Amended constitution will be transmitted to President before February —Lawmakers
Some members of the House of Representatives have said the amended constitution will be ready and passed to President Muhammadu Buhari before next month.
The lawmakers spoke in an interview with journalists in Ibadan on Saturday on the sidelines of the South-West town hall meeting between legislators and their constituents organised by Daria Media and supported by the MacArthur Foundation.
Senator Olubunmi Adetumbi from Ekiti North; Senator Tolu Odebiyi from Ogun West; Senator Kola Balogun from Oyo South; Mr Bamidele Salam, who represents the Ede North/Ede South/Egbedore/Ejigbo Federal Constituency of Osun State; Isiaka Ibrahim, who represents the Ifo/ Ewekoro Federal Constituency of Ogun State; and Babajide Obanikoro, who represents the Eti Osa Federal Constituency of Lagos State, participated at the town hall meeting.
Salam said, “The constitution will be amended before the end of this 9th National Assembly. I want to give an assurance that the amendment will be done. But let me tell you that amending a document such as a constitution of a country is very serious business. It is an assignment that requires a wide-ranging engagement of critical stakeholders, opinion moulders and institutions.
“Even though we may not have cameras beamed on what is being done presently, that does not mean that nothing is being done. People sent in memoranda in hundreds of thousands from everywhere and there were submissions made by members of the National Assembly themselves to amend certain aspects of the constitution.
“All these will be aggregated together into a sizable portion so that we don’t have an unwieldy set of clauses being pushed forward for amendment. Very soon, we will start seeing more activities in that regard. Before the end of this year, we would have been able to see some things. Some of those provisions will be sent to state houses of assembly very soon, especially those that we have formed a consensus on; they will be passed and sent, and others will follow suit in the last part of the tenure of this 9th National Assembly.”
Asked to give an insight into which aspects of the constitution majority of Nigerians desired to change, Salam said it varied from one geo-political zone to another.
He stated that the South-West wanted devolution of powers and true federalism more than anything, while the creation of more states was dominant for the South-East apart from federalism, while the issue of moving the derivation fund from 13 per cent to 50 per cent was important to the people of the South-South.
The lawmaker also said the policing system would be touched by the amendment, adding that it was out of place for the police to draw resources from the states and local governments, while those they draw funds from had not said in their operations.
Salam stated, “It is my desire and that of my people that we should unbundle the policing system in Nigeria. It is actually in our own interest and I get baffled at times when I see those who are afraid of that. I don’t know what anybody is afraid of in unbundling the policing to have a decentralised control system and a more decentralised funding system.
“I was a local government chairman and we were buying tyres and batteries for police vehicles and paying them allowances even though we did not have control over them. As a member of the National Assembly today, the police in my constituency still write letters to me to come and repair their vehicles.
“If we have a system that wants to derive resources from the local governments and state governments and they have no say in their recruitment and operations, how does that work? I am very hopeful that the amended constitution will take good care of this area.”
Ibrahim said Nigerians would see the progress made so far by the lawmakers regarding the amendment of the constitution as from January 27.
“Based on the work plan that has just been rolled out, the constitution will be passed on to the President for his assent. By that time, the Senate and the House of Representatives would have sat and harmonised their positions and the amended constitution would be transmitted to the President before the end of February,” he stated.
Obanikoro said many of the constituents did not know the roles of lawmakers, adding that that was why they brought loads of personal problems to them to solve. (Punch)