By CLIFFORD NDUJIHE & CHARLES KUMOLU
LAGOS —THE 21-man Justice Alfa Belgore-led presidential constitution review committee has set a template to achieve its objective of refashioning a new constitution for the country.
Members of the panel met for several hours in Abuja from Monday to yesterday at the end of which they agreed on a working procedure.
A member of the team told Vanguard that the committee had settled down and was determined to give the citizenry a more acceptable constitution.
“We have settled down for serious work. We met all day yesterday, today and we will meet tomorrow. We have set the pattern of how we are going to work. We are not re-inventing the wheel. Our work is interesting and easy. We will concentrate on consensus areas and encourage implementation. We are going to be practical in our approach,” the member said.
Asked if the panel would visit the six geo-political zones of the country and hold public sittings to get memoranda from members of the public, he said, “too early to tell whether we will visit the geo-political zones, hold public sittings.”
However, another member, said the panel would offer suggestions on contentious areas. He said: “People have been telling us on individual basis that we have a lot of job to do. And I can tell you that many people expect breakthroughs from this mission because the survival of this country depends on the outcome of our job. And we are determined to give our best. The President has given us a mandate and we will go along the mandate given to us. But we will also make our suggestions. We envisage challenges but we will do our best.”
President Goodluck Jonathan, on November 17, raised the CRC headed by former Chief Justice of Nigeria (CJN), Justice Saliu Alfa Belgore to look at and harmonise past efforts at the review of the constitution and asked the committee to avoid controversial areas which would need further and enlarged debate.
He said: “I am inaugurating this committee to develop draft bills on previously agreed issues that would go a long way to strengthen the bonds of our union. These settled issues include strong recommendations from past Constitutional and Political Reform Conferences; on National Security, Human Rights and Social Security, People’s Charter and Social Obligations; Environment and Natural Resources, Models and Structure of Government, Public Service, Power Sharing, Local Government Reforms and the economy. Other areas of firm agreement include proposals for Judiciary and Legal Reforms, constitutional amendments pertaining to the Public Service, Anti-Corruption, State Joint Local Government Account, Traditional Institutions and Cultural Reforms; and Civil Society, Labour, Trade Unions and National Media Reforms, amongst many others.
Members of the committee include Senator Udoma Udo Udoma (Vice-chairman), Chief Ebenezer Babatope, Mr. Ledum Mitee, Dr. Abubakar Saddique, Ms. Comfort Obi, Mr. Peter Esele, Prof. Oladipo Afolabi, Prof. Jerry Gana and Tessy Ikimi.
Others are Mr. G.O.S. Miri, Ambassador Babagana Kingibe, Ambassador Jibrin Chinade, Alhaji Abubakar Mustapha, Prof. Anya O. Anya, Dr. Chukwuemeka Ezeife, Alhaja Salimot Badru, Hajia Najatu Mohammed, Mr. Ferdinand Agu, Alhaji Wakil Mohammed and Halima Alfa.