By Musa Baba Adamu
The Senate has assured that it would pass the Constitution Alteration Bills before it proceeds on annual recess by July this year.
This is even as it clarified that the ongoing amendment to the 1999 Constitution is not hampered by paucity of funds.
Deputy President of the Senate and Chairman, Senate Committee on Constitution Review, Senator Ovie Omo-Agege, made the revelation in Abuja on Monday, at the press conference heralding the zonal public hearing on alteration of the Constitution, billed for May 26 and 27, 2021.
“We are working with the timetable. Time is no longer on our side. Nigerians who are clamouring for this expect that we will come up with a finished product in no time. The calendar we have set for ourselves is that we are going to have a vote on each of the bills before we proceed on the long recess in July.
“I can tell you that we have enough resources. We are not in any way hampered by finances. Before we proceed on July recess, you can take it to the bank that we will take the votes. The schedule is tight but once we conclude the national public hearing on June 3rd and 4th of June, we will go into a retreat to consider the report and do clause-by-clause consideration on each of the bills. And determine what to take to the floor. We have already our work cut out for us. We are hopeful and confident that before we go on recess, we will take the votes on each of the thematic areas,” he said.
The Deputy President of the Senate also disclosed that the national public hearing is scheduled to hold on June 3rd and 4th in Abuja.
This, he added, is to give opportunity to government agencies and other stakeholders who could not attend the zonal public hearing.
The lawmaker said the public hearing would avail Nigerians the opportunity to make submissions on any issue of interest, adding that the National Assembly on its part, would prioritize such issues to enhance the welfare and security of citizens.
While disclosing that the committee received over 250 memoranda from Nigerians along the 13 thematic areas, Senator Omo-Agege enjoined those yet to submit memoranda to use the opportunity of the zonal public hearing to do so.
He assured that Nigerians will be happy with the final outcome of the exercise, adding that “This constitution amendment process is an attempt by the National Assembly to respond to these demands within the context of the powers conferred on it by the Constitution in a manner that will further strengthen our democracy.
“We are using this opportunity to call on Nigerians to effectively engage the process and present their demands or recommendations for consideration by the National Assembly. Democracy is a process of consultation and constructive engagement, so let us all leverage on this platform to build the country of our dream”.
The Delta Central lawmaker listed the 13 thematic areas to include: gender equality for women and girls; federal structure and power devolution; local government and its autonomy; public revenue, fiscal federation and revenue allocation; Nigerian Police and Nigerian security architecture as well as comprehensive judicial reforms.
Others are: electoral reforms; socio-economic and cultural rights as contained in Chapter 2 of the Constitution; strengthening the Independence of oversight institutions and agencies created by the constitution or pursuant to an act of the National Assembly; residency and indigene provisions; immunity; National Assembly and state creation.