Nigerian constitution needs constant review – Omo-Agege

The Deputy Senate President, Sen. Ovie Omo-Agege, says Nigerian constitution needed to be constantly reviewed for the benefit of the citizens.

Deputy President of the Senate, Ovie Omo-Agege. [Twitter/@SPNigeria]

He said that the Nigeria Constitution had to be looked into from time to time “just like we take stock of the past and plan for the future.

“As a living document, the Constitution to a large extent in a constitutional democracy, need to be reviewed from time to time just as in our day-to-day lives we take stock of the past and plan for the future.’’

Represented by Sen. Abubakar Kyari, Chairman, Public Hearing Committee on 1999 Constitution Review, Bauchi Centre, Omo-Agege said the review would provide a platform for Nigerians to their express opinions on fundamental laws governing their lives.

He said that the focus of the committee was to manage the exercise in a fair, inclusive, credible and transparent manner.

He said that the hearing was organised ahead of the national public hearing because the National Assembly adopted a bottom-up approach by listening to Nigerians first at the geo-political levels.

Omo-Agege said the approach underscored the critical importance the Constitution review committee placed on the sub-national levels of governance in the country.

The chairman, however, appealed to the participants, irrespective of their political affiliations to support the National Assembly towards positive transformation in the country.

“I, therefore, invite you all to participate actively in this public hearing so that together, we can bequeath to our nation a people's centred Constitution,’’ he said.

Gov. Bala Mohammed said that the numerous military intervention in the nation’s politics led to a democracy with military dictatorship.

The governor also said that the military introduced a system where powers were concentrated at the centre with the regions becoming appendages of the centre.

He said it was not surprising that the 1999 Constitution did not holistically encapsulate the yearnings and aspirations of Nigerians as an autocratic command structure was adopted.

The governor, however, said that it was gratifying that the National Assembly set machinery in motion for the amendment of the 1999 Constitution.

Mohammed gave a pass mark to the current three tiers of government – federal, state and local in the country and called for their retention in the reviewed constitution.

“It is therefore my contention that more powers be devolved to states and local governments because the two tiers are closer to the people.

“To this end, I wish to further suggest that some of the items in the exclusive legislative lists should be transferred to the concurrent legislative lists.

“With devolution of power to the states, I wish to also recommend the review of the revenue allocation formula so that states will have more resources to discharge the additional responsibilities devolved to them,’’ Mohammed said.

He called for the establishment of state police, adding that it would be more ideal for the states to have their law enforcement agencies rather than depend on federal enforcement agencies.

“You will agree with me that this arrangement does not augur well for an effective security administration of the state, hence, the need for the state police that will be fully controlled by the states government,’’ he said.

Mohammed said that in order to address the fear that state police could be abused by state governors for political gains, appropriate legal instruments must be put in place by the reviewers of the Constitution.

“By this, there won’t be arbitrariness, subjectivity and political persecution,’’ he said,

The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that the public hearing was being held simultaneously in the six geo-political zones of the country.

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