June 23, 2009

2011: Senate to fast track constitution review

By Emmanuel Aziken & Inalegwu Shuaibu

…expresses concern over 2009 budget

ABUJA — The Senate is to fast track the process of constitution review to ensure that a reviewed Electoral Act is available for the 2011 elections, the Senate disclosed yesterday.

Senate spokesman, Senator Ayogu Eze who disclosed this also expressed concern over the executive’s readiness to fully implement the N3.1 trillion 2009 budget of the Federal Government.

Senator Eze addressing newsmen also gave the legislative body’s readiness to take action on several reports presently awaiting deliberation in the Senate.

“We return with the determination to actually start in earnest the process of amending the constitution to ensuring that we make all the necessary changes that are expected to be made in the electoral act before the 2011 elections because we were able to interface with our constituents and there is a need for us to do something about the electoral law of this country.’’

“And we are not going to fail in that responsibility and we have resolved, we are going to bring the bills that were sent by Mr. President, treat them on the floor, send them to the constitution review committee and possibly give them a marching instruction to go ahead,’’ Senator Eze said yesterday.

Giving an indication on how the Senate is expecting to fast-track the process, he said: “We have set up small technical group that is looking at some of the issue, because the decision we have taken in the Senate is to take a less controversial issue that are of general interest to the people of Nigeria and start from there to amend the constitution.’’

“So as we resume tomorrow (today), there is going to be a lot of fireworks because anything that is not done between now and the middle of next year, it is going to be difficult, after the middle of next year, politics will come in,’’ he said.

Expressing concern on the executive’s capacity to implement the 2009 budget of the Federal Government as passed by the National Assembly, Senator Eze said:

“I have read a statement from the executive that they had only been able to do 20 per cent and I have also heard from them that they have got a shortfall of 32 per cent in revenue”.

He, nevertheless, expressed hope that the budget performance could be improved with the resurgence in the price of oil, the nation’s main revenue source.