Sat, 20 Apr 2024

 

Reps receive 40 bills on constitution amendment, set December 2025 deadline
 
By: Abara Blessing Oluchi
Wed, 31 Jan 2024   ||   Nigeria,
 

The Deputy Speaker, House of Representatives. Benjamin Kalu, has disclosed that the House received 40 bills regarding the review and amendment of the nation’s Constitution.

He added that the House is considering the December 2025 deadline to complete the review and amendment.

Kalu, who doubles as the Chairman, Constitution Review Committee, stated this on Wednesday at the maiden meeting of the committee while addressing journalists in Abuja.

He said, “It is the view of Mr. Speaker that we set a realistic timeline that does not conflict with electoral activities which would advertently or inadvertently affect the alteration process, specifically, December 2025, the time we are looking at to conclude the activities of this committee.

“It is not out of place to guess that there is some level of fatigue in the amendment process by some vocal sections of the populace. Whatever opinion you hold, it is important to let you know that we presently have 40 bills that are at various stages of consideration that relate to the alteration of the Constitution.

“We are well aware of our present challenging circumstances as a nation. The twin challenges of insecurity and economic difficulties could tamper with the confidence of our citizens. It is, therefore, our constitutional responsibility to respond to the 40 bills so far proposed and also attend to the duty of government to ensure the security and welfare of the citizens as provided by the constitution.”.

Recalling the significance of previous attempts at constitutional review, Kalu, who represents Bende Federal Constituency, Abia State, noted that since 1999, the House has made reforms including judicial reforms, electoral reforms, age reduction, among others.

“Since 2010, the National Assembly has successfully amended and made landmark changes to our constitution since it was first handed over to Nigeria in 1999 by the military regime of General Abdulsalam Abubakar.

“Since then, some of the significant amendments successfully made by previous efforts include judicial reforms, electoral reforms, age reduction, allowing younger persons to be appointed into the Independent National Electoral Commission as Chairman or Resident Electoral Commissioners and also allowing a lower age for contest into certain elective positions, moving certain responsibilities of government from the exclusive legislative cist into the Concurrent legislative list to allow for increased federalism among other things,” he said.

Ahead of the inauguration, the lawmaker highlighted actions to be undertaken including, “Expediting commencement of preparations, constitution of the secretariat and appointment of consultants as well as drafting of a work plan for the committee.”

The deputy speaker also called on the committee members to take the assignment seriously, reminding them of the reasons the attempt by previous assemblies did not yield the required results.

“In the last constitution review efforts, there were some key constitution amendment proposals that did not pass either because we did not fully understand their provisions or we did not have enough time to agree on them.

“An example was the proposal to create additional seats for women in Federal and State Legislative Houses. Let us use this opportunity to understand this proposal, hoping that those who are the promoters of this particular amendment will start their advocacy timely and be more thorough and comprehensive, reaching the stakeholders to control the mindsets of their representatives,” Kalu stated.

The 37-man committee is made up of representatives of the 36 states of the Federation and the Federal Capital Territory.

Kalu pledged the provision of adequate resources to enable the committee to deliver on its mandate.

“The secretariat will be very well equipped to function optimally and deliver results. We have created a partnership with the Policy and Legal Advocacy Centre which has committed to supporting the work of this committee as they have done in previous constitution review efforts,” he said.

The committee is billed for inauguration on February 26, 2024.

 

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