After becoming almost a stillborn, the issue of constitution review has once again come to the front burner at the National Assembly.  In fact, the Deputy Senate President, Ike Ekweremadu, penultimate week promised that all things being equal, an amendment to the 1999 Constitution will be ready in July, 2013.

The Senate, it appears, is back, ready to settle down and do serious business, apparently with what could be termed renewed vigour to give Nigeria a new constitution.

This seriousness first reared its head when Senate President, David Mark had, at the beginning of the Seventh Senate, said that constitution amendment remained one of the priorities of the Senate, adding, ‘’let me note that constitution amendment remains one of the top priorities of the Seventh Senate.

“Our success in the electoral reforms is now obvious and has been widely acknowledged after the 2011 general election. I congratulate members of the Sixth National Assembly once again, for breaking the jinx of constitution amendment in Nigeria. The onus is therefore on us to build on this success. We shall endeavour to produce a workable constitution that will stand the test of time.”

Areas to revisit in the amendment
The Senator Ike Ekweremadu-led Constitution Review Committee  will revisit the fundamental issues of state creation, local government system, devolution of powers, revenue allocation, State police, State Independent National Electoral Commissions, uniform minimum wage, Fiscal Responsibility, Joint account, among other contentious, but important issues.

Senate President, David Mark

Who are these Committee members from the Senate?
The Committee is headed by the Ekweremadu and his counterpart from the House of Representatives, Emeka Ihedioha. The list is made up of one member from each of the 36 states of the federation and representatives of all the six geo-political zones. For added measure, all the female senators were included.

Other members are, Senators Uche Chukwumerije, Bello Mohammed Tukur, Chris Ngige, Ita Enang, Abdul Ningi, Heineken Lokpobiri, Barnabas Gemade, Ahmed Zannah, Victor Ndoma Egba, James Manager, Christopher Nwankwo, Odion Ugbesia, Anthony Adeniyi, Ayogu Eze, Joshua Lidani, Chris Anyanwu, Abdulaziz Usman, Datti Baba-Ahmed, Bello Gwarzo, Abu Ibrahim, Abubakar Atiku Bagudu, Smart Adeyemi, Mohammed Sha’aba Lafiagi, Ganiyu Solomon, Suleiman Adokwe, Dahiru Awaisu Kuta and Adegbenga Kaka.

Others are Senators Boluwaji Kunlere, Sola Adeyeye, Olufemi Lanlehin, Joshua Dariye, Magnus Abe, Umaru Dahiru, Abubakar Tutare Umar, Alkali Jajere, Ahmed Sani, Philip Aduda, Nkechi Nwaogu, Helen Esuene, Nenadi Usman, Oluremi Tinubu, Zaynab Kure, Aisha Al-hassan, George Akume, Ayoola Agboola and Mohammed Saleh.

While speaking on the commencement of the exercise last week, Ekweremadu said, “Give and take, our estimation is that by July, 2013, we will be able to conclude another set of constitutional 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.’’

Will the Senate/ House put behind them the issue of ego?
Now that the National Assembly is set for the job, it is hoped that the problem of egocentricism will not set in with regard to who chairs or whether the problem of seniority will not set in between the Deputy Senate President and the Deputy Speaker and then make the very serious national assignment suffer discounts on account of that as was the case in the past.

Ekweremadu at the briefing had promised that the Senate will work with the House of Representatives in the amendment of the constitution and thus put to rest fears of possible ‘fight’ between the Senate and the House of Representatives when the issue of Chairman, Co- Chairman comes up.

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 in one direction.”

He also told the media that the committee will be open to receive inputs from the Governors’ Forum, the Justice Alfa Belgore Committee, the media and other stakeholders in the country.

How much will it cost the present Senate to carry out this assignment?  That is a very important question.

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