By Henry Umoru & Inalegwu Shaibu
ABUJA — Deputy Senate President, Senator Ike Ekweremadu, said yesterday, that a new amendment to the 1999 Constitution would be ready by July 2013.
Ekweremadu, who chairs the Senate Committee on the Review of the Constitution, disclosed to newsmen in Abuja that the committee had started the process of further amendments to the 1999 Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria.
He said: “Give and take, our estimation is that by July 2013, we will be able to conclude another set of constitution amendment. We even thought we can move faster than that but we are going to engage in other national assignments, we are going to engage the 2013 budget which I suppose will come in September and then ensure that the other legislations did not suffer. So when we put all these things together, we believe that July 2013 will be an appropriate time to deliver the next set of amendment.”
Ekweremadu also expressed the readiness of the Senate to work with the House of Representatives in the amendment of the constitution, bearing in mind that both chambers carried out separate amendments in the sixth National Assembly.
According to him, “it will be our pleasure to work with them and that has been the tradition. That will save Nigeria huge resources. It will save us time.
I have always believed that two heads are better than one. So we intend to approach the House and ask for all of us to work together.
If that happens, that will be nice and we will work together with them but if that doesn’t work, we will also continue to engage them. We brief them on what we are doing and also ask them what they are doing as well so that we will all be working towards one direction.”
He also added that the committee was open to receiving inputs from stakeholders that include the Governors’ Forum and the Justice Alfa Belgore’s Committee, while assuring that critical issues in the constitution will be looked into.
“We intend to meet again next week to possibly identify the areas that need amendment and we are going to do that based on the work we did in the last Senate. That will guide the present Senate. We will articulate what we consider to be the burning issues to make our democracy workable and of course put our country on the part of political progress. We are going to make allowance for inputs from executives, you are aware of the Belgore committee, we will take their inputs.
“Also believe that the Governors’ Forum will oblige us their own input. NUJ, bar association too, so that we will quickly articulate them. We are also going to allow inputs from the public.”