour to be ‘less than’ and denied women the right to vote. It did not include any limits on the President’s term of office and allowed for citizens to be denied the right to vote for failure to pay the ‘poll tax’. Twenty-seven reviews and amendments, over one hundred years cured these and other defects.
“No nation in the world has a perfect constitution, but we need a near-perfect constitution in Nigeria and we can achieve that through substantive amendments that significantly alter the character of our nation.
“Therefore, the task before us now is to use this process of review and amendment to devise for ourselves a constitution that resolves the issues of identity and political structure, of human rights and the administration of government, resource control, national security and so much else, that have fractured our nation and hindered our progress and prosperity.
“Our job is to produce a constitution that turns the page on our past, yet heeds its many painful lessons. It is not an easy task, but it is a necessary and urgent one.”
He added that “We will not be able to deliver on this historic assignment if we restrict ourselves to tinkering around the edges of the constitution or by imposing upon ourselves artificial redlines that restrict honest conversation.
“All of us in the House of Representatives will work conscientiously and in good faith so that it may be said of us in this process that we made an audacious attempt at creating for our nation a constitution that recognises our diversity and draws strength from it, and addresses once and for all, the fault lines that distract from nation-building.
“It is all too clear that many of our citizens have come to expect too little of our politics and government. We are suffering from the tyranny of low expectations and the cynicism that causes us to believe that the political process cannot produce anything worthy or worthwhile.
“I understand the causes of this cynicism, but I refuse to share in it. I still believe that politics and government in Nigeria can be a force for good and that by our common endeavour we can achieve the vision of a just, peaceful, and prosperous society.
“However, beyond these Public Hearings, you still have an opportunity to make submissions that will be considered and that will help this process achieve the best outcomes. Please, by all means, participate. Let your voice be heard, and let your vision also inform the direction of this process.
“I urge all who have come to participate here today to do so with decorum and respect for one another. Let our deliberations be well-intentioned, well informed and reflect our patriotism. In this way, we will have a most productive engagement over the next two days.”
In his goodwill message, Governor Sanwo-Olu through his deputy, Hamzat, said the need for a special status for Lagos State in the constitution could not be overemphasised.
The governor said being the commercial nerve centre of Nigeria, whatever affects the State has the capacity to affect the entire country, hence the need for a special status.
He also urged members of the National Assembly to prioritise fiscal federalism, local government autonomy, in addition to state police in the ongoing review process.
Deborah Samuel: NBA Calls For Swift Prosecution Of Suspects, Postpones Conference In Sokoto
The Nigerian Bar Association has condemned extra-judicial killings in any part of the country, describing them as reprehensible, barbaric and unacceptable.
A statement signed by the President of the bar, Olumide Akpata also called on security agencies to do more to stem these ugly developments, and to ensure that the perpetrators of these heinous acts are made to face the full wrath of the law.
Citing the specific cases of a young man (simply identified as David) in Lagos who was reportedly lynched by commercial motorcyclists around Lekki; and the incident in Sokoto involving the murder of Miss Deborah Yakubu, a 200-level student of Shehu Shagari College of Education, Sokoto by some of her school mates for alleged blasphemy, the NBA asked government to immediately commence the prosecution of all suspects involved in these brutal and arbitrary killings in order to send a strong signal that such acts will no longer be tolerated in Nigeria.
The NBA said it believes that the prompt and effective prosecution of the alleged killers will instill confidence in the citizens, promote accountability, and signpost the government’s commitment to the rule of law.
With particular reference to the murder of Deborah Yakubu and related developments in Sokoto, the NBA said it is worried by unconfirmed reports that the suspects have been charged with mere breach of public peace and called on the Sokoto State Government to immediately rethink its prosecution strategy and file charges that truly reflect the gravity of the situation.
On the demand for the release of the suspects by some protesting youths coupled with assault on innocent citizens, burning of worship centres and destruction of property, the NBA said this is worrisome and clearly a test of the will of the State to fully enforce its laws and foster rule of law.
On its annual conference of the Section on Public Interest and Development Law, SPIDEL scheduled to hold next week in Sokoto, the NBA said, having critically reviewed the current security condition in the state, it has become apparent that it cannot guarantee the safety of participants and accordingly, the Conference has been postponed also as a mark of respect for the memory of the slain Deborah Yakubu.
