Constitution Amendment: NASS Keeps Mum On Reports of National ConferenceLatest News, News Friday, December 19th, 2014
*As 36 State Assemblies Return Amended Constitution to N/Assembly
Ayodele Afolabi, Abuja – The National Assembly has received the resolutions of the 36 States of Assemblies signaling the final phase of the amendment.
Receiving the resolution of the Houses of Assemblies, at the National Assembly Friday, Deputy Senate President, Ike Ekweremadu and Deputy Speaker, Emeke Ihedioha who headed the review committees did not comment on what the future hold for the reports of the National Conference.
The reports of the 4 months deliberation of the Conference conveyed by President Goodluck Jonathan which has in attendance about 500 Nigerians, was transmitted to the National Assembly in October for further legislative action.
Ekweremadu Said: “As I have consistently pointed out, constitution amendment has always been a leading democratic convention. It is predicated on the fact that no law of any kind stands the test of eternity.
“Thus, because laws are made for man, and not man for laws, Nigerians elected to take yet another look at their constitution to further address some salient shortfalls and contradictions in order to deepen our democracy and strengthen our federalism.
” This is a task the legislature has confronted with dogged determination and an unwavering commitment.
Today, we are gathered here on what is the ultimate stage of a challenging, but a most fulfilling process – challenging because of the myriad of obstacles we had to surmount, and fulfilling because of the successes thus far as a result of shared commitments and collective contributions.
“It is therefore fitting to once more use this opportunity to convey our thanks to the people of Nigeria in your various constituencies, especially those who made submissions to the Senate and House Committees on the Review of the Constitution or participated in consultations organised by the committees, for their overwhelming response to the review process.
“The Bill you have transmitted to us today is a culmination of the will of the people of Nigeria. The legislature has long recognized that to secure the future of Nigeria, it must produce a Constitution that would meet the aspirations and needs of Nigerians and that which will facilitate national development in an equitable manner.
“Durability of constitutions depends on public support as citizens and the public are less inclined to support a constitution without their input. There is no doubt that broad citizens’ participation, which was the mainstay of the review process has added value to the democratic process and improved the quality of governance.
“It can be gleaned from the resolutions you have transmitted to the National Assembly today that the amendments set out institutional and legal reforms, which together with sufficient political will, may help to provide for constitutional and other legal guarantees for the practice of true federalism; provide for accountability and transparency in governance; and, create an independent judicial system that would ensure the proper administration of justice in Nigeria”, Ekweremadu said.
On his part, Ihedioha said: “We had made a commitment to the Nigerian people to further alter the provisions of the 1999 Constitution in a more holistic manner than the previous efforts which touched only, a few provisions.
“If we recall the origin of the Constitution, we will acknowledge that it lacked a more direct participation of Nigerians in its making. We made efforts this time to involve all Nigerians.
Continuing, He said, “The National Assembly took the approach of incremental alterations of the provisions of the Constitution in such a manner that would eventually bring about a wholesale alteration/review of the Constitution without unduly upsetting the governance structure of the country.
“This we did with the proposal for the amendment or alteration of 57 Sections and 7 Schedules of the Constitution.
“Following the adoption of the Bill, the National Assembly on 28 October 2014, transmitted the Bill to the Conference of Speakers of State Legislature in accordance with Section 9 of the Constitution.
“It is heartening that the Houses of Assembly of the States concluded the work on the Bill in less than two months and are transmitting their Resolution to the National Assembly today indicating the views of their States on the items for amendment proposed by the National Assembly.
“The National Assembly will further collate the votes on each of the sections of the Bill and determine which of them attained the constitutionally required two-third (2/3) vote for passage, which in practice means that Twenty-Four out of the Thirty-Six State Houses of Assembly shall have voted on each Section for it to be adjudged as having passed.
“We shall carry out this final exercise with dispatch, particularly given the limited time in the life of the current Assembly. We hope that the Resolution reached on the Bill by the Houses of Assembly of the States would meet the expectations of Nigerians on the key issues that were affected by the exercise.
“We are justifiably proud of the work done by the National Assembly contained in the proposals sent to the State Houses of Assembly for their approval or rejection as the case may be.
“Whatever the outcome of the returns from the States we will accept it as the inevitable consequences of running a federation where the input of the States is a critical requirement. Indeed the process of amending or altering the Constitution is a continuous one. It does not end with this exercise.” said Ihedioha.
The National Assembly will determine which of the clauses has met the 2/3 of the votes of the 36 states of Assemblies and then pass it into law.
The current amendment does not required the signature of the president before it becomes law.
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