Failed Bills: Ekweremadu preaches hope in constitution reform

The Deputy President of the Senate, Sena­tor Ike Ekweremadu, has expressed optimism that proposed amendments to the 1999 Constitution recently rejected by the National Assembly could still meet the constitutional threshold to become part of the Nigerian constitution when revisited.

Ekweremadu, who com­mended his colleagues for approving about 95 per cent of the recommendations presented by his Commit­tee, said that it was not the end of the road for the failed alteration bills since con­stitution amendment was a continuum, noting that fur­ther consultation as well as understanding of the issues was needed.

The Senator, who also chairs the Senate Committee on the Review of the 1999 Constitution spoke during a consultative meeting on South East infrastructural development with a del­egation of the Partnership to Engage, Reform, and Learn (PERL) and the United Kingdom’s Department for International Development (DFID) led by PERL’s Team Leader, Dr. Adiya Ode in Abuja.

His words: “We commend our colleagues for their un­derstanding and ensuring that about 95 per cent of the amendments we proposed to them scaled through.

“We are also conscious of the fact that Nigerians are worried about some of the recommendations that did not pass. Let me use this op­portunity to further appreci­ate and reassure Nigerians that we are sensitive to their feelings and that we are likely going to revisit some of the issues they are concerned about when we return from our vacation.

“Some of the issues did not scale through because there is need for fuller un­derstanding as well as more consultations and consensus building on them and their implications for our people”.

Ekweremadu reiterated that devolution of more power to the federating units would quicken infra­structural development in the country.

He added: “No doubt, your studies on South East were right because the re­gion is indeed highly chal­lenged, especially in the areas of transport infrastruc­ture such as roads, railway, seaport. We are also chal­lenged in the areas of power.

“That is why we in the Committee on Constitu­tion Review believe we mean well when we talk about things like devolution of power. Our view is that some of these things should be moved from the Exclu­sive List to the Concurrent List so that while the Fed­eral Government is making efforts, the States too will be making efforts either in­dividually or in clusters or partnership with one an­other.

“That was why we took things like power to the Concurrent List so that States can generate power, transmit, and distribute power. The same goes for railway, which is still the ex­clusive preserve of the Fed­eral Government. That way, Nigeria can effectively speed up socio-economic develop­ment in all parts of the coun­try.

“Unfortunately, some of these issues were misunder­stood. But it is not the end of the road. We believe that with more engagements, the issues will be better ap­preciated and we are posi­tive about more favourable dispositions when we revisit them. As leaders we all have our eyes on the future and are committed to building a better Nigeria for posterity”.

Earlier in her remarks, the Team Leader of PERL, Dr. Ode, commended the National Assembly for vot­ing in favour of autonomy for Local Governments and State Houses of Assembly, while also calling for greater support for gender main­streaming and other amend­ments that would speed up national development.

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