The NBA urged the State Government to fully collaborate with the Federal Government to initiate measures — and where necessary deploy its coercive instruments — to restore peace and order to the State, safeguard lives and property and dissuade vandalism and impunity.
Accord Party’s comment on award of Osogbo-Okinni-Ilobu road project, unfortunate, illogical – Osun Govt
.…says it took over the project to alleviate citizens’ hardship
The government of Osun has explained that it took over the reconstruction of the Osogbo-Okinni-Ilobu road, which is a Federal road, to alleviate the hardship motorists and other road users face daily why plying the road.
The government said the facility had been in a deplorable condition for so long and it could not afford to allow its citizens continue to suffer on the road, adding that it followed due process in taking over the project.
One of the opposition parties in Osun, the Accord Party had in a statement published accused the State Government of taking over a road project that had already been awarded by the Federal Government.
Reacting to the statement by the Accord Party, Mr Ismail Omipidan who is the Chief Press Secretary to the State Governor, described the party’s claims as unfortunate, lame and illogical.
He said while the contract for the rehabilitation of the road had been truly awarded by the federal government on two different occasions since 2012, no concrete work had been done on the project, a development he said forced the State government to take over the project.
“The contract for rehabilitating the road was first awarded by the federal government 10 years ago, but since then, no significant work has been done on the project that has caused so much hardship for our people who use the road.
“It was for this reason that the Governor Adegboyega Oyetola-led administration decided to take over the project to address the needless sufferings and loss of man-hours on the facility,” Omipidan explained.
He further noted that Accord party should be more concerned on how to sell its candidate to the people of Osun rather than engaging in a futile exercise. “The party’s comments on the take-over of the road project by the State government are lame and illogical,” he added.
Omipidan further said: “Accord Party should simply bury its head in shame. Are they saying we should continue to allow the people of Osun to suffer under our administration simply because the road belongs to the federal government?
“If they were discerning enough and if they had listened to Mr. Governor’s speech on the day we flagged off the reconstruction of that road, I am sure they would not bother themselves issuing a statement that lacks substance.
“Mr. Governor said it clearly in his speech that the road contract was awarded about 10 years ago and that as a state government, even though it is a federal government project, we did everything possible to support all the contractors that have had cause to work on that road. But there was no positive result.
“The argument on the timing of the award of the project is preposterous and ill-judged. A government can award a project contract even a week to its expiration, as long as it is in the overall interest of the State and its people.
“We all know that there are processes to take over federal government project that explains why it took us time to start the reconstruction because we have to complete the necessary paperwork.
“During the Governor’s January broadcast, he stated it clearly that though 2022 is going to be an election year but as a responsible governor, he will not allow politics to over shadow governance, so if anything, the Governor should be commended for walking his talk.
“Hon. Lasun Yusuff, the candidate of the Labour Party in the July 16 governorship contest was on air just on Monday, stating how as a former Deputy Speaker of the House of Representatives, he facilitated the reconstruction of the road. He explained how some persons who were coming for his event from Lagos had to return without getting to their destinations after spending three hours on that road, so he was happy and even commended the State government for taking over the road project and so, are the immediate beneficiaries of the road.
“The benefiting communities and road users who ply the road will definitely not be happy with the position taken by Accord Party. The party has indeed missed its target as it cannot use this project to attack Governor Oyetola who has only done what the people desire.
“The party should be more concerned on how to sell its candidate rather than engaging in a futile exercise because this indeed is an exercise in futility, the people of Osun know Mr Adegboyega Oyetola very well as a man of his words and somebody who walks his talks. He has promised that he won’t allow politics to overshadow governance. As a matter of fact, we will reel out more road projects in the days ahead.”
Death Toll Rises To Nine In Kano Explosion
At least nine persons have died after an explosion rocked Aba Road in Sabon Gari area of Kano, the Ministry of Humanitarian Affairs said on Tuesday.
The bodies were recovered from the rubble of a collapsed building beside a primary school.
The police earlier said the explosion was triggered by gas cylinder and not a bomb as being speculated.
“It is not a bomb explosion, it is a gas explosion,” Commissioner of Police, Sama’ila Dikko, said in a voice recording. “A gas cylinder explosion.
“Because there is a welder, just by the place, and he is the first victim in this situation.”
Dikko added that the police, in collaboration with other security agencies, was also investigating what led to the gas cylinder explosion.
He maintained that the scene was under control.
